TOP TIPS FOR HEALTHY PICNICS
Ah, the British summer! Inevitably it’s a little fleeting and never entirely guaranteed. But when it does happen, you can be sure that we’ll make the most of it! One of my favourite ways to enjoy our gorgeous Chiltern countryside in the summer is to head out for a walk and a picnic. And being a nutritional advisor and staunch advocate of a clean eating lifestyle, my picnic basket (okay, rucksack) is a sausage roll and crusty sandwich free zone… So to help you keep your picnics a healthy affair, I’ve pulled together some of my top tips. I’d love to hear yours – stop by my Facebook group to share how you keep your picnics guilt-free and delish!
SWAP CURLY SANDWICHES FOR ZESTY SALADS
Most picnic sandwiches tend to be laden with mayonnaise and filled with other less than saintly stuff. Don’t be turned off by the thought of taking a salad with you though – salads can be exciting and filling and are definitely NOT limited to watery iceberg and soggy cucumber. Try building your own masterpiece creations using the guidelines below:
• Choose a good carb-base – whether it’s roasted sweet potato, quinoa, whole grains or brown rice. The little express pouches of grains make life a lot easier these days… I love the Seeds for Change 7 grains pouch, and Merchant Gourmet also have a good range.
• Add some exciting fruit and veg – yes, fruit can go in salads too! I love adding blueberries or nectarines sliced into some exciting leaves. Rocket, watercress and spinach make a great combo with a bit of a peppery kick. Add raw sliced peppers, bits of watermelon, sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, sweet corn, edamame beans… choose your favourites and get experimental!
• Get some healthy protein – cooked chicken (I love mine cooked in Cajun spices), chickpeas, beans, lentils, prawns, hard boiled eggs… there are plenty of options that you can use to add the all important protein to your salad. Protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, so don’t leave it out!
• Add some good fats – heavenly avocado or handfuls of nuts and seeds can turn a dull salad into some a little bit special. Likewise, add some cubes of feta or a bit of a mozzarella, to bring something creamy to your plate.
• Dress it up – an easy way to add a bit of dressing to your picnic salads is to take some lemon halves along with you. Simply squeeze some juice over your salad before you eat it to bring it to life!
STOCK UP ON HEALTH-FILLED NIBBLES
For me, the biggest pitfall at picnics and BBQs alike are the vast array of incredibly more-ish crisps, breadsticks and other things that go straight to my hips. Making your own snacks can take just a little time, but can do wonders for helping you fall into calorie-filled, nutrition-less void. Try some of these options:
• Home-roasted chickpeas & nuts: I like to coat drained chickpeas or handfuls of raw, unsalted nuts in lashings of different spices, a drizzle of coconut or olive oil and either a little soy sauce or maple syrup. Then it’s just a case of roasting them on a flat, lined baking tray until they’re crisp and crunchy. Let them cool before you pack them up in containers… such a tasty snack.
• Get dippy: Dips are great for sharing at a picnic and are so versatile – you can take a big bag of different and colourful crudités (I like carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and celery) for dipping, some oatcakes or rice cakes for spreading, or dollop them into salads as a type of dressing. Be a little wary of some shop bought options – they can be sneaky sugar bombs. If you wanted to make your own, Deliciously Ella has some brilliant recipes. Or you could try my Nutty Hummus – a slight twist on the usual garlic filled hummus.
• Don’t invite Mr Kipling: We all love a little something sweet at the end of a meal, but it doesn’t have to be a sugar-filled disaster. My favourite cake bars at the moment are these gorgeous carrot and courgette bars… it’s a healthy version of carrot cake and has just the right amount of sweetness – with the added benefit of a nutritional halo!
DON’T FORGET THE H20
My clients know that this is a particular hobby horse of mine. It’s so important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re out and about in the warm sunshine. If plain water is a little too dull for you, try some of these options instead… just please promise me you’ll leave the fizzy pop at home!
• Fill your water bottles with slices of fruit to infuse the water – some of my favourites are cucumber and mint, raspberries and lime or just plain lemon.
• Try a fruit-tea cool drink. Make up a jug of fruity tea by infusing boiling water with your favourite herbal tea bags. Let it cool before decanting into water bottles with chunks of ice.
• Opt for bubbles… sparkling water bubbles that is. If it’s a little too plain on it’s own, squeeze some of your favourite citrus fruit in there, or add a splash of sugar-free cordial.
Now all we need is a bit of warm weather and that elusive sun!
(Image courtesy of franky242/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)