Someone was describing their typical picnic fare, from charred hot dogs and burgers to mayonnaise-laden salads and baked goods. Maybe it’s the celebration mode of picnics which causes people to bring high calorie comfort foods. But if picnics are a time to gather and celebrate with loved ones then by all means think about ways to keep your loved ones around longer.
Instead of thoroughly grilling processed and saturated fat-laden animal products, try partially boiling some chicken on the stove and finish it on the grill. I know it is more work but so is cardiac rehab. In lieu of baked goods, try fresh fruit. ‘Tis the season for melons, berries, peaches, nectarines and pluots, my all time favorite: a cross between a plum and an apricot.
Be wary of purchased baked goods called “sugar free,” which often contain some sort of sweetener and are made with processed starches. Even if made with whole grain flours, those flours have to be ground up to be used effectively in baking. The grinding process makes the grains more accessible to your digestive enzymes. When you eat them they can raise your blood sugar quickly. Additionally, the carbohydrate and fat load of even a “sugar free” baked good is much greater than the equivalent volume of a naturally sweet, high fiber, antioxidant rich piece of summer fruit.
Need I say more? Eat more whole foods, fresh fruit, lean protein sources and most of all, leafy green vegetables.
To help you substitute some of those mayonnaise-heavy summer salads, I am offering you one of my favorite recipes: Herbed Cabbage Slaw. I make some version of this recipe nearly every week because of the wonderful flavors and health benefits of cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Known as cruciferous vegetables, these leaves offer loads of protection in the form of sulfur compounds. Studies have shown that an increased intake of cruciferous veggies may help reduce cancer risk.
When I create recipes I try to think of various uses for the most time consuming aspects of each recipe. Although the end product is something you can take in large batches to picnics and parties, each “piece” of the recipe puzzle can fit into many aspects of your daily diet.
The herbed dressing goes great on greens or grains. Use it as a marinade for julienne vegetables or lean protein foods such as poultry or fish. Shred extra carrots to add to other salads throughout the week. I even put carrots in my quinoa and brown rice breakfast cereal in addition to raisins, walnuts and almond milk. The cabbage can be added to leafy green salads for extra color and crunch. Add cabbage to stir fry or as a bed for chicken or fish. When you take time to prepare foods, think about their many uses so that your time and energy are always well spent.
As you enjoy picnicking remember to stay active. Work off holiday extras by participating in some favorite games such as badminton, bean bags, shooting hoops, hula hoops, jumping rope, paddle ball or volley ball. Whatever you do just move more each day.
1/2 Head Napa or Green Cabbage (about 2 cups)
4 large carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
1 cucumber or 2 small zucchini, small dice
Add Walnuts and dried cherries for a sweet and crunchy version
Use a Large Mixing Bowl to shred. Wash everything. Use Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). About 20 drops in a sink filled with cool water. (GSE found in supplement section at Whole Foods)
Scrub or peel carrots. Shred each vegetable. Place each vegetable in a separate container until ready to mix for party. Small dice cucumbers or zucchini or both to add a different texture to this salad.
Add dressing in 1/4 cup doses until you reach desired consistency.
You could also bring the dressing on the side with a small ladle to allow attendees to “dress” as they see fit
Herb Dressing (a great way to use up herbs)
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (approx 6 lemons)
1 teaspoon dry thyme (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 teaspoon dry marjoram (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 teaspoon dry tarragon (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 teaspoon dry basil (1 Tbsp fresh)
1 Tablespoon dry parsley (2 Tbsp fresh)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp dry)
2 Tablespoon Honey
½ teaspoon sea salt
If using fresh herbs, will keep for up to two weeks
Up to one month if using dry herbs