Trying to eat healthy at summertime picnics can be anything but a picnic. All the hotdogs, buns, sweets, pastas and potato salads at summer gatherings can turn fun summer soirees into real gut busters. Not to fear, if you’re someone who never misses a family reunion or enjoys lunching on a blanket in the park, there are some healthy picnic foods you can choose…all you have to do is plan ahead.

Makeover your burger…

If burgers get you bloated, then maybe it’s time to try a new type of burger. Adding fruit to your slab of meat can help reduce calories, just like in this recipe for The Cherry Burger found on Eating Well. While mixing your pre-burger meat, just add in some dried cherries — it’s that simple! Not only does this increase the amount of antioxidants you consume, but it also reduces the amount of red meat you end up eating, cutting fat and adding fiber.

With all of the garden goodness available this time of year, try to incorporate more when stacking your next burger. The recipe for the Mediterranean Burger does just that… the recipe calls for an assortment of nutritious ingredients such as; arugula, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. With only 9 grams of fat and 11 grams of protein, surely you won’t feel the bulge after indulging in this Mediterranean dish.

Still, if you’re the picnic goer who loves her traditional burger on the grill, but wants to save on calories, there are things you can do to cut corners. Opting to eat only half of a bun or a whole wheat bun can help make your meal a little healthier. Also, knowing what condiments to avoid is critical. Opting for low fat mayonnaise while reducing the amount of ketchup and ball park-style mustard you use can be a simple solution. Instead of stacking on the cheese, try adding slices of avocados to your burger. Avocados make a delicious burger topping that contains healthy fats.

Check out more healthy burger recipes >>

Hamburger alternatives

Picnicking in the park can lead to a variety of satisfying and healthy food dishes. Roasting a chicken or picking up a precooked chicken for your afternoon meal can be a brighter choice. Without consuming the skin, roasted chicken comes in at about 120 calories per serving. Round out your picnic feast with some roasted red pepper hummus served with sliced veggies.

Making over potato salad

What would a picnic be without potato salad? There simply would not be a picnic without this popular dish, but unfortunately potato salad has a fatty reputation. The website Cooking Light has some alternative recipes that taste way better than the original — plus they’re good for you, too!

One way to make a healthier version of traditional potato salad is to try the site’s Lemon Herb Potato Salad; “Our recipes offer a variety of alternative ways of preparing potato salad to lighten it up without sacrificing flavor” stated the site. The Lemon Herb recipe skips the mayonnaise, utilizing zest from lemons and Dijon mustard along with parsley, chives and basil, instead.

For another potato salad approach you can replace the zesty lemon flavoring above for Greek yogurt . Start off by incorporating your traditional potato salad ingredients like wedge cut potatoes, onions and eggs, but instead combine equal parts reduced fat mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt for a creamy combo. Look for mayonnaise made with olive oil to capitalize on healthier fats, rather than settling for saturated.

Skip the potato salad and try pasta, couscous or coleslaw, instead!

Finish off with dessert

Why spoil all the good food choices thus far with high-calorie, high-cholesterol desserts? Switching the key lime pie for something like angel food cake can be a delicious choice. Topped with a variety of seasonal berries and fat free whipped cream, angel food cake is the perfect ending to your good food selections when picnicking this summer.

If cake isn’t your thing, try a dessert served straight off the grill. We love the Grilled Apple with “Caramel” Sauce recipe provided courtesy of Sarah at The Fit Cookie. It couldn’t be easier to make, and there’s even a vegan-friendly option!