The Half-Your-Plate Picnic

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Fruits & Veggies—More Matters

The Half-Your-Plate Picnic

Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: The Half-Your-Plate Picnic. Kim Kirchherr, Hornbacher's. Fruits And Veggies More

July is National Picnic Month, and nothing says summer like a picnic, whether it’s in the backyard or on the road! With the release of the USDA’s MyPlate in June, it’s even easier to plan family outings and take well-balanced eating outside!

The new MyPlate icon suggests we fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains, and a quarter with protein, accompanied by a serving of dairy. The great thing about this new menu planning tool is that with the focus on fruits and veggies, it’s easy to make things interesting by swapping them out for seasonal favorites without adding extra work or steps to planning meals and snacks.

Packing the perfect produce-filled picnic …

    • Grilled Fruits. Transporting your fruit to the backyard is easy – just grab a bowl of whole peaches, plums, and nectarines. Using a cutting board and knife, simply cut the fruit in half, remove the pit, and set cut side down on the grill to form char marks. Use a grilling-appropriate cooking spray, or your favorite marinade for additional flavor, if desired. Balsamic vinegar, orange juice or honey mustard work great with fruit.
    • Kabobs! Not only are kabobs built-in portion control for protein foods, they make fruits and vegetables fun to eat – and so easy for guests! Remember to leave several inches at the bottom of the kabob clear to use as a handle. Try cubed pineapple with red pepper, layered with lean meat or chicken chunks. For appetizers, alternate whole strawberries, melon cubes, and chunks of peaches or nectarines.
    • Get the Kids to Help. Letting your kids choose a favorite for the meal will help encourage them to try new items and instill healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.
    • Veg Out! Layer veggies such as mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, even small slices of corn on the cob on a skewer. Depending on what you choose, this can be served raw as an appetizer, grilled and served as a side, or in a salad.
    • Corn on the Cob. Corn is excellent on the grill and great to eat on the road (as it’s “packaged for travel”). And … since it’s a bit messy, what a fun veggie to serve to kids outside to help contain clean up!
    • Go Seasonal! Enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables like cherries, watermelon, tomatoes, and corn. Offer them as part of a meal, on their own, or see below for some tasty ways these favorites can make a meal more special.

Check out these easy-to-make and easy-to-transport picnic recipes …

Cantaloupe Cooler Watermelon & Tomato Salad Fruit Kabobs and Sweet Yogurt Dip Chunky Fresh Tomato Salsa BBQ Burger Dinner Corn & Black Bean Salsa

 Prep Time: 20 minutes Amount: 20 servings
    • 2 cups sweet corn, cooked and removed from cob
    • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
    • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, diced
    • ½ cup tomato sauce
    • ¼ cup minced green onions
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground natural sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon chili powder


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips.

Nutritional Information: (does not include chips) Serving Size 1/20 of recipe; Calories 50; Total Fat 0g; Saturated Fat 0g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 150mg; Carbohydrates 10g; Fiber 2g; Protein 2g

 Recipe Courtesy of Supervalu, Inc.
Kim Kirchherr, MS, RD, CDE
Hornbacher’s Dietitian
©2007-2010 Produce for Better Health Foundation. All rights reserved.