Eat This, Not That: Lunch Box Battles

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Eat this, not that battles on SproutRight.com - Ham Sandwich or PB & J?

The battle: Sliced Ham Sandwich vs. Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich

What’s the healthier choice when you need a grab-and-go lunch?

On one hand, sliced ham is high in sodium and carries a lot of potential for food borne bacteria. Sliced ham is also high in nitrates; a natural chemical found in soil, water and air but used as a food additive to combat bacteria and enhance the flavour of deli meat. There is evidence that a diet high in processed meats can contribute to colon cancer, whether because of nitrates or other reasons. It is best, actually, to avoid processed meat as much as possible. Sliced ham… so maybe not the best choice.

On the other hand, PB&J contains fat from the peanut butter, and the jam can be sugary. But it contains 91% less saturated fat, 100% less sodium and 11% more fibre. There are ways you can improve the health profile of this option: try almond butter, which is higher in good fats and calcium, and a fruit spread tastes just like jam but without all that sugar.

The verdict: PB&J comes out on top!

The battle: Yogurt Drinks vs. Cheesestrings

First, let’s look at what a yogurt drink is. These tend to be milk with added probiotics, flavour and maybe sugar. Some brands have fruit juice as their sweetener, so these are a better option.

As for cheesestrings, these are mozzarella cheese that has been heated to 140 degrees. At this temperature, the cheese becomes stretchy and the milk proteins move around and line up together in a row. This makes the cheese so stringy!

Both options provide protein, but I like foods that contain probiotics because it is so important for a healthy gut. My vote is with the yogurt drink, preferably one that is sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar.

The verdict: Go with the yogurt drink for a probiotic boost, though both are fine options.

In case you’ve missed these, here’s more in our Eat This, Not That series. And tune into The Jerry Agar Show on NewsTalk 1010 every Friday at 11am when I put two more foods against each other!

Energy Drinks vs. Soda

CNE Food

Frozen Pizza vs Take-Out Pizza

Ice Cream vs Gelato vs Frozen Yogurt

Hot Dog vs Hamburger

 

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Eat This, Not That: Energy Drinks vs Soda

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Eat this, not that: Soda vs energy drinks - on SproutRight.com

All of that summer heat might have you reaching for a few sugary beverages to quench your thirst. While water is always your best bet (try it with a bit of lemon or lime if you aren’t big on the taste of plain water), sometimes you do turn to something a little less, well, good for you.

When it comes to sugary drinks, which is worse to consume – energy drinks or soda? We’re putting the two against each other in our latest Eat This, Not That post. We’ve already looked at barbecue fare like hot dogs vs hamburgers, ice cream vs gelato. And last week we looked at your favourite: the best way to eat pizza.

Let’s look at what your teenagers might be drinking… how bad are energy drinks? And is soda a better option?

What’s in energy drinks?

Most energy drinks contain taurine, ginseng and guarana. Taurine is an amino acid that doesn’t often cause side effects, but ginseng and guarana are herbal supplements that can cause adverse effects in some people. If you have high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart problems, an anxiety or nervous disorder or an overactive thyroid, you shouldn’t consume guarana, which is very high in caffeine. Consuming ginseng may not be safe for you if you have heart problems or high blood pressure, schizophrenia, diabetes, an estrogen-sensitive health condition or a bleeding disorder.

While an eight-ounce cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams of caffeine, energy drinks pack anywhere from 154 mg in a 16-ounce Red Bull to 505 mg in a 24-ounce Wired X505. And the most popular juicer around, 5-Hour Energy, has 200 mg of caffeine in a single-serve shot.

What’s wrong with too much caffeine?

Caffeine is naturally derived from several plant sources. It is a stimulant that crosses the blood-brain barrier to activate the central nervous system and, as such, is technically classified as a psychosocial drug. The Mayo Clinic warns that quantities over 500mg a day can lead to insomnia, nervousness, irritability and even muscle tremors. And because of the stimulating effects of caffeine, many people find that they aren’t quite right when they don’t have their daily dose – and symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, irritability even nausea and vomiting. Yikes.

What about soda?

