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Perfect Picnic for the Fourth of July

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES June 28, 2017Pearls of Wisdom Blog

What’s your go-to summer celebration? Do you plan family or neighborhood dinners? How about attending a ceremony or parade to honor those brave men and women who have served in the United States military? Do you have pool parties, picnics, and BBQs? Do you take a trip to the beach or lake?

However you choose to spend June, July, and August, summer social events can bring up new food challenges when you are in cancer treatment.

What will be your food plan for these events? If you are not up to your usual celebrations, how will you modify your schedule and menus? Check out these strategies to plan your summer picnics:

S Start with grilling safety tips. Did you know that you can’t tell if a meat is done by looking at it? Or, by the amount of time the meat or fish has been on the grill? Since meat may be the centerpiece of your meal, stay safe by using a thermometer and a chart to check for the desired temperature for the type of meat you are cooking. Safe temperatures range from 145 degrees for pork chops, fish, ribs, roasts and steaks to 165 degrees for poultry, and to 160 degrees for eggs, ground beef, veal, and pork. Don’t guess! Know the temperature goal! Is It Done Yet? from is a good tool to keep on hand when preparing meat!

T Take the celebration outside! Food tastes better outside, as I’ve heard many people say. Maybe it’s the aroma of food cooking on the BBQ grill, the beautiful lawns with flowers, or the energy that fresh air gives you that just makes eating outside more fun. Be sure to apply your sunscreen and bug spray often. Stay in the shade. Keep tasty beverages within reach for hot, sunny weather. Bring a hand sanitizer to share with everyone. Washing your hands at the right time during food prep and before eating is the top strategy to keep everyone healthy!

A Add a new flavor or dish to your celebration. Special events are a fun time to show your cooking talents (or buy a prepared new food to try). If you don’t feel up to cooking or shopping, share a recipe that you’d like to try with a friend or family member who could prepare the recipe for you. Include a fruit or vegetable that is at its peak in summer like artichokes, berries, broccoli, cherries, and spring peas.

R Raise Old Glory. Put red, white, and blue in everything you do from beverages, food garnishes, paper ware, decorations, clothing, hats, and of course proudly displaying the Stars and Stripes. Have a game or quiz with facts about nutrients in food, Old Glory, American History, or your area of the country. For example, did you know the American flag is 240 years old in 2017? Or that brightly colored foods carry antioxidants that help support strength and immunity? A trivia game is a good way to add some fun to a family get together without requiring the physical exertion of playing a sport or swimming.

More Safety Tips for Grilling

Check these fun recipes from the American Institute for Cancer Research that include red, white, and blue to complete your summer party:

Red, White, and Blue Smoothie

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Chicken with Spinach and Apple

Chicken, Cantaloupe, Strawberry Salad

Summer Tomato and Corn Salad with Basil

Cauliflower Steaks

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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