There’s nothing quite like a picnic when the sun shines, but most of us are guilty of defaulting to sandwiches and shop-bought packets for ease. So we asked the healthy eating writers Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, for some ideas, tips and recipes for packing a nutritious, delicious picnic for all the family.
Do you remember having picnics as children?
We had the best childminder when we were younger called Sonia. In the summer she used to take a gang of us to the zoo, the farm or Richmond Park where we would make dens in the ferns and then gather round for a picnic lunch. We’d have to eat our fish paste or ham sandwiches first before the jam ones and on these special occasions we were allowed sweets.
Jasmine loved the Bounty Bars which became the inspiration behind our wholefood Paradise bars – one of our most popular desserts!
Can you suggest some easy-to-transport ideas that still pack a nutritious punch and kids won’t reject!
Pablo’s Chicken, our version of fried chicken drumsticks, is just as delicious served cold as they are hot (remember to tone down the spices) making them the perfect picnic dish. Serve with a dollop of our Probiotic Ketchup.
Our vegetable-packed muffin frittatas (picture below) are are also fun to include – quick and easy, simply grate in the same volume of veg to beaten eggs (no need to fry the veggies first), sprinkle with cheese and bake for an easy, protein rich, veg packed meal or snack.
It’s also a lovely and easy recipe for kids to do with you. Choosing and arranging their toppings, you can make it fun with brightly coloured and patterned cupcake cases and kids will be more inclined to show them off. A few nibbles like some olives, crudites and a garlicky dip are great too.
What about drinks?
Our book has lots of smoothie recipes in it, but one that’s been a real winner with kids is our Strawberry, Mint and Cucumber. It’s cool, sweet, creamy and perfectly balanced with vitamins and healthy fats.
For a refreshing cocktail, we’d make up a bottle of our Blueberry, Lime and Lavender Cocktail (add vodka for the parents!). Raw honey, rather than sugar syrup lightly sweetens this cocktail. Blueberries, lime juice and coconut water keep you hydrated and pack an antioxidant vitamin rich punch. If you don’t have coconut water or prefer a fizz, then choose a naturally sparkling water and this can of course be made up as a mocktail too.
We also love an invigorating glass of Pep-Up Tea which is just as good cold in the summer as it is hot from a mug in the cooler months. It’s a potent blend of turmeric, cayenne, lemon and ginger which is detoxifying and inflammatory. For children, skip the cayenne and add a little raw honey or maple syrup to taste.
Carrot sticks and dips are good for upping the veg intake, how do we hit five a day on a picnic?
A great snack for kids is ‘ants on a log’ – usually it’s celery with peanut butter and raisins, but we like to make them as tahini-filled celery sticks with a drizzle of raw honey and some chewy goji berries on top. It’s a healthful, calcium-rich snack with a satisfying crunch.
Broccoli fritters with our Spicy Avocado Dip are a hit with kids and adults alike, as are our Courgette Fries. They’re covered in crumbly almonds and are nutrient-rich while also very tasty. Apple Rings Five Ways is another great snack recipe from the book, with lots of varied toppings, kids won’t get bored with trying them all.
A protein-rich and filling alternative to raw veg crudites are our Carrot and Flax Crackers. They’re crunchy and moreish. We make a huge batch of these and freeze them as they last for ages and are handy to stockpile for packed lunches and picnics.
Any other top tips for packing a successful picnic?
Pestos and thick dips work way better than dressings as they’re not as messy. Fold them through salads and they’re just as delicious and will save you from ruining your favourite picnic cloth.
In the summer it’s important to pack foods and desserts that won’t melt or get ruined in the heat, so if you’re taking things like Paradise Bars (get the recipe here) or our Tahini Bliss Balls, be sure to include an ice pack in your picnic basket too or freeze them overnight before transporting.
We keep our picnic menus simple! Three savoury dishes and one sweet should do the trick. Our Buckwheat Burritos make great wraps which we love filling with spiced black beans, guacamole, salsa, cheese and soured cream. The beauty of these is that they are super easy to prepare and everyone can enjoy creating their own.Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are the authors of The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple which champion nourishing, home-cooked food. Follow them on Instagram @HemsleyHemsley
What We’re Packing on a Picnic