Soda, by contrast, has less caffeine than energy drinks. Mountain Dew, one of the sodas with the highest caffeine levels, only contains 54mg per 12-oz can.

And what about sugar?

Sugar is also something to think about when consuming soda or energy drinks. For 100 gram serving, an energy drink has about 11 or 12 grams of sugar. Soda, Coca Cola for example, has 9 grams, so slightly better.

The bottom line

Soda comes out on top when compared with energy drinks – both for caffeine and (slightly) for sugar. If you do consume energy drinks, be sure to limit consumption and do not exceed three cans per day. Do not give energy drinks to children.

Safe caffeine limits are approximately 200mg per day. And you should limit sugar intake to about 25 grams.
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CNE Food for 2015 – Can I Say Eat This, Not That?

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Fair Food: A nutritionist's Verdict with SproutRight.com

It’s that time of year. The Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto marks the end of yet another summer. Along with all the rides, music and fun, are foods that are meant to shock, wow and maybe give you an instant heart attack.

When I speak with Jerry Agar on Newstalk1010 every week, we talk about “Eat This, Not That” and this week the producer sent me some doozies. Very tough to decide on any of these but I broke it all down for you to see how I’m thinking. Let us know if you try any of the below and if it was worth it.

POUTINE GRILLED CHEESE:  A grilled cheese sandwich stuffed to the max with cheese curds and fries, with a side of warm gravy for dipping!  (Coffee Zone, Midway)

My thoughts: Bread with cheese curds, fried potato and then gravy. Other than a enough sodium to give you an instant heart attack, this is a carb overload in every bite.

OR

POUTINE BALLS:  A Canadian staple gets a Bavarian twist!  Buttery mashed potato balls are stuffed with authentic cheese curds, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried to a crispy golden brown. Once plated, the Poutine Balls are smothered with Bavarian style gravy and even more cheese curds! (Vienna, Food Building)

My thoughts: Mashed potato, cheese, rolled in breadcrumbs then deep fried. Then gravy (think salt overload) and more cheese.

Verdict – The poutine balls being deep fried pushes it over the edge with heated saturated fat, which is the worst kind. I’m hoping that the fries that are in the poutine grilled cheese equal less deep fried-ness.

———–

BACON WRAPPED GRILLED CHEESE: Six strips of bacon weaved around a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with aged cheddar and mozzarella, served with spicy sweet chili ketchup. (Bacon Nation, Food Building)

My thoughts: Six strips of bacon (when do you ever eat that much?), bread and stuffed with two kinds of cheese.

OR

FROSTED FLAKE BATTERED CHICKEN ON A STICK: Juicy battered chicken rolled in Frosted Flakes and deep fried to sweet crunchy tenderness!  (Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips, Food Building)

My thoughts: Chicken –ok that’s good protein– then battered with sugar-laden Frosted Flakes and deep fried.

If you peeled off the Frosted Flakes then I’d be happy. Assuming that you are going for this because of all the battered-ness, then that’s not going to happen.

Verdict: These two really are on par with each other in terms of the saturated, heart-hurting fats. Both from the bacon and then from the battered and fried chicken. What the chicken does have going for it is that there are no nitrates and it would have a lot less sodium, as bacon is high in both.

Can’t believe I’m going to say this but… maybe a slight tip towards the chicken.

———-

DEEP FRIED CHEESECAKE: Creamy cheesecake battered and deep-fried, need we say more? (Pickle Pete’s, Midway)

My thoughts: Where do people dream these things up! I like cheesecake and think that this is just wrong. So we’ve got the fat heavy cheesecake, then it’s battered and deep fried. Saturated fat over and over again. Let’s not forget that it’s got some sugary drizzle on it too.

OR

TIMBITS POUTINE: A delightful takeaway dessert best eaten with a fork! A sweet “poutine” made of Tim Horton’s Timbits decked out in delicious dessert toppings.  Luscious combinations include Chocolate Lovers, Birthday Cake, Oreo, Cinnamon French Toast, and Chocolate Salted Caramel. (Tim Hortons, Food Building)

My thoughts: Another deep fried, heart-attack-waiting-to-happen right here. Mixed with the sugary Timbits with all these insane flavours, artificial colours and saltiness (if you choose that way).

