It’s National Picnic Week and now it’s becoming a little easier to get outdoors, why not embrace the opportunity to get out there and eat al fresco.
Whether you’re vegetarian or not, making your picnic a plant-based delight can really give your health a boost.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares five tasty picnic dishes to pack and go!
These are such a go-to ‘on-the-run’ food, but wraps are also great for picnics because they are so transportable. If you buy wholemeal wraps, you’ll also benefit from eating more energising B-vitamins than you’d find in white wraps.
The great news is that there’s no shortage of fillings. Why not roast up a tray of veggies; these can be prepared the night before and also eaten for dinner. Roasting favourites are courgettes, red onion, peppers and thinly cut sweet potatoes. These veggies deliver plenty of immune-boosting beta-carotene, vitamin C and energising folate. Spread plenty of humous on the wraps (chickpeas, which are the main ingredient in humous, are a great source of veggie protein) and add some chopped falafel, together with the cold roasted vegetables and you’ve got a really filling and sustaining start to your picnic menu.
I’ve called this a surprise because you can add what you like! Quinoa is a staple vegetarian and vegan source of protein and also provides carbohydrates. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids in varying amounts and is great for anyone who can’t eat any grain derived from gluten. Furthermore, it tastes great and is incredibly versatile!
One of my favourite quinoa dishes is with grilled halloumi, chopped spring onions, tomatoes, cucumber and mint with a little olive oil, garlic and lemon dressing. Any colourful salad vegetables will provide plenty of immune-boosting vitamin C and other antioxidants. Another suggestion is to add goat’s cheese, beetroot and pesto. Beetroot is one of the best vegetables on the planet for cleansing the liver and also providing plant-based iron, which can be lacking in vegetarians.
No picnic is complete without frittata. It’s another dish that can be easily made the night before and stored in the fridge. Frittata is a really filling picnic dish and eggs, its main ingredient, are another great source of protein.
All you need are some eggs, cooked potatoes, onions, red peppers and peas. You can actually add whatever happens to be in the fridge – try spinach and mushrooms – and it’s a great way of including additional fibre and, most importantly, colour into your picnic.
If you’re looking for an easier option than normal ‘slaw’ which does require quite a lot of chopping, using pasta as the base is a whole lot easier and will keep everyone filled up for longer. Just use wholemeal pasta which helps balance energy levels and, hopefully, avoids the afternoon slump. You don’t want to be missing out on the picnic fun!
Penne pasta is great for this dish so prepare some and cook until its al dente. When cold, add some chopped celery, apples (they don’t need to be peeled), spring onions, a few walnut halves and raisins. If you’re trying to reduce fat load then making the dressing with natural yoghurt, white wine vinegar and mustard is a great protein-rich alternative to mayo.
We know that chickpeas are a wonder food. As well as being the main ingredient in houmous, they’re a great source of protein for vegetarians or carnivores alike. Plus, they’re packed with phytoestrogens, so anyone struggling to balance hormones should include chickpeas regularly in the diet.
For this picnic delight simply use a can of chickpeas, a can of kidney beans, chopped avocado, cucumber, red peppers, and feta cheese, flavoured with your favourite salad dressing and chopped coriander. This dish is loaded with protein, fibre, energising B-vitamins, healthy monounsaturated fats, and skin-loving and immune-boosting vitamin C and vitamin E.
All these dishes are super-easy to make in advance, so you just need to pack up your basket and go!
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