News from ION

Whilst a typical British picnic may conjure up images of wicker hampers, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, and a cold glass of bubbly – all enjoyed in glorious sunshine – the reality may be more sandy sausage rolls, a bottle of warm water and an umbrella to keep dry.

That said, although there is no controlling the weather, a bit of pre-planning can go a long way to avoiding a total picnic washout. And picnic food doesn’t have to be beige and unhealthy either. We asked the ION team for their tips on enjoying the perfect summer picnic.

Planning is key

“It can be easy to eat unhealthily at a picnic if you choose lots of highly processed foods,” says Paula Werrett, Head of Undergraduate Provision at ION. “But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little planning, you can quickly throw together a delicious meal to eat outside.”

If you are short on time, she says, supermarkets can provide a great variety of interesting and healthy picnic options, although this can make things more expensive.

For ease, she favours a “more Mediterranean feel” picnic with lots of fresh foods. “I love to share food so enjoy picnics where everyone brings a dish,” she says.

Healthy options

When it comes to selecting your picnic spread, registered nutritional therapist Nicola Moore recommends crudities such as sugar snap peas, carrot, celery, radishes and cherry tomatoes, dipped in hummus or guacamole.

“Pita pockets stuffed with tasty ingredients like roast chicken or prawn and avocado, hummus and crunchy coleslaw or smoked salmon and cucumber are also good,” she adds.

Werrett recommends cold cooked salmon, lots of freshly made salads, falafels, meat koftas and Spanish omelette, cut into slices.

For dessert, they both recommend fresh fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or chopped apple. “Do pack everything well to avoid spillages and make sure to keep everything cool to enjoy it at its best,” adds Werrett.

Keep it simple

Finally, for fuss-free picnicking, Moore recommends keeping it simple. “Using leftovers can be good if they are easy to pack and eat. To make things simple go for snack items like olives, nuts and falafels.”

And lastly, it can be easy to overeat at a picnic, so Werrett recommends “filling up your plate and then not going back for seconds” as the best way to enjoy the food without compromising your waistline.

Bon appetite!