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Stroke Smart Magazine

July/August 2007

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Planning Your Summer Picnic

By Jean Stork and Sylvia Duraski

What better way to celebrate summer than with a picnic! Whether you want an elaborate or simple outing, use these tips to plan your next outdoor party.


If you have access to a grill at your picnic site, then use it as a healthy way to cook your food. Great grilling starts with lean, flavorful cuts of meat such as filet mignon, flank steak, 90% lean ground beef, center-cut pork chops, chicken, or wild ocean salmon. If you don't want to grill, then pack a chicken dish that's baked instead of fried.

Vegetables add color to the meal and are good for you. Prepare an easy dish for the grill by lightly brushing vegetables with olive oil and seasoning. Place in foil. Keep foil open to brown or close it up to steam the vegetables.

In place of a salad, choose fruit. Fruits are soft, easy to swallow and refreshing on a hot day. Mango, seedless watermelon, kiwi, peaches and strawberries are good choices. You can save preparation time by using frozen bags of fruit.

Appetizer dips are often made with high-fat ingredients such as sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese. For a healthier version of your favorite recipe, try replacing 1/2 of the sour cream or mayonnaise with thick, plain yogurt or substitute Neufchatel cheese for cream cheese. Quick choices off the store shelf include hummus, salsa, black bean or corn dips.

Picnic desserts are usually simple bars, cakes and cookies. Make them healthier by using butter for margarine and canola for vegetable oil. Reduce sugar in your recipes by 1/4 to 1/3. Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla are natural sweeteners; add them to baked goods and other dishes to reduce the sugar. Try Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa™ in recipes that call for chocolate.


Paved surfaces allow easy access to bathrooms and grills.

Grills with adjustable heights are better for those in wheelchairs or with decreased arm strength.

Look for wheelchair accessible tables; if none are available, bring a portable table or a tray or board to place across wheelchair armrests.

For easy transport, use a roller suitcase for paper supplies and a wheeled-cooler for food and drinks.

Schedule your picnic for the early evening.

Wear light weight, loose fitting, light colored clothing.

Sit under a tree or a big umbrella with a stand; or bring a rain umbrella for shade.

Cool off by using a handheld fan with a mister.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol so you don't get dehydrated.

Ask your pharmacist if any of your medicines could cause increased sensitivity to the sun.

Watch for signs of dehydration and heat stroke: fatigue, lightheadedness, confusion, dizziness, increased heart rate and breathing. Seek medical attention if you have these symptoms.

RECIPE: Crunchy Garlic Chicken

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts (thawed)

4 C. Cornflakes

4 Tbsp. Smart Balance™ Butter

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Pepper

1 Tbsp. Parsley Flakes

1 Tsp. Creole Seasoning (Optional)

1 Tsp. Chili Powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 13"x9" baking dish with a light layer of vegetable or olive oil.

Put cornflakes into a large re-sealable plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin until cornflakes resemble coarse bread crumbs. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley flakes, chili powder and Creole seasoning if desired. Shake bag until ingredients are well mixed.

Melt butter in a small bowl. (Make sure the bowl is big enough for dipping the chicken breasts.)

Coat chicken in melted butter and place in the bag with the cornflake mixture. Shake until chicken breast is covered and place in the baking dish. Repeat this step with all 4 chicken breasts.

Put the coated chicken breasts into the baking dish. Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Jean Stork is a registered dietician and Sylvia Duraski is a nurse practitioner. Both work with stroke survivors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.


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