NDSU Extension - Benson County


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Have a Healthy Picnic

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

July is here, which means warm weather, growing gardens, and plenty of outdoor eating.  This is why it is so appropriate that July is national picnic month.  Warm weather is a great reason to spend time with your family and friends, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. 

When preparing food or eating outdoors, remember that all of the same food safe rules that apply indoors, apply outside as well.  If you are planning to have items that need to be kept cold, be sure to pack them in ice.  When you are indoors, food needs to be put away on or before the two hour mark to avoid unsafe food consumption.  If you are outdoors, and the weather is warm, food shouldn’t be without ice or refrigeration for more than 60 minutes or one hour.  Increased temperature means that bacteria can grow faster, allowing for more opportunities for food borne illness. 

If you are going to have your cooler outside for a while, consider finding a shaded spot under a nearby tree.  Keeping it in your car or on the picnic table will heat it up quickly, causing your food to become unsafe.

If you are grilling be sure to bring a food thermometer to ensure your foods are up to the proper temperature.  Remember that beef, pork, lamb steaks, roasts, and chops, as well as fish need to be cooked to 145 degrees.  Ground beef, pork, and lamb need to be cooked to 160 degrees while turkey, chicken, and duck of any type needs to be cooked to 165 degrees.  If you are re-heating leftovers of any kind, be sure to heat them to at least 165 degrees to be safe.

Here is a recipe for trail mix bars.  They are the perfect snack or picnic addition as they do not need to be kept on ice.  This recipe is filled with ingredients from both the grain and protein food groups.   Enjoy!

Trail Mix Bars


  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 3 cups toasted oat cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 jar chunky peanut butter (16 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


First, combine the dry ingredients in bowl.  Then, combine honey and sugar in pan and bring to a boil.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, stir until peanut butter melts.  Pour mixture over cereal and mix well.  Finally, press into a 13x9" pan and cool.


Makes: 28 bars.  Each serving contains 225 calories, 11 grams of fat, 133 mg of sodium, 30 carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. 



  • NDSU Extension Service Food Wise Newsletter, July 2016
  •  University of Wisconsin Extension, Adams County. What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl.
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