Verdict: Calorie-wise the cheesecake is going to take up least a third the daily norm of your intake. The quantity of Timbits looked to me like it was about four of them which could actually rival the cheesecake at around 400 cals – maybe less depending on your choice. Then the sweet toppings are added, as well as salt or other sprinkle type something. Either are a health hazard from a nutrition stand point so this is my toughest call of the three. Out of curiosity, I’d taste a mouthful of the cheesecake. Cause if it’s not good cheesecake, deep fried or otherwise, it’s not worth it!

I get that it’s fun to try new foods, but really are any of the above really food? I think not. Tread carefully. I fear for your heart!

Eat This, Not That: Frozen Pizza vs Take-Out

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Which is the better option - frozen or take-out pizza on SproutRight.com

Our Eat This, Not That series compares foods that are not traditionally considered “healthy,” but, let’s be realistic, we sometimes turned to them when partying, indulging or grabbing dinner in a pinch.  So is it a hot dog or hamburger at a backyard bash? Gelato or ice cream?

Now let’s look at pizza – a birthday party favourite, a weekend treat, a tempting weekday supper when you are running out of time. Do you head to the frozen foods section of your grocery store for what’s on special, or pick up the phone for takeout?

This study looked at two popular chains, Pizza Pizza and Domino’s, compared with four grocery-store brands: McCain’s, Delissio, Dr. Oetker and President’s Choice. The pizzas were compared based on calories, saturated fat and sodium.

Comparing pepperoni pizza, Delissio Vintage Pizzeria came out the worse at 440 calories, 18 grams of fat (7 saturateD) and 1,100 milligrams of sodium per one-third of a pizza. The best? McCain’s Traditional Crust Pepperoni Pizza had the lowest fat and sodium at 350 calories, 10 grams of fat (4 saturated) and 720 grams of sodium for one-third of the pizza. But in general, delivery and frozen weren’t that different.

The worst pizza all around was Delissio’s Thin & Crispy Grilled Chicken with Tomato and Spinach with 420 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat and 920 mg of sodium. Surprising, since this is an option many people may turn to assuming it is a healthier option.

In this comparison, delivery and frozen pizza didn’t come out that different, though the worst offenders are in the frozen section. But on average, two slices of a meat and cheese pizza can total 600-plus calories, have you consuming half of your daily saturated-fat and contain an entire day’s worth of sodium. Yikes.

Your best bet, of course, is to make your own pizza so you can control the ingredients. If you don’t have time to roll out pizza dough on a busy weeknight, use whole-grain-flour tortillas for a thin crust, add tomato sauce, part-skim cheese and plenty of vegetables. Try our homemade pesto recipe for an extra tasty treat!

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Eat This Not That: Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Yogurt

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Ice Cream, Gelato or Frozen Yogurt  - Eat This, Not That on SproutRight.com

It’s summer and of course you want to reach for a cold, sweet treat. We don’t blame you! But which sweet treat is best, nutritionally? Our new series “Eat This, Not That” looks at some better options and last week we compared the hot dog and the hamburger. Which one came out on top?

Now to your summer dessert…

Let’s talk sugar. A study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology shows a strong association between insulin resistance (often linked to weight gain) and a decline in memory function.

Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose (aka blood sugar) from your blood into your cells for your body to use as fuel. Insulin resistance happens when there is not enough insulin to move the blood sugar into the cells. So the pancreas creates more insulin to move the blood sugar along. As more and more insulin is created, it takes much more to do the job and the pancreas becomes tired and that’s when diabetes can be diagnosed.

The scans from the study showed that people who had higher insulin resistance used less blood sugar in areas of the brain that are the most susceptible to Alzheimer’s. Why this is a problem: when there is less blood sugar in the brain, it doesn’t function as well, researchers say.

Foods high in sugar and fat can cause blood sugar spikes, causing your insulin response to kick into overdrive to convert the nutrients into energy. But when your body doesn’t need any more energy, the rest is stored as fat. Too many blood sugar spikes can then lead to insulin resistance.

