Shortened daylight hours and the return of cooler evenings might seem like two good reasons to give up summer out-of-doors activities. But for some, the beloved picnic is an outing too relaxing to abandon. That's how fall tailgate parties came into favor.
The activity has typically accompanied a seasonal sporting event such as football or an early evening at the races. But whether the trek leads to a favorite scenic spot or the stadium parking lot, now is the time for a tailgate picnic.
Although standard picnic fare such as cold fried chicken and mayonnaise-laden salads can be fairly high in fat and calories, it is possible to picnic and have all the fun and good taste of a celebration even when reducing the fat content of your menu.
More Healthful Options
These tips, from the Human Nutrition Information Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will help picnic-packers assemble more healthful baskets--ones that are in line with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and emphasize foods that are low in sodium, sugars, fat and calories.
--Grill chicken, hamburgers and lean steaks so the fat runs off during cooking. Remove the skin from poultry, particularly if the fried variety will be served, and trim visible fat from steaks.
--Use salt, butter and margarine sparingly, if at all, on corn-on-the-cob.
--Load up on mixed green salad or vegetable relishes, featuring cherry tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. Have smaller helpings of coleslaw, potato and macaroni salad.
--Liven up the flavor of burgers with lettuce, tomatoes, onions or other vegetables instead of barbecue sauce, catsup, mustard, relish and pickles.
--Enjoy bananas, grapes, pears, apples, figs and other fall season fruits.
--Pack small cans or cartons of fruit juice or unsweetened ice tea rather than soft drinks.
--Take along small boxes or bags of raisins or dried fruit mix, or prepare a snack mix with plain popcorn, unsweetened cereals, bite-size pretzels and seasonings such as paprika, hot pepper sauce and onion or garlic powder. These items can replace cakes, cookies, potato chips and other snacks.
The following recipes for homemade breads, soups, and sandwiches will give the excursion a healthful and tasty flair.
CHEESE-STUFFED CHICKEN GRILL
10 ounces low-fat Jack cheese
6 chicken thighs or half breasts, boned and skinned
Chopped rosemary leaves
Chopped tarragon leaves
Chopped thyme leaves
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup melted reduced-calorie margarine
Cut cheese into 8 equal sticks. Flatten chicken thighs to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle with combined 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon tarragon and 1 tablespoon thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper and roll each chicken piece around cheese stick. Secure with woodpicks.
Combine wine, margarine and 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 teaspoon tarragon. Grill chicken rolls over medium-hot coals 10 to 15 minutes per side or until done, basting with wine mixture. Remove picks before serving. Makes 8 servings.
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (dill, rosemary, basil or thyme)
1 1/2 cups shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
1 pound turkey smoked sausage, casing removed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in large bowl of electric mixer. Stir in honey and salt. Let stand 5 minutes. Beat in 1/2 cup flour until elastic, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at time, then gradually beat in remaining flour to make soft dough.
Beat in butter and herbs. Knead in cheese. Let dough rise in lightly greased covered bowl until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and pat on floured surface to approximately 12x9-inch rectangle. Place sausage on narrow side of dough.
Roll up dough, pinching to seal ends. Place with sealed edge down in lightly greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Let rise about 30 minutes until puffy. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 50 minutes, until well browned. Let stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve with desired mustards. Makes 8 servings.
OLD-FASHIONED HARVEST BREAD
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon oats
3/4 cup evaporated skimmed milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup chopped green cooking apples
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
Soak 1 1/2 cups oats in milk and water in medium bowl 10 minutes.
In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, sugar and spice. Combine egg, molasses, oil and oats mixture and stir into dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in apples and 1/4 cup nuts. Pour into 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray. Sprinkle with remaining combined 1 tablespoon oats and walnuts.