What do you tend to think of when you’re asked about picnic food? Until recently I would think of soggy ham sandwiches, a packet of ready salted crisps and a can of coke (if I was lucky). Not so much in the way of healthy or delicious.
Luckily there are plenty of interesting options that are easy to make, affordable and will stay fresh on the road if you are travelling. For a twist on the traditional sandwich why not try some of these delicious but still healthy options:
- Wholemeal pitta breads stuffed with tuna, lean chicken or mashed chickpeas combined with a low fat or vegan mayo
- Wholemeal tortilla wrap spread with hummus and filled with spinach, avocado and beetroot (so yummy!)
- Sugar free strawberry jam sandwich with brie on wholemeal seeded bread
- Banana and almond butter in a wholegrain bagel (nom!)
If you are feeling adventurous why not try a raw wrap? Using a large leaf of spring greens or cos lettuce, add whatever filling you fancy, roll up and chow down. Carrot mixed with some tahini sesame paste and raisins is an unusual but extremely tasty filling.
For an easy to make salad, mix up veggies, beans and whole grains with herbs. Just add the following to a big plastic lunch box and shake it up for a homemade version of a Marks and Spencer Whole Foods salad:
- Selection of veggies – try grated carrot and beetroot, finely sliced spring onions and cucumber or even roasted squash or sweet potato chopped into chunks
- A couple of tins of beans or lentils – try mixing them up for more flavour. Chickpeas are always good but you could try red kidney beans, haricot beans, adzuki beans or green lentils
- A cooked wholegrain like brown rice, quinoa or pearl barley (you can even get these in microwaveable packets if you’re feeling lazy!) or couscous would also work well
Add some chopped herbs like basil and parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. It’s guaranteed to taste fantastic and is extremely healthy to boot! To take it to another level try adding a few fresh berries, the sweetness of the fruit can really make a salad pop and turn it into something more special.
Why not try making a frittata? I think these are just a healthier version of a quiche – minus the pastry. Use plenty of vegetables mixed with beaten eggs and grated cheese then bake in the oven. Add some lean bacon if you are not veggie, and for a vegan version try using blended tofu to replace the eggs and nutritional yeast instead of the cheese!
Of course no picnic would be complete without something sweet. Whole pieces of fresh fruit like apples and banana’s are great and will stay nice and fresh or a fruit salad with chopped melon, grapes and berries can be tasty too. For baked treats you can make some amazingly healthy muffins or sweet breads. My favourite is banana bread (try adding dark chocolate chips for even more yum factor) or some of these strawberry oaty buttery bars!
Raw food can really come into its own for picnics. Raw bars and energy balls can be made up really easily, just add 1 cup of pitted dates, 1 cup of your choice of nuts (such as almonds or cashews), 2 tbsps of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt to a food processor. Once the mixture has turned into a dough just roll it into balls for some chocolately energy bites. These cherry bake well babies and chai almond energy balls are great versions of this basic recipe.
If you aren’t driving don’t forget the bottle of wine or even better, the Pimms! If you need a non alcoholic beverage make up some fruity tea, let it cool then pour into a big preserving jar with sliced fruit and some chopped mint, delish!
Now all we need is the sun! What are your favourite healthy picnic foods?
*this post first appeared on The High Tea Cast