by Monika Star
With warmer, beautiful weather finally arriving here in the PNW, it’s the perfect time to treat yourself and your loved ones to an alfresco picnic or an outdoor dining experience in your backyard. Picnics, I believe, are where it’s at … and they’re super fun!
Besides the fresh, yummy goodness that you get when you make the meals yourself, a picnic also provides an opportunity to stay engaged with your family and friends and build stronger bonds while enjoying each other’s company. Eating together outside can foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging, hopefully free from any type of electronic distraction. Research also verifies that spending time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological and physical well-being.
So let’s start planning and reap all of these benefits! I’ve reached out to some of our friends of the NW Mind Body Spirit Connection to get their picks for “go to” healthy picnic dishes.
Start with Veggies
Melissa of Honeybee Table likes to make her picnic Veg-friendly. She says that “picnics and barbecues can be tough events for plant-based eaters to navigate. My favorite dish to bring along is a batch of veggie burgers. Aside from being incredibly versatile and flavorful, veggie burgers are high in fiber, protein, and minerals (especially iron when grains and legumes are involved). They can be prepared in advance or grilled if structured well.” Here’s a link to her blog with the recipes: hbyogaandwellness.com/recipes. I for sure will be trying the Moroccan chickpea burger–it looks delish!
Sarah Reilly, certified functional medicine health coach, from the Functional Health Equation always suggests mason jar salads for picnics. “You can use any combo of protein, veggies, greens, beans, nuts and seeds and you layer the heaviest items on the bottom and the lightest on the top. It is a great way to get in a balanced meal of protein, healthy fats, fiber and greens!” The salad pictured below has beans, cucumbers, carrots, tomato, raw beets, arugula and micro greens and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. There is no set way to make these salads, so get culinary creative on this one.
Lisa Flowers, a holistic health coach, suggests marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms. Add some good cheese and then eat them on a bun with lettuce, tomato and onion…like a burger. Another favorite is quinoa tabouli with whole grain pita or gluten free crackers. Quinoa is a highly nutritious seed, most people think it is a grain, that is packed with protein. Combine that with nutrient dense parsley, tomatoes, green onions and lemon juice and you have a delicious dish. Contact Lisa at Happiness Quest Health Coaching for the recipe.
Serve Up Some Sips
A refreshing drink is Summer Solstice Tea from Tea with Your Dragon in Stanwood. Victoria Dawson, shop owner, keeps a big jug of it all ready to go in her refrigerator. The ingredients in the summer solstice tea blend are: green tea, dried raspberries, sweet basil, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and calendula flowers. Brew in hot water for 15 minutes, strain out the herbs, add ice, and then when it cools, it’s fun to add your own fresh fruit and herbs. Sweeten to taste. Yes, please!
Let’s not forget dessert that can be healthy too!
Cindy with Trimazing Vegan Lifestyle Coaching says if she’s going to a picnic and needs a great dessert item that both kids and adults will love, she chooses her homemade Snicker Bites. They can be made ahead of time and kept it in the fridge or freezer until it’s time to head out, and they’re easy-to-eat finger food–perfect for a picnic. Recipe available here!
Everything Elderberry has tasty elderberry popsicles that come in 4 flavors: mango orange, tart cherry, limeade, and strawberry lemon. Kristin says that she created them with her 2-year old daughter in mind to help her stay hydrated in the warm months ahead. So far, these icy treats have been a great hit with her business customers as well. They make a great afternoon snack, picnic dessert or just something to help you cool off on a warm day. Pack them into a thermal bag and tote to the park or beach. Each popsicle has a full serving of homemade organic elderberry syrup said to help keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Kristin’s popsicles are made with organic juices and a splash of fresh lemon to make it a refreshing choice. See her one-stop shop for everything elderberry: everythingelderberry.ecwid.com.
Special thanks to all who contributed their recipes and inspiration for this article.
Wishing you many healthy picnic adventures!
Monika Star is an avid wellness advocate, beach watcher, arts promoter and a natural connector. She is the community outreach director for the NW Mind Body Spirit Connection events and enjoys spending time meeting folks who are doing good things for our community.