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Healthy Recipes for Outdoor Dining

Healthy Recipes for Outdoor Dining

Guest blogger Hillary Monroe, MS RD LDN, is a registered dietitian and contributor for Everyday Health and its calorie counter tools. Thanks for sharing your healthy recipes with us Hillary!

I don’t know about you, but after a long winter like this one, spring cannot come soon enough! Now that temperatures are starting to improve and the dreary days seem to finally be ending, I’ve definitely caught some spring fever. Laying out the blanket for a family picnic is my favorite way to indulge in spring beauty and the perfect opportunity to highlight the fresh produce that starts to come in around this time.

Yes, absolutely some outdoor favorites can be less than healthy when they get drenched in mayonnaise or contain over a weeks worth of saturated fat. Not only can those typical outdoor eats pose a potential food safety health hazard, but they also don’t do much to embrace all the fresh bounty spring and summer have to offer. That said, we can certainly remake some of those old favorites with healthy options that will provide you and your family not only complete nutrition but also total enjoyment of the season.

The side: pasta salad.
This has been an outdoor staple for as long as I can remember. Traditionally, this macaroni treat is made with a mayonnaise based dressing and not many fresh ingredients. Don’t let the old version discourage you; instead try this simple reworked fresh salad:

1. Roughly chop 3 vine ripe tomatoes and ½ a red onion. Combine in a large bowl.

2. Drizzle over the vegetables ½ cup of your favorite balsamic vinaigrette (or any vinaigrette) and let sit until ready to serve

3. Cook 1 package of your favorite pasta (I like bow ties). Drain and add to the vegetable mixture.

4. Tear 1 bunch of basil leaves and add once salad has come to room temperature. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for later.

The best thing about this recipe is you can make it on your own. Don’t like tomatoes and onions? Instead try roasted summer squash or asparagus, or check out farmers’ markets for what’s in season. Not only do the veggies add bulk to the salad, they add fiber and pack a nutrient punch.

Food on a stick: these always go over well, and the best part is a stick can be the perfect vehicle for seasonal treats. Fresh fruit on a stick is a phenomenal way to enjoy ripe berries, juicy melon and tart pineapple.

1.Cut up your family’s local favorites, skewer with 2-3 cube size pieces of pound cake (per skewer).

2. To make it decadent, drizzle with chocolate sauce or serve with a yogurt dip.

While we only touched on sides and desert, the sky’s the limit when it comes to spring and summer al fresco dinning. As the last of the snow melts and the flowers start to peek out, I hope you all will try some new seasonal foods this spring!

What are your favorite healthy recipes for outdoor dining? Share in a comment.

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