Picnic season is upon us! The next time you're packing up your basket for a meal that celebrates not only the beautiful weather, but the freshest foods of the season, consider including nutritious classics along with some healthier alternatives to traditional picnic favorites. Your outdoor feast will be full of flavor, and you'll feel healthy, energized, refreshed, and ready to enjoy your outdoor environment.
A picnic almost feels incomplete without a stack of mouthwatering sandwiches to indulge in. While thick-sliced white bread sandwiches laden with meats, cheeses and mayo are undeniably delicious, there are some simple and subtle ways to make your sandwich, and your picnic, a little bit healthier, and more nutritionally balanced. The secret is simple: fresh herbs, fruits and veggies.
While summer is a time for picnicking, it's also a time for grilling. Colorful, vibrant and flavorful freshly grilled veggies are the perfect toppers for a healthy and filling summertime sandwich. Zucchini and eggplant both reach their peach of ripeness during the summer season. Zucchini, a type of summer squash, is a source of vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium and other important vitamins and nutrients, while eggplant contains a wide range of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients; they are both exceptional for a grilled veggie sandwich.
Looking for some other healthy and incredibly flavorful veggie sandwich toppers? Learn your ABCs!
"A" is for Arugula—With its peppery, almost spicy flavor, arugula is a salad green that packs an unbelievable flavor punch, and is rich in iron and vitamins C and A. Enjoy on sandwiches, in wraps, or as a tasty topping on a freshly grilled burger.
"B" is for Bell Peppers—An excellent source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that can help protect against cell damage in the body, peppers are also thought to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Add diced bell pepper to tuna or chicken salads for extra bursts of color and nutrients, or layer slices of roasted red peppers on sandwiches for wonderful flavor and texture.
"C" is for Cucumber—Crisp and cool, cucumbers are terrific sliced on sandwiches. They are a perfect summertime vegetable, as they contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, which can help soothe the skin. They're also an easy and delicious way to stay refreshed, as the flesh of a cucumber is primarily composed of water!
Lean and protein-rich turkey, creamy avocado and ripe and juicy summer tomatoes are some other classic sandwich fixings that are healthy, too. Pile your ingredients high on hearty, multi-grain or whole wheat bread, and try using heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil or zesty red wine vinaigrette in place of mayonnaise. Freshly diced herbs such as cilantro or basil also add wonderfully vibrant flavors to your sandwiches—without adding a lot of fat or calories. Make sure you keep everything that requires refrigeration in a cooler packed with ice, and don't forget the picnic blanket!
When you're craving a summertime treat, juicy watermelon is a picnic favorite that's perfect for eating outdoors. This summer fruit is terrific served alongside your healthy sandwich, and is sweet enough to enjoy as a healthy dessert. Watermelon is so delicious it's easy to forget that it is also incredibly nutritious. Watermelon is full of antioxidants, including lycopene, which is believed to help prevent cancer. Antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing free radicals, which can cause a great deal of damage in the body, from contributing to the build-up of cholesterol, to increasing the severity of asthma attacks.
With these nutritious and flavorful favorites, you can make picnicking a part of your healthy lifestyle all summer long!