Monday, April 27, 2009

It's Picnic Time! Can you handle it?


Picnic's... ahhhh, the glorious days of gathering with friends and family to share outdoor fun and, of course, that great picnic food. But going to a picnic while trying to lose weight can be a horrible event. All that mayonnaise layden food, greasy grilled burgers, those fatty, cheesy casseroles. HOW could you ever manage?

Well here's a few recipes to help you stay the course, along with some ideas for food you can take for yourself!

We enjoyed some wonderful, "Weight Watcher®" friendly macaroni salad at this weekend's picnic. Of course, double batches are often needed if you're cooking for a crowd but that's the glory of this can be doubled or tripled without any real problems! Here's the version I made with some tips/changes you could use to create your own personal flavor!

Macaroni Salad (2)
4 1/2 cup(s) cooked macaroni, kept warm
3/4 cup(s) fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
3 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), diced
1 medium green pepper(s), diced
1/4 cup(s) sweet onion(s), minced
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste

While macaroni is still warm, place in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, sour cream and relish; toss to coat. Add peppers, and onion; toss to combine. Season to taste with onion powder, salt and pepper.

Chill for at least 1 hour.

1/2 cup per serving (2).

The original recipe called for 1 medium carrot(s), diced also, which I myself omitted. If you like carrots in your macaroni salad, by all means use it!

You can basically stick with the 4 1/2 Cups cooked macaroni to 3/4 Cup Fat Free Mayo/Salad Dressing and 1/4 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream as the base for your salad. Add to that your "normal" ingredients to give your salad your own taste. As long as you use "free" items, such as veggies and/or spices. Adding a single hard boiled egg does not change the food (value) at all and can add a little extra something to the dish.

What to take for the grill:

If you find that they're going to be cooking up burgers and dogs why not take along your own "Light" hot dog (2) or 4 oz. burger made from 99% fat free ground turkey (1) or 95% fat free beef (4)? Nobody will have a clue and it will help keep you on program! Better yet, if you're not hankering for beef, you could always add a skinless, boneless chicken breast for an easy count (3). Marinate the chicken breast ahead of time in fat free Italian dressing for a no extra food values added!

Don't forget to bring your own light bun!


Yes, you can create "friendly" versions of casseroles to share with everyone and keep it so you know how to count your servings too!

Here's one of my favorites to take when you're asked to "bring a dish"!

Un-Stuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole(6)

Yield: 6 Servings

1.5 Pound Extra Lean Ground Beef

2 Medium Onions, chopped

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

16 oz. Tomato Sauce

1 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Uncooked Long Grain Rice(white)

1 (16 oz.) Bag Classic Coleslaw Mix

Preheat oven to 350F. Brown beef until no longer pink. Drain grease off, if necessary. Add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, water, & uncooked rice. Bring to a simmer and cook until the rice is partially cooked (about 10-15 minutes). Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer half of the coleslaw mix into the bottom, then spread half of the meat mixture on top of that. Repeat layers. Do not stir. Cover tightly with a piece of foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the cabbage is tender.

Dessert Table

Dessert's going to be a problem? Then bake up some awesome (3) brownies! Or take along a box of WW dessert's/bars that will help kill your sweet's needs!

Cutting up some fresh fruit or even stopping along the way to pick up a pre-cut container of fresh fruit from your local grocer can help you contain your desire to eat sweets that aren't good for you! Taking your own fruit will satisfy your "crunch" and "sweet" cravings.

Black Bean Brownies (3)

1 Pkg. (9x13 pan size) REGULAR Fudge Brownie Mix
1 Can (about 19 oz.) black beans with their juice

Blend black beans and their juice in a blender until complete smooth. Add to 1 box of brownie mix (not reduced fat, but regular) and stir until brownie mix is moistened completely. Bake in preheated oven according to brownie mix package directions.

Cut into 24 even pieces. (3 ea.)

*Note: Food Points will vary according to type of brownie mix you use.

*Note: While I know it sounds like a strange mixture, you have NO clue you've used black beans as your moistening agent for the brownies! I swear to you, they do not give off a taste at all in this recipe!


  • Spend time playing outdoor games instead of standing by the picnic tables nibbling

  • Play horseshoes, volleyball, etc. to keep active and not think about eating

  • Come to the picnic after you have already eaten one meal (lunch or breakfast) and not starving, it will help you control your hunger!

  • Go for a walk with friends/family after your dinner/lunch!

  • Take a seat farthest away from the main table that has food on it. This will keep you from leaning over or jumping up and reaching over to eat, mindlessly.

  • Enjoy conversation with your family and friends. Keeping busy and talking will help you avoid filling your mouth!

  • Offer to hold the newest "baby" at the picnic while "mom" eats. You'll have your hands too full to grab unhealthy foods!
As with most of "dieting" and changing lifestyles when it comes to eating, the key is planning ahead. Don't go hungry, don't ignore signs that you're getting hungry while there. Doing this will only make you grab the nearest, quickest and probably least healthy option!

Most of all, ENJOY your summer outings! Make the best of your time outdoors by keeping busy, enjoying conversation and friendship and most of all... THE SUNSHINE!

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