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Healthy food swaps for your end-of-summer picnic

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. She holds a masters degree in public health from the University of Michigan.

Although it seems that Labor Day was the finale for BBQ season, most of the country isn't cooling down just yet temperature wise and the nights of being outdoors, grilling and celebrating the last weeks of summer are still in full swing.

If you are entertaining guests at your home, check out these healthy food swaps that will win their taste-buds over, cocktail recipe included... you're welcome!

Mac & cheese please

Potato salad is a common side dish at most picnics. Although potatoes do have health benefits including Vitamin B6 and fiber, cup for cup mac and cheese has one-third less calories, fat grams and sodium than potato salad. I love the Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese. Made with organic wheat pasta and with real cheese, each serving boasts 9-10 grams of protein. The big key for me: no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Both kids and parents can enjoy this healthy dish. My son loves the Mild Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

A better dip for your crudite

Crudites with Ranch dip are OK in moderation, but since you're likely to be eating straight from the platter, you may end up eating two or three serving sizes, ratcheting up the calorie count even higher. If you must have some crudites, fill your plate with the vegetables and seek out a healthier dip, like hummus. With 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein in each tablespoon, the Sabra Roasted Red Pepper flavor is also a perfect spread on your burgers.

Swap that sugary for something spicy

It may be a good idea to trade in your margarita for something a bit more spicy and healthy. Margaritas are loaded with sugar with little to no nutritional value. Each cocktail comes in at a whopping 400 calories per 8 ounce serving; straight sugar. Swap out your margarita nights and add a bit of spice at your next picnic with this Sriracha bloody mary cocktail served in a Mason jar; so fun, so chic and so picnic.

Photo Credit: Sodium Girl

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 16 ounces tomato juice
  • 4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 4-6 ice cubes per cocktail
  • 1 stalk celery and lemon wedge for garnish

Directions:

Combine tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vodka and sriracha sauce into a pitcher. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Serve over ice and pour cocktail into Mason jar. Garnish with a lemon wedge and use celery sticks for stirring. Enjoy! Serves 4.

Put the chips away

Chips are a common snack at your typical BBQ, but get creative this year and swap out BBQ Potato Chips for a STRONG & KIND Honey Smoked BBQ bar. Wholesome ingredients like almonds, seeds and legumes give this bar a nice protein boost and with very little sodium, you can't go wrong (say bye-bye to bloat). Cut them into small squares and your guests will feel so much better and will likely not over-snack before the main meal.

Thank you to Sabra for sending me samples of their hummus. I love it on everything: salads, sandwiches, with veggies and crackers. #DipLifeToTheFullest

Photo credit: omgimages/iStock/360/Getty Images
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