June 21 marks the official start of Summer, but we’re already feeling those summertime vibes. Summer is synonymous with long days, tanned skin, and the backyard barbecue. The weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day mark peak hot dog season. During this timeframe, Americans will consume an average of 7 billion hot dogs—the equivalent of 818 hot dogs every second. While it may be tempting to indulge in your favorite summer foods, you’ll feel better about yourself and your health if you treat each summer picnic like any other meal and make healthy decisions and indulge in moderation. Here are six summertime picnic food selections you can enjoy without the guilt.
Watermelon. This sweet summertime treat can help rehydrate you after a rousing game of Ladder Ball with your picnic guests. At only 46 calories per cup, it also includes Vitamins C, A, B1, B5, B6, Potassium, and Magnesium, so eat up. We recommend a watermelon seed spitting contest in the backyard for extra fun.
Veggie Burgers. Impress your guests with a healthier twist on a classic barbecue favorite. Veggie burgers are lower in fat and calories than their meat-based counterparts. Veggie burgers are also high in fiber and when consumed as a substitute for red meat, can help reduce your risk of colon cancer and heart disease. Add a slice of tomato for some extra Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, and Vitamin K.
Frozen Yogurt. Swap the vanilla ice cream you typically dollop on top of your strawberry shortcake for frozen yogurt. Depending on the brand you purchase, this healthier alternative may contain probiotics, good bacteria that are healthy for your gut. Frozen yogurt offers calcium and protein, and is lower in calories than traditional full-fat ice cream.
Homemade Salad Dressing. Take the time to make your own salad dressing for your party guests. We know it’s easier to grab bottles of dressing off the shelf, but most store-bought dressings are higher in sugar, low-quality oils, and preservatives, making them a less healthy alternative to a simple oil and vinegar dressing you can whip up yourself in less time than you’d wait in the checkout line.
Butter-Free Corn on the Cob. Who needs butter and salt when you have freshly grilled corn on the cob? Experience this classic barbecue favorite without any toppings and see what you’ve been missing by masking its flavor with unhealthy additives. Corn is naturally high in fiber and protein, but also sugar, so stick to one serving, no matter how tempting it may be to go back for seconds.
Hummus and Vegetables. Swap chips and dip for hummus and veggies. You’ll still enjoy the combo of crunch meets creamy, but with less fat and more nutrients. Hummus is packed with plant-based protein, inflammation-fighting antioxidants, fiber, and has a low glycemic index which may help control blood sugar levels. Enjoy with baby carrots to up your beta carotene as well.
Summer months are all about relaxation and time spent with friends and family. Treat yourself right this summer season by serving up a healthy picnic meal, paired with sunshine and smiles.