Founder of Vitalove, Lizzie King tells us how to pack perfectly for a nutritious and delicious picnic. (Plus, we throw in a bonus takeaway option at the end…)
With thoughts of summer come plans for picnicking. Fun in the sun on a rug with hampers of delicious food and children frolicking in the daisies is the ideal, but often the quick, easy default is rather different.
Time poor parents dashing to a park after school grab a spread of supermarket picnic ready-meals, familiar and adequate but lacking in the taste and goodness some homemade additions could bring.
The extra effort should be seen as an opportunity to be grabbed, for so many reasons, starting with the delicious, nutritious and new food we can share with our children.
Easy Homemade Picnic Ideas
There are two obvious criteria for the picnic planner – ease of execution and ease of eating. Sausages and crisps are an easy score, but a little preparation can have a big pay-off.
Kids, despite often being wary of the new and untried, can be much more willing in a different environment, i.e. outside with their friends. And if you package things in a familiar way, this can be a great way to introduce new things, like these burger/sandwich looking Lamb pittas. Fast, tasty, health-packed and gobbled by all.
Making it easy to hold is the first battle, these are tasty and already half put together, but with extra sides they can customise their food and be independent gourmets.
Lamb and Chia coriander Pitta Pockets with Cucumber pickle
(Serves 5/6 children)
- 500g Organic Lamb Mince
- 1 Organic Egg, whisked
- 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
- 1 Handful fresh Coriander, chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Sea Salt and Pepper
- 6-8 Wholemeal/Gluten free pitta breads
- 1 Avocado sliced
- 2 tomatoes sliced
- 1 cucumber thinly sliced with a potato peeler
- Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
- Pinch tablespoon sized clumps off and roll into balls.
- Flatten onto baking parchment covered tray and chill, covered in fridge until needed.
- Fry mini burgers in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes on each side and slide into warmed pittas.
- Store in paper lined tupperware to insulate until picnicking begins.
TOP TIP – Make double or more and freeze the rest.
Great food on the run, they also have a load of goodness in them that will keep kids fuelled and vitamin-rich for the afternoon. Using fresh mince here makes them tastier, fresher and cheaper than bought ones with fillers. These are protein rich, full of iron, brain food and bone-nourishing vitamins. The fresh coriander is a potent anti-inflammatory, and has strong anti-histamine properties that could help hay fever sufferers in the grass. And the little, invisible gems that are chia seeds are a powerhouse in nutrition, brimming with calcium for bone health and antioxidants they do more for their weight than almost any other food.
Avoiding the white stuff, crisps, bread rolls and biscuits will keep precious space in their tummies for the really good stuff. Veg sticks with houmous seem to tick the easy-to-eat and tasty boxes at once, so give a new flavour a go, or a fancy vegetable crisp, those kale ones are fabulous. A protein-rich dip with a vitamin filled stick.
Quinoa and Rice Choc Crispies
Ingredients (makes approx 15 mini crispies)
- 1 Cup Puffed Quinoa
- 1 Cup Puffed Brown Rice
- ½ Cup Coconut oil
- ¼ cup Cacao Powder
- 2 Tbsp Almond Butter
- 5 Tbsp Brown Rice Syrup
- Melt Coconut oil in small pan with syrup, nut butter and cacao, until just melted. Pour into bowl over quinoa and rice. Stir together until well mixed, sprinkling a few extra pops into the chocolatey pan will coat them and clean the pan. You won’t want to waste this elixir.
- Scoop tablespoonfuls into mini muffin cases and place on a tray in freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 1 or 2 hours. Best made on the day as they are much crunchier and more unctuous when fresh from the fridge.
- Keeps for a day or two in an airtight container.
Puddings can be bribery for the fussy eater, but leaving them to it in the great outdoors means less pressure all round. When they’re ready make the last course fresh and colourful.
Fruit kebab, or lollipops as mine call them are a good one – always a hit with little effort. A lovely mix of seasonal, ripe stuff, you’ve got to have the beautiful British strawberry, an incredibly nourishing gem.
The high Vitamin C load here also helps the little bodies absorb more of the iron from the lamb, so it’s a win win. And these decadent, delicious yet entirely fabulous for you Quinoa Chocolate Crispies are a snap to make (10 minutes tops, so less than the checkout in M&S) and will ensure you’re the hero of the day.
Be sure to chill some water for the thirsty kids to guzzle and a bottle or two of rose in the cool bag to reward the adults after producing such a feast.
So easy and so satisfying to see kids gobble a chia and quinoa filled picnic.
Lizzie King is the founder of Vitalove, a nutritional health coach and a mother of three.
Cheat Sheet; Healthy Picnic Options to Take Away
Impromptu picnic? Pick up some healthy treats en route to the park. We love the following Gail’s Bakery breakfast pots for a morning alfresco bite, or a healthy dessert alternative.