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 project director for the Women Survivors Alliance and New Focus Daily magazine. Cindy is masters-level certified in health education 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 degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Cindy has been involved in multiple cancer activities and projects since 2000, including serving as the state coalition coordinator for Tennessee for 13 years, and currently is involved with several cancer organizations. She has served since October 2015 as interim director 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. She has been touched by cancer personally after seeing both family and friends alike suffer from the disease.

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 the Women Survivors Alliance and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to partner with New Focus Daily and WSA.

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