When you’re planning a picnic or cookout, creating a perfect menu can be challenging when you have vegetarians coming to dinner.
Though most vegetarians eat a varied, balanced diet, carnivores might have a difficult time coming up with inventive main dish options for guests with dietary restrictions.
Rainbow Sandwich: If cold cuts are on the menu for your next picnic, don’t relegate the vegetarians to cheese sandwiches or peanut butter and jelly. Tomatoes, avocado and pesto make for such a delicious sandwich that even your meat eaters in the group will want one.
Appetizers and finger foods can be the most exciting part of a meal – sometimes they even steal the show from the main dish itself. In the summertime, chips and dips might be convenient but they aren’t always the healthiest pair.
Next time you need a healthier appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, ditch the bag of chips and store-bought salsa and make slimmer versions of your favorite meal starters.
Instead of Ranch or Onion Dip…
Blue Cheese Dip. Most prepackaged dips and mixes have a lot of calories, fat, sodium and even sugar. Making your own, especially one perfect for the Atkins Diet, is a healthier alternative to your store-bought standby.
Summer is in full swing and many of us have the sunburn and mosquito bites to prove it. If you’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors then odds are, you’ve attended a picnic, backyard party or cook out under the sun and are beginning to tire of hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken.
Next time you’re planning the menu, look for inventive new dishes that will kick off your party on the right note. Whether you’re in the mood for light lunch fare like salads or sandwiches, something hot off the grill or a stick-t0-your ribs meal that will stand up to the heat, you don’t need to ditch your diet to have fun this summer.
Salads & Sandwiches:
Arroz con Pollo Salad: Chicken and rice sounds like a heavy meal but not when you put it into a refreshing salad form. If you’re entertaining in your back yard this is a great option for anyone who wants to indulge without the guilt.
On picnics and at barbecues, it isn’t often the main dishes that contribute the most calories to the meal. Side dishes, picnic salads and desserts can all be heavy and high-calorie if you aren’t careful to limit the oil, dairy and other indulgent ingredients.
Make a few simple swaps next time you plan a picnic or outdoor dinner party to shave hundreds off calories off your summer meals.
Carrot Hummus: Baby carrots are often used as a dipping vehicle for this chickpea-packed Middle Eastern spread, but this recipe incorporates carrots within. Serve over whole grain crackers or whole wheat pita bread – or even with raw veggie sticks for even more nutrition.
Herbed Dip for Veggies: If you want to up your veggie intake at your next picnic, ditch the chips and whip up a dip for your favorite vegetables that uses light sour cream and silken tofu.
When you think of picnic salads, you probably think of fattening classics like coleslaw, potato salad and macaroni salad. Not only are these traditional salads laden with saturated fat and empty calories, they’re usually bound with mayonnaise, which makes them susceptible to spoilage.
Instead of looking to the usual suspects next time you’re asked to bring a dish to a potluck picnic, opt for something mayo-free that will keep well at room temperature and help you stick to a healthy diet.
Instead of coleslaw…
Apple Slaw: Full of fresh, crunchy apples and mixed with low-fat yogurt, this slaw has less than a hundred calories per serving and is a great alternative to a fuller-fat version.