Summer sun, a picnic table, friends and food…that is what comes to mind when I think of picnics. The other thing that comes to mind is the dreaded, “WHAT AM I GOING TO BRING!?!” Don’t panic – here is your guide to stress free, delicious picnic favourites with a healthful twist.
Usually at an outdoor picnic, either the host will provide the mains – burgers, wings, kabobs – or if it is at a park, you are looking at BYOB – bring your own BBQ items. So what is left? SALADS, SALADS, SALADS!
Old Fashioned Potato Salad
Put away the mayonnaise and the hard-boiled eggs! A potato salad recipe can be altered to omit these higher fat add-ons. If you are used to the zing that mayo can impart, try to boil your potatoes with about a tablespoon of pickle juice in the water. If you are wanting the creaminess of mayo, you can use plain organic Greek yogurt in its place. Be sure to add lots of fresh herbs like dill, fennel, parsley, cilantro or basil for a flavor burst.
Check out my “Grilled Potato Salad” recipe which doesn’t even have mayo or eggs. Truly a family favourite for the last decade.
Sweet Potato Salad
Although still considered a potato salad, this one is bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. Sweet potatoes are highest in beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes glowing summer skin while at the same time reducing the harsh effects of the sun. To make a simple sweet potato salad, steam two large sweet potatoes for about 7 minutes until still firm but cooked through. Cut into cubes and toss with raisins, pecans and a vinaigrette made from maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and a little bit of olive oil. Or head on over to my recipes and check out my latest recipe development — Sweet Potato and Broccoli Salad.
Rice Noodle & Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad
This one is really simple – only three steps.
- Cook 2 cups of rice fusilli according to the package instructions. When done cooking rinse thoroughly with cold water and set aside.
- In a medium roasting pan toss together with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt: 8 whole garlic cloves, 2 carrots (peeled and thinly sliced), 1 red pepper (coarsely chopped) and a zucchini (cut into ½-inch rounds). Roast in the oven at 350 degrees F, tossing every 15 minutes for 30-45 minutes or until soft.
- Combine pasta, veggies, 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and the juice from ½ a lemon. Season with more sea salt and chili flakes. Garnish with some olives.
Rainbow Quinoa Salad
By now everyone has heard of this healthy ancient grain – but in reality it isn’t a grain at all – it is a seed and a protein! It is gluten-free, fat-free and has a nice nutty flavor.
Did you also know that it is very high in protein? This little wonder is also great as a salad base too! Cooked quinoa is especially nice with grated fresh beet, fresh lemon and dill. For a more robust flavour, add some crumbled goat or feta cheese and arugula. Yummy!
Kale Caesar Salad
This is a yummy adaptation to the traditional Caesar salad, but can be served on a hot day without spoiling because it doesn’t have raw eggs or wilty lettuce. Instead it is packed full of heart-boosting kale topped with a snappy dressing.
For the dressing you will need:
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 1 small garlic clove, chopped finely
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp of mustard seeds
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Combine the dressing and blend until smooth with either a food processor or an immersion blender. Top torn kale leaves with the dressing, red onion, halved cherry tomatoes and raw or toasted sunflower seeds.
With these quick recipes under your belt, you are sure to wow your friends when you share with them how easy and healthy these summer salads are.
Be sure to leave a comment sharing your summer favourite picnic salads. After all, we all love to share our successes and favourite recipes.
Looking forward to hear about some of your summer salad favs.