The link with memory is that if there isn’t enough insulin to do the job that it should, and forming memories can become harder. Over time, those brain cells might begin to starve and die off. Yikes.

So why this big long explanation? Let’s look at our dessert options because what we want is to find the one with less sugar.

Sugar content in cold desserts

For a 1/2 cup serving

Vanilla Ice Cream 14grams

Gelato 25 grams

Frozen Yogurt 20 grams

So, surprising to some of you … ice cream comes out as the best option. You might shy away from it as a high fat option, but when we take out fat we often add sugar. As an occasional treat, my money’s on ice cream.

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Introducing “Eat This, Not That” Hot Dog Vs Hamburger

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Hamburger vs Hot Dog? Which comes out as your healthier option. Eat This Not That Series on SproutRight.com

Stumped by all the diet hype? Want to make “the best” choice when “healthy” is or isn’t always available? From Lianne’s talks with NewsTalk1010’s Jerry Agar, we’ve developed a series called “Eat This, Not That” to help you make the best choices. Here is our first instalment.

Hot dog vs burger:

It’s barbecue season; when at backyard bash you may be faced with just two options. Which comes out healthier – the hot dog or the hamburger?

First let’s look at the burger. There are many variables here: how big is it? what kind of beef is it? what are you putting onto it? Your typical burger is between 1/3 – 1/2 pounds (about 6 to 8 ounces) and made from 85% lean ground beef. Served with a bun it can pack as much as 620 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat (that’s nearly half your daily limit. This is BEFORE the toppings. A slice of cheese adds another 110 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat. On the positive side, burgers deliver iron and zinc.

Your hot dog – typically smaller than burgers so you are consuming fewer calories. There are approximately 270 calories in a hot dog. It’s not all about calories though. Hot dogs can be sodium bombs, packing 500mg or more per dog. A 3-ounce hamburger, in contrast delivers around 375mg (and if you make it yourself you can add even less salt).

Second, many hot dogs contain sodium nitrite or nitrate (additives that help extend shelf life), which are linked (by some experts) to increased cancer risk. And lastly, because hot dogs are on the smaller side, you might be inclined to have more than one.

the verdict:

From a health perspective, I’d say the hamburger (a quarter-pounder made of 90%-lean ground beef) is the hands-down healthier option. It has four times the protein and iron, five times the zinc and a quarter of the sodium.

Stay tuned as we explore alcohol options in a head-to-head comparison!

And remember, beat extra calories this summer by exercising at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.

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How to Stay Hydrated with More than Just Water

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How to Stay Hydrated with More than Just Water on SproutRight.com

When the heat is on it’s important to keep your fluid levels up. But for the whole summer only sticking to drinking water can become pretty boring. For anyone working outside like landscapers, street crews, police men and women, kids at camp or if you enjoy walking or cycling to and from work all summer long it can be challenging to keep up your water intake throughout the day.

Remember that tempting cool drinks drinks like pop, milkshakes made with milk or ice cream, iced coffee and juice are more dehydrating on your system. Ice tea made from herbal tea bags is an excellent way to have a more jazzy drink.

Also to jazz up water, add in some lemon, grapefruit, orange or lime slices and keep refilling your bottle. Berries and mint make not only a beautiful glass to drink but are hydrating. Try adding some cucumber and mint for something a little different. An insulated water bottle helps to keep it cool while you are out and about or are on the go.

Many foods have a high water content so adding any of these foods into your lunch box or dinner after a long, hot day will help to keep you hydrated and your energy levels up.

  • Cucumber – chop it up and eat at will or add slices to your water
  • Iceberg lettuce – while not packed with as many nutrients as leafy greens, enjoy mixed with other leaves in a salad or use as the bun or wrap for your barbecued burger
  • Celery – serve with pumpkin seed butter and raisins, or with a dip like hummus
  • Radishes – cut up and add to your salad or eat raw with a dip
  • Tomatoes – summertime offers many different varieties. Serve on your burger, eat straight up and/or serve with basil and cheese
  • Green peppers – any coloured peppers, but green in particular. Enjoy slices, eat whole like an apple or serve with dip
  • Cauliflower – cut up and drop into boiling water for about 5 minutes to soften or eat raw with dip
  • Watermelon – blended for a drink in juice box containers and slices
  • Spinach – add into salad above and with the burger
  • Strawberries – gobble up on their own or pack in a bruise-proof container
  • Broccoli – similar to cauliflower, quickly steam or drop into boiling water for 3 – 5 minutes, cool and serve on top of a salad or cut up into pieces for a side to your salad
  • Grapefruit – squeeze juice and half with water in your insulated cup or try in your Juice In The Box container
  • Baby carrots – enjoy different colour varieties, munch raw or try with a new dip

