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Foods to Pack for the Beach or Pool

Submitted by Debra Dobies, MA, RD, LDN

Summer and swimming make many of us hungry. The aromas from the boardwalk or concession stand can also stimulate one’s appetite. Although it is fun and convenient to buy food at the beach or pool it can be expensive. With some planning packing some healthy snacks or lunch the night before can save calories and spare your wallet when going to the beach or pool.

An insulated cooler is necessary but ice cubes melt quickly and make the cooler heavier. The night before your pool or beach trip, freeze plastic bottles of water and individual 100% juice boxes. They will keep your food cool, prevent food spoilage, and also provide chilled refreshing drinks.  Add some frozen cold packs to insure everything stays cold and safe.

Fruits & Vegetables
Vegetables and fruit have a high water content which will help to keep you hydrated. They are also high in fiber, vitamins, low in fat and are cool and refreshing.  Raw vegetables (crudités) and dip are filling and nutritious. Have the vegetables pre-washed, cut, chopped, and packed in plastic bags or lidded containers the night before.  Vegetables that maintain their integrity well in the cooler include celery sticks, baby carrots, red, green, or yellow pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and raw slices of cucumber, zucchini, or yellow squash.  Low fat salad dressings, hummus, bean dip, non- fat French onion or spinach dip or Tzatziki can be packed as a dip for vegetables.

The Ornish Reversal Program recipe for Ornish Sweet Pea Herb Dip is great with crudités and can be found at

Fruits that are whole make great snacks for the beach or pool. Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, grapes, peaches, or plums should be washed before being packed in the cooler. Frozen seedless grapes are very refreshing.  Make a fruit salad with kiwi, pineapple, mango, grapes, strawberries, cherries or blueberries. Pack them in individual containers with plastic spoons for an energizing snack.

Easy-to–Eat Lunches
Since bread gets soggy quickly use whole wheat tortillas, pitas, or flatbread for sandwiches/wraps.  Make low fat peanut or almond butter and jelly, hummus, bean & non- fat cheese, or vegetable wraps. Other wrap ideas include turkey or low- sodium ham with tomatoes placed between two lettuce leaves.

Prepare cold burritos with wheat or corn tortillas. Mash up canned black or pinto beans and add chopped onion, green chilies, salsa and non-fat grated cheese. Cut them in half and wrap each one in foil.  A lettuce salad or whole wheat pasta salad with varied vegetables and chick peas or beans is a great lunch. Pack the nonfat or low fat salad dressing in a separate plastic container.  Make extra skinless chicken breasts on the grill the night before and eat them at the beach out of the cooler.

Seaside & Poolside Snacks
Beach or pool snacks help you to refuel and hydrate.  Individual servings discourage over eating and reduce the chance of getting sand in your food. Try to avoid salty snacks which can contribute to dehydration. Non-fat or low fat string cheese, cheese cubes, cheese rounds are tasty snacks and provide protein. Other snack ideas include hard boiled eggs or egg whites; brown rice cakes; yogurt which you can freeze the night before; nonfat pudding cups;  individual cereal boxes (Grape Nuts or whole grain Cheerios); baked tortillas chips and salsa; unsalted roasted edamame or chickpeas; unsalted roasted nuts; trail mix; granola bars; unsalted homemade popcorn; or unsalted whole grain pretzels.

Packing healthy beach and pool snacks will keep everyone satisfied, will provide energy, and will contribute to a fun day. Don’t forget the hand wipes and sun screen!

Always consult with your physician or health care provider before making any dietary/nutrition changes or commencing or changing your physical activity.  

Debra Dobies, MA, RD, LDN, is Beebe Healthcare's Ornish Reversal Program Registered Dietitian and Medical Nutrition Therapist. Beebe Healthcare's Ornish Reversal Program is now open in the Beebe Medical Arts Building at the Rehoboth Beach Health Campus. For more information, go to