There is something relaxing and rejuvenating about sitting out in nature as you enjoy good company and a plate full of delicious, healthful food.
Whether you like spur-of-the-moment sandwiches and drinks out on the lawn or a well-planned feast for family and friends to enjoy, picnics are one of the best things about summertime.
To help you with your outdoor eating experience, here are five healthy food ideas to serve at summer picnics.
1. Fresh summer produce
Nothing adds to the experience of a summer picnic more than serving produce that is in season during warm months. Slice watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew to make a cool melon salad; cut local tomatoes, onions, corn, mango and other ingredients for a fresh summer salsa; pack crisp sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes or carrots for everyone to pick up with their fingers and enjoy the way nature intended.
There is nothing like eating natural foods while out in nature.
2. Simple sandwiches
For many, slapping some veggies and hummus on bread and packing it in plastic baggies you can put in a picnic basket or cooler for easy serving is the way to go. However, by the time you get to the picnic area, the bread is smashed, the veggies have begun to sweat and the hummus is warm, making for a less-than-appetizing entree.
To correct this problem and make it more healthful, pack the sandwich ingredients, including whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cold hummus and other items in separate containers or bags so you can make sandwiches at your destination.
3. Homemade chips
It’s nice to have a bit of saltiness and crunch in your picnic meal, but store bought chips often have excess salt and other mystery ingredients that don’t lend themselves to a healthful meal.
You can solve this by making chips at home. Simply cut up flour or corn tortillas or pita bread; add salt, pepper and/or your choice of herbs; toss it all together with olive oil, and put in the oven to bake. Once cooled, you can pack the chips in a paper sack for delicious, healthful snacking.
4. Good old H2O
Eating out in the summer heat requires serving refreshing beverages. Instead of having a cooler packed with sodas and juice boxes, fill it with water.
Water has just what your body needs to wash down the food you just ate, while keeping you hydrated for the post meal game of badminton. Plus, it’s inexpensive and stain-proof.
5. A parfait for dessert
Serve a light yogurt parfait for dessert. Layer vanilla yogurt with sliced berries, then top with a crunchy granola crumble that you can make yourself or buy in the health food aisle at your local grocery store.
When the meal is over, you and your guests will leave satisfied and energized, ready to enjoy the rest of your summer day.