Today is National Picnic Day! It’s probably no coincidence that National Picnic Day is in April. Spring picnics timed right practically guarantee the warmth of the sun on your face, a soft breeze stirring your hair, the rustling of leaves in the trees, and the fresh smell of new blossoms and cut grass. Mother Nature is rejuvenating herself and it’s hard not to notice and feel inspired!
There is nothing like eating natural (real) food in nature–that’s al fresco dining at its best! My family loved the cultural norms of eating fresh foods “in the fresh (air)” while we lived in Italy, but this time of year always takes me back to Japan. Cherry blossom season in Japan elevated picnicking to an artform–the sake is freeflowing, the delicacies are intricate, and both are to be enjoyed with friends under a canopy of beautiful sakura blooms celebrating the start of spring.
But you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy a spring picnic. Even in your own backyard, your real food picnic can be relaxing and provide nourishment well beyond the food. Because being outside just makes you feel better, doesn’t it? Why is that?! I think it’s partly because being outside makes you feel small in a big world; seasons come and go and weather changes daily and we are not in control. Yet, the fact that many aspects of nature function in an orderly way, without our input, is predictable, and therefore, comforting! Plus there are all those pretty views.
So, a picnic is the marriage of two of my favorite things: being outside and eating real food! But it can be stressful to feel pressured to make fancy foods and to literally haul a bunch of stuff outside to enjoy the meal. It doesn’t have to be stressful, if you keep things simple.
Three Tricks to A Stress-free Picnic
- Use real foods you have on hand or items you usually make.
- Finger foods are easiest for everyone (and may even eliminate the need for plates and utensils–hey, every day is Earth Day)!
- Sometimes you just need to find a different way to transport (i.e., mason jars or skewers) the same easy, real foods you usually enjoy!
Here are some of my favorites:
Real Food Picnic Ideas
- Classic Deviled Eggs
- Antipasti on a Stick (Options: cheeses, salami, prosciutto, artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, olives, pickles, roasted vegetables, figs)
- Oven-Fried Chicken Wings (Or Drumsticks for bigger appetites)
- Mason Jar Salads (Toss together whatever you have on hand, or plan for leftover Grilled Tandoori-Style Chicken or Grilled Basil Shrimp)
- Grilled Vegetable Caponata with Fresh Mozzarella
- Fruit Salad on a Stick
- Mini Mexican Layered Dip (in one small covered dish, or in individual mason jars)
- Simple Fruit and Yogurt Parfait with Cinnamon Maple-Glazed Pecans (in mason jars)
Happy picnicking! Grab a blanket and get ready to embrace some serenity today, even if it’s in your backyard or on the floor of your living room (kids love that!)