Many families enjoy picnics, whether to celebrate a special occasion like a holiday or a birthday, or simply because the sun is shining. Figuring out what to bring to eat for a picnic can challenge even the most creative mom because picnic food needs to be easy to carry, easy to serve and easy to clean up after. Make picnic food fun with unexpected shapes, colors and out-of-the-ordinary flavors.
For fun sandwiches on the run, make a selection of sandwich favorites like ham and cheese spread with savory, nontraditional flavors like ranch dressing. Other sandwich options include sliced bananas with chocolate-hazelnut spread as well as peanut butter and honey (a twist on the customary peanut butter and jelly). Cut the sandwiches into shapes with cookie cutters. Alternately, bring deli-style fancy sandwiches made with whole grain bread piled high with crisp romaine, heirloom tomato, smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, stone-ground mustard and sprouts. Serve with a pickle, just like at a cafe. Make and wrap the sandwiches all at once to minimize prep time.
Make main dishes that will give everyone at the picnic energy to enjoy the outdoor setting. For example, serve chicken salad wraps made with low-carb tortillas and bulked up with mashed chickpeas and diced celery. Call the wraps "round sandwiches" for novelty's sake. If the picnic spot has grills, bring barbecue fixings like turkey dogs, hamburger patties made with lean beef and whole wheat buns. Surprise picnic guests with a themed menu, like "Southern Delight," featuring pretzel-crusted baked chicken that looks and tastes like fried chicken, or go Italian with a selection mini pizzas covering different tastes in toppings. Bring along a tasty dip for finicky eaters.
Augment the main portion of the picnic food with healthy side dishes that have unexpected flavor, or that fit your picnic theme. For example, serve egg salad with light buttermilk ranch dressing with a hint of curry powder in it, fruit salad mixed with lime juice and ginger, chipotle-flavored turkey meatballs, wheat biscuits with chive butter, or teriyaki-glazed steamed asparagus.
Cap off the picnic menu with a fun dessert that your kids won't even notice is healthy. Tinting desserts with food coloring or calling it by an evocative, made-up name can turn an ordinary dessert into a special picnic treat. For example, serve "worms in mud" (gummy worm candies mixed into avocado chocolate mousse) or "monster muffins" (zucchini spice muffins topped with fat-free cream cheese frosting that has been spiked with green food coloring). Make a few non-colored, worm-free desserts for any adults in attendance who aren't keen on eating bizarrely colored food.
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