Right around Australia, people are unfurling picnic blankets and breaking out the plastic cups, ready to make the most of our gorgeous natural surrounds and great weather. Most of us have indulged in many many treats over the last few weeks, so instead of cracking open yet another pack of chips to feed the hungry hordes, why not try some of our healthy(ish) picnic ideas.
- Sushi / Sashimi Platter – preorder from your local sushi place and pick up on the way
- mini frittatas
- Belinda Jeffery’s zucchini, fetta and dill pie
- Sweet pickled veg served with chopsticks
- Ramen eggs
- Veg Kebabs – thread your favourite antipasti onto skewers with baby bocconcini, basil, cherry tomatoes
- Carrot sticks with white bean + artichoke dip (recipe at end of article if you want one)
On the Grill:
Avoiding processed meats like sausages instantly boosts your BBQ from naughty to nice. These ideas will require a bit of home prep, but its so worth it if you have sausage-on-bread fatigue.
Homemade or storebought falafel patties fried on the grill and popped into a wrap with hummus and a chopped cucumber and tomato salad. A squeeze of lemon juice is all this needs. If you like this idea but want it meaty, replace the falafel with koftas.
Homemade burgers: good quality lean beef squashed into patties and fried on the grill. Prepare your buns in advance so you just need to add the hot patty. Wrap them individually to make sure they don’t fall apart in transit. Halve soft wholemeal buns and stuff with cheese, tomato, onion pickle, and lettuce. Go All-Australian by adding some pineapple rings or a smear of beetroot dip.
Jamie Oliver’s chicken and herb bread kebabs.
Beer Can Chicken: if you have a kettle style BBQ with a lid, try Beer Can Chicken for juicy chicken with novelty value. In case you are wondering if it’s any good, I can guarantee it is. And yes this the “ish” bit of “healthyish”, but still better for you than salt-brined store bought charcoal chicken – which, having said that, is also not that bad in a pinch.
Although champagne or a beer is my personal choice for picnic hydration, if you want to healthy up your picnic, there are a few options. I know I sound like a no-fun crazy lady when I say this, but soft drinks and juices are just not worth it. It is universally acknowledged that these things are really bad for you, and without the threat of a random breath test to limit your consumption, you might drink way more than you think.
Carbonated water infused with strawberry and mint, or orange slices and basil is refreshing, delicious and sugar-free. I highly recommend it.
Fruit is the obvious choice here but if you’re the sort of person who lives for dessert and you’ve managed to get healthy on your snacks and mains, you could balance it out with some sort of home-made slice. Slice the portions a little smaller than usual and limiting the selection are good ways of eating a little less.
We like the idea of not using fully disposable gear and taking our rubbish home – investing in a couple of picnic pieces you can use over and over is worthwhile if you picnic often enough. Our fave place to park our bums whilst in the great outdoors are these Love Rugs from Basil Bangs:
Kmart has a great selection of outdoor plates and drink-ware at a low cost like these colourful goblets at $7 for set of 4:
Your strawberry infused water will look gorgeous in this Vue Radiant Jug from Myer:
These are all lovely things to have but as always keeping things simple and doing a little bit of prep work means you can focus on what it’s all really about: being with family and friends and avoiding the ants…. BYO man with guitar as per Thomas Cole’s painting The Pic-nic.
Image Credit: Thomas Cole, The Pic-nic
White Bean and Artichoke Dip
Cook the following ingredients in a pan until softened:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Place this mixture, with the following ingredients, into a blender and blend until smooth.
1 400g can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1 400g jar artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon lemon juice