Eating Healthy Outdoors
5 Joyous Picnic Tips
More often than not the typical picnic or BBQ menu is full of salads drenched in mayonnaise like potato salad and coleslaw and if store-bought, more than likely full of additives and preservatives; meats that contain carcinogenic compounds if char-grilled or just as unhealthy for you, fried chicken; and sugary drinks such as pop and juice enough to put your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride. This doesn’t sound like a very joyous picnic to me! Let’s give your picnic a makeover with these tips and recipes.
5 Tips for a Joyous Picnic
1. Fresh is best. Lucky for us this time of year the farmers’ markets and grocery stores are bursting with fresh and local produce. This means food is at its prime nutritional value and tastes incredible. Stock up on your favourite in-season vegetables and fruit for a healthy picnic appetizer such as sliced apple dipped in almond butter and sprinkled with cinnamon, or celery sticks spread with goat cheese and sprinkled with wild blueberries also known as the healthy version of “ants on a log”.
2. Avoid sugary pop and juice. Instead, make your own nourishing and delicious smoothie or juice. Sugar can over-stimulate and irritate kids making them moody and difficult (adults too) and make for a very unjoyous day of trying to get the little ones to behave. Keep it delicious and nutritious with your drinks. Try the Watermelon Cucumber Refresher recipe (published online) and remember to keep it in the cooler so it stays chilled. Be sure to bring plenty of filtered water to stay hydrated as well, in case it’s a hot day.
3. Pack some healthy dips. There are plenty of healthy dips to enjoy with a variety of raw and crisp vegetables as they will be both filling and delicious. Hummus is of course a classic dip or babaganouj (roasted eggplant dip) and my personal favourite is the almond sauce that goes with the Raw Sunshine Wraps as it works well as a dip too. Pack plenty of crunchy and crispy vegetables such as carrots, radishes, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. All of these dips would work well with your favourite crackers too. (Recipe published online)
4. Pack the protein. Protein is both metabolism-boosting and will keep everyone satisfied for longer than simple carbs as it takes more time to digest. Protein such as grilled chicken, turkey burgers, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, quinoa and more are all joyous choices. You may even want to try canned sardines! The kids might not like them, but with a squirt of lemon or lime, a sprinkle of sea salt and combined with a salad they are shockingly yummy plus they are chock full of good fats such as omega 3 fatty acids.
5. Bring a crowd-pleasing dessert. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to bring a memorable sweet treat for everyone to enjoy that is both healthy and delicious, you just need a great recipe like the Carrot Cake Balls that require no baking whatsoever!
Watermelon Cucumber Refresher
You won’t miss the pop or juice because this refreshing drink is naturally sweet and flavourful. You could even add in a few fresh mint leaves as an option.
2 cups watermelon, cubed
1 large cucumber cut into chunks
2-3 cups coconut water
Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Serves 6.
Raw Sunshine Wraps
These wraps are fun for kids to assemble. Because all the veggies are raw, these wraps are bursting with enzymes. Enzymes are the worker bees of every action in your body. The Thai-inspired almond sauce is zesty and flavourful. Bring these to your next picnic and they’ll be a sure winner!
Makes 4 wraps
Almond Sauce (remember you can use this as a dip too).
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp (15 mL) almond butter
2 tsp (10 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) wheat-free tamari sauce
1/3 cup (75 mL) filtered water
4 collard greens or large kale leaves
1/2 cup (125 mL) thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 carrot, cut in matchsticks
2 green onions, cut in matchsticks
6 snow peas or green beans, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cucumber, cut in matchsticks
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Optional: pea shoots
For the almond sauce, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
Carrot Cake Balls
These yummy cookie balls, made with shredded carrots and spices, taste just like carrot cake! Because they don’t require any baking, you can make them very quickly and they are far more portable and healthier than traditional carrot cake.
Makes 18 to 20 balls
3/4 cup (175 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut
6 Medjool dates, pitted
3/4 cup (175 mL) walnuts
1/2 cup (125 mL) grated carrots
1/4 cup (60 mL) hemp seeds
1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
Reserve 1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded coconut in a shallow dish for rolling. Place remaining ingredients in a high-powered food processor and process until fully combined. Form mixture into 1-inch (2.5 cm) balls and roll in reserved shredded coconut, coating balls completely. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Keep chilled, or freeze in an airtight container for a few months (though I guarantee they won’t last that long). EnJOY 1 or 2 either as a snack or dessert at your next BBQ or picnic.