It’s the summer picnic season!  I always looked forward to family picnics growing up.  They were always fun because I would see my cousins who lived far away and we would play for hours.  I’ve introduced the concept of having a family picnic at HealthBarn USA and I haven’t met a kid yet, who doesn’t want go!  Our picnics are a little different at the Barn because we use food to create a hands-on activity for everyone to participate in.  Connecting through food is nuturing, enjoyable and fun!  Here are three of my top three recipe picks from Appetite for Life:

Kids can safely chop veggies using a plastic knife.

Put down the Gatorade and Vitamin Water!  We’ve concocted a natural fruit and veggie salad that’s loaded with vitamins A and C and a lot of water to keep us hydrated all day long, at school or on the playing field.  The lime, rich in citric acid, helps keep this super salad fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.


½ medium honeydew melon, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ medium cantaloupe, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ small seedless cucumber, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Juice from 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon sea salt


  1. In large bowl, combine melons and cucumber. Add lime juice and salt and toss to mix well.
  2. Serve in bowls or large cups to go.

Makes 8 servings (1 cup per serving).

Nutrition Facts per serving: 45 calories; 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol; 12g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 10g sugar); 1g protein; 35mg sodium; 25% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 50% DV vitamin C; 2% DV iron.

** Kids can cut melon wedges and cucumber strips into smaller chunks using a plastic knife with adult supervision; and they can squeeze limes (and suck them afterward) and pinch sea salt.

Caprese Salad on a Stick

We’ve given this classic Italian salad a brand new look by skewering the ingredients, but we’ve kept its mouth-watering combination of creamy mozzarella, sweet cherry tomatoes, and homegrown fresh basil, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.  It’s a satisfying snack on its own, or pair this delicious mix of calcium and vitamins A and C with your favorite grilled entrée to create a well-balanced dinner.


1 bamboo skewer
3 boccancini (fresh mini mozzarella cheese balls)
3 fresh basil leaves
3 cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt (optional)


  1. On skewer, stack 1 cheese ball, 1 basil leaf, and 1 tomato, in order. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  2. Drizzle oil over assembled skewer and sprinkle with salt, if you like.

Makes 1 serving (1 skewer per serving).

Nutrition Facts per serving: 80 calories; 5g fat (0.5g sat fat, 4g mono, 0.5g poly, 0g trans fats); 5mg cholesterol; 3g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 1g sugar); 8g protein; 140 mg sodium; 15% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 10% DV vitamin C; 20% DV calcium; 2% DV iron.

** Involving Kids:  Skewer ingredients and drizzle with oil.

Kids love to make & serve EZ Make Cookies!

We do eat cookies at HealthBarn USA! These energy-packed, no-bake, tasty treats are made with natural ingredients and are fun to make with friends.   (Because no oven is used, E-Z Make Cookies is the ideal recipe for kids to prepare without adult supervision.)  Make a double-batch to prepare for your next snack-attack, and keep extras cool in the refrigerator (they taste even better chilled).


1½ cups whole grain cereal*
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips


  1. In bowl, crush cereal into very small pieces. Add peanut butter, honey, dry milk, and chocolate chips.  With hand or spoon, mix together to form a ball.
  2. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon of cereal mixture and roll into a 1-inch-round ball.  Repeat with remaining cereal mixture. Let set 10 minutes to firm up. If not eating right away, wrap and refrigerate up to 1 week.

Makes 18 servings (1 cookie per serving).

Nutrition Facts per serving: 130 calories; 8g fat (1g sat fat, 3g mono, 3g poly, 0g trans fats); 0mg cholesterol; 11g carbohydrate  (1g fiber, 6g sugar); 4g protein; 80mg sodium; 2% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 2% DV calcium; 4% DV iron.

* We used Cheerios for nutrition analysis.

** Involving Kids:  Do Everything!

Wishing you and your family and summer filled with fun and healthy food!

What’s your favorite summer picnic recipe?

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.

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