Category Archives: picnic recipes

Sweet and Savory Saturday

This dip tastes great with veggies and whole-grain pita bread and chips.

Welcome to Sweet and Savory Saturday!  Today’s featured recipe is White Bean Dip.  I got the original recipe in 2002 from  At that time, I had 3 children ages 3 years and younger and needed a simple recipe to follow for a family get-together.  I have made some changes over the years by adding pimento and another can of beans.  This bean dip has fiber, soy protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants.  It tastes great served with whole-grain breads and chips and veggies.

White Bean Dip


2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 (12.3 ounce) container firm tofu (drained if packaged in water)

1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 (4 ounce) jar sliced pimentos, reserve 1 TBS for garnish

2 TBS lime juice

1 TBS olive oil

3 small garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste (use red pepper flakes for an added kick)


In a blender add beans, roasted red peppers, pimentos, tofu, garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper, olive oil, and lime juice.  Blend on medium until smooth.  Place in serving dish. Garnish with reserved sliced pimento.


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Filed under appetizers, dip recipes, healthy food, healthy picnic ideas, homemade meals, picnic recipes, side dish, snacks

Putting it on the Plate with PICKKA – Summer Fiesta Black Bean Salad

The Summer Fiesta Black Bean Salad is great on its own or as a topping for a baked potato!

Welcome to Putting it on the Plate with PICKKA.  Today’s featured recipe is Summer Fiesta Black Bean Salad.  I decided to use my “Shop to Lose” app for the iPhone to choose the ingredients for this dish.  The Shop to Lose app contains a “smart shopping list” which analyzes and screens grocery store foods based on my weight and health objectives, as well as those of other family members.  It’s a great way to ensure that my pantry items are healthy for me and my family.

I am glad I chose to use “Shop to Lose”* because I discovered something new that I would not have considered otherwise.  My recipe calls for black beans – not a product that I would consider to have many variances between brands.  But, my “Shop to Lose” app brought to my attention that the sugar content between my choices differed slightly.  One had no sugar and the other had 1 gram.  What is nice about the “Shop to Lose” app is that it highlights why a product is a good choice or a bad choice under the nutrition label displayed on the app.  It will tell you if the product is low in sugar or high in fat, for instance.  That is how I discovered the sugar difference – and I thought I was pretty savvy at deciphering nutrition labels.

I think you will find today’s recipe to be very easy to pull together at the last minute because many of the items are pantry staples.  It is also very versatile.  You can serve it as a side dish, use it to top baked potatoes (as I did), or add it to a bed of whole-grain rice for a healthy meal.  It it a great dish to pass at potlucks, barbecues, and picnics too!

Summer Fiesta Black Bean Salad


1 (15.5 ounce) can of whole kernel corn, drained

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 small green bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped

1 small red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

3/4 tsp ground cumin

2 TBS lime juice

2 TBS olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In a medium bowl add corn, black beans, bell peppers, onion, and garlic.  Drizzle olive oil and lime juice over mixture.  Sprinkle with ground cumin.  Stir until mixture is coated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

*Click here to download the “Shop to Lose” app.

Try this recipe and come back and tell us how you served it, we want to know!

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Filed under barbecue, easy meals, healthy food, homemade meals, iPhone apps, PICKKA, picnic, picnic recipes, Recipes, Shop to Lose, side dish

Sweet and Savory Saturday – Star Spangled 4th of July Fruit Platter

Celebrate the 4th of July with this simple patriotic display of fruit and cheese.

Simply patriotic – that’s the message conveyed by this quick and easy way to present fruit and cheese during your 4th of July celebration this year. Choose from an array of your favorite fresh fruits that naturally boast the colors of our great flag and serve them with a sweet and tangy lemon-coconut dip (recipe below) for that extra kick.  Complete the array by adding bite-sized cubes of different white cheeses, such as monterey jack, white cheddar, and mozzarella and you will have the perfect appetizer or after-dinner snack to serve to your guests.

Lemon-Coconut Fruit Dip


2 (6 ounce) containers of low-fat lemon yogurt

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

3 TBS candied lemon peel

1 TBS honey

ground nutmeg (for garnish)


Combine yogurt, sour cream, and honey in small bowl.  Fold in lemon peel and coconut flakes.  Garnish with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.  Transfer to serving tray.

What is your favorite way to celebrate the 4th of July?  Share with us, we want to know?


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Filed under 4th of July, dessert, easy meals, fruit, healthy food, picnic recipes, Recipes

Last Minute Dessert Idea for Memorial Day!

A store-bought angel food cake garnished with fresh raspberries and homemade icing is an easy, low-fat dessert option for Memorial Day.

Do you need a quick and easy dessert dish that is on the healthy side for Memorial Day?  Try this recipe using a store bought angel food cake, sliced almonds, and fresh raspberries.


1 store-bought angel food cake

1/2 pint (or enough for garnish) of fresh raspberries

1/4 cup sliced almonds

favorite homemade icing recipe (or use one below)


Remove angel food cake from carton and place upside down on a serving plate.  Drizzle icing over the top and down the sides of the cake.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of the cake.  Garnish the top and bottom of the cake with fresh raspberries.  Serve.                                                                            Yield: approximately 8 slices.

