Healthy Picnic Offerings

Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).

The weather may not be feeling like summer is just around the corner here on the east coast, but before we know it, we’ll be spending time outdoors wishing it were just a few degrees more tolerable. Picnic season is about to kick off with Memorial Day just around the corner. May 27, 2019, not only will bring with it warmer weather, but a palate of colors and dishes that show off the home gardens and backyard barbecue skills.

While summertime meals tend to be lighter than the heavy comfort foods of winter, it’s still important to be sure that what you’re putting into your body will be used as fuel both physically and mentally.

Here are a few of our favorite picnic contributions that will keep things light while packing in the nutrition and flavor.

Spaghetti salad

This yummy side pairs a pasta of choice with beans for protein, olive oil for antioxidants and black olives for good fats.

1 box of spaghetti made from veggies (Barilla has a great one) or chickpeas (Banza is a great choice)

1 bottle Ken’s Steakhouse Olive Oil Vinaigrette Dressing

1 can diced tomatoes with sea salt

1 can sliced black olives

1 can dark red kidney beans

Cook pasta. Combine all ingredients. Chill. Enjoy!

Veggie garden on a stick

There is nothing like plucking vegetables right from your own back yard, but when this isn’t possible, visiting one of the many Growers Markets not only means your produce is organically grown, but it’s helping local farmers continue to thrive. A veggie on a stick could be whatever is available or a few of your hand-picked favorites. Think colors and texture and consider those that might pair well with a protein of choice. Squash is filled with magnesium, fiber, B6 and B2, while zucchini supports circulation and improves digestion. Add some chunks of disease-fighting onions and a few Shiitake mushrooms for boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure and you’ve got one healthy meal.

Veggies of choice

Protein of choice

Salt

Pepper

Melted butter

Alternate chopped veggies with a protein of choice (if desired). Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over hot grill or place in the oven until vegetables are soft and meat has reached appropriate temperature.

Bean salad

Beans offer so many incredible health benefits. From the amazing source of protein and fiber, to its ability suppress the appetite and reduce the risk of cancer, adding beans to any dish can be a way to pack in the nutrition. And with so many varieties to choose from, it shouldn’t be hard to find one to love. To make this dish, choose three of your favorites in a variety of colors, paired with sweet corn and green pepper for a pretty offering at any outdoor feast.

Three cans of beans of choice. (Kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas offer a great variety.)

1 green pepper, diced

2 cups sweet corn, sliced from the cobb

¼ cup Olive oil

¼ cup white vinegar

Splash of lemon juice

Dash of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve chilled as a side dish or with tortilla chips.

Triple berry delight

These sweet desserts are as pretty as they are tasty. Create layers in a clear glass or dish for some wow factor and enjoy the healthy goodness from the variety of berries. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries all offer a whopping dose of antioxidants and fiber, while helping with blood sugar regulation. The granola we’ve added is an excellent source of fiber and can help lower cholesterol levels.

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries, diced

Granola (Bear Naked vanilla almond pairs great)

Cool Whip

Alternate layers of Cool Whip, granola and berries. Yum!