By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian
Sometimes after a long day at work getting your family to sit down at the dinner table seems like a chore in itself. So packing it up and taking it outside whether to your backyard, a local park or the beach can makes it fun for you & your kiddos!
Eating in nature has other benefits too:
- Family Bonding – play outside, have fun and make memories!
- Keeping Active – Picnics can introduce young ones to sports, games, and nature and encourage adults to partake in physical activities as well. Mini games between family and friends like tug-of-war, flag football, and kickball can be played before a meal or more casual games like horseshoes or beanbag toss after a meal are great ways to get moving!
- Relieves Stress – Food tastes better and you digest it easier when you are mentally present. Eating outside reduces stress levels and you are able to be more mindful about your eating.
- Builds Stronger Bones – If the sun is out Vitamin D production sparks! You need only 10-15 minutes a few days a week to meet your weekly Vitamin D needs. This will help you build and maintain strong bones.
- Boosts Your Immunity – We’ve already noted that being outside reduces stress. In turn, reducing stress, boosts your immune system.
Dinner outside doesn’t need to be fancy. In fact, many picnics are quite inexpensive. You could grill, or bring a variety of easy-to-eat foods like these:
- Sliced meat, cheese or egg salad (see recipe below!)
- Hummus or yogurt
- Whole wheat crackers, bread, tortillas or pitas
- Bananas, berries, , apples, peaches or watermelon
- Carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes or peppers
- 8 eggs
- 1/2 C mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Place eggs in medium saucepan and fill with water (so eggs are fully covered). Bring eggs to boil. Place lid on top and remove from heat. Let sit for 13 minutes.
- Place eggs in ice bath or run under cold water to chill eggs.
- Peel and chop hard boiled eggs.
- Mix eggs, mayonnaise and seasoning. (choose an option from below to make it unique!)
- Chill for up to 3 hr.
Make it Unique:
- Nicoise – mix in olives and tuna
- Cucumber Basil – add crunchy diced cucumbers and fresh basil
- Curried – Add curry powder and bits of diced apple
- Southern – Just add some yellow mustard
- Avocado – replace the mayo with mashed creamy avocado and a dash of paprika
- Tarragon – combine fresh tarragon, bell pepper and fennel
- Pesto – add fresh basil and minced garlic
- Jalapeno – if you like it spicy add in some diced jalapeno peppers, cilantro and cumin