The final few days of summer are upon us! I don't blame you for wanting to get outside and enjoy nature with some delicious food. Late summer is the perfect time for a picnic! No matter what you pack, dining al fresco poses certain health risks. To healthfully navigate picnic season with scorching summer temperatures, pay particular attention to these nine tips before packing up your basket. If you're looking for some fun and easy recipes check out this peach summer salad, spiralized veggie hummus wraps or tomato and avocado caprese.
1. When in doubt, throw it out!
Food poisoning is a serious summer concern and when food is left baking under the sun, spoilage can occur more rapidly than you realize. Considering bringing a thermometer so you can monitor safe internal temperatures.
2. Don’t let food sit out for more than one or two hours in extreme heat.
While you're at it, try to keep cold food cold, at 40º Fahrenheit or below. Keep raw food, such as meat and poultry, separate from produce and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
3. Bring extra utensils.
Never use the same utensils for raw meat, poultry or seafood as you would use to prepare produce or ready-to-eat foods without thoroughly washing them in warm, soapy water.
4. Always wash your hands before, during and after handling food.
If there’s no running water nearby, be sure to pack hand sanitizer!
5. Pack portable foods that don’t have to be refrigerated.
To prevent any food safety concerns, pack a picnic largely of foods that are safe to consume at room temperature. Remember, it’s always best to consume food before it is sitting out for hours, so plan your picnic accordingly.
Try these picnic picks: Whole grain crackers with nut butter, dairy-free, grain-based salads, fruit salad, or crudites and hummus.
6. Avoid packing common danger foods.
Mayonnaise-based salads, raw meats, soft cheeses, melons, hot foods and moist foods are all more prone to bacteria growth in the soaring summer heat.
7. Freeze water in reusable BPA-free bottles.
These can act as ice packs as they defrost. Remember to stay hydrated! The dog days of summer bring heat and humidity, welcoming dehydration. Lift your glass before you even feel thirsty to hydrate frequently.
8. Freeze fruit.
Skip dessert that can weigh you down and stay cool by snacking on frozen grapes and berries.
9. Seek out shade.
Scout out a big tree. To prevent heat exhaustion and sunburn, park your picnic in a shady area, out of direct sunlight. Your food, your skin, and your health will all be safer!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock