In light of the recent year and our collective desire to dine outside at the moment, a picnic seems like the perfect weekend activity. National Picnic Week reported that the average person picnics around 3 times a year, totalling up to 94 million picnics annually! That’s a huge number of picnics! Often picnics call for jam sandwiches, lots of crisps chocolate and cake. Whilst there’s nothing wrong these foods, if we are going to be going on picnics much more this year then we may as well pick healthier picnic options where we can!
Below are a few of our suggestions for how you can have a healthier picnic:
Don’t forget the fruit!
You can’t go wrong with sliced apple with peanut butter or a punnet of berries. Berries are rich in phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants) known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been found to support blood flow and increase blood vessel dilation.
Opt for protein rich falafels and hummus
The combination of hummus and falafels are not only delicious but they provide a great balance of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats too! This means you’re likely to feel fuller for longer throughout the afternoon.
Switch the crisps for popcorn
Popcorn is lower in energy and saturated fat making it a really great alternative to crisps, to be sure to avoid the sweeter options as they’re higher in sugar too.
Enjoy cheese and wholegrain crackers
Cheese is rich in calcium which is vital for bone function as well as iodine. Iodine plays an essential role in regulating the thyroid function and supporting neurodevelopment in children and so makes for a lovely snack for the kids too!
Switch biscuits for chocolate covered rice cakes
Every picnic needs a touch of chocolate! Chocolate covered rice cakes are great way to get the hit without overdosing on sugar and feeling sick by the end of the afternoon.
Avoid sugar sweetened beverages
If you are going to enjoy some sweeter options on your picnic avoid consuming the sugar in the form of drinks as they don’t impact your satiety and essentially provide empty calories. You’re far better to enjoy a slice of cake rather than a sugary drink! They’re also not great for kids teeth as they tend to be consumed over a longer period of time which means you’re supplying a constant stream of sugar to the teeth.
Opt for a frittata
A frittata is a great way to pack in some vitamin D and choline from the eggs. Both nutrients are vital for brain function. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with low mood and choline is vital for neurogenesis (the creation of new cells) in foetuses and is therefore particularly important for pregnant women.
There you have our top tips for which foods to bring for a healthier picnic. Even just a few healthier swaps can make a world of difference!