As I’m writing this the UK is being blessed with fantastic weather – bright sunshine, blue skies, little fluffy clouds – it’s a perfect time for picnics. Of course, we never know how long it will last but I hope you get the chance to picnic this summer. Eating al fresco is a favourite for me – kicking back with friends and family (especially children) and getting all the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, what better way to eat. But, no need for it to be a day of inflammatory junk food either! There are other things to eat on a picnic besides plastic wrapped gluten and sugary crisps and snacks. A picnic is a perfect occasion to eat fresh and seasonal food, to nourish your body and keep your health on track – take pleasure in the people and the atmosphere, no need to gauge on junk.
The standard picnic of sandwiches, quiches, crisps and pies can be a bit of a nightmare if you want to eat healthy and for me, as I don’t eat any gluten, it can often be a challenge, so I go well prepared with enough to share with everyone (and it always gets eaten!). But let’s be a little more adventurous than humus, crisps and carrot sticks.
Cutting sugar out of a picnic hamper is relatively easy and stops the annoying scourge of the picnic – the wasp! Instead of sugary sodas make up bottles of fruit and herb filled sparkling water or take handy small cartons of coconut water. And if you are indulging in the booze then make sure you keep hydrated so don’t forget the water.
Be careful how you pack your picnic. Naturally you need ice packs to keep everything cool and fresh but seeping sweating plastic or aluminum foil are far from ideal ways to pack your food – both are known to leach their toxic chemicals into the foods they cover which we then eat. So where you can, use greaseproof paper or glass containers to keep food fresh. And don’t forget bin bags!
HERE’S THE PICNIC I’LL BE PACKING THIS WEEKEND
Spicy Harissa Chickpeas
One of my all time favourite recipes which has managed to curb my personal battle with crisp-addiction…
1 glass jar of organic chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed, drained and dried
2 tsp of Harissa powder or paste (or more if you like more of a kick!)
2 tsp coconut oil
1. Mix all together in a bowl and ensure all the chickpeas are covered well.
2. Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 150 for 30mins, giving the tray a shake every so often.
The chickpeas should be crunchy right through when they are ready – if they are soggy, put them back in for a few more minutes.
Lettuce wraps are another healthy picnic essential. They are simple to assemble on the picnic rug and everyone can help themselves to the different fillings. Using larger lettuce leaves means you can wrap them up like a burrito.
. . like these – Asian Crayfish Lettuce Cups
Vegetable Ribbons with Cashew Nut, Chilli & Lime Dressing
Courgette, carrot, onion and pepper ribbons (all made using my spiralizer)
For the dressing:
Chopped cashew nuts
1. Make your vegetable ribbons and blanch in hot water for 1-2 minutes, cool under cold water and dry.
2. Mix in with any other vegetables you have. This works really well with prawns or chicken too.
3. Make your dressing to take in a seperate bottle to pour over when you serve.
& For Dessert . . .
For a little sweet something, I’ll make some dark chocolate dipped raspberries, strawberries or oranges. Simply melt some good quality dark chocolate in a pan then dip the strawberry tips in and place on a baking tray. For the raspberries, use wooden toothpicks to dip them. Lay all on a baking tray and pop in the fridge to cool.
So with your healthy hampers ready, I’ll see you in the park!