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Two Dietitians in a Kitchen Blog

Picnic Bliss

Is there anything better than a picnic with someone you love? Whether you’re on a beach, in a park, on your deck or on your living room floor – picnics make mealtimes sweeter.

I’ve never had a picnic basket of my own, so over the years I would make do with a canvas bag and plastic plates, cups and utensils. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this – especially if you can reuse your dishes for environmental (and economical) purposes. I have had many memorable picnics this way; usually on a beach somewhere on Prince Edward Island’s breathtaking North shore.

Last winter, I was out doing my usual thrift store browse and I saw this sweet little wicker suitcase. It caught my eye until I saw the $8 price tag. Quickly in my head, I tried to place this little piece somewhere in my home. A dog bed? No, my pup Trixie already has her fair share of cozy spots. A blanket holder? Nope, don’t need another. On and on my mind raced until I just couldn’t justify the expense. I (begrudgingly) walked by, looking over my shoulder as I turned into another isle. As I shopped, I kept looking back to that little suitcase until I decided to go back for one last peek. I opened the latch and to my utter surprise (and excitement), there was a picnic set inside. This was a picnic basket!! Held on by leather straps, cream coloured dishes were highlighted against a backdrop of a sweet green plaid fabric. I closed it up and went straight to the checkout with my treasure.

I spent that entire snowy winter dreaming of warm summer days enjoying picnics under a big maple tree in the park or on my favourite beach. My poor partner has witnessed me time, and time again lug the basket up from the basement to admire my dreamy find once more. He is one oh-so-patient guy.

Fast forward to the present, summer has finally arrived and so has the time for some alfresco dining. The best part about a picnic (besides the basket!) is the food - with too many options to list for one post. No matter what you decide to pack, make sure to keep hot foods hot (ex. soup in an insulated container) and cold foods cold (ex. sandwiches on ice). My favourite tip that I’ve picked up somewhere along the way is to keep water bottles in my freezer, ready to throw into a cooler to act as ice packs. Not only to keep foods cool, but once they thaw you can drink the water to stay hydrated! Win-win!

I like to prep ahead of time as much as possible, this might include washing fruit, peeling and chopping vegetables or assembling sandwiches. The fewer dishes (ex. cutting boards, knives, peelers) the better. I always seem to have mason jars floating around the house which are perfect for neatly packing salads and cut-up fruit or vegetables. They seal well and can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning afterwards (plus, they look cute, which is always a little bonus). My picnics usually feature my Mom’s Greek Pasta Salad recipe (see below). This pasta salad is best served cold, which lends perfectly to a picnic and looks adorable packed in a mason jar.

Sandwiches do well wrapped in wax or parchment paper, I find they stay fresher longer this way. And again, they look delightful. Remember – we eat with our eyes first!

For beverages, why not make a batch of our Unsweetened Mint Iced Tea to bring in an insulated bottle for sipping, or grab cans of sparkling water. It’s important to stay hydrated on warm summer days.

So go grab a blanket, good food and a few friends to enjoy some picnic bliss!

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