Perfectly Healthy Picnics

Healthy eating guru Mary shares ideas for loading up your picnic basket with family-pleasing, nutrient-dense favorites.

Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Basil

Some 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 Salad

But 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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