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Posts Tagged ‘healthy picnic food’

a bowl of fruit salad

Summer is a magnificent season, when outdoor activities abound, and cookouts happen seemingly every weekend. Think of the general spread at a cookout. What comes to mind? Common cookout options include hotdogs, hamburgers, watermelon, chips, dip, and sweets. Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of the summertime produce available, when it is at its freshest and typically best price. During the summer season, fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, lemons, and limes are all in peak harvest, as are vegetables such as corn, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and arugula. Summer is the best time to experience all this delicious produce, which is either not widely available, or is more expensive during the other three seasons. One great way to enjoy summer produce is combining colorful fruit into a salad, such as this one from Food Hero. If you want to experiment with seasonal vegetables instead of fruit, Food Hero also offers a template you can use to make a colorful stir-fry.

There are many reasons to consume fruits and vegetables – both in the summer and year-round. Fruits and vegetables are not only flavorful and colorful; they are packed with nutrients vital to our health such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are naturally occurring chemicals in plants which contribute a variety of characteristics to that plant, such as taste, color, and smell. Registered dietitians often recommend eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables because different colored fruits and vegetables contain different phytonutrients. Phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, phenols, carotenoids, and lutein are believed to play a role in health promotion and disease prevention, and research is underway to further examine their potential benefits. Researchers believe one of the main benefits from most phytonutrients is antioxidant activity, which helps rid the body of oxidizing agents that could cause harm. Specifically, flavonoids and Quercetin, found in food such as apples, onions, coffee, and citrus, are thought to help reduce chronic inflammation, and the anthocyanins found in berries and red wine are believed to help reduce blood pressure.

Aside from the potential health benefits associated with phytonutrients, eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables has the added benefit of increasing the variety in ones’ diet, and it has been said that variety is the spice of life! This summer, I encourage you to take the seasonal opportunity to indulge in the large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that summer is known for because even without additional health benefits, your taste buds will thank you!

Written by Laurence Brandon III, Dietetics Student, Middle Tennessee State University

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Harvard Health (2019). Fill up on phytochemicals. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/fill-up-on-phytochemicals

McManus, K. (2019). Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the color of the rainbow. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/phytonutrients-paint-your-plate-with-the-colors-of-the-rainbow-2019042516501

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It is time for Memorial Day picnics, graduation parties and summertime.   Most of us have familiar recipes that we fix for these occassions.  Now is a good time to try a new healthy recipe for your special occassion.

A fresh fruit bowl is easy to fix and loved by many.  Select fruits that are in season and make sure you have a variety of colors to make your beautiful fruit bowl.  Garnish with fresh herbs such as mint or lavendar.   fresh_fruit_salad-1.jpg image by Tiara_PerkinsVisit your local farmer’s market for berries or other fruits that are grown in your area.  If adding apples or bananas to your mix, dip in orange juice to keep them from turning brown.

Appetizers and dips are favorites for these special occassions.   Remember to keep your dips refrigerated until serving time.  Allow at least an hour or two for the flavors to blend.   Place your dip in a small bowl and nestle it in a slightly larger bowl of ice to keep it cold.  Vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini and whole grain crackers are great dippers for this dill dip.

Creamy Dill Dip

Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup sour cream, nonfat
1 cup yogurt, nonfat plain
2 Tablespoons dried dill

Instructions:

1. Put the sour cream, yogurt, and dill in a medium bowl. Stir together.

2. Store the dip in a covered container if you don’t plan to eat it right away.

3. Keep the dip in the fridge until you serve it.

Notes: Serve with cucumber slices. If you want a creamy salad dressing, add a few tablespoons of water to the dip.

Source:
The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program
Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program, available at SNAP-ED Connection Recipe Finder.  www.recipefinder.nal.usda.gov

Try the Fiesta Hummus Dip for your next picnic or party.  Have fun with your summertime parties and try a new recipe!

Fiesta Hummus

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Calories 120

Total Fat 3 g

Sodium 330 mg

Total Carbohydrate 18 g

Dietary Fiber 3 g

Sugars 2 g

Protein 5 g

Ingredients:1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions:
1. Drain and mash garbanzo beans in blender, food processor or
with fork. Add remaining ingredients.2. Blend until smooth. Chill one hour or overnight. Serve on crackers or tortilla chips. Promptly refrigerate leftovers.

Source:
Oregon State University
http://oregonstate.edu/dept/kbrec/sites/default/files/documents/health/Fiesta_Hummus.pdf

Available at SNAP-ED Connection Recipe Finder.  www.recipefinder.nal.usda.gov

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