If you find yourself thirsty, you are moving into dehydration. The easiest way to know if you are hydrated is by the colour of your urine. Ideally you want it to be pale straw colour. Darker coloured urine indicates a lack of water intake. Keep drinking until your urine becomes paler.

As well as drinking about 2L of water each day, enjoy coconut water, diluted juice and smoothies made with water.

What’s your favourite food or drink to stay hydrated?

Products used in CanadaAM segment courtesy of Well.ca, Staples.ca and Drink In a Box (available at Staples.ca)

 

Recipe: Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers

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Ah, summer; days filled with outdoor play, long evening walks and BBQ food that … ugh can make you gain a bit of weight. But even potluck bashes can be an occasion to introduce better options and this recipe for chicken (or turkey) burgers is a lightened up, veggie filled classic in our family.

Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers

Super Chicken or Turkey Burgers. Recipe by SproutRight.com

 

This recipe is from Sprout Right: Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler. You can buy the whole book for more great recipes like this.

This is the perfect place to hide lots of vegetables. Use a variety of vegetables, especially those that you wouldn’t normally serve on their own.

1 1/2 lb organic fresh ground chicken or turkey

2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables, finely chopped

1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg*

Pinch Salt and pepper

1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. The texture should be sticky, and the miture should hold its shape. Form into burger patties.

2. Cook on the grill or fry in a skillet over medium high heat until brown on each side and internal temperature reaches 165 Fahrenheit.

*If you wish to omit the egg, decrease the amount of breadcrumbs to 1/2 cup.

You can also make this recipe into meatballs or meatloaf!

Are Probiotics Good for You? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

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What Are Probiotics? This post provides answers to all your frequently asked questions about probiotics. By Lianne of SproutRight.com

As a nutritionist (and one who frequently recommends probiotics), I get a lot of questions about probiotics. Here I have compiled the most frequently asked questions and offered you my answers to help guide you in making good bacteria a part of your health routine.

What are probiotics anyway? 

Probiotics are the supplement form of the beneficial bacteria that should live in our intestines; small and large. Bacteria is everywhere, internal and external.

How do they work?

There’s much talk about having a healthy gut environment or gut microbiome, that’s speaking to the balance of good and bad bacteria that’s found in the gut. Ideally we want around 80% good guys covering the intestinal wall. We will always have a certain percentage of bad in the gut. The goal is to crowd out the bad guys with the good.

Why do you need them?

Taking antibiotics, poor eating, medications, poor diet and sugary foods, alcohol and stress all affect the good to bad balance in a negative way.

From birth to death, and everywhere in between, probiotics are essential for everyone. Having a good balance boosts your immune system, reduces the chance of allergies in babies (which is huge), reduces obesity, helps with absorbing vitamins and minerals, eases depression and helps mental illness, reduces colic in babies, helps reduce arthritic symptoms of inflammation and pain and seriously reduces IBS symptoms in sufferers.

How do I decide which one is right for me?

It’s all about the numbers. And strains.

For babies, formula or breastfed, a study showed that 10 billion CFU of four specific strains called LAB4 reduced the potential for allergies (food and pollen) by 47% and allergic eczema by 57%. Reduction in the risk of colds, flus and length of sickness was also seen. For pregnancy and adults starting on probiotics, I recommend 25 billion CFU found in HMF Intensive. For post antibiotic treatment, I suggest 100 billion CFU found in HMF Antibiotic Care. While taking antibiotics I suggest Physica Flora Syntropy. For constipation, I recommend either HMF Intensive or Flora Syntropy (email us to order Flora Syntropy).

