By Judith H. Dern
Healthnotes Newswire (August 6, 2009)—Magic happens when meals are eaten in the open air. Maybe it’s eating in a different place—outdoors, on the ground—with no table or chairs! Even spontaneous rainy-day picnics inside on the family room rug guarantee delight. Kids also love the opportunity to cook, so double the fun by letting them prepare their own picnic goodies.
Make these kid-friendly picnic favorites
Picnic foods kids make themselves needn’t be complicated. Think no-cook snacks and bite-size finger food, simple sandwiches, cheese sticks, fruit and veggie chunks, drinkable yogurt cups, and you’re there. A little adult supervision is the trick to get things ready.
• Combine handfuls of small crackers, dried cranberries or raisins, almonds and a favorite dry cereal for a jazzy trail mix.
• Make rainbow fruit wands alternating apple, pear, melon or pineapple chunks, strawberries, and grapes on wooden skewers; for safety’s sake, break off the pointed end after the fruit is on.
• Use rolls of sliced ham or turkey, cooked hot-dog or tofu-dog chunks, green pepper slices, stuffed olives, and cheese cubes to vary skewer combinations.
• Make funny face sandwiches using a 3- or 4-inch (8- to 10-cm) round cookie cutter to cut out bread slice circles. Place a circle of cheese on the bread and use cucumber rounds, pepper slices, cherry tomato halves, and sliced olives to make eyes, nose, eyebrows, and mouth.
• Spread whole-wheat tortillas with softened cream cheese, then layer your child’s favorite salad leaves, turkey or ham slices, and grated carrots; roll them up and they’re ready to go. “Hold them together with a party toothpick and they’ll look pretty, too,” advises Gillen Freebing, age 13, of Memphis, Tennessee.
• Toss precooked bow tie or elbow pasta with mayo, peas, and halved cherry tomatoes; season with salt and pepper for a tasty picnic salad.
• Stash water bottles or juice boxes in the freezer an hour before leaving so they’re super cold; add fizzy water to juice for a soda substitute.
Pick up a few picnic essentials
Ensure kids have a super-fine picnic by packing these basics in their basket:
• Large blanket or tablecloth to sit on (and possibly a large beach umbrella for shade)
• Nonbreakable plates, cups, and utensils
• Napkins, handiwipes, and paper towels
• A large garbage bag (leave your spot trash-free)
• Sunscreen and insect repellent
Judith Dern is a veteran of national consumer public relations agency programs for both commodity board food products and branded manufactured foods. She is coauthor of The Sustainable Kitchen: Passionate Cooking Inspired by Fields, Farms and Oceans (2004, New Society Publishers). Her articles have appeared in publications such as Relish, Cooking Light, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, Northwest Palate, and Woman’s Day Special Interest Christmas Publications. She has also served as copywriter and ghostwriter on several cookbooks and has written on food for regional and national organizations. A member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), she was awarded the Harry A. Bell Grant for Food Writers in 2003.
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