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Tips for a healthier picnic

Picnic basket on an outdoor table.

With the great British summer upon us, we know many of you will be picnic packed and countryside bound in the next few weeks, whatever the weather!

Healthy picnic ideas

Although most picnics are delicious, they're not always the most nutritious meal. Many picnic foods are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt.

But you don’t need to ditch the picnic – we've put together some of our favourite healthy picnic treats, so come summer, you won’t be regretting the items you put in your basket.

Salads & veggies

Make up a salad with vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, leaves and avocado – it will fill you up and provide a healthy dose of veggies.

You could also try salad on a skewer! It may sound odd, but the traditional Italian salad Caprese works really well in kebab form. Alternatively, thread small balls of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes on to wooden skewers for an easy, no cutlery, salad.

Watermelon is a great on-the-go treat. You can cut it up in advance and chop it at your destination to give you a good dose of vitamin C.

Celery scoops are a fun finger food. Just cut pieces of celery, fill with almond (or other nut) butter and top with a few raisins. The kids will love them too.

Snacks & nibbles

A home made trail mix is quick and easy – just mix together coconut chips, almonds, sunflower seeds, dried berries, walnuts and pumpkin seeds for a delicious snack.

If, for you, a picnic is not a picnic without a bag of crisps, why not try pitta crisps. Just toast wholemeal pittas and cut in to small triangles. You can serve with hummus or tomato salsa, and add some chopped raw veggies to use with the dip too.

The main event

Sandwiches can be real calorie culprits when it comes to picnics, so why not just skip the bread and use your protein as the the outer layer, creating protein wraps?

Another carb-free sandwich replacement is a lettuce wrap. We love to mix tuna with a bit of yoghurt, mustard and lemon, then serve in the lettuce with some slices of tomato.

If you fancy a pasta salad, its easy to make traditional recipes a bit healthier by replacing the pasta with grains, such as couscous or quinoa. And rather than a calorie laden sauce, just mix in a selection of roast vegetables.

Looking East for inspiration, sushi is ideal for a healthy picnic, although you should probably stick with vegetable based ones, as raw fish is not really ideal left out in the sun! You can buy sushi in most supermarkets, but if you fancy making your own, roasted peppers, sweet potato, cucumber and carrots make great fillings.

If you’re lucky enough to have a BBQ at your favourite picnic spot, why not take along some homemade burgers to grill. To make them healthier, skip the bun and serve between grilled Portobello mushrooms or grilled slices of sweet potato.

Make yourself an ‘on-the-go’ deli by putting together a selection of proteins, low fat cheeses, and healthy veggies such as tomato, cucumber and peppers. All supermarkets sell a selection of ready cooked meats or you could even get a whole cooked chicken from the deli. You could also try the Italian classic of melon and mozzarella, wrapped in prosciutto.

Healthy desserts

A quick fruit salad makes a great healthy end to a picnic. Just chop your favourite fruits in to bite size pieces (oranges, strawberries, kiwis, nectarines and peaches all work well) and transfer to an airtight container.

You can add a drizzle of honey if you like a bit a sweetness – or if you’re feeling creative, you can add the fruit pieces to skewers and make fruit kebabs.

Healthy cheesecake jars are fun and easy to make. Just add your favourite berries to a jar, add some Greek yoghurt, mixed with a little lemon zest and top with some granola.

So whatever you’re up to this weekend, and whatever the weather has in store for us, we hope you enjoy some of these great healthy treats – your waist line and arteries will thank you!

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