With summer rapidly coming to an end (um, let’s not talk about that), there’s no better way to spend the next few weeks than by cramming in as much summer fun as possible. At the top of our list, right after beach days and backyard barbecues, is spending the final hot weekend afternoons of the season picnicking outside in the park. Of course, summer picnics don’t always boast the healthiest of menus (shoutout to chips, dips, and greasy sandwiches). Luckily, with a little tweaking, you can totally whip up a perfectly guilt-free – and dare we say nutritious – picnic from start to finish.
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwich
One of our absolute favorite picnic sandwich fixings, chicken salad comes with the unfortunate reality of lots of mayo (and way more calories than we bargained for because of it). But by swapping out the high-fat condiment for some protein-rich yogurt and you’ll find yourself with a sandwich filling that is so creamy and flavorful that you’ll hardly remember may was a part of the mix to begin with.
Get the full recipe from Damn Delicious.
Baked Eggplant Sandwich
Can’t imagine a picnic without sandwiches, but looking for a lower-carb option to satisfy your menu requirement? Why not try swapping out your sandwich bread for baked eggplant. And with a coating of almond meal and Parmesan cheese, you can look forward to a nice little dose of protein and, well, cheese.
Get the full recipe from The Iron You.
Baked Sweet Potato Chips
A picnic always calls for some small bites you can munch (and crunch) on throughout the afternoon, and in that regard, chips are always at the top of the list. But to cut some of the oil and calories from the mix, ditch the usual store-bought potato chips and go for some home-baked sweet potato chips instead. Just as much crunch and flavor, but with way less guilt.
Get the full recipe from A Spicy Perspective.
Chicken Fajita Kebabs
When you stack up a bunch of healthy ingredients on a skewer, you’ve got yourself an easy-to-transport picnic staple that offers loads of opportunity for inventiveness and customization. One of our favorite ways to do the dish? Skewers stacked with peppers, onions, and lime-and-chili chicken – i.e. basically a deconstructed (and healthy) chicken fajita on a stick.
Get the full recipe from Well Plated.
Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad
Ditch the high-cal mayo for a little bit of balsamic glaze, and you’ve instantly got a pasta salad that feels as indulgent as your favorite versions, but with a fraction of the fat. The tangy burst from the strawberry and the flavor of fresh mozzarella definitely don’t hurt either.
Get the full recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Edamame Guacamole Dip
Feel the need to pack some dip but not sure how well your healthy eating streak will fare in the face of salsa in queso? Go for a healthier version of guac, instead, by trying out an edamame-infused take on the dish. Pureed edamame means you can cut back on the fatty avocado – which is healthy, yes, but only in moderation – without losing any of the flavor or texture of your favorite chip accompaniment.
Get the full recipe from The Nutty Nutritionist.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
A good picnic is nothing without dessert. And sure, we expect that you’ll have some extra healthy sweet options packed up for the afternoon, like fruit salad or fresh watermelon. But for an extra-indulgent treat, pack some homemade cookies that satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth. This recipe is surprisingly more nutritious than your average chocolate chip cookie thanks to main ingredients like oatmeal and whole wheat flour, but you’d never know it from the (delicious) flavor, making it the perfect way to round out your picnic basket.
Get the full recipe from The Food Charlatan.