Inspired by my recent Connecticut jaunt, I’ve had picnics on the brain. Really, when the weather is as pitch perfect as it is in June, what better way to soak it up than on a blanket in a park with something to nibble on? Whether under a tree or on a beach, with a group or on a date - picnics are a quintessential part of summertime.
Rather than heading straight to the Whole Foods salad bar to stock up, I’ve got a few easy ideas that’ll save you some cash as well as calories. Below are some of my favorite simple salad recipes - straight from my treehouse kitchen to your picnic basket... and just in time for 4th of July!
[OLIVE-YOU TUNA & ARUGULA SALAD] [GF] [DF]
This one is as gorgeous for a dinner party as it is for a picnic. Just take care when selecting your tuna: Tuna packed in waterretains more of it’s heart healthy omega-3’s, and jars are safer than cans for avoiding toxins that can leech from the can into your fish. Albacore is one of the lowest varieties in mercury content, especially the American and Canadian varieties, which are farmed when the fish are smaller.
This recipe gets the “Healthy Hippie” stamp of approval because… Tuna is not only a lean protein and a good source of omega 3’s, it’s also rich in selenium and potassium – which can actually combat the negative effects of mercury! Arugula is actually a cruciferous vegetable - so, like broccoli it’s loaded with antioxidants and vitamins like A, K and C. And UNLIKE my other fave salad green, spinach, arugula does not contain the compound oxalate, which can limit calcium absorption.
- 1 7oz jar of albacore tuna packed in water
- About 1/2 c (or a 6oz jar) of marinated, quartered artichokes (reserve a bit of liquid for dressing)
- ¼ c fresh green olives, sliced (the kind from an olive bar, no canned please!)
- 1 can of organic white beans
- 1 12oz bag of organic baby arugula
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl
- Throw in about 2 tablespoons from the artichoke jar as dressing.
- Add arugula as soon before serving as possible, toss all ingredients and serve!
[WHAT'S THE DILLY? BEETS & FETA] [V] [GF]
Dill & beets go together like… well like feta and beets. So why not combine the 3?!
Similar to my lentil recipe, I save the hassle of cooking by picking up precooked beets from the refrigerated produce section at the grocery store. These bad boys are delicious on their own, and because they’re steamed they maintain their nutritional value without soaking up any extra calories from cooking oils. It’s super important to use fresh dill here, as dried won’t brighten the flavors the same way.
This recipe gets the “Healthy Hippie” stamp of approval because… Beets are excellent at detoxifying the body, and are a member of the chenopod family (a food family touted for their high levels of phytonutrients) so they’re great for nervous system health. Beets also contain high levels of nitrates, which increase blood flow – making them a serious energy and brain booster, and giving them the nickname “natures’ Viagra.” (Guess I know which appetizer you’ll be ordering on YOUR next date!) Feta is relatively low in fat and high in protein compared with most cheeses. Plus, the Greek varieties are made with goat’s milk so they are easier to digest than domestic, cow’s milk varieties. Lastly, dill is much more than just a flavor… This whispy herb aids in digestion and insomnia, and is surprisingly high in calcium!
- 1 500g package of precooked beets (a little over 2 cups)
- 3/4 c cubed or crumbled Greek feta cheese
- ¼ c chopped walnuts
- 1/4 c fresh dill
- Approx 2 tbsp of beet juice from the package
- Dice the beets into cubes, about the same size as your feta.
- Pull sprigs of dill off of the stem, and rip into manageable size pieces with your hands.
- Toss all ingredients and serve!
[EGGSELLENT AVOCADO & TOMATO] [V] [GF]
This salad is so creamy it seems sinful... But it’s not!
This recipe gets the “Healthy Hippie” stamp of approval because… Although eggs get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol – did you know that they actually don’t raise the cholesterol in your blood?! Yup, turns out that dietary cholesterol doesn’t actually increase levels of CHD (the bad kind of cholesterol), though in fact they do raise levels of HDL (the good kind)! Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline – a B vitamin complex that is used to build cell membranes and is especially essential for pregnant women. Avocados are another cholesterol booster, working to lower the bad and raise the good levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream, while also regulating blood sugar levels and controlling blood pressure thanks to their high potassium content.
- 3 large, hard boiled eggs
- 1 ripe avocados
- 1 medium vine ripened tomato, seeded
- ¼ c chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp capers
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Hard boil the eggs and set aside to cool completely
- Dice the eggs, avocados and tomatoes into approx 1.5 inch cubes
- Toss all ingredients and serve!
[GF] Gluten Free
[DF] Dairy Free