Whole Story

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Perfectly Healthy Picnics

Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and BasilSome of my favorite summertime memories are those of escaping our warm house, packing up the kids and a large basket of food, and heading off to the park for an evening of live music, delicious bites and (hopefully) a cool breeze. While the adults lounge on blankets, chatting and head bopping, the children happily frolic to the tunes and chase one another, returning periodically for a nibble from the basket to refuel their adventures. Heading outside to eat is one of the great pleasures of summertime.

Regardless of where that may be — the park, the beach, the pool or even our own backyard — I always want to make sure that our baskets are well stocked with foods that my family loves and that will help them feel well nourished, refreshed and energized so we can enjoy our surroundings as much as our picnics. Health Starts Here I always make sure to include plenty of foods that are made from unprocessed whole foods, which still contain with all of their original nutrients.

Plus, I make sure that there are plenty of plants in our basket. Picnics are prime spots for lazy grazing, and I want to make sure that nutrient-dense plant foods are what’s filling our bellies. Here are some family-friendly recipes perfect for adding to your next picnic.

Cooling, easy to make ahead and refreshing, salads are a must have for any picnic. With so many options and different kinds, I like to make several, and still they all disappear! Beans salads are always a picnic hit, and Texas Caviar is one of my favorites. Equally good is the simple, yet elegant White Bean and Spinach Salad.  Beans show up with Pumpkin Seeds and summer vegetables in Southwest Couscous Salad.

Mediterranean Crunch Salad I love to add some color to the picnic table or blanket with vegetable salads like Rainbow Kale Salad,  Mediterranean Crunch Salad,  and Beet and Mint Slaw.  Or try the unexpected pairing of Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Basil.  Tastes like summer in a bowl.

Don’t forget to pack dessert! Bars and cookies travel easily. Some of my family’s favorites: No Bake Thumbprint Cookies, Carrot Walnut Cookies and Hempseed Apricot Chews.  

Red, White and Blue Fruit SaladBut nothing beats the perfectly made prepackaged delights of summer: fruit. Try the Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad on your next picnic and let us know what you think.

What are some of your favorite foods for your picnic basket?

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SusieBeeOnMaui (Eat Little, Eat Big) says …

Mmmm. Watermelon, goat cheese, tomato, basil-sounds like a winner. For hot days where potato salad is desired (but appropriately feared), I make my Sunset Potato Salad: http://eatlittleeatbig.blogspot.com/2010/11/recipe-for-sunset-potato-salad.html

Ginger Fisher says …

Our picnic basket always includes some kind of a sandwich. It might be a traditional Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham and swiss on a fresh loaf of Cuban bread, or we might choose an Itlian inspired sandwich using capacolla, salami and smoked mozzerella-this can be made vegan by using just the smoked mozzerella, sliced plum tomatoes, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Fruit takes second place in the basket. Choose any fresh seasonal fruit. Cut watermelon into small wedges, or combine strawberries and grapes in a bowl. Anything thats handheld and easy to eat.

Nancy says …

My favorite foods for a picnic basket are baked chickendone in the oven. Very moist and slightly warm, mmmmgood! I love to take a pie usually a fruit pie for summer, blueberrry is my favorite! And lastly a nice bottle of Chardonnay, Stag's leap is my favorite. I also bring an assortment of pickles and olives from Whole Foods! Yummy!