Quick Vanilla Icing Recipe

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 TBS corn starch

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 TBS vanilla

2-3 TBS boiling water

Combine sugar, corn starch, and cream of tartar in a medium-sized bowl.  Add vanilla.  Add boiling water, 1 TBS at a time, stirring in between additions until smooth.  Icing should be thick in consistency and slowly flow off of a spoon dipped in it and then lifted.


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Filed under fruit, healthy food, healthy picnic ideas, low-fat, Memorial Day, picnic recipes, Recipes

Sweet and Savory Saturday

Penne pasta with berries, basil, nuts, and bleu cheese is a great dish to bring to a Memorial Day Picnic Celebration.

Fresh berries, basil, penne pasta, chopped walnuts, and bleu cheese are the ingredients featured in today’s recipe for Sweet and Savory Saturday.  As the days get warmer, I prefer to eat meals that are lighter in taste and that do not require the use of my oven (which heats up the house).  A cold pasta dish, not laden with a heavy cream and/or cheese-based sauce, is perfect for warmer days.

One of my favorites includes a combination of fresh berries, basil, nuts, and crumbled cheese (just enough to add flavor without “weighing” down the dish).  This meal is easy to prepare and a great dish to pass around at a Memorial Day picnic gathering.


  • 2 1/2 cups of whole grain penne pasta (Tip: For picky palates, I like to mix the whole grain pasta with its more refined counterpart.  This gives it a milder taste,as well as, giving it visual interest due to the different colors between the two pasta products)
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/3 cup fat-free raspberry vinaigrette (or to taste)
  • salt/pepper to taste (optional)


Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place drained pasta into a bowl.  Add onion, blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts.  Toss to combine.  Gently mix in basil and blue cheese (so as to not crush the basil leaves and “smear” the bleu cheese – try to maintain the crumbled form).  Add salt and pepper and drizzle pasta with vinaigrette. Gently toss to allow vinaigrette to coat ingredients.  Serve with fresh sliced whole wheat bread.

Tip: Because of the high fat content of the walnuts and the blue cheese, you do not want to choose a salad dressing that is also high in fat.  A fat-free vinaigrette will provide flavor without the added calories from fat.  You may also substitute low-fat or non-fat shredded mozzarella cheese for the bleu cheese.

Do you have a favorite pasta dish?  How do you cut its fat content without compromising on taste?  Share with us, we want to know!


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Filed under fruit, health, healthy food, healthy picnic ideas, low-fat, Memorial Day, Memorial Day Meal, picnic, picnic recipes, Recipes, whole grains

Putting it on the Plate with PICKKA – A Light and Fresh Dessert For Memorial Day

Cream-filled Dessert Cakes with Fresh Fruit.

Memorial Day is fast approaching.  As is the case with many families on this day of remembrance, my family and I like to celebrate with a special meal that includes an after-dinner dessert.  I usually bake these special occasion desserts from scratch.  But, this year, I will be leaving for a trip shortly after our celebration; therefore, I need to make something that doesn’t require a lot of time.

I want to make a dessert that will be fresh and light.  My choice is to make Cream-filled Dessert Cakes with Fresh Fruit. I know I can buy pre-made ingredients (e.g., mini dessert cake shells) for this dessert to help me save time in preparation.  Because I want this dessert to be lower in fat, I have chosen to use my Evincii/PICKKA’s Eat This? app for the iPhone to help me find ingredients that meet my health goals.

Store bought mini dessert cake shells decrease preparation time.

Thanks to my “Eat This?” app, I was able to find pudding mix that fell within the “Alright Choice” range and the remaining ingredients in the “Very Good Choice” category.  Here is how to make a low-fat version of Cream-filled Dessert Cakes with Fresh Fruit:


3.4 ounce package of fat-free instant vanilla pudding

3/4 cup low-fat sour cream

2 cups fat-free whipped topping, thawed

12 pre-made mini dessert cake shells

flaxseed meal* (enough to garnish tops of cakes)

pre-made strawberry glaze (found in baking aisle next to canned fruit pie fillings)

fresh blueberries (or your favorite type of berries)


In a medium-sized bowl, combine sour cream and instant pudding mix (see picture).

Once combined, the sour cream/pudding mixture should resemble this.

Next, blend in two cups of thawed whipped topping at medium speed until smooth.

Blend whipped topping into sour cream/pudding mixture until smooth.

Fill cake shells with cream mixture.  Sprinkle flaxseed meal to garnish.  Top each cream-filled cake with 3 blueberries.  Next, pipe strawberry glaze over dessert to decorate (Tip: Fill plastic sandwich bag with glaze.  Seal top and cut tip off of one of the bag’s bottom corners.  Gently squeeze glaze onto dessert).  Makes 12 mini Cream-filled Dessert Cakes with Fresh Fruit.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

*flaxseed meal can be replaced by wheat germ or chopped nuts.



Filed under health, healthy food, low-fat, picnic recipes