4 Healthy Snacks to Put in Your Picnic Basket

Packing a picnic and heading to the park or the beach are some of the best parts of summer. There's something about laying out a blanket, unpacking your goodies, and eating while you soak up the sun. However, some traditional picnic foods such as fried chicken and potato salad can be detrimental to your waistline. Here are a few alternatives to lighten up your next family picnic.

1. Edamame

This fun-to-eat appetizer has been enjoyed as a source of protein in Eastern Asia for more than 2,000 years. Available both shelled and in pods, the pods are probably your best bet for picnicking purposes. You can usually find edamame in the freezer section of your grocery store. To serve, just dump the desired amount in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain and cool. They can be served warm or cold and sprinkled with your choice of seasoning.

2. Hummus

Known as a great sidekick for veggies and crackers, this chickpea puree also serves as a tasty sandwich spread. It packs the protein found in the meats that might show up in your picnic basket, but has the added benefit of being high in fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Look for varieties (such as roasted red pepper or tomato and basil), or find a recipe for making your own version of the versatile staple.

3. Fruit kabobs

Another playful picnic snack is fruit on a stick. Simply choose your favorite fruits, chop into similar-sized pieces and stack on a skewer. Your kids can help prepare their own kabobs, which will encourage them to eat up once the picnic is laid out. For a sweeter treat, melt some chocolate and drizzle it over the kabobs before eating.

4. Pasta salad

Lay off the mayo and cheese and toss together a salad with whole-wheat pasta, your favorite veggies and a light vinaigrette. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and zucchini are all great veggies for a summer pasta salad. You can even try some new grains by substituting buglar wheat, quinoa or couscous for the pasta.

A summer picnic doesn't have to spoil your diet if you make healthy decisions while deciding the menu. Log onto our website to find additional recipes.