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Eat Outside Day

Check out tips for a healthy, easy-to-prepare picnic.

Eat Outside Day

August 31 is Eat Outside Day, but the truth is most of us want to eat meals outside this summer for more than one day. Whether you're planning a family day at the beach or a romantic first date, it’s easy to prepare a meal to eat outside without resorting to pre-packaged snack foods, the ever-present hot dog stand or the fast food drive-through.

A simple homemade picnic can cover all the nutritional bases without the added sodium and fat found in many pre-packaged or fast food options, according to dietitian Gloria Tsang, founder of nutrition network  HealthCastle.com and author of Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss.

"It doesn’t take much longer to prepare a picnic from scratch that it does to open all those plastic snack packages," Tsang said in a press release. "And the resulting meal will be much healthier, allowing your family to enjoy a meal outdoors without feeling bloated and dehydrated from eating too much processed food."

Here are HealthCastle.com’s picks for each course of a healthy, easy-to-prepare picnic:

  • Main: Sandwiches. Skip the cake-like white bread and salty luncheon meat. Choose whole wheat or multi-grain bread and fill with chicken breast or the old favorite PB&J.
  • Side: Fruit and Veggies and dip. Low-fat sour cream, hummus, and tzatziki are all healthy dip choices for veggies, or try low-fat yogurt for fruit. Cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, grapes, and berries require no prep work at all.
  • Dessert: Trail mix. Mix nuts, whole grain cereals, and dried fruits to add some sweet crunch to finish off your meal.
  • Drinks: Water, juice, or milk. Water keeps you hydrated without a lot of calories and sugar. For the kids, try milk or non-GMO soy milk. Avoid "fruit drink," which is loaded with added sugar and artificial ingredients (get 100% juice instead).
  • Bonus: Check out a food truck instead. If you just don’t feel like preparing food, seek out a local food truck with healthier options than the hot dog stand. Apps like Roaming Hunger and TruxMap can help.

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