Fruit salad
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Long summer days often mean more meals away from home. Restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, or fast food places offer a variety of options for eating out. But larger portions can make it easy to eat or drink too many calories.

Here are some easy changes you can make to your summer meal routine to avoid empty calories and provide you and your family with the nutrition you need to be active this summer.

• Pack water: Fill your reusable water bottles the night before so you don’t forget them in the morning. For picnic celebrations, skip the sugar sweetened drinks and pack 100-percent juice and seltzer to make healthy sodas. Keep these in a cooler with plenty of ice for a cool refreshing beverage.

• Pack plenty of healthy snacks: Try pre-washed whole or cut fruit and vegetables, hummus, low-fat string cheese, whole-grain crackers and your own trail mix.  Remember to keep food that can spoil (like cut fruit and veggies, hummus and cheese) in a cooler at 40 degrees or lower.

• Pack a healthy and hearty salad: Summer barbecues and picnics are famous for macaroni and potato salads, which are usually made with creamy, high-calorie dressings, and missing the nutrition you need. Instead, try making a healthy salad like Southwestern black-eyed peas and corn salad (available on the Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York website). Make your own version using your favorite canned beans, diced vegetables, 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon of your favorite spice and salt and pepper to taste.

• Plan to shop at the farmers market in your area for fresh local produce you can use for snacks and salads this summer. Many farmers markets now accept EBT, along with WIC vouchers and farmers market produce coupons.

• Visit your local summer meal site! Free nutritious breakfasts and lunches are available for children ages birth to 18 in your neighborhood. Visit your local site, fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks, or call 2-1-1.

Using these strategies will ensure that your on-the-go meals, snacks and beverages will provide the nutrition you need for a healthy and active summer!

For recipes mentioned above, and listings of farmers markets, please check out the Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York website at fingerlakeseatsmartnewyork.org/resources.

The Eat Smart New York grant is handled by Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in the Finger Lakes region. These suggestions are funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. For more information, visit mybenefits.ny.gov or call (800) 343-8859, ext 2-3008.

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