Tis the season~for long summer nights, outdoor concerts, outings to the lake and the beach…the ideal time for packing up the family and packing a picnic. Eating GFCF doesn’t need to stop you from this culinary adventure~ it just requires you to do a little pre-planning about what you’re going to pack in the basket. Here are some of the GFCF eating ideas that make my family’s summer picnics work out nice, easy and yummy for all of us!
- Focus On the Fruits: Summer is a time to explore fresh, local produce. My kids and I visit a local farmer’s market every week and notice what the farmers bring each week. (Buying at the farmer’s market also gives us opportunities to work on communication and social skills as we are selecting items and purchasing them!). Take advantage of the fresh fruit and make a big fruit salad to take on your picnic. Lots of fine motor practice scooping melon balls and plucking grapes off the stem! Directions available in The Kitchen Classroom.
- Veggies and Dips: My kids, like most kids, would be happy to crunch on chips and pretzels all day, but when we present them with veggie sticks as an alternative, they will snack on them. Baby carrots, cucumber slices, peppers, celery stalks—wash them, toss them in a bag and bring some dips for extra flavor. We like almond butter for the celery and hummus or salsa for the other veggies. (Hummus is another fun, easy recipe to try with your kids, also featured in The Kitchen Classroom.)
- Whole Chicken: To make it easy on myself on a hot summer day, I like to grab a whole rotisserie chicken to bring on our picnics that we can cut up and enjoy (Whole Foods and many local co-ops make free-range, hormone-free chickens). If your kids eat sandwiches, you can pack along some GFCF bread—mine prefer just munching on the chicken legs. Of course you’ll want to pack the chicken in a cooler with ice to keep bacteria away.
- Homemade Lemonade: Our kids need tons of water in the summer but if you want to make a special treat to bring along for your picnic and want to avoid sugary, processed drinks, you can simple squeeze some lemons into your water jug and sprinkle in some stevia. Stir! We have also been experimenting with organic, herbal teas to ice and serve with lemon and stevia. Chamomile will help everyone feel calm and hopefully get to sleep when you get home!
- Frozen Treats: My kids ears perk up when they hear the ice cream truck and we do occasional treats there. But it’s also easy to make your own popsicles and pack some in ice to bring with you. A really simple, easy to pack dessert is frozen grapes—put a bunch in the freezer and in a few hours you’ll have an icy treat.
What are your favorite picnic items? I’d love to hear! Please post on my Kitchen Classroom facebook page~and while you’re there, “like” us to receive more GFCF recipes and cooking tips for your family.
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is the author of The Kitchen Classroom: 32 Visual GF/CF Recipes to Boost Developmental Skills. Visit her at www.kitchenclassroomforkids.com.