Is it just me, or does dining al fresco make food taste better? I’m not sure if there’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon (or maybe it’s just in my head – that’s highly possible!), but when the conditions are right, eating outdoors somehow elevates the meal experience and adds an extra layer of enjoyment and satisfaction.
I love the idea of classic picnic foods. Cold fried chicken, creamy potato salad, pasta salad, sandwiches, a pitcher of sweet iced tea, all spread out on a red checkered picnic blanket. Don’t you just want to teleport yourself into this quaint, oh-so-Pinterest-y scene? I do! Now would be a good time to mention that I even own one of those beautiful vintage picnic baskets which I plan on actually using this summer (it served as the card box at our wedding two years ago).
The unfortunate part of the traditional picnic menu is that the food, while delicious and filling, is the epitome of the North American diet – high in unhealthy fats (fried chicken, mayo-based salads), refined grains (white bread and pasta) and added sugar (sweetened iced tea). I won’t go on and on…there’s no point in being a Debbie Downer about it! If you only eat this way one or two days this summer, then enjoy the indulgent eats and move on.
But if you’ll be picnicking every other weekend while the warm weather is upon us, or just want to change things up a little, then it’s worth exploring some healthier picnic options. The good news? There are tons of healthy picnic-friendly foods to choose from! Here are some ideas…
Healthy picnic food ideas
- Lemon and herb ricotta spread served with vegetable dippers – mix 2 cups ricotta cheese with the juice and zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley and basil
- Mango cucumber salsa served with tortilla chips
- Potato salad with olive oil-lemon dressing – cook 1.5 Lb unpeeled, diced russet potatoes in boiling water until fork-tender; drain. Add potatoes to a large bowl and combine with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley; season with salt and pepper.
- Hummus served with Belgian endive spears for scooping
- Lemon water – a pitcher of ice water spiked with fresh lemon slices
Do you have any picnic plans this summer?
What kinds of foods do you like to eat when dining outdoors? Leave a comment and let me know!