Tips to enjoy a picnic without compromising your waistline

Girls picnic

For most people, the idea of a picnic sounds absolutely perfect: relaxing outside on a comfortable blanket with a huge basket of fresh snacks and a mouth-watering meal. However, without much preparation, picnics can just end up being soggy sandwiches, canned corn, and a squashed roll of paper towels.

Tips for preparing meat and other foods for the barbecue

➤The leaner the better: For grilling, lean meat is recommended – whether poultry or beef. If you spot fat, remove it to minimize fat content.

➤Less processed meat, more fresh meat: eat less processed meat, such as sausages, schnitzels; opt for fresh meat. For additional information about processed meat.

➤To avoid burning meat and fish on the open fire, wrap them in aluminum foil.

➤Eat less grilled meat, prefer eating cooked, stir-fried or steamed meat: research shows that eating grilled meat increases the risk of cancer and liver damage. Eating well-done meat raises these risks even more.

➤In the spirit of sustainability, one doesn't have to eat only meat:

  • You can grill other foods for diversity: fish, vegetables, e.g. onions, tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, carrots, and mushrooms; some fruits can be grilled, too.

  • Tofu is a good, healthy, and inexpensive alternative to meat. Before grilling, season the tofu and let it sit to make the tofu more savory. An example of seasoning: stir lemon juice with herbs, olive oil, and chopped tomatoes, and add a little bit of soy sauce or Tabasco.

  • Another tasty, healthy, and inexpensive alternative to meat: pre-prepare a hamburger or meatballs from lentils or beans.

More nutrition tips for a picnic

➤Drink water only: Favor drinking water rather than sugar-sweetened beverages.

➤More vegetables, less ready-made salads: Vegetable salads or sliced vegetables are recommended. Mayonnaise-based dressings and tahini, hummus are high in calories and salt (sodium) content; therefore consumption of small quantities is recommended.

➤You can also eat half a pita: A pita is a convenient "pouch" for amassing grilled food, but quantities should be kept at a minimum.

➤A healthy fruit: the ultimate picnic dessert is a seasonal fruit, or a fruit salad with no added sugar, instead of cakes, cookies, and sweets.

More tips for a safe picnic

➤Buy food from certified providers only. Buy food only from retailers with valid business licenses.

➤When preparing food, follow the hygienic guidelines, e.g. use one set of utensils (knife, cutting board) for cutting and preparing meat, and another, separate set of utensils for cutting and preparing fruit and vegetables.

➤Keep food in sealed containers, and keep raw uncooked food (meat, poultry, and fish) apart from ready-to-serve food. It is better to use picnic coolers and utensils for raw food and separate ones for ready-to-serve foods. It is important to make sure that meat, poultry, and fish juices and raw food do not contaminate the ready-to-serve foods (e.g. salads, fruits, and vegetables).

➤Note whether there are special storage conditions for foods that turn rancid quickly, like mayonnaise-based salads and tuna salad. Do not leave them out in the sun; keep them refrigerated and take them out just before you intend to eat them.

➤It is important to eat meat immediately after it comes off the grill and to take ready-to-serve foods out of the picnic coolers just before you intend to eat them.

➤We recommend you transfer the food from the refrigerator to picnic coolers that contain ice and/or ice packs, as close as possible to your departure. Ensure picnic coolers are kept in a shaded, well-ventilated location at all times.

➤It is best your picnic location be in a designated area with appropriate sanitary conditions, available source of drinking water and garbage cans.

➤Maintaining good hygiene is important! Wash your hands and utensils before handling food.

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