From The Nutritionist

Jennifer McQuillan
Author:
Jennifer McQuillan, Dietetic Technician, Registered

Packing the Perfect Picnic

It’s that time of year again…warm weather and the great outdoors. Don’t let July pass you by—get out there and enjoy the season by celebrating National Picnic Month. Need some inspiration? Here are some tips for packing the perfect picnic:

Plan ahead. Planning your menu in advance can help ensure you don’t forget the little odds and ends. Whether you are going to prepare foods ahead of time or grill up something yummy, be sure to check out our recipe collections on campbellnutrition.com for some delicious and healthful menu solutions. One of my favorites is from our Top 20 Summer Meal Hits Collection...Apple-Kissed Turkey Burgers with Pepperidge Farm® Soft White Hamburger Buns, Roasted Asparagus with Lemon & Goat Cheese prepared with Swanson® Vegetable Broth and juicy watermelon! This meal, along with the rest from this series, are simply delicious, easy to make, and less than 500 calories!

If you decide not to grill, sandwiches are great for a pack-ahead picnic. Try one of these better-for-you recipes from Campbell’s Kitchen®:

Stay hydrated. Don’t forget about staying hydrated while enjoying your picnic celebration. Want a simple, refreshing way to get fruit and vegetables? Stock your cooler with various flavors of our portable, single-serve V8 V-Fusion® beverages:

  • V8 V-Fusion®: Provides 1 combined cup of fruit and vegetables per 8 fl. oz. can. Available in Strawberry Banana, Pomegranate Blueberry, Concord Grape Raspberry, and Peach Mango.

  • V8 V-Fusion® Light: Cut calories with our V8 V-Fusion® Light Strawberry Banana! Great taste with ½-cup fruit and vegetables combined per 8 fl. oz. can.

  • V8 V-Fusion® juice drink box: A true kid pleaser! Pack some V8 V-Fusion® juice drink boxes in favorite flavors like Apple, Berry, Fruit Punch and Grape. It’s an easy, delicious way to offer a ½-cup combined fruit and vegetables per 6.75 fl. oz. serving.

Be safe. As always, any time food is being prepared or served, safety needs to be considered. Getting sick from improper food handling and storage can ruin any social gathering, especially in hot weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans becomes sick from foodborne illness each year.1 So next time you plan a picnic outing, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use hand sanitizing wipes when soap and water are not available
  • Clean and sanitize coolers and use tight-closing food containers
  • Sanitize those handy, environmentally-sound reusable grocery bags
  • Keep raw meats, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods
  • Use separate preparation and serving utensils for all raw and prepared food to prevent cross contamination
  • Pack enough ice/ice packs to keep food cooler temperature below 40°F
    • Tip: Beverage coolers are opened more frequently, so keep a separate cooler to help maintain the temperature
    • Do not reuse cooler ice for beverages
  • Pack a meat thermometer and cook meats to proper temperatures (chicken 165°F; beef burger 160°F)
  • Do not leave food out for more than one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F

For more food safety guidelines, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Foodsafety.gov.

With all these helpful tips you should be on your way to a perfectly packed picnic season!

Jennifer, DTR

Jennifer obtained her Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition from the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ. She is Dietetic Technician, Registered and is ServSafe certified. Her diverse experience in the nutrition field includes her role as a Product and Quality Control Specialist for Atkins Nutritionals and as a Nutrition Data Specialist for Cooper University Hospital. Jennifer uses her nutrition expertise to support the foodservice division at the Campbell Soup Company.


References

  1. Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/Accessed April 28, 2014.
  2. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470663&terms=picnic
  3. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/handling-food-safely-on-the-road/CT_Index

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.