The sun is out, the red and white checkered tablecloth is washed, and the cooler is packed. Ah, picnic season, how we have longed for your return! Have you ever noticed how much better food tastes when eaten outside with friends and family? Maybe that’s why we have so much joy planning our food for camping trips, outdoor festivals, or even a neighbourhood picnic at the park. Half of the experience is the delicious food that makes the scenery so enjoyable and the event so memorable.
The challenge of picnics
Unfortunately, many picnic foods are calorie laden, sugar-bombs and it can be hard to pack a plate that is both healthy and delicious. On top of that, many healthy foods don’t keep very well under anything less than strict refrigeration (we’re talking about you, eggs!) If you are looking for portable, fresh, and still healthy picnic ideas for your next summer outing, you’re in the right place. Here are some tips for making the most of your outdoor meals:
1. Use the rule of fours
Decrease your chances of food borne illness by using the rule of fours. Any recipe containing meat, dairy or eggs falls in this category. The rule of fours states that if a food is between 40-144 Degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours, it should be thrown out. Remember this for packing string cheese, turkey sandwiches, and potato salads (or anything containing Mayonnaise for that matter). These foods need to be kept in a cooler below 40 Degrees or eaten before 4 hours in order to keep from developing food borne illness.
2. Think outside the cookie/brownie/cake box
There are much healthier alternatives. Fruit is the most portable of all snacks, apples, oranges, peaches, pears…they all come in their own natural (sometimes even edible) wrapper and can be left in a picnic basket for hours on end without spoiling. As summer progresses look for cherries, berries, and other nutritious delights that are nature’s candy.
3. Make your own snack mixes for the road
Outdoor activities almost always involve snacking, weather in the car, on a boat, around a game table, or at the park. Instead of grabbing snacks made with sugars, processed fats, and weird ingredients like foods colourings, preservatives or other chemicals, make your own!
Raw, mixed nuts are a delicious, filling snack. Paired with sugar-free dried fruits like pineapple, mango, coconut chips, or cranberries add a delicious, but healthy sweetness. Mixing in a few sunflower, or pumpkin seeds takes the nutrition even higher.
For a savoury mix, try throwing in some air popped popcorn tossed with a little coconut oil and nutritional yeast flakes. Add some cayenne pepper for a little heat and you’ve got yourself a portable, all-natural snack complete with whole grains, protein, and healthy fats.
Once you’ve tried these tips, and you need some more recipes to take out on your picnics, try these listed below!
Or browse for more ideas in our healthy recipes section!