Happy National Picnic Day!
A large blanket on top a bed of soft grass, a basket filled with a spread of delicious foods, and a beautiful sunny day are the simple ingredients needed for a picnic. Whether you’re with family and friends or simply by yourself, a picnic is a great way to breathe in the fresh air, soak in the sun, and relax and rejuvenate. In honor of National Picnic Day, here are a few tips on how to pack a healthy picnic basket featuring this season’s produce.
- Infuse flavor with fresh mint. Mint is one of spring’s go-to herbs. Add it to plain unsweetened Greek yogurt with berries or salads, like tabouli or strawberry and balsamic salad with fresh mint and basil. Make your own unsweetened mint tea or add mint leaves to plain or sparkling water. You can even freeze whole leaves in ice cubes to add beautiful color to beverages.
- Incorporate leafy greens, like spinach, romaine, arugula, curly endive, and watercress. Toss them into salads, mix them into dips, or add them to sandwiches. Large lettuce leaves make excellent low calorie “wraps” and “buns.” Rich in vitamins A, C, K, folate as well as lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants, these nutrient-rich greens are the perfect addition to any picnic basket.
- Include mushrooms. Button, cremini, portobello, shiitake, oyster and chanterelle—there are many options to choose from. Marinate then grill mushrooms for a low calorie vegetarian “burger,” or use two large mushrooms caps as the “bread” or “bun” of your sandwich. You can also add sliced raw mushrooms to your sandwich or salad. They’re a good source of vitamin D, riboflavin, and niacin.
- Add broccoli to the mix. Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as folate and fiber. Make a broccoli salad with broccoli florets, plain unsweetened Greek yogurt, a splash of apple cider vinegar, thinly sliced red onion, sunflower seeds, and unsweetened dried fruit (e.g. apricots or cranberries). Raw broccoli stems can also be spiralized into broccoli noodles that can replace the pasta in any marinated pasta dish. What a great way to use what might otherwise be wasted!
- Feature asparagus as a standalone side dish, in a veggie tray, or as part of a salad. Impress guests with green, white, and purple asparagus varieties. Asparagus is rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, and fiber.
So stop by your local farmer’s market, pick up some fresh seasonal produce, and pack a healthy picnic basket for you and your family and friends to enjoy.