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Healthful Options for Picnics

Fruit Salad
Fruit Salad

It’s picnic season! The warm sunny days have everyone looking for an excuse to be outside. Picnics are a great reason to do just that. Consider hosting a picnic after a service, bible study or another event where food is served. Incorporate some of the following ideas to kick up the nutrition at your next picnic.

Cut fruits and vegetables in different shapes to increase interest (for kids and adults).

  • Make watermelon or cantaloupe balls using a small scoop.
  • Shave a cucumber or zucchini into thin ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
  • Make pineapple stars or flowers using cookie cutters.
  • Cut strawberries into heart shapes using a small knife.

Serve salads containing a variety of fruits and vegetables for added nutrition. Mix your own proportion of these ingredients or find recipes online.

  • Grated Broccoli Salad with carrots, apples and dried cranberries
  • Tomato Cucumber Salad with olives and feta
  • Berry Canteloupe Salad
  • Roasted Corn, Bean and Pepper Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Make a homemade dressing for a healthier dish. Store-bought salad dressings have a number of ingredients and are often high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium.

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette: Whisk together ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (optional), 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and ¾ cup olive oil. This recipe yields one cup of dressing.
  • Lime Vinaigrette: Whisk together 2 tablespoons lime juice, ½ cup olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. This recipe yields approximately six servings.

Incorporate chickpeas, lentils and beans into dishes to increase fiber, vegetable and protein content. A few recipe ideas include:

  • Greek Chickpea Salad Pitas
  • French Picnic Lentil Salad
  • Black Bean Brownies

Try making an avocado egg salad in place of traditional egg salad.

  • Avocado Egg Salad: In a medium bowl, combine 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs and 2 chopped hard-boiled egg whites, 2 small avocados, 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped green onion and ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve on bread or toast, with crackers or cut up veggies.


Compiled by Allie Dhuyvetter, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension Service.


More Fun Food Ideas for Picnics

  • Cut triangle-shaped wedges of cucumber and add a stick in the rind end for a fruit Popsicle.
  • Make sandwich kabobs with small pieces of bread, cheese, grape tomatoes, sandwich meat and olives.
  • Enjoy some “fruit caterpillars.” Place purple and red grapes alternately on skewers.
  • Try filling ice cream cones with melon balls for a refreshing treat.
  • Enjoy some crunchy veggie flowers. Make four v-shaped cuts on the outside of cucumbers. Cut cucumbers into slices to form flower petals.
  • Try some “banana sushi.” Spread a whole-grain tortilla with peanut butter, sunbutter or other spread. Next, place a banana inside and roll. Cut into slices.
  • For a kid-favorite dessert, try making a “dirt dessert” with low-fat, calcium-rich chocolate pudding sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs and a couple of gummy worms.

Reprinted from the FoodWi$e newsletter by Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service,

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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