Eight Healthy Picnic Side Dishes

Get out of the house this summer and enjoy a healthy picnic.

Picnic photo via Shutterstock

Picnic photo via Shutterstock

The end of summer is sneaking up on us (gasp!) so now is the time to pack up the kids, gather your friends, and get outside for a picnic. When packing a picnic, it’s important to use ingredients that can be outside for a long period of time (hint: no dairy), and be sure to plan ahead. You should separate hot items and cold items in separate coolers. Pack plenty of ice (reusable ice packs are a great trick if you’re a picnic enthusiast). And don’t forget to bring utensils; nothing ruins a quality potato salad like having no forks around.

1. Potato Salad with Green Beans and Dill
via Pixels and Crumbs

Potato salad doesn’t have to be a clumpy mess of mayonnaise and overcooked potatoes. Using small colored potatoes, fresh herbs, and a light vinaigrette will make a healthier version of this picnic favorite. Try switching up the herbs by using tarragon or mint.

2. Three Bean Salad
via The Kitchn

Using your favorite fresh beans is the perfect way to customize this salad. This recipe uses raw red onion, but if you aren’t a fan or want something less aggressive, try using shallots. You could also sauté the onion (maybe with a hint of garlic) to take off the edge of the onions.

3. Hummus Dip with Kalamata Olives and Capers
via Jeannette’s Healthy Living

Hummus is a great picnic dip because it’s creamy without using any dairy so the summer heat won’t cause it to spoil. It’s important to rinse the capers since their juice, combined with the olives and lemon juice, will be far too acidic.

4. Feta-Stuffed Watermelon Blocks
via Self magazine

Little bites like these and great for passing and since they don’t require utensils, it’s the perfect picnic snack. It’s easy to make and can be assembled beforehand or at the picnic. Chop some basil to go on top of each bit for an extra fresh finish.

5. Easy Refrigerator Pickles
via Cooking Light

Making pickles is very easy, and it should be done several days ahead of time. If you spend one rainy Sunday making pickles, you’ll have them available all summer. This is a good experimenting recipe, too, especially if you like to play with spices. Play with the heat levels or add some fennel seed for a little anise flavor.

6. Cracked Wheat Salad with Nectarines, Pistachios and Parsley
via Cooking Light

A fresh bulgur salad with salty pistachios, fresh nectarines, and herbs is a great addition to any picnic. If nectarines aren’t looking that great in the store that day, you could swap them out for plums, apricots, or peaches. If you aren’t a huge bulgur fan, then use quinoa instead.

7. Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes
via Bon Appetit

Nothing could be easier or healthier than this salad. Simply toss together the ingredients with olive oil and lime juice and serve. You can char the corn inside on a griddle pan or on the grill with a little oil rubbed onto the ear of corn. This salad would be great topped with a sliced avocado, too.

8. Slim Lemon Bars
via Fitness Magazine

Every picnic needs a sweet ending and these lemon bars are great for picnics. They don’t need to be refrigerated and won’t melt in the sun (like chocolate would). This recipe calls for only a quarter teaspoon of lemon zest, but if you want a punchier kick of lemon in each bite, use up to a full teaspoon of zest.