A Healthy, Gluten-Free Picnic 1

With long summer days and warm summer nights, everyone is in the mood for a picnic! These easy, healthy recipes are perfect at the beach or in the backyard. The key to a successful picnic is fun food which travels well and can be made ahead. For easy healthy sides, pack fresh sliced fruit in pre-refrigerated mason jars, which keep cool and clean up easily. For an easy entrée, these bourbon-spiked ribs are packed with flavor and nutrients, and they stay hot and fresh wrapped in foil in your picnic basket. A traditional picnic favorite–cornbread–is jazzed up here with jalapeños and cheese; plus, it’s gluten-free for a healthy touch!

While ribs might not seem like a healthy meal choice, they do provide essential vitamins, minerals and protein. A single serving of ribs gives you nearly half of your entire daily zinc requirement, along with 75 % of your daily recommended selenium intake, 25 % of daily vitamin B-5 and 23 grams of complete protein. The blueberries in this delicious barbeque sauce help create a sweet tangy glaze, while adding a healthy dose of antioxidants to pump up the flavor and keeping calories low! Enjoy!

Bourbon Blueberry Ribs

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 small red onion, diced

2 jalapeño peppers, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

½ cup ketchup

½ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses or maple syrup

¼ teaspoon ground allspice


Place oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add onion; cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add jalapeño and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until just warm, about 1 minute. Add bourbon, increasing heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook until sauce is thick and most liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients; return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 15-20 minutes. Note: Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated up to two weeks or frozen up to two months.

Yield: 2 cups. Per serving (1T): Calories: 28; Fat 0g; Carbs 4g; Protein 0g. Cost Per Serving: $.23.

Easy Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread (gluten-free)

⅔ cup yellow corn meal

1½ cup garbanzo bean flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 large eggs

½ cup Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons honey, divided

4 jalapeños (more or less to taste), 
2 sliced, 2 diced

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

6 tablespoons butter, divided


Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together corn meal, flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Pour milk and vinegar into a separate large bowl. Let milk mixture sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add eggs, yogurt and 2 tablespoons honey to milk mixture; stir well. Pour milk mixture into corn meal mixture; stir with fork until well-combined. Gently fold in diced jalapeños and cheddar.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt 4 tablespoons butter in microwave. Drizzle melted butter into batter; stir slightly, just until combined. Melt remaining butter over medium heat, in an oven-safe 12-inch skillet. Pour batter into hot skillet and spread evenly, using back of spoon or spatula. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute, without stirring. Top batter with remaining sliced jalapeños. Bake for 17-22 minutes, or until top is light golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes; cut into slices and top with honey. To package for picnic transportation, wrap individual slices in foil. Serve with additional honey, butter or preserves, as desired.

Yield: 10 servings. Per serving: Calories: 165; Total Fat: 10.6g; Carbs: 13g; Protein: 6.6g. Cost Per Serving: $.63.

Suzette Zara is a certified nutritionist, chef, cookbook author, creator of Satan’s Salsa (SatansSalsa.com) and a frequent speaker on low-fat healthy cooking. Suzette@SuzetteZara.com