Bored with your summer meal routine? Sometimes all you need is a change of scene (literally). Take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy a delicious al fresco meal in the back yard or at the park or beach with family and friends. From crunchy vegetables and juicy fruits to reduced-fat cheeses, lean sandwich meats, summery salads, and whole-grain breads if you can tolerate them, a bariatric-friendly picnic is easy to pack. Today sees the start of Picnic Week so here are some other tips for assembling the perfect picnic.
It’s essential to keep perishable foods cold, so be sure to pack items like veggies, reduced-fat cheese or other dairy products, lean meats, and soups and salads at the bottom of the cooler, and the nonperishable foods like fruits, nuts, and crackers at the top.
- Prepare a fruit salad. Skip the ice cream truck and satisfy your sweet tooth with a refreshing fruit salad. Combine nectarine and/or peach slices, chunks of cantaloupe or honeydew melon, and your choice of berries. Store the fruit salad in the fridge until you’re ready to pack in a resealable plastic container in a cooler.
- Take along lean deli meats. Lean deli roll-ups will keep you feeling satisfied and energised during your outdoor sojourn. To make one that’s fine, roll a slice or two of low-fat ham, or turkey or chicken breast with a slice of reduced-fat cheese in a lettuce leaf. Wrap well in plastic wrap and keep chilled. Or enjoy the cold cuts and cheese as a sandwich on whole-grain bread or pitta and layer on romaine lettuce leaves and tomato slices. If you’re not a meat-eater, make a nut-butter roll-up or sandwich instead.
- Go for refreshing soups and salads. Summery soups can be packed in a Thermos and salads in reusable plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, then served in disposable bowls once you get to the picnic site. Try a chilled gazpacho soup or a big garden salad made with crisp romaine lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet onions. Pack a dressing separately and toss the salad just before serving. You can also take along a sweet potato salad or a pasta salad made with whole-wheat pasta and tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette or a little pesto instead of mayonnaise.
- Pack non-perishable snacks. If you’re going to be out for the day, be sure to pack some healthy snacks to help keep you energised and ward off hunger and cravings. You can enjoy raw veggies with hummus (or our delicious dip recipe below), have a reduced-fat cheese stick; or snack on a container of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with some nuts sprinkled on top. Or you can perhaps have a whole-wheat cracker sandwich: Simply spread a cracker with some reduced-fat spreadable cheese or natural peanut butter and top with another cracker. If you don’t have time to prepare snacks consider some low-fat and low-sugar protein bars or a high-protein home-made smoothie or commercially-prepared protein drink (made with Greek yogurt perhaps) that are another good take-along choice. Be sure to keep the smoothies or drinks in the cooler until ready to serve.
We love to pack up our Bariatric Bento Box with a selection of picnic style foods on such occasions and the keep-cool chiller pack keeps everything safe, fresh and chilled in the bento bag. There’s even a separate little pot for keeping your dressing or dip separate from the other contents.Spread it out and you have the perfect picnic mat for outdoor fine dining! See details of it here.
We also like to have a simple recipe to hand that we can quickly prepare, pack into a box and off we go. This cheap and seemingly humble short list of ingredients can be quickly transformed into a fantastic dip or spread. It’s great with vegetable crudites or sticks but also fantastic when spread on crostini or cucumber slices sprinkled with fresh herbs.
TUSCAN BEAN DIP
425 g/15 oz can cannellini beans, drained (or other white bean if preferred)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
about 2 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tbsp tomato paste (I used Bomba by Laura Santtini)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley or snipped chives
- Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, yorgurt (amount depending upon whether you want a thick spreading consistency or a thinner dipping one), tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Spoon into a dish and sprinkle with herbs to serve. Chill until required.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: 80 (DIP ONLY)
CARBOHYDRATE: 11.5 g
Some tips courtesy of the South Beach Diet, Dip image courtesy of Laura Santtini