By Marie A. Spano, MS, RD/LD, CSCS, CSSD

Now that springtime is in full gear and summer is right around the corner, it is time for a season full of outdoor festivals, picnics and time at the pool, lake or beach. If you are looking for great ideas to fill your weekends or perfect picnic options, check out our top picks this Summer:











Outdoor Activities
In addition to parades and festivals in your city there are many other ways to enjoy the great outdoors this season. If you haven’t been a tourist in your own city, now is the time to act like one! Go to your city’s website and check out everything it has to offer. You can teach your kids in person by taking them to local historical sites and museums or get them active by checking out hiking trails and parks. In addition, if you’ve never seen your city’s botanical gardens or nature center, you won’t want to miss out on these sites. Or if you want to relax, avoid the traffic and stay at home, there are many fun activities you can play with family and friends including Frisbee, bocce ball, horseshoes, cornhole and croquet. And finally, there’s no better way to spend a summer night then by a bonfire making s’mores and gazing at the stars.

Packing a Power Picnic
Whether you are on the beach or in your own backyard, picnics are a great entertaining option. But, you’ll want to be sure your picnic is both safe from bacteria and insects, healthy and delicious! So first start let’s start with a little food safety:

  • Pack all foods in separate containers with tight fitting lids
  • Keep cold foods cold with ice packs and by packing your cooler tightly
  • If you have raw meats you plan to cook on a grill, wrap them up tightly so no juices spill and then place them in Tupperware and on the very bottom of the cooler
  • Pack plenty of paper towels, napkins, and wet wipes
  • Throw out perishable food that has been kept at an unsafe temperature for 2 hours or more
  • Pack plenty of foods that don’t need to be kept at a specific temperature including fruits, vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat or fish, chips, bread, crackers, peanut butter, jelly and mustard

Next, think healthy and tasty. Start off by picking at least one option from each group:

  • Salad or raw veggies + dip
  • Fresh fruit
  • Whole grain side dish. Rice and pasta are favorites but you can also impress your guests with quinoa, barley, bulgur or any number of other grains! Or choose a summer time favorite – corn on the cob!
  • Beans – either baked beans, or beans in a salad or rice dish
  • Beverages – take plenty to cool off in the heat. And, choose a variety while including water, no calorie flavored beverages and options for kids
  • Dessert – why not opt for watermelon, fruit salad or something light such as an angel food cake topped with berries and whipped cream or meringue cookies

There are so many ways to enjoy the summer. To take advantage of all of them, pick a new sight or activity every single weekend!