Safe and Healthy Picnics

With warmer weather, have you gotten the picnic "bug" yet? Try some tricks to make your picnic both food-safe and healthy!
Safe and Healthy Picnics - News


Vegetable Kebabs (Bigstock 3057844)

Warmer weather is coming which means spending more time outside. Spring and summertime picnics are a great way to spend time with family and friends. Typical picnic food can be high in calories and fat, so it's a great idea to offer some healthy alternatives to your next picnic menu.

Healthy alternatives don't need to be complicated, but just putting a new twist on a classic dish. Kebabs on the grill are an easy way to incorporate different vegetables into your picnic menu. Instead of just filling the stick with meat, you can thread different vegetable items to make it more colorful. To turn your kebab into a colorful rainbow, try the following combination of vegetables with your favorite protein: start with a cherry tomato or red pepper, follow with an orange pepper, next add yellow squash or pepper, continue with green squash or pepper, and finish it off with a red onion or slice of eggplant. Remember to always cook chicken to a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and beef cubes to a minimal internal cooking temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

For food safety, make sure to use different utensils and serving equipment for the raw and cooked kebabs and remember to chill all leftovers within two hours to keep your family safe from foodborne illness.

For dessert, instead of a traditional pie, try a new twist on fruit. To make it easier for serving, cut your watermelon up ahead of time into wedges. Place a popsicle stick through the rind and freeze them to make a refreshing watermelon pop. Watermelon is just one example, but you could do this with many different types of fruit. Having them pre-cut and frozen on an individual stick can help decrease the chance of a foodborne illness since all of the work can be done in your kitchen ahead of time. Always provide serving utensils or tongs so no one has to use their bare hands.

Drinks can also make the calories add up, so try freezing fruit ahead of time in ice cube trays and adding it to some seltzer or water for a refreshing beverage.
Prepping ahead of time will give you more time at the picnic to spend with family and friends. Making individual servings when prepping not only saves you time later, but it can also help you to control portion size.