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How To: Revamp Your Summer Picnic

Author: Karen Kawolics, MS RD LD, MEd

With summer just around the corner, planning some smart swaps for upcoming barbecues, picnics, and pool parties can help Noomers ease through the warmer months in a “greener” and lighter way!  Here are 5 ideas on how to slim down your summer celebrations!

1. Try a portabella mushroom burger

With a meaty texture, portobello  mushrooms are a low-calorie, fiber-filled alternative to greasy burgers. One medium portobello mushroom cap has about 30 calories and contains no fat or cholesterol while a four-ounce burger, depending on the fat percent selected, may range from 300-400 calories and contain as much as 25 grams of fat. Keep it simple by marinating mushroom caps in red wine vinegar and a little olive oil or try one of these recipes to punch up the flavor.

2. Reinvent the watermelon

One cup of diced watermelon has about 45 calories and is rich in potassium and vitamin A. Watermelon is delicious served as is but can also be used to add flavor to salsas, salads, and soups.

3. Grill your fruits and veggies

Barbecuing your favorite summer produce provides a low-calorie and tasty option to your picnic table side dishes. Grilling enhances the flavor to just about any fruit or vegetable. Most recipes suggest brushing about one tablespoon of olive oil over the entire batch being preparing.  Olive oil is a heart healthy fat with one tablespoon containing 119 calories. The American Heart Association recommends choosing oils with less than 4 grams of saturated fat and zero grams of trans fat per tablespoon.

4. Switch up your favorite potato salad

The average calories found in one cup of this picnic table staple range from 350 to 400, with nearly 30 percent coming from fat! Dijon mustard and non-fat Greek yogurt are the secrets to slimming down this summer side dish. Check out these new ways to enjoy your old favorite!

5. Choose your drinks wisely

While there’s no doubt to the appeal of frozen drinks on a hot summer day, quenching your thirst with sugary beverages can quickly bust a calorie budget.  Depending on the serving size and how they are prepared drinks such as Pina Coladas, Daiquiris, Mudslides, and Margaritas may be as much as 800 calories! Consider these lighter options.

  • 12-ounce Light Beer (~100 calories)
  • 5-ounce Glass of Wine (~120 calories)
  • 1.5-ounce Distilled Liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) 80 proof (~ 95 calories)