Prevent Colon Cancer with Healthy Summer Picnic Substitutions

Keri Tidwell

Family Having Summer Picnic

July is National Picnic Month and the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.  Whether you like to cook or not, the key to a healthy picnic is to find foods that travel well, don’t spoil easily and taste good without sabotaging your health. Hot temperatures can cause foods containing eggs and mayonnaise to spoil quickly, so use alternatives like vinegar-based dressings or Greek yogurt. Not only are they safer, but they are also healthier.

Fried chicken, pasta salad, cakes and banana pudding may be quintessential picnic foods, but they are often loaded with fat, sugar, and carbs and have minimal nutrients. Here are some healthier substitutes for your summer picnic:

  1. Instead of fried chicken, pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store or try one of our recipes for turkey or black bean burgers. They are so delicious that no one will miss those extra calories!
  2. If you’re fixing sandwiches, avoid fatty meats like salami and bologna, and opt for turkey or chicken instead. Use whole wheat bread or a whole grain wrap instead of white for more nutrients and flavor.
  3. Other healthy main dish options are grilled fish and shrimp, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, low in calories, and cook quickly. Consider these easy grilled fish fillet packets or grilled shrimp kabobs.
  4. When making coleslaw, instead of heavy mayonnaise, use a vinegar base instead like in this recipe.
  5. Instead of traditional potato salad, which is loaded with mayo, try this healthy southwestern sweet potato salad. It’s better for blood sugar levels.
  6. Instead of pasta salad, how about a refreshing chopped veggie salad? Or try this Lightened Up Greek Pasta Salad.
  7. Fill the picnic basket with seasonal fruits and veggies.
  8. Skip the sour cream or mayo-based dips. Try bean dip or guacamole and serve with carrot sticks, bell peppers or whole grain tortilla chips instead.
  9. Pack a cooler with raw veggies – carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, celery, sugar snap peas and broccoli. Serve with a side of hummus.
  10. Instead of alcoholic drinks, bring ice water, unsweetened tea or try this strawberry agua fresca.
  11. Bring melons and berries for a fresh, light dessert instead of heavy cakes and pies. A luscious fruit salad or fun fruit kebabs would be a nice refreshing treat.
  12. Angel food cake makes a lovely light dessert. Serve with a handful of fresh berries and a dollop of whipping cream.
  13. While homemade ice cream is delicious, it’s also loaded with sugar and fat. Make frozen yogurt instead for a cool, refreshing treat.

With warm days and longer nights, summer is the ideal season for planning a picnic. But forget the traditional picnic foods that are high in fat and prone to going bad in the hot sun. Instead, pack some healthier options that will fill you up but not weigh you down.

For more colon-healthy recipes, check out our July meal plan.

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