"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

2.7.12

Healthier Picnicking: Healthy Eating

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http://www.food.com/bb/viewtopic.zsp?t=359990

It's almost the 4th... a day to over eat fatty, salty, sugary food and wash it down with beer? It doesn't have to be this way. Here are my tips for having a healthier and I think more enjoyable picnic.

1) Ditch the Empty Calorie Junkfood.  How many times have you arrived at a barbecue and have been handed a beer while being directed to the picnic table that is filled with potato chips, popcorn, pretzels and other high calorie, salty snacks that you end up filling up on. But of course, you can't say no to the main course or any of the wonderful desserts your friends and family... beg you to just take one bit of...

The host was well meaning putting out this quick food while they got the rest of the meal together, but American's need to get over this. "We are not going to starve if we have to wait a few minutes, even a half hour to eat something worth eating." So the next time you are the host. Prepare one or two really special appetizers and don't over do it. They are meant to stimulate the appetite not satisfy it. If you don't have the time to make something special, you can a put out some low calorie, nutritious, and not very filling fruit salad and a raw vegetable platter.

2) Plan Your Meal Around a Theme: Don't haphazardly make a potato salad, a pasta salad, some chicken, some sausage etc. Offering your guest WAY TOO many choices that they feel obligated to taste, and yet the flavors don't go together in any particular way... You can easily end up with a stomach ache from this type of smorgasbord. 

Some of my favorites themes are:

Americana: Fried/grilled Chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, biscuits, baked beans, deviled eggs...

Italiano: Sausage and peppers, eggplant parmesan, baked ziti, zucchini salad, olives, etc...

Turkish Delight: Kebabs, grilled mixed vegetables, pita bread, yogurt sauce, hummus, etc...

Korean Barbecue: Korean Short Ribs, Asian noodle and rice dish, along with stir fried vegetables.

3) Don't Make too Much Food: This was a really hard one for me to get over. Having been raised in an Italian-American household I always believed you needed to make enough extra food for a family of 6 to stop over. 

Now I've been to parties that have been to the other extreme: were there was exactly one serving of each item per person (usually a ladie's lunch). Have a little extra, but not too much, maybe enough for 1 extra person to stop by.

Remember, people are not going to eat the portion they would normally have for dinner because you most likely have more offerings. Guests are going to eat no more than a large spoonful of each dish. 

4) Always Have Plenty of Iced Water: Now, I caution not to over do the food, but please feel free to buy more than enough to drink... especially if it is hot outside. Display it nicely in pitchers, add some lemons or cucumbers to add a splash of flavor to the water. Nothing quenches your thirst or prevents a hangover like water.. and it doesn't have artificial ingredients like soft drinks or calories either! So please, have plenty H2O on hand.

5) Remember What a Real Portion is of Meat.  I am often repulsed by what a meat fest picnics can be. Sometimes there are very few fruits and vegetables on the table, and the ones that are there are obviously after thoughts... because what I'm really suppose to be impressed with are the large slabs of meat, in quanities proportial to the net weight of all the guests in attendance.  Guys, yes, I am mostly talking to the men, chill your inner caveman. Too much meat... is just too much fat, calories, etc. a portion is a deck of cards, not a whole grilled animal per person.

6) Limit the Desserts: So you've gorged on meat and potato chips and now Aunt Mary really wants you to try her apple pie, and you must have some of cousin Rita's brownies, and chocolate chip cookies... etc. 

Offer one rich dessert and one light dessert, and maybe some marshmallows for the kids to roast. If you already have two desserts being brought to the party and Aunt Millie offers to bring another, say "Thank you, we have enough desserts, but we can always use some more cold drinks." By limiting your offerings, quality not quanity, you and your friends will leave the party content - not gorged.

Weekly Meal Plan:


Sunday: Road Food Yikes!


Tuesday: Quiche Lorraine with Boston Bib Lettuce

Wednesday: Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiches & Dill on top of miniature zucchini and corn cakes

Thursday: Spaghetti and Meatballs with Cucumber Salad

Friday: Chili-Maple Glazed Salmon with quinoa and green beans. 

Saturday: Asian Take Out. (It must be summer we are cooking less.) 

18 comments:

  1. These are really great tips I should follow. I'm always worried about having enough food.

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    1. I really think people eat less at a picnic because they are socializing so much and it is usually hot. See how much you have left after your next picnic and judge the food from the leftovers.

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  2. I loved this post and can so relate to #3! Took me years to break the habit (if I really did break it?). xo

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    1. I had many battles with my husband over, "You're making too much food." finally I get it.

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  3. Great post but I've already blown #3. :) We have plans to smoke a bunch of meat just for the purpose of leftovers. Now to keep the husband from eating too much of it. :) Have a wonderful 4th!

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    1. Well preparing the meat to eat over a period of time is not the same thing as making it all at once to gorge on it. I think that is probably a really smart time saving idea. Have a wonderful 4th of July.

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  4. fantastic advice! i especially agree re the meat portions and themeing it. i'm not sure "themeing" is a word... but you get the idea. my favourite is an italian theme but that's just because i'm obsessed with italian food.

    Small side note: Tomorrow (wed) is the very first posting for our Fresh Foods Link Up! Come share your CSA collections, farmer's market treasures, home grown/raised hauls, and/or any seasonal recipes or DIY projects or tutorials! We've got a way for bloggers AND blog readers to participate!

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    1. Thanks so much for the invitation but I won't be blogging tomorrow. I love the theme of your party... perfect for the summer. Good luck with it.

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  5. Great suggestions, especially the "not too much food." We eat light and it's hard to do that with the quantities of food people feel obligated to serve today. I'm keeping this for future reference. Thanks.

    Happy 4th of July.
    Sam

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    1. I'm glad it was useful. Have a wonderful 4th.

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  6. Wonderful suggestions!! Love the idea of the Turkish delight…kebobs and grilled veggies, Yum! Nice post!

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    1. Kebabs can really be fun... if you have the grilling room people can make and cook their own too.

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  7. Oh, is there really ever too much food????? It makes me nervous to run out - I have been the gal at the end of the line who doesn't get the main dish because it is gone - not that it killed me or anything. I am not Italian but my Mother is Southern - same thing! LOL Great tips.

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    1. I have never been to a picnic that has run out of food. Most of the time stuff gets thrown out because it has been sitting in the sun all day and it's not safe to keep as leftovers. Yes, I think Southerns and Italians do have the same food thing going on... very funny.

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  8. Great tips. I must admit I agree with Christy, I am always concerned about having enough. One way I get round this is to make as much as I feel comfortable making. I then serve half of it, and keep half in the fridge. That way, if I need it, it's there, but if I don't we can eat it in the next day or so (or if it is something that I can freeze I just do that). This way I never run out, but I rarely waste food either :) Your menu sounds delicious - perfect for the summer.

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    1. That is definitely a cautious approach. I like that you don't put it all out so it is not overwhelming, great idea.
      It probably keeps things fresher too.

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