Summer is a great opportunity to plan time with family and friends. With the promise of good weather, picnics in the park and barbecue’s in the garden are a great way to spend time outside.
You can plan picnics to ensure they include lots of in season fruit and vegetables and barbecues are a healthy way of cooking food. Make the most of your time outside and plan lots of fun activities. Did you know that adults should be active for at least 150 minutes across the week? Why not plan a game of rounders in the park or plan a treasure hunt in the garden. You can get lots of ideas for activities via Change4Life .
How to Plan a Healthy Picnic or Barbecue?
Firstly, pick your recipes and make a list of ingredients you will need. This will help you to avoid temptations when you go to the supermarket!
Have something from each food group on the Eatwell Guide
- Bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
- Fruit and vegetables
- Milk, cheese and yoghurt
- Meat, fish, eggs and beans
- Make it colourful – use lots of fresh fruits which you can serve with natural yoghurt and vegetables will make perfect salads or side dishes
- Make it manageable to eat by including smaller pieces, this saves time when serving. You can use pitta bread cut into quarters or wholemeal wraps cut into small segments
- Be inventive – it is a good excuse to try tasty new recipes and try adapting recipes to make them healthier
- Consider how foods will last – ‘wet’ foods such as tomatoes in a sandwich can make bread soggy, have them on the side or put them in the middle of the sandwich not touching the bread
- Avoid dressing for salads which can be high in fats. Consider using lemon juice or herbs to add flavour instead. Or prepare your own dressing using yoghurt, check this one out from Jamie Oliver http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/zingy-fat-free-dressing/
- Try grilling slices of aubergine, peppers, red onion and courgette to make delicious vegetable kebabs
- Use lean cuts of meat to reduce your saturated fat intake. Try buying loin of pork instead of ribs, or lean steak rather than a fattier cut, remove skin from chicken
- Avoid shop bought marinades and sauces for meats. You can add your own flavours using marinades such as lemon, rosemary or sage or use fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander or basil along with some citrus fruit such as orange, lemon or lime zest and juice once the meat has cooked
- Swap red meat and processed meats such as sausages for grilled fish such as sardines, mackerel or salmon
Water is a healthy and cheap choice for quenching your thirst at any time. In hot weather serve with ice cubes and add a slice of lemon, lime or and sprig of mint. Limit soft drinks and fizzy drinks which are high in sugar. Instead have some fizzy water with some added lemon slices.
Be mindful of any alcohol that is served as it is easy to drink more during warmer weather. Try to measure alcohol so you can keep track of how much you’re drinking.
What are the recommendations for alcohol?
- Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day and men should not drink more than 3-4 units per day
What is a unit of alcohol?
A pint of beer that is 5 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV) is almost three units and a standard (175ml) glass of wine (13 per cent ABV) is just over two units. Because we tend not to use such precise measures at home, it’s useful to know that a bottle of wine (13 per cent ABV) would be nearly 10 units.
If it is a hot day it is best to stick to water and if having alcohol set yourself a limit and try to alternate drinks with water. You can easily track your alcohol intake using an NHS Drinks Tracker app http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/drinks-tracker.aspx
Consider Food Safety
To fully enjoy your picnic or BBQ, and avoid falling ill, consider the following tips from the Food Standards Agency
- Wash hands before cooking and eating where possible. If you’re at a picnic and it’s not possible to wash your hands, use a wet wipe to clean your hands, then use a sanitiser on top to sterilise them
- Wash fruits and vegetables before packing them
- Place cold food in a cool box with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at below 5°C to prevent bacterial growth
- Once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cool box is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold for longer
- Once you’ve served it, dishes should not sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if it’s very hot outside. After this, the risk of bacteria increases and it becomes unsafe to eat, so best to throw it away when you get home
- When cooking minced meat products such as beef burgers, sausages and kebabs and pork, turkey and chicken, always check that the meat is steaming hot throughout, there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part and meat juices run clear
- Burgers prepared at home should always be cooked all the way through until steaming hot. They should not be served rare or pink because harmful bacteria may be present in the middle of the burger, causing food poisoning
- Don’t mix utensils/bowls used to prepare raw and ready-to-eat dishes
- Cook it, don’t wash it: Don’t wash raw chicken or any other meat; it just splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria present
There are lots of great recipes to experiment with, the following are some of our favourites:
British Heart Foundation – Barbecued Mackerel with spices https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters/healthy-eating-toolkit/recipe-finder/barbecued-mackerel-with-spices
CASH – Avocado and mozzarella http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/less/recipes/Salads/41840.html
Jamie Oliver – Elderflower Lemonade with frozen berries http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/elderflower-lemonade-with-frozen-berries/
We hope you enjoy lots of tasty and safe summer food!