Celebrate National Picnic Month in July with a healthy lunch outdoors. Carolyn Bivans, a registered dietitian nutritionist in North Naples, recommends choosing simple, nutritious ingredients and arranging them in creative ways for a healthy and fun outdoor spread. To perfect your next picnic, refer to her tips—as well as her tasty Waldorf salad recipe.
1. Keep it simple.
Bivans suggests thinking outside of the box and looking for new ideas. “It’s a great time to take simple ingredients, especially a lot of produce-based ingredients, and just combine them in very simple ways,” she says. She recommends an easy but delicious fruit and cheese platter, finger sandwiches or lettuce wraps, or a preportioned salad. Prep everything beforehand, and pack in easy-to-serve ways.
2. Practice basic food safety.
Eating outdoors doesn’t give you a pass on food safety. “You always have to make sure that your hot foods stay hot, and your cold foods stay cold,” Bivans notes. Additionally, she cautions against eating leftovers after they’ve been sitting in the sun for hours—it’s not worth the bugs or the stomach bugs.
3. Don’t forget the drinks.
Staying hydrated is important in the hot Florida sun, but Bivans suggests making it a little fancier with flavored sparkling water. Or, if it’s a special occasion, “bring along your favorite wine or Champagne,” she adds. “I mean, why not?”
4. Make it memorable.
“A picnic really is a special occasion for eating,” says Bivans. “Take the time to make it an event to remember with unique food and drinks. It’s not just about healthy food; it’s something that your eyes can enjoy, something that’s tasty on the palate, something that’s good for your body, and something that’s creative that just brings joy.”
- 2 medium-size slightly tart apples (such as Rome or pink lady), cored, sliced into small chunks, and tossed with a small amount of lemon juice (to prevent brown discoloration)
- 2 ribs of celery, sliced
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 6 tbsp. mayonnaise
- Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least an hour before serving. The salad can be served on a bed of lettuce, if desired.