Enjoy nature’s changing colors while soaking up the last warm rays of sun with a fall picnic before we bundle up for the winter. Follow these simple tips for a picnic that is both delicious and safe to enjoy during your pregnancy.
It’s not so much about which foods you bring, but how they will be affected when they are taken outside. Master time and temperature, and the possibilities are endless!
What’s the risk? Listeria, also known as Listeria monocytogenes, is a bacteria that can be found in soil and water and it primarily affects meat and vegetables. Listeria can be harmful to pregnant women as their immune systems are suppressed and are therefore more susceptible to illness caused by the bacteria. Pasteurization and cooking meats and vegetables thoroughly is the best way to ensure safely avoiding listeria.
Keep food cold in a cooler using ice or frozen gel packs. Try to limit the number of times that the cooler is opened to keep its contents cold for longer. You could do this by separating the perishable food from the cold drinks. Cold dishes should be kept at 40°F or below. If you’re bringing raw meats, poultry, or seafood to cook, you can pack them frozen so that they stay cold longer--but keep them separate from your ready-to-eat foods.
Recipe ideas: noodles with peanut sauce, rainbow fruit skewers, tuna salad lettuce wraps
2. Tips For Meat + Vegetables
Be sure to cook meats and seafood properly. Meats should be cooked to 145°F, ground meat to 160°F, and poultry to 165°F. Eggs and seafood should be cooked until they are firm and visibly done. Cooked food that is kept at room temperature (or between 40-140°F) for longer than two hours should not be eaten because of spoilage.
For vegetables, rinse and lightly scrub your fresh fruits and vegetables with running tap water, even if you don’t eat the rind or peel. Then dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before packing them.
Recipe ideas: grilled salmon and asparagus, toasted cuban sandwich, chopped chicken salad, mango corn salsa with tortilla chips
3. Pick Pasteurized Dairy Products
We all love a good cheese at a picnic, but make sure to check the label that it is pasteurized (to prevent any harmful bacteria, like listeria). The same goes for other dairy products such as yogurt, pudding, or ice cream. Most are pasteurized, but certain types like local brands may not be, which can pose a risk for listeria. Remember that even if a dairy product is pasteurized, it still needs to be kept at the right temperature.
Recipe ideas: cheddar on baked crackers, yogurt with fruit and granola, homemade pistachio pudding
4. Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to bring something to sip on to prevent dehydration. If you’re sitting in the sun or planning to stay outdoors for a few hours, make sure you pack enough to keep you hydrated.
Ideas: fruit-infused water, cucumber water, green tea with honey, Bundle Organics (of course!)
Picnics can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like. Personalizing it to your own tastes will make it extra special. Keep food safety tips in mind and your fall picnic will fall perfectly into place, so feast on!