There is no doubt about it; food is a very social occasion. So often in clinic, I see people anxious about the idea of balancing their healthy diet with seeing friends over breakfast, lunch or dinner. It shouldn’t be this way at all.
Firstly, make the best choice you can with what you have, and understand you are doing your best. Flexibility and ease around meals are important for sustainable lifestyle patterns. Secondly, there is an alternative to heavy, pricey dinner dates. Why not make it a healthy picnic? Eating clean and enjoying some time in nature go hand-in-hand. Get your friends together, allocate each a dish, and enjoy your nearest beach or park whilst sharing delicious, wholesome food. The following are some great ideas you can use to get your summer picnic started!
Asian-Inspired Carrot & Cabbage Salad with a Sweet Tamari Dressing
Crunchy, refreshing, zesty, sweet — this salad has all the right ingredients to make it one to remember. When you pull it out of your picnic basket, everyone will be drawn to the purple, orange and green bursts of colour! Enjoy as is, pair with avocado as a satisfying side or top it off with pan-fried tempeh if this is the main meal. Best to pack these items (and dressing) separately for ultimate freshness!
Purple & Green Sweet Potato Kale Salad
Potato salad has long been a staple at picnics, but with all that heavy dairy and egg, it is certainly not conducive to feeling light and fresh through summer. This healthy spin utilises the starchiness of delicious, antioxidant-rich purple sweet potatoes, and the natural creaminess of the humble avocado to bring you an old favourite with serious health benefits! No one will miss the egg/mayonnaise of regular potato salad, promise!
Black Bean & Corn Quinoa Salad
This dish keeps really well if packing a bag for the day, but I recommend leaving the coriander, spinach and avocado separate and adding when serving if your trip is longer. It is a protein and fibre-rich meal that makes the perfect lunch or dinner. So many textures and flavours! The savoury of the beans and quinoa, the creaminess of avocado, sweetness of corn, acidity of lemon/vinegar, spice of cayenne pepper, and the freshness of coriander and spinach. Winner!
Self-Sauced Rainbow Rice Paper Rolls
I like these because they are light, refreshing and a little bit different. They are not stuffed with rice or rice noodles, so they are just exploding with the flavour of the veggies, tempeh, basil and peanut sauce without being too heavy! Peanut and basil is also an unexpected but delicious combination. However, I do recommend making them the same day, and not the night before. The great thing about these is that you do not need to pack or provide dipping sauce – it is already rolled up in there! Pair with a big green leafy salad for added fibre to fill you up.
Mung Bean Sesame Burgers
The healthiest burger patties around — vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and made from 100% real whole-foods. Choose whichever bean or legume you have on hand and get to making them asap! Be creative with your herb or spice choice too — as always; it’s easy to adjust to your tastes and preferences. Serve between quality bread/buns, two portobello mushrooms, wrap in a crunchy lettuce leaf or atop a salad!