It’s picnic season and time to fully enjoy the great outdoors with some delicious and super-nutritious foods that the whole family will love.
There is often a tendency when packing picnics to default to prepacked sausage rolls, Scotch eggs and crisps! But this doesn’t need to be the case. Picnics can be really healthy, nutritionally balanced, and tasty too!
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top picnic tips.
Crudités and Dips
Most people love a variety of dips, many of which are healthy. However, it’s what’s dipped into them that really counts! Chopped carrots, celery, red peppers, and cucumber all make great accompaniments.
Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene which the body turns into immune-boosting vitamin A as needed. Both celery and cucumber work as natural diuretics which help banish water retention and bloating (especially common in women) and red peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, also amazing for the immune system.
Pack some hummus, which is high in protein and tzatziki made from natural yogurt which helps balance the gut bacteria. Guacamole, produced from super-healthy avocados, is a great option too. Adding these dips to your picnic has just upped the nutrition a good few notches.
Salads don’t need to be dull or limp! If you pack a grain-based salad such as quinoa or couscous, you’ve got the perfect base on which to build your amazing superfood salad. For starters, these healthy grains contain some protein which helps to keep energy levels sustained throughout the day. Plus, quinoa has the added benefit of being gluten-free if that’s a consideration for you.
A superfood salad can be totally freestyled! You can add what takes your fancy. However, the greater colour variety you have, the more health benefits you’ll gain. For example, chopped tomatoes are high in the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which can help protect the body from free radical damage. Or why not roast some vegetables to add to the grains? Roasted aubergine, peppers, mushrooms and onions make a great combination.
Aubergines help replenish the gut bacteria, peppers are rich in vitamin C, mushrooms provide a small amount of vitamin D and onions are high in quercetin, a natural antihistamine which will help protect against hay fever symptoms. Even better, these salads are really easy to transport, can be cooked and kept in the fridge overnight and are simply delicious with pesto added.
Just as you’ve packed some deliciously crisp and healthy crudités for dips, the same treatment works for fruit, and the colours will delight! It’s always good to end a picnic with a sweet treat, and rather than loading up with high sugar and fat-laden pastries or cookies, why not enjoy some delightful fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet cravings?
It being summertime, there is a great selection of berry fruits available. Berries are all rich in anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants, that protect the body from illnesses. Why not grab some strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries? They can all be mixed, just remember to wash them all thoroughly before packing in the picnic basket.
You could also chop up some apples and pears, which are both high in vitamin C and fibre. Once chopped, and exposed to oxygen, they will go brown. However, squeezing some lemon juice over them will stop this happening (lemon also contains antioxidants, which prevent oxidation of foods).
To complete your colourful extravaganza, pack some kiwis which don’t need to be chopped. Kiwis can be eaten just like a boiled egg and peeled from the top and dipped with a spoon. Kiwis contain some of the highest levels of immune-boosting vitamin C of any fruit.
So enjoy the healthiest, most colourful picnic yet this summer!
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