There are a lot of health benefits to a day in the redwoods – exercise and stress reduction are just a couple.* Nice weather is good motivation to get active in nature and kick-start the healthy habits that went into hibernation for the winter. And, as much as I love summer hikes and camping trips, there’s another reason I really look forward to the warmer seasons: picnicking!
Picnics combine two of my greatest loves, food and the outdoors. And of course, while I’m out in the redwoods stretching my legs and clearing my mind, I want to keep things healthy when it comes to mealtime, too.
I think there’s a bit of an art to assembling a successful picnic: your meal should be light but satisfying, especially if you’re hiking; it should be able to go without refrigeration for hours; and it needs to be portable, of course.
Sandwiches are a great standby, but to avoid soggy bread, bedraggled tomatoes and wilted lettuce, I like to make a few modifications. My go-to recipe for grilled sandwiches with summer vegetables is below, and this article by Mark Bittman has lots of picnic-ready recipes to choose from.
Of course, the most important part of any picnic is the company. Make yours a potluck or prepare enough to share with your family or friends – after all, spending time with loved ones has been shown to be good for one’s health too. (This blog post references several studies to this effect.)
Do you have favorite picnic foods or spots, or good picnic stories? Please share them!
Grilled Sandwiches with Summer Vegetables
The night before heading out, I slice and toast or grill some crusty whole-grain bread. Making sure the bread is nice and crispy keeps it from getting soggy once the filling is in place. I roast or grill seasonal vegetables – eggplant and summer squash are my favorites – and slice them thinly. Then I spread goat cheese on the bread and layer the veggies. Once the sandwiches are assembled, wrap them tightly and press them between your hands to cement everything, and stick them in the fridge overnight. They’ll be ready to throw in your pack the next morning.
P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to clean up every last scrap after your meal. Corvids (crows and ravens) can be attracted by stray leftovers, and after they’ve polished off the crumbs they have been known to predate the chicks and eggs of marbled murrelets, a small endangered bird that makes its home in old-growth redwoods.