In order to pack the perfect picnic basket, fill up with the most nutritional snacks you can find. There are tons of great healthy lunch recipes to choose from, many of which can be made in advance for easy travel.
Eating in the open air allows you to take in nature while enjoying an equally hearty meal. This experience is even more satisfying when you consume foods enriched with natural ingredients rather than grease, unhealthy fats, and processed sugar. The next time you head out for a picnic, leave the chips and cookies at home and pack your cooler with these goodies that are both nutritious and fulfilling.
White Bean Hummus
One of my favorite things to bring on a picnic is white bean hummus, the recipe for which you’ll find below. This versatile dish can be treated as a snack with carrots and celery—helping you meet the CDC’s recommendations for daily vegetable intake—or used to make delicious pita sandwiches for a filling lunch. If you decide to go with the latter, be sure to cut any additional veggies (tomato, cucumber, lettuce) at home so all you need to do on your outing is to assemble the ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
- ½ small garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- olive oil for drizzling
Place all your ingredients, except the olive oil, into a blender and pulse until the hummus is smooth. If it’s too thick, add a bit more water. Place the final product into a container for safe travel, drizzle with olive oil, and seal until lunchtime.
If you’re bringing kids along on your picnic, nothing beats good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly—especially in my house. To make this meal special and memorable for your little ones, slice the bread into fun shapes like hearts or stars with a cookie cutter. You can also make fancier PB&Js for adults with some hearty whole grain bread and artisanal jam.
Snacks and Sides
Fresh fruits and veggies are some of the easiest and most enjoyable foods to bring along on a picnic. Just imagine biting into a sweet, cold slice of watermelon as the warm sun shines against you. Other great options that travel well include baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, and fresh strawberries.
Whenever I pack a picnic, I like to include chilled edamame. It’s super easy to make and contains 17 grams of protein per cooked cup. In order to prepare this one before your trip, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place frozen edamame in the water, let it reboil, and cook for five minutes. Remove your edamame from the water and top it off with sea salt. Chill it in the fridge until you’re ready to head out (tip: bring an extra container to discard the edamame pods).
Fresh fruit is a great addition to any picnic, but one of my favorite picnic recipes for snacking on the go is homemade trail mix with dried bananas. If you have a food dehydrator, dried bananas can be made in no time; just slice and follow the directions that came with your device. If you don’t have a dehydrator—don’t worry! Many grocery stores carry pre-dried fruit.
In order to turn dried bananas into trail mix, we need to add a few more ingredients. I’ve included walnuts and dark chocolate in my mixes, but you’re only limited by your own imagination.
What are some of your favorite healthy lunch recipes to bring on a picnic? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line on Twitter #GoodMatters!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.