Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - May 2008
Pack a picnic basket brimming with natural and organic foods.
Spring has issued its annual invitation to outdoor living. RSVP now by picnicking on seasonal natural and organic foods for the ultimate alfresco meal. Whether you're heading to the park, a beach or simply your backyard patio, here's how to pack a picnic that's fresh, natural and a perfect fit for a beautiful spring day.
A Moveable Feast
The key to picnicking is choosing the right menu, says Jill Nussinow, R.D., author of The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment (Vegetarian Connection Press, 2005). "The best foods are those that can be made ahead of time, are easy to pack and require fewer utensils to eat," she says.
Nussinow recommends natural and organic spring vegetables as perfect picks. Steam fresh asparagus, sugar snap peas or even green beans, then chill and serve with dip or toss with vinaigrette for an easy salad. For something even simpler, pack a bag of Publix GreenWise Market Organic Mixed Baby Greens along with a container of assorted cut-up raw or sliced roasted veggies. Toss them all together with your favorite dressing once you get to the picnic site. Or assemble kid-friendly "walking salads" to enjoy on the go. Spread washed and drained green cabbage leaves with organic peanut butter, sprinkle with organic raisins, roll up and munch away.
Bean- and grain-based salads also travel well. Combine drained and rinsed canned black beans with chopped organic red peppers, scallions and a zesty vinaigrette; serve with toasted pita chips or Publix GreenWise Market Tortilla Chips. Or toss cooked and chilled whole grain pasta with julienned carrots, celery, organic yellow peppers, water chestnuts and Asian sesame dressing.
Sandwiches are a traditional packable that are easy to eat. For creative variations, think outside the loaf with a whole grain bun, bagel, tortilla or pita.
- Roll up a whole wheat tortilla spread with hummus, shredded organic veggies and cucumber slices.
- Tuck a scoop of tempting tabbouleh (bulgur wheat) salad into a pita.
- Make a luscious bagel sandwich with grilled Publix GreenWise Market Chicken, thoroughly chilled and mixed with some mayo, your favorite fresh herbs, sliced celery, diced apples and chopped walnuts.
- Layer grilled organic vegetables with mozzarella cheese on ciabatta bread.
The best picnic desserts are easy and utensil-free. Watermelon slices are ideal. Or savor a little taste of cheesecake by dipping animal crackers into a tub of soft cream cheese. And who doesn't like a cookie? Tuck some Kashi TLC Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookies into the picnic basket for a sweet finisher.
Always Be Prepared
Knowing what not to bring can be as important as deciding what to pack. A salad you've already tossed in dressing may sound easy, but it will likely be soggy and unappetizing by the time you spread out the picnic blanket. And such delicate whole fruits as ripe pears, bananas and tomatoes bruise easily when packed.
To make spur-of-the-moment picnicking easier, Nussinow recommends keeping a picnic bag or cooler stocked with essentials—eating and serving utensils, a paring knife and cutting board, plates, napkins and glasses. Go green by choosing reusable dishware and utensils, along with cloth napkins or Publix GreenWise Market Napkins, made from 100 percent recycled materials.
The possibilities for a perfect picnic are endless, so accept the invitation to enjoy the fresh tastes of the season under a blue springtime sky.