Craft the Perfect Picnic!

Happy International Picnic Day! Embrace the sunshine before the storms roll in by having a picnic. Studies show that spending time with nature can reduce stress, improve mood and concentration, and promote a higher quality of life. Besides, what’s not to love about soaking up the sun, enjoying fresh air and eating a feast of delicious food?

My favorite part about picnics is their spontaneity. As long as the sun is shining, it is not hard to craft the perfect picnic as your heading out the door. Pick a great location, grab a blanket and some great food, and invite whomever you want. If sporadic choices are not your strong suit, check out my tips below for a foolproof and healthy picnic feast!

1. Choose a location. Say hello to the perfect picnic spot, USF Riverfront Park. There is plenty of shade, the breeze and water are super calming, and you can rent a hammock to rest your food baby after the feast! If you do not have access to the Riverfront Park, you can hold a picnic almost anywhere (including your backyard). However, push for a location that has a restroom and running water, and check if the location is pet-friendly before bringing your dog.

2. Don’t forget non-food items. Always bring a large, thick blanket or beach towel or invest in a picnic blanket for around $20. Bring an insulated tote or basket, and remember to pack plates, bowls, utensils and napkins. I forget napkins every time I go on a picnic. My most important advice to you: DO NOT FORGET THE NAPKINS.

3. Pack extra water. Always stay hydrated when you are spending a large amount of time outside. Even if you are in the shade, you can become dehydrated. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is mild dehydration. Pack large refillable water bottles and stay energized and happy by drinking plenty of water.

4. Choose healthy dishes. Ditch the traditional mayonnaise-filled, fried and processed picnic foods. Treat yourself with fruits, whole grains, water and low-fat cheeses. Swap avocado for mayonnaise in sandwiches, balsamic vinegar for cream-based dressing in pasta salads and mustard for mayonnaise in potato salads. Choose goat cheese or feta cheese over hard cheddar or Swiss cheeses. Enjoy whole grain crackers and nuts instead of chips and drink water instead of juice or soda.

Pasta salad is filling and very easy to make. Make this balsamic pasta salad vegan by leaving out the feta cheese!

Use whole-wheat pasta, vinegar and low-fat cheese for a great and healthy alternative to mayonnaise-based pasta or potato salads.

Sandwiches are great and all, but designing your own open-faced toast is fun, beautiful, and tasty. Without the added bread on top, you really get to enjoy the flavor of the sandwich toppings. Try out my avocado and strawberry toasts or experiment with your own ingredients. Buzzfeed has a whole list of creative toast recipes to try. 


 Try out these recipes at home and pack them for your next picnic: 

Pasta Salad

1½ cups chilled whole-wheat pasta

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon Italian spices

½ cup chopped grape tomatoes

¼ cup chopped red onion

¼ cup feta cheese

Mango-Lime Juice

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Makes 2 small glasses.

2 mangoes

¼ cup lime juice

½ cup water

½ cup orange juice

Avocado Toast

Split the ingredients evenly between the two pieces of toast.

2 pieces of whole-wheat toast

1 mashed avocado

1 tablespoons goat cheese

Strawberry toast

Split the ingredients evenly between the two pieces of toast.

2 pieces of whole-wheat toast

2 tablespoons goat cheese

½ cup of sliced strawberries

¼ cup walnut halves

 A drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Note: Enjoy leftover cheese or avocado on whole-grain crackers, in the pasta salad, or with fruit. 

So, anyone up for a picnic?

Contribution by Shannon Gordon

3 thoughts on “Craft the Perfect Picnic!

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    Like

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