Picnic perfection: smile-friendly ways to enjoy your next meal al fresco

Picnic season is upon us and, when it comes to this timeless tradition, a little planning can go a long way. Whether you go to a local park or just enjoy the sunshine in your own yard, try these tips and recipes for a happier, healthier outdoor meal.

Essentials to pack

A cooler with ice will help keep your food cold and prevent it from spoiling. Leaving your cooler in the shade can also keep it colder, longer.

A blanket or large towel in case you don’t have access to a picnic table.

Water will keep you from getting dehydrated under the summer sun and can help keep your teeth clean after eating.

Plates, cups and utensils are a necessity for some menu items. Bring utensils from home or grab some compostable tableware, if you opt for disposable dishes.



Healthy foods that are easily portable make optimal picnic meals. Try sandwiches made with whole-grain bread, carrot and celery sticks, berries, grapes and watermelon slices. Pack food in lightweight, resealable containers and avoid items that can spoil, such as salads made with mayonnaise.



Sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 will protect you from sunburn. Reapply frequently and bring a hat and sunglasses for more sun protection.

Napkins, hand sanitizer and trash bags will help you and the picnic zone stay clean. Leave the area as clean as you found it for the next group to enjoy.




Picnic pro tips

1. Walk to the picnic instead of driving there, if possible. You’ll build your appetite and get some exercise along the way.

2. Remove food from the cooler only when you’re ready to eat. Perishable foods, such as cold-cut meats or potato salad, should be left out for only one to two hours at most. This will also protect your meal from insects and other picnic pests.

3. Bring a reusable water bottle full of water and ice. You’ll stay cool, hydrated and eco-friendly.

4. Drink water or chew sugar-free gum when the picnic is over to help neutralize acids and bacteria left behind in your mouth and keep that smile sparkling.

5. Plan your menu ahead so you can pack fresh, healthy foods. Check out these flavorful recipes for inspiration. 

Gouda turkey club sandwich

This crowd-pleasing hearty sandwich is filled with tender turkey, creamy Gouda cheese and flavorful bacon.



Healthy smile benefits

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    Turkey is loaded with energy-boosting lean protein and bone-building phosphorus.

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    Multi-grain bread with whole grains can reduce your risk of heart disease. It's also less likely than white bread to stick to your teeth and cause cavities.

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    Lettuce is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Crunchy, leafy greens also aid in keeping your teeth clean.




2 pieces multi-grain bread

3–4 slices roasted turkey breast

2 strips cooked bacon

1 slice Gouda cheese

2 romaine lettuce leaves

2–3 pieces thinly sliced yellow bell pepper

1–2 pickle slices


1. Place a slice of bread on a cutting board.

2. Layer ingredients on the bread.

3. Top with the other slice of bread.

4. Cut in half and place in a resealable container.

Broccoli salad

For a side dish that’s full of flavor and nutrients, look no further than broccoli salad. This crunchy and delicious dish stays fresh by skipping the mayo.

Healthy smile benefits

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    Broccoli is a superfood that’s rich in vitamin C and calcium — two nutrients that are essential to a healthy mouth.

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    Cheese is packed with calcium for strong teeth and bones. Eating cheese can stimulate saliva to wash away acid and protect you from tooth decay.

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    Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that can decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.



For salad:

16 oz finely chopped broccoli

½ cup hulled sunflower seeds

½ cup finely chopped red onion

½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


For honey mustard dressing:

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


1. Toss the sunflower seeds in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Place the toasted seeds in a large serving bowl and stir in the broccoli, onion and cheese.

3. In a separate small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until the broccoli is lightly coated.

5. Marinate at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Overnight is fine.

Pack it up for the picnic and you’re good to go enjoy some tasty treats al fresco!