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July is National Picnic Month. Midsummer is the perfect time for family picnics, a spontaneous meal for one outdoors or a romantic basket lunch laid out on a bright checkered cloth.
Since adopting a plant based lifestyle, I realized I’ve not enjoyed many picnics. Typically picnics include traditional fare such as fried chicken, sandwiches, chips, sugary snacks and staples such as potato or macaroni salad.
In honor of the month long celebration and my healthier lifestyle, here are ways to experience a summer picnic vegan style!
Origins of the Picnic
The word picnic comes from the French word “piquenique”. The al fresco practice began in France, in the mid-18th century. Early picnics consisted of a loaf of bread, cheese, fruit and wine.
Today we carry along picnics for sporting events, family gatherings or weekend camping trips. Locations for picnics might include a shady, grassy area near a creek, a picnic table beneath a tree or a backyard patch of lawn.
Bring along simple finger foods, fresh fruits and salads, sandwiches and drinks. Enjoy sharing that meal with family and friends or grab a book and eat a beautiful meal on your own, while you read.
The American Bakers’ Association founded National Picnic Month in 1952.
Summer Picnic Vegan Style
You can purchase ready made foods and pack them in a tote or basket. Bring along a chest filled with ice for foods that need to stay cool.
Last year, Greg and I toted in a simple, mostly purchased picnic lunch, to Tulsa’s Philbrook Gardens. We found a picnic table deep in the gardens and enjoyed a healthy meal.
Or you can make your own dishes and snacks to enjoy.
Try the following foods, for a perfect vegan picnic. Click links for recipes.
Made from chickpeas, you can purchase hummus or easily make your own. Try this simple recipe. Serve veggies with hummus. Carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes or slices of zucchini or yellow squash are great choices. Or bring along vegan, gluten free crackers.
Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
This quick and easy sandwich filling replaces tuna or egg salad. Simply mash a can…or two cups cooked…of chickpeas. I use a hand held potato masher. Add several tablespoons of vegan mayo or a small amount of hummus, 1/4 cup each of finely chopped red onions and celery and 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. You can also include chopped green peppers or diced pickles and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Chill for an hour. Use to make sandwiches with gluten free bread. Or eat as a salad without bread.
A great alternative to sandwiches, veggies wraps are easy to prepare and eat. Start with a gluten free tortilla, then add whatever veggies you have on hand: shredded carrots, arugula, spinach, kale, shredded red cabbage, julienne green, red, yellow or orange peppers, zucchini or mushrooms. Add veggies to tortilla, drizzle with favorite dressing, then roll tightly. Secure with a toothpick, if necessary.
Try one of these homemade healthy dressings.
Tote along this vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad. A glass container with a tight fitting lid works perfectly. I love the crunch of apples and celery combined with walnuts and juicy grapes. Use vegan mayo as the dressing. Recipe here.
It’s easy to create vegan potato salad. Peel, dice and cook 4 – 6 potatoes until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1/4 cup diced yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 2 teaspoons yellow mustard. Chill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.
A great alternative to baked beans, prepare a pot of vegan cowboy beans and tote along a small container full for the picnic. Recipe here.
For my picnic, I prepared potato salad and macaroni salad at the same time.
Start with two cups of cooked gluten free macaroni. I used brown rice pasta. Add 1/4 cup diced red or yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vegan mayo and if desired, finely chopped pickles. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.
Healthy treats make great accompaniments for your picnic.
These chocolate cookies contain only three ingredients.
Or, if you feel like a different dessert that tastes wonderful and looks gorgeous, try this rustic apple galette.
Fresh berries make a simple, nutritious end to the meal as well.
Other Vegan Picnic Foods
In addition, include any of the following:
- cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, radishes or small peppers
- assortment of nuts and/or seeds
- energy bites
- homemade trail mix containing nuts, dried fruit and seeds
- watermelon slices
- fruit such as sliced apples, oranges, bananas, grapes or cherries
I had this post scheduled to write, using recipes from previous posts along with the simple potato and macaroni salads.
Then inspiration struck.
For the month of July, I’m participating in a Yes Month. The purpose is to encourage participants to say YES more than they say NO. Sometimes no is our default response. We say it without thinking. Saying yes encourages us to go beyond comfort zones, stop putting off projects or tasks and accept invitations. Yeses allow for more spontaneity as well.
As I prepared to write this post, I decided to say yes to a summer picnic for myself, and enjoy it in my backyard garden.
What fun to make macaroni salad and chickpea salad for a sandwich and include cowboy beans already prepared in the fridge. I added chilled chunks of watermelon and a bowl of fresh Rainier cherries.
Popping on a wide brimmed hat, I carried my lunch into the garden and enjoyed a picnic for one. It was beautiful, sitting in the corner meditation area where I could see my wildly blooming garden.
Where will you go this month, for a picnic? And what foods will you pack along, for your outdoor meal?
Share with me your favorite picnic staples!
Picnic finds from Amazon:
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