Dietician’s Dish: Picnic sides for your Father’s Day celebration

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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Kristina Swanson

Corporate Hy-Vee Dietitian

From cracking dad jokes and killing spiders, to coaching us to always keep our eye on the ball – dads are awesome! And, while they may not always admit it, we know they care about their health. June is Men’s Health Month as well as the month we celebrate Father’s Day, so let’s say “I love you” with the perfect picnic served with all of his favorite foods (and maybe a few healthy ones too)!

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Packing the perfect picnic is simple with MyPlate. MyPlate focuses on including the five food groups (protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy) in as many meals possible while also aiming to make half your plate filled with fruits and vegetables. Ask any Hy-Vee registered dietitian what food group is missing at most celebrations, and they’ll often say vegetables! Vegetables are essential for any holiday spread. Vegetables offer antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, fiber that is key in promoting heart health, water content that helps keep us hydrated, and a variety of delicious textures that contribute to our plate.

This summer try switching up some of your sides with something besides potato and pasta salads that your family and friends will love. Examples of MyPlate picnic-friendly foods your Hy-Vee dietitians enjoy include:

Fruit: Try fruit kabobs or pack seasonal fruit like sliced watermelon and cherries.

Whole grains: Whole-wheat crackers, cornbread muffins and lightly salted popcorn make great additions to your picnic basket.

Protein: Mix it up with deviled eggs, low-sodium deli meat, mixed nuts, bean- or chickpea-based snacks like Beanitos.

Dairy: Cheese sticks or fresh mozzarella pearls are perfect to pack for your next picnic.

Veggies: Try sugar snap peas, mini bell peppers to dip in hummus or try our delicious Tarragon Green Bean-and-Tomato Salad recipe to prep ahead and pack for your vegetable side at your next picnic.

Short on time? For last-minute gatherings, swing by Hy-Vee for fresh fruit and veggie trays, cold sides like broccoli supreme salad, and custom charcuterie boards. Remember: Father’s Day comes just once a year. Make sure dad knows how special he is, and make sure he’s healthy for years to come!

This simple, make-ahead side dish is guaranteed to be a hit! And since you’re able to prep up to two days in advance, everyone can stress less and celebrate the most important men in their life more.

Tarragon Green Bean-and-Tomato Salad

Serves 6 (¾ cup each)

All you need

• 1½ lbs fresh green beans, trimmed

• 1½ tsp Hy-Vee salt, divided

• ¼ cup Gustare Vita extra virgin olive oil

• 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

• 1 tbsp Gustare Vita red wine vinegar

• ¼ tsp Hy-Vee black pepper

• 2 cups halved red and/or yellow grape tomatoes

• 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings

• ½ cup Soirée crumbled Mediterranean herb feta cheese

All you do

1. Fill large saucepan half full with water; bring to boil. Add beans and ½ teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium. 2. Cover and simmer 8 to 12 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; immediately rinse under cold water.

3. Whisk together olive oil, tarragon, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in large bowl. Add beans, tomatoes and shallot; toss to coat.

4. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. To serve, transfer salad to a serving platter; sprinkle with feta cheese.


Looking for more simple meals during the summer? Free up time in your week by prepping ahead in our virtual Freezer Meal Prep Workshop. In under an hour, prepare 5 freezer meals to feed 4-6 people, and stock your freezer with wholesome freezer meals! Registration includes a link to Aisles Online with all the ingredients grouped together, so you can easily shop for everything you need. For the complete menu, upcoming class schedule and to register head to

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.