Picnic your way through summer (and still look good!)

Plan your perfect picnic to take along to these not-to-be-missed outdoor events that London plays host to this summer.

The history of the picnic is thought to trace all the way back to medieval hunting feasts in 14th-century England. Though there were no baskets or red-and-white checkered blankets to be found in those times, one thing that’s remained constant throughout the evolution of the picnic is the presence of food. Back then, this shared meal typically consisted of ham, baked meats and pastries, while the modern-day adaptation usually includes items such as fried chicken, crisps & dips, potato salad and brownies.

Sounds like a tasty list but it’s not necessarily a nutritious one. Many conventional picnic foods are high in calories and are laden with fat, salt and sugar. Try streamlining your picnic basket with the following ideas for a healthier alternative:

Crisps’ & Dips – A bag of crisps can be a tempting and convenient grab, but the calorie and sodium content of these snacks can easily add up with every handful. We suggest replacing crisps with crackers. There are lots of great ones on the market –ryvita’s flat breads and Dr Karg’s crisp bread are our favourites – really very tasty and wholesome. Raw veggies, including carrots, broccoli and sugar snaps etc also make a great crunchy alternative – full of antioxidants that are great for getting perfect summer skin. For healthier dips – make your own. They are really quick and easy to do and allow you to control the salt, oil (and other naughties) content. We love this beetroot hummus recipe.

Beetroot is a great mood boosting vegetable, helping to you keep calm, relaxed and upbeat. It’s low in fat and bursting with antioxidants, folic acid, fibre, potassium, magnesium the list goes on. This hummus is so bright and colourful it will get the table talking, and is great with raw vegetables as a healthy starter or yum served with barbecued beef fillet.

Beetroot Hummus (Serves 4)

110g chickpeas, canned
230g beetroot, cooked
60g tahini
½ clove garlic, crushed
3g ground cumin
A squeeze of lemon juice

Blend altogether adding some of the reserved chickpea liquid to get the consistency you want. Serve with raw vegetables.

Sandwiches – Create a heart-smart, on-the-go deli for your picnic by packing lean proteins such as turkey, chicken and salmon, low-fat cheeses, whole grain bread

(as I am sure you know, we love rye bread), and healthy accompaniments such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and sliced peppers. Another option is to exclude the bread and use the protein as an outer layer to create carb-free roll-ups, which can be secured with a toothpick or two.

Salads – In our eyes this is the healthiest and most filling option for a picnic. We recommend you use lots of roughage in your salad to help fill you up – steamed broccoli / leaves / sugar snaps etc and always serve with some lean protein and, if you fancy it, a small amount of starchy carbs. Replace calorie-filled creamy dressings with just a dashing of balsamic vinegar (no need for any oil). Our Smoked Venison Salad is the perfect accompaniment to any picnic. The recipe can be found here.

Fresh fruit – For a refreshing and healthy summer treat add a punnet of strawberries or grapes to your picnic hamper. Serve with a scattering of raw flaked almonds or the nuts/seeds of your choice.

Our recipe book, The Pure Package, The DIET for FOOD LOVERS has a number of tasty dips and salads ideas which make for a perfect picnic.

Take a picnic along to London’s many outdoor summer events:

Open-air Theatre

  • Regents Park Open Air Theatre (18th May – 8th September)
    Now in its 80th season, the award-winning Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is a London landmark – a firm fixture of summer in the city, providing a cultural hub in the beautiful surroundings of a Royal Park. Each night an incomparable atmosphere is created by the buzz of people setting up hampers on the picnic lawn, filling their glasses with wine or drinking Pimms in the bar as the fairy lights twinkle in the trees. Definitely an experience not to be missed!

Open-air cinema

When it comes to outdoor film screenings, London has plenty to choose from. Grab a blanket and your picnic and head outside to see movies in the open air:

  • Film 4 Summer Screen (16th – 27th August)
    Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2012, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital. The enormous open air screen takes up the whole of the fountain square in front of the Somerset House facade, and shows an inspired range of movies with something to please everyone
  • Rooftop Cinema (30th April – 31st August)
    The No.1 outdoor screening blockbuster Rooftop Film Club returns this summer for another film-filled season of classic, cult and recent film releases on three of London’s finest rooftops at the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, The Roof Gardens in Kensington and Netil House in London Fields.
  • Movies on the lawn (6th, 13th & 27th Sept)
    Fulham Palace hosts Movies on the Lawn, a lovely and relaxing outdoor film experience. This year to celebrate the completion of their Walled Garden restoration they proudly present their ‘Love in the Garden’ movie series. Fall in love all over again with classic films Casablanca and Romeo & Juliet or with Oscar winner The Artist.

BT London Live (28th July – 11th August)

If you weren’t fortunate enough to get tickets to this summer’s Olympic Games then head to one of London’s fan parks to take in all of the Olympic festivities. Hyde Park viagra online and Victoria Park play host to multiple state-of-the-art screens and concert quality sound systems which will show all of the London 2012 Olympic action. Plus sports participation activities, live music and cultural entertainment will be on offer every day until late evening, so get involved!

Share your summer picnic pictures and recipe ideas. You can also tweet them to us @Pure_Package. Happy Picnicking!