Eat Right: Picnics and Parties, by Jordan Rubin
If you think the wintertime presents eating challenges, just think about summertime parties, picnics and boat rides. Everywhere you turn we are celebrating the warm weather with food and beverages! Eating right becomes not just a challenge for your figure but also a challenge to your health as foodborne illnesses can hide in your neighbor’s tuna salad or the fresh cut melon you just served. Follow these suggestions and you are more likely to avoid fat and calorie traps as well as foodborne illnesses. And, always offer to bring something wherever you may be going. Not only is it gracious but you’ll also ensure that there is something healthy and safe for you to eat!
Healthy Fare Entrees:
- Free range turkey or chicken, or lean grass-fed roast beef sandwiches packed organic cheese and loaded with organic vegetables. Good for: picnics, boat rides
- Grilled chicken, tuna, or salmon salad (keep chilled until ready to serve). Good for: picnics, parties
- All-beef, chicken or turkey hotdogs without nitrites, nitrates or pork casing (keep frozen for as long as possible). Good for: picnics (grill available), parties
- Grass-fed organic ground beef burgers. Prepare them a day or two in advance and freeze them until you are ready to head out the door. Good for: picnics (grill available), parties
- Almond butter and organic fruit spread sandwiches. If all else fails, at least these can last a few hours without refrigeration. Good for: anywhere!
- Cut up organic fruit or veggies. Better yet, bring a whole melon and cut it up on the spot. Add hummus, bean dip or almond butter on the side and maybe some sprouted pita bread as well. Good for: picnics, parties, boat rides
- Baked chips or sprouted pita and salsa. Salsa adds a nutrition-packed punch to this side dish.
- Black beans and corn. Throw a little cilantro and drizzle olive oil on them, mix together and serve hot or cold.
- Whole grain pasta or potato salad. Skip the regular mayo and try Omega-3 mayo or mix with light Italian dressing, fresh halved grape tomatoes, broccoli and red bell peppers.
- Fruit popsicles – freeze 100% fruit juice to make popsicles. Good for: parties and picnics where a freezer is nearby!
- Organic fruit salad. Good for: picnics, parties
- Garden of Life Living Foods™ bars – packed with delicious organic whole foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and sprouted grains. Each all-natural tasty snack has 4-6 grams of fiber and is made with live probiotics
- Pure Dark Chocolate is a perfect snack for outdoor activities because it won’t melt or lose its crunch. These all natural roasted cacao beans are minimally processed to preserve the natural antioxidants – a nutritious and delicious snack!
- Natural sparkling waters (no carbonation added)
- Unsweetened organic ice tea or iced tea lightly sweetened with natural organic honey (try the Living Foods™ Hawaiian Lehua Honey). Garden of Life also has the delicious Living Foods™ organic tea varieties that are real easy to use on the go because these liquid packets mix instantly with water.
- Spring water
Like salad bars without sneeze guards (the glass shields that usually protect these), picnic foods are often handled by many people. The more people handling food, the increased risk for bacterial contamination. In addition, food is often cooked in large quantities and not cooled right away. When food is placed in larger containers, spots often remain warm for long periods of time. Bacteria thrive in these warm temperatures. Making matters worse, many people leave food out for too long. Hot food is meant to be kept hot and cold food cold but oftentimes at picnics and parties, the necessary equipment to keep food at the correct temperature isn’t available. Make certain you do your best to keep food at the correct temperature and if anything looks like it has been sitting out too long, toss it.
Some additional tips:
- Always wash your hands! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand washing is the #1 thing people can do to prevent themselves from getting sick.
- Cool cooked foods quickly. If you are batch cooking, spread the food out in shallow pans with greater surface area so it can cool more rapidly. Food should be no more than 2 inches deep.
- Thaw foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter. This is especially important for meat and poultry. Unpreserved foods, like hot dogs with nitrites or nitrates are particularly susceptible to bacteria.
- If food has mayonnaise in it, keep it cold.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. The rind on melons for instance may contain bacteria such as salmonella and Shigella. So make certain that you wash melons thoroughly prior to cutting into them. Refrigerate cut fruit soon after cutting, especially if you mix it with anything (yogurt etc.).
- Keep hot foods hot (140°F or above) and cold foods cold (40°F or below). Pack foods in insulated coolers with plenty of ice or frozen ice packs.
- Wrap foods well and use containers with tight fitting lids. You don’t want anything leaking out or leaking into your food.
- Keep foods covered. No one wants insects in their food and they carry bacteria.
Cook meat and poultry thoroughly! There should be no pink spots when you cut into any piece of meat or poultry.
- If serving chips, try serving in individual bags, provide a serving utensil or have someone dish them out. No matter how hard you try, some people will not wash their hands. You don’t want others digging in after them.
- Throw out leftovers. Especially food brought to a picnic. The likelihood is that it has been sitting out for too long.