Picnics generally fall into two categories: Totally, unrealistically time-consuming (think pies with home-made pastry and chocolate-dipped strawberries) or a mish-mash of processed foods, still in the supermarket packaging (yes, hummus and crisps, we’re looking at you…). Although, we’d all love to effortlessly throw together a five star gourmet delight, the truth is, most of us don’t have time.
Instead follow our favourite healthy eating tips to make your picnic stylish, stunning and simple, without veering too far off your diet plans.
- Swap flimsy paper cups and plates (if using), for sturdy, almost-glass alternatives, which are both durable and stylish. In the same vein, proper cutlery – not plastic – goes a long way, turning a hastily-eaten snack on a blanket, into a real meal.
- Invest in some good containers. While plastic lidded-containers are a great option, we also like to have a couple of large glass bowls with fitted lids, just remove the
lid and you instantly have a nice salad bowl.
- Keep it simple. Our rule of thumb is to have three savoury dishes, one snack / dip, and one sweet treat. To drink always have water – hopefully it’s going to be hot out there – and something more fun, whether it’s a sparkling cordial (preferably homemade) or something light and alcoholic.
- Instead of crisps – the standby snack of most picnics – we recommend homemade pita crisps, vegetable crisps, or even kale crisps, served with an easy-to-make bean or avocado dip. A handful of crudités always go down well too (and is a fabulous healthy-alternative for any guests who are concerned about their diet.)
- The savoury dishes will obviously depend on your own dietary requirements and those of your guests, but here is a selection of our favourite healthy meals which translate perfectly to al fresco eating:
- Marinated chicken skewers (particularly our Tumeric Chicken),
- Quinoa-based salad, stuffed & baked mushrooms,
- Potato & smoked fish salad,
- Fresh spring rolls with a dipping sauce,
- Roasted red peppers, with some feta cheese to accompany it,
- A salad nicoise, or a bowl of kedgeree
- For sweet treats, nothing beats mixed berries and the more local and freshly picked, the better. Alternatively, luscious figs carry well (and transform easily to a savoury dish with the addition of slices of salty parma ham), while stone fruit – particularly plums and peaches – are a delight at any picnic, whether baked, stewed, or simply warmed by the sun. Finally, some good quality dark chocolate always rounds off a summer’s day of eating well.
Yet, if time really is scarce, simply bring some (good quality) hard-boiled eggs (with a twist of salt on the side, naturally!), some good cheese (a log of goat’s cheese is always a picnic hit, we find), oatcakes, and a tub of freshly cut summer vegetables (such as peppers, sugar-snap peas, and cucumber.) Add a bottle of chilled rose and sparkling water, as well as a bar of good quality dark chocolate, shake out your favourite blanket, and in just minutes you’re ready for a healthy picnic.
All you need now is a stretch of grass and – fingers crossed – some sunshine!