Who said life wasn’t a picnic? A few picnic favorites!

As a public health professional, everything I see is through the lens of better health.  “What can we do and make it healthier,” or ‘what does this mean for our health,” or “is this healthy.”

As a public health professional, everything I see is through the lens of better health.  “What can we do and make it healthier,” or ‘what does this mean for our health,” or “is this healthy.”  This of course includes FOOD!  I am not a dietitian or a chef – but have friends that are – just someone who loves health both professionally and personally.

I wanted to share a few recipes that have been shared with me which I absolutely LOVE for a picnic.  I also can share a GREAT picnic basket that is INSULATED and helps us put into practice all of those food safety tips we learned from my colleague, Dr. Janie Burney who IS a licensed dietitian, professor at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the guru on anything related to foods and food safety.  If you haven’t read her article yet, Keeping Your Picnic Safe, be sure and go back and read it in this month’s NFD.

Here are a few picnic baskets AND recipes that you might consider using – SAFELY, with Dr. Burney’s tips – for your next picnic. Bon apetite!

This basket is INSULATED, which means it is better for keeping our food at the right temperature.     The wicker and woven baskets are PRETTY, but not as good as keeping foods at the right temps.

Bed Bath Beyond Picnic basket

Amazon makes one, too.

Amazon picnic basket

I absolutely love my cousin Glenda’s (another licensed dietitian) recipe for chicken salad. It is so easy, that even a non-cook like me can make it!


Glenda’s Chicken Salad for Non-Cooks

4 cups chopped chicken breast

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

1 to 1/12/ cups mayonnaise (I like to use “light”)

½ tsp salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon curry

*Note:  I usually substitute garlic salt for the paprika and curry!

Blend all ingredients. Use more of less according to taste.  A food processor is great to chop the chicken and vegetables!


Refreshing Watermelon Mint Salad

Servings: 4-6

1 medium-sized watermelon cut into bite-size chunks

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons of your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing


In a large bowl, add the watermelon, feta, and mint. Drizzle the vinaigrette salad dressing on top and toss lightly to combine.  Put in a beautiful glass bowl and enjoy!


Remember these tips for your picnic as well as those that Dr. Burney shared in her NFD article.

  • The coldest part of your picnic basket is on the bottom. Pack the most perishable foods such as meat, dairy, or anything with eggs, on the bottom.
  • Put ice packs throughout the cooler.
  • Don’t put your cooler in a hot car trunk! It’s just too hot, so store your picnic basket in the shade.
  • An insulated picnic basket does a much better job than a woven one at keeping foods cold.


Happy picnicking!


Image courtesy of SOMMAI at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.
While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.

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