Healthy Summer Picnic Ideas for Your Heart and Diet

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • The family tradition of summertime picnicking brings back many happy memories for me of days spent relaxing outdoors with my family. However, most traditional picnic foods tend to be a little too high in calories!

    So, how can you transform your picnic basket into a wonderful hamper of heart healthy goodness? Here are a few tips!

    #1 Raw veggie entrée

    Choose a range of colorful vegetables, sliced in different shapes and sizes, for extra variety.

    You could select anything from raw carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, to asparagus tips, baby sweetcorn, or cherry tomatoes; and serve with a selection of low calorie dips, such as reduced fat hummus, or low fat garlic dip.

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    #2 Meal and snack suggestions

    • Wholegrain tortillas wraps packed with leafy spinach, a generous amount of tomato and cucumber, lean chicken strips, and topped with guacamole.
    • Salad Nicoise – mix sliced boiled new potatoes with blanched green beans, diced cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, tuna, and sliced boiled egg. Pour over a low fat salad dressing, and season with salt and pepper.
    • Wholegrain pita filled with hummus, bean sprouts, diced tomatoes, and sliced grapes.
    • Green salad with grilled chicken, topped with walnuts and sesame seeds.
    • Wholewheat burrito filled with reduced fat hummus, smoked salmon, leafy spinach, diced tomato, and avocado.
    • Boneless skinless chicken thighs baked the night before in olive oil, a sprinkling of rosemary, salt, and pepper.
    • Coleslaw mix pack from the vegetable section of your supermarket, drizzled with fat-free dressing, or sour cream when you’re ready to eat.
    • White bean salad with red and green peppers, red onion, mushrooms, fresh coriander, and parsley. Tossed through with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and crushed garlic.
    • Wholemeal pasta with a mixture of colorful veggies, for example broccoli, red and green peppers, red onion, and grated carrots.
    • Sliced celery with reduced fat cream cheese; or peanut butter topped with raisins.
    • Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn, with a handful of mixed herbs for extra flavor.

    #3 Fresh fruit dessert

    The sky is the limit as far as choosing delicious fruits during the summer months! Again, opt for a variety of different colors and textures to keep it interesting, and for a zesty alternative add a squeeze of limejuice, grated fresh ginger, and some mint.

    You could also try a dessert of seasonal mixed berries and cantaloupe melon, topped with a dollop of natural Greek yogurt.

    #4 Choose drinks wisely

    It’s very easy to get dehydrated when outdoors, and children are particularly prone to losing fluids quickly.

    Rather than opting for sugar-laden sodas, choose 100% fruit juice mixed with half and half water, reduced sugar-diluting juice, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling iced water with wedges of lemon and fresh mint leaves. 

    #5 Enjoy the fresh air

    Make the most of being outdoors by taking a walk, or why not arrange a variety of family activities or games with which everyone can get involved?


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    Melanie Thomassian is a professional dietitian, and author of the award winning

Published On: July 10, 2008