Healthy Picnic Food Ideas

Who doesn't love a picnic? Picnic food ideas typically involve sandwiches, but, in order to take more healthy food on your outing, you'll have to go beyond the normal fare and try something new.

Healthy picnic foods might consist of low-fat coleslaw, hummus, tuna and chicken wraps or a big tossed salad with balsamic vinegar. Round the meal off with an accompaniment of fresh fruit, low-fat cheese and one juice per picnicker, with plenty of water to go around.

For energizing, delicious picnic food, bring along some freshly made hummus and melba toast. Hummus is made from chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans. Chickpeas, one of the earliest cultivated legumes, are high in both protein and fiber, making them a food that will stick with you throughout the day.

Ingredients You Will Need:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, minced (optional)
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cumin
Fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Dash of paprika

Heat the chickpeas in two cups of water. Cook until the skins lift off. While this step is not necessary, the hummus will be smoother without the skins. Scoop out the skins, drain the chickpeas and place them into a food processor. Process until they form a paste. Add the red peppers now, if you choose to use them. Then add the tahini and lemon juice.

Tahini can be made by processing toasted ½ cup of sesame seeds in the food processor with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If the tahini comes out too dry, add a little more oil until you reach the consistency you desire, but remember that the more oil you add the less low-fat the hummus will be.

Add the cumin, chopped parsley, paprika, salt and pepper, and mix it all together in the blender until smooth. If you want a little more substance to your hummus, you can always save a few whole chickpeas and red pepper for garnish. Make a well in the hummus, place the chickpeas and chopped pepper into the well and add a few sprigs of parsley. Sliced green onion is also a great garnish for hummus. Serve with crackers, Melba toast or chips.

Hummus does not store well in the refrigerator, so, if you make a large batch, make sure you freeze it in individual portions. It's easy to make and can be frozen for several months.

Low-Fat Coleslaw
Ingredients You Will Need:
2 cups shredded and chopped green cabbage
2 cups shredded and chopped red cabbage
¼ cup minced celery
½ cup grated carrot
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped red pepper (optional)

Ingredients You Will Need:
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard (Dijon or regular)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon crushed caraway seeds

Mix the vegetables, and set aside. Mix the dressing, and blend well. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and chill. Serve cold.

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