Home Features The Best Healthy Foods for Picnics and Parties

The Best Healthy Foods for Picnics and Parties

As the weather starts to get warmer, invitations to outdoor picnics start to roll in. While hot days filled with hamburgers, potato salad, and all the fixings aren’t the best addition to your diet; that doesn’t mean the traditional picnic dishes can’t be made into healthy foods. Need some examples? We were hoping you’d ask!

“Food doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Dan Vogt, Chef and Owner of Hello Chef in Long Branch. “When you start with great, healthy ingredients, you can make delicious food. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring.”

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Healthy food doesn’t have to be time consuming, either. One of Vogt’s go-to beach snacks, which also earned him some brownie points from his wife, takes natural turkey breast, guacamole and pineapple, and rolls it up into one very quick, very edible, and very delicious snack.

As for the more “complicated dishes,” there’s a secret to turning them into something that’s both healthy and familiar to your dining companions. Remember, you’re still having a picnic, which means your guests (and you) will be craving those summer picnic staples. Turns out, the solution is as easy as switching one or two ingredients for healthier options, which is exactly what Vogt does in his Sweet Potato Salad.

“Take the main ingredient of a dish and find something that’s complementary,” said Vogt. “Don’t try to reinvent the entire recipe. Stay true to the dish’s tradition.”

Just swapping sweet potatoes for your traditional red bliss potatoes adds a healthy dose of beta-carotene and a host of antioxidant and inflammatory properties that assist in the digestive track. Vogt then takes it one step further, swapping out the traditional mayo that’s packed with unhealthy fats for avocado dressing that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K, B6, E, C, fiber, and potassium.

Picnic Snacks
There are always healthy alternative ingredients that can be used for traditional picnic foods.

Bonus Tips

When you’re hosting or bringing healthy picnic dishes to a party, Vogt suggests not to take on too much. Instead of trying out dozens of new recipes the day of the picnic, stick with what you know, or at least try out the recipe once before the picnic.

Finally, if you’re going to a picnic, bring the food in a container that you aren’t attached to. That way, when you’re leaving and there’s food in the container but people are still enjoying it, you won’t feel bad about leaving that cute tupperware you spent way too much money on.

Vogt was kind enough to share his Sweet Potato Salad recipe with us, so you can impress your friends at your next outdoor party:

Chef Dan’s Sweet Potato Salad with Avocado Dressing

(198 Calories Per Serving)
Sweet Potato Salad


5 medium sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 stalks celery
8 green onions
3 avocadoes
½ teas. Cumin
½ teas. Chili powder
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste


– Boil or microwave potatoes till tender. Chop into bite size chunks.
– Cut remaining veggies and add to a bowl with potatoes.
– Blend avocado, oil, vinegar, spices, and blend for 3 minutes.
– Fold dressing with salad and garnish with cilantro.

Looking to step up your kitchen game? Click Here to see Best of NJ’s Top Recipes & Kitchen Tips!

Hero (Top) Feature Image: © jelena990 / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Stephanie Frey / Adobe Stock
Sweet Potato Salad / Dan Vogt

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