By: Brenda Neugent
Lazy summer days are ideal for relaxed, romantic picnics under the sun, and there’s no day more perfect for picnicking than the 4th of July.
Since it’s a day to celebrate freedom, we’re also free to ditch the traditional picnic fare in favor of more diabetes-friendly options. In my case, that means food that not only travels well on a boat, but can also stand up to a little bit of water.
For an array of reasons, my husband and I try really hard to live an active lifestyle. Not only do we love to play, but we both want to stay healthy well into our golden years, and exercise helps with that. Cycling allows my husband to keep his diabetes symptoms in remission, so we ride–a few times a week after work and always on the weekend. This Saturday, we’re riding 60 miles for an event supporting arts education for kids, so we’re celebrating two of our passions.
But on the Fourth, it will likely be our newfound favorite activity that dominates the day. During a recent Christmas visit to my parents’ home, we were given their old canoe–a 17-foot fiberglass behemoth that’s now 42 years old. We towed it home through the snow and over mountains, and my husband patched up a few holes to make it seaworthy. After our first trip, we were hooked, and we’ve been making it a weekly event, weather permitting, ever since.
The Fourth of July will be the perfect day to load up the canoe and paddles for a trek around the lake near our home. There’s no swimming on shore, but with our boat, we can row out to an island, tie up the canoe, and swim to our heart’s content. The island is small, but it’s not only perfect for swimming, it also makes an excellent picnic spot.
While my husband and I both are big fans of sandwiches–truth be told, we’d probably live on BLTs if we could, as long as the tomatoes are fresh-picked from our garden–traditional ingredients aren’t always the right option when battling diabetes. (BLTs are possible, though, with turkey bacon, avocado instead of mayo, thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, and romaine lettuce on toasted whole wheat.)
Sandwich thins are a great trade for bread, plus they’re sturdier so they can stand up to veggies like tomato slices, cucumber, and lettuce, which can make a sandwich soggy. Mustard takes the place of mayo, and adds a bit of kick that’s absolutely welcome when paired with smoked turkey, sliced thin and topped with all those veggies.
Like most of America, we’ve found that we really love hummus. (A recent item in the news said that chickpea prices are soaring thanks to a growing demand for the low-fat, high-protein snack.) So instead of chips and dip, I’ll pack hummus along with pepper slices–our garden peppers aren’t ready yet, but baby bells in rainbow colors can be had for a few dollars a bag at the grocery–and carrot sticks to scoop it up.
Dessert we’ll save for when we get home. I recently saw a recipe for grilled peaches drizzled with honey that sounds completely decadent and perfect for a guilt-free holiday celebration. Sparklers on the side, of course!