What I recommend to my clients and use myself and with my kids.

I recommend Genestra’s HMF range because it is human strain, that’s what the H stands for “Human Micro Flora.” I’ve studied, followed and learned from the formulator of the HMF range, Dr. Nigel Plummer PhD, about probiotics. I also use the Physica probiotic products; Flora Syntropy and Saccharomyces boulardii Forte. Flora Syntropy can be taken while taking antibiotics as the strain survives the bacteria-busting antibiotics.

To refrigerate or not?

Some strains need to be kept in the fridge and some don’t. Some need to be taken with food and some don’t. When you purchase your probiotics, ask these particulars. HMF products need to be kept refrigerated as well as taken with food.

Fermented foods are great for your gut but don't replace a good probiotic. Learn more in this blog on SproutRight.comCant I just eat yogurt?

Organisms used for food fermentation have trained and adapted to ferment foods. Over generations of fermentation they lost some of the attributes of good bacteria. If you need a probiotic, take a supplement and back it up with fermented foods. Relying solely on fermented foods to build up good bacteria after antibiotics, to help yeast infections or IBS may not get you there fast enough or with the effectiveness that will impact overall health. Keep eating and drinking fermented foods for overall health and wellbeing, but take that supplement alongside.

Do I have to take it forever?

The short answer is yes. Every time you have a bowel movement, billions of bacteria are lost. Optimal health comes from a healthy gut. You can go from taking higher levels to lower levels, and more maintenance levels, but it’s good to take all year around.

Still unsure? Reach out and we will help you find the most appropriate probiotic for your situation.

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How to Pack a Safe and Healthy Picnic this Summer

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How to Pack a Safe and Healthy Picnic in Summer - Great Tips in this Blog from Nutritionist Lianne Phillipson-Webb of Sprout Right

Summer is synonymous with outdoor eating. As we hit the patios and poolside, and round up the cooler for a day at the park it’s time to make the most of the stunning weather, sunshine and freedom of being outside. The heat of summer, however, is also an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria when it comes to packing a picnic. An improperly packed and prepared for picnic has the potential to make you and your little ones sick. You might think, “That potato salad is fine out for a few hours.” but you are taking a big chance with your health. Perishable food stored for more than 2 hrs (1 hr in heat above 32 degrees celsius) outside of 4 degrees celsius (the temp of your fridge) puts you at an increased risk for gastrointestinal upset and bacteria food-borne illnesses, which in children can have quite worrying and serious consequences. Here are some easy and important steps to take to keep everyone happy and safe.

Perishable Food Should Be Kept Cool
Pay attention to meat and dairy products, as well as other perishable foods including poultry, meat, seafood, bean dishes, dips, salads (with or without mayo), cold cuts, soft cheeses and cut produce in your picnic lunch. Be sure to pack these in an insulated cooler, with ice all around, to keep the food’s environment at 4 degrees celsius or lower (the temperature of most fridges).

Here’s a helpful trick for knowing if the environment is cool enough: pack a ziploc bag full of ice. If the ice is melted inside the bag when you check, the environment is no longer 4 degrees celsius or lower.

Some Foods You Can Keep Out of the Cooler
If space in your cooler is at a premium, there are some foods that should fare just fine outside of a cool environment. Most produce is fine unrefrigerated before it is cut or peeled and with so much in season right now, it adds colour and nutrition to your spread. Cherries, grapes, peaches, plums, figs, berries, whole melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, snap peas and avocado. You can also pack whole grain crackers, cured meats and aged cheeses (aged more than 2 years), and most uncut produce outside of a cooler bag.

Add Ice to Your Water Bottle to Help You Stay Hydrated (and Cool Down)
While a glass of chardonnay is a wonderful idea for a picnic at the park, the reality is that with the hot sun beating down on you your body might better appreciate a glass of cold water. Pack your water bottle full of ice before you leave the house so your water stays cool longer (and is better able to cool you down), add some cucumber, mint and berries to give your drink some extra zip.

For picnic ideas, you might find this video helpful. My daughter and I are making rice paper wraps.
You might also like to download our free camping meal plan for cooler meal ideas or read this blog for more helpful ideas.
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