As the weather gets warmer and spring turns into summer, the season of picnics, barbecues, and outdoor parties is almost upon us. But that doesn’t mean that just because you aren’t choosing all of your meals, that you have to pack on the pounds this summer.
Traditional picnic fare often consists of starch-laden fatty foods such as potato or pasta salads. According to MSNBC.com just a half cup of either of these salads is packed with 180 to 260 calories and 7 to 16 grams of fat. A substantial portion of just one of these salads can easily end up with almost a meal’s worth of fat and calories.
By keeping these simple tips in mind when you attend or host your next picnic, party or barbecue, and your diet won’t go down the tubes this summer:
Choose lean ground meat when making burgers. You should also try low-fat hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst and other grilled favorites. The intense heat of grilling can produce carcinogens in animal proteins, so keep your portion to the size of a deck of cards. To reduce this risk, lower the temperature, flip the meat frequently, and avoid burning or charring.
If you can’t resist bringing your famous pasta salad use whole grain pasta instead of the traditional refined versions. You can also limit fat content by using reduced-fat dressing or mayonnaise, or changing the proportions of oil and vinegar in a homemade dressing.
Seafood and chicken are great grilled foods and are both still healthy picnic options.
Bring whole grain buns or rolls instead of the white, refined version.
Put a new twist on potato or pasta salad by substituting chopped veggies for high-calorie potatoes or pasta.
Bring trays of fruits and veggies to brighten up an overly starchy picnic spread. Remember your veggies as they are also great on the grill and in side dishes, especially summer time veggies like squash and zucchini.
Instead of chocolate desserts, think fruity desserts instead, and take advantage of a season when fruits are plenty.
If you prefer chocolate desserts such as brownies try cutting a pan of brownies into two-inch square portions and let those who want more take two. Smaller portions will help picnickers who are watching their calories avoid the challenge of trying to stop halfway through a brownie that is too large.