Picnics always sound like a fab idea don’t they – cue imagined happy family scene, hazy sunshine, laughter and delicious food. The reality can be somewhat different, with soggy sandwiches, toddler tantrums, wasps and bugs on the attack and the threat of a downpour! However, help is at hand with tips on how to make your picnics super delicious and healthy, whilst avoiding some common picnic pitfalls thanks to Hayley Gait-Golding, founder of health-food brands BEAR Nibbles and Urban Fruit.
Here at BEAR we believe the secret trick to getting children to eat healthily is to make it loads of fun and is there any meal more fun in a child’s book than a picnic? Summer is the perfect time to have one because it opens up so many venue choices but if the grrreat British skies turn a threatening shade of grey, don’t be put off; the old rug in your living room can quickly become treasure island and the fantastic basket of snacks that has just washed up will save you all from starvation!
I’m of the belief that picnics shouldn’t be a special occasion or a massive stressful shopping list. Quite the opposite. They can become a great way to use up leftovers or empty the fridge before you go on holiday. Just be impromptu, pop out to the garden, throw down a blanket and the picnic has begun.Apart from being a fun meal you eat with your fingers, picnics can be a parent’s best friend because they help children engage with their food, have quality time together as a family and try new things. By making a picnic fun and putting you open up their taste buds to tons of new and exciting flavours – potentially getting over some food fads too if you’re lucky
There’s just three simple things to think about when creating your picnic – how to make it healthy, tasty and, most importantly, FUN!
Be creative with your picnic. Rather than just a hodgepodge of food, create a theme (my favourite is a bear’s picnic down in the woods where all invited must bring along a teddy bear). The theme can carry across every aspect – from cutting food into paw shapes, having a competition to see who can make the best bear face sandwiches (like the below), to taking along some felt tip pens and drawing bear heads on the shells of boiled eggs. Afterwards you could then play Pooh sticks if there is a stream nearby. Other great themes are pirate picnics or monster mash ups – there’s no limit really.
Picnics are the perfect opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of food. Choose foods in a variety of colours so they look more exciting to your kids and try labeling them differently, from ‘giants eyeballs’ (eggs) to boo-nanas (ghosts made from half a banana with some raisins for eyes). This helps children look at their food differently and (hopefully!) want to try it. You could even have a picnic awards system with points given for food tried, to add a bit of healthy competition! This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your children to new foods, because if they really don’t like it, there’s plenty more food around for them to try.
Fruit is a tricky one in the summer. We’ve all had that moment when we’ve opened our bags to find a mess of battered and bruised fruit at the bottom. There’s a few options to make sure you can still enjoy your fruit – either pop it in a Tupperware inside a cool bag to try to keep it cooler, or take along some fruit snacks (such as BEAR for the kids and some Urban Fruit for the grownups) which are still 100% pure fruit and just like eating a piece of fresh fruit, but a little bit more durable!
Make your own…
Instead of taking crisps, why not do a little bit of prep before and bake some veggies to create your own veggie crisps. Or just cut them up in to sticks and have fun with dipping them in to different sauces. I really enjoy turning them into witches fingers (carrot dipped in hummus with an almond for a nail).
Beat the bugs!
And finally, don’t let pesky wasps ruin your picnic – drop some Eucalyptus Oil on cotton wool balls, dot them round your blanket, dab your wrists and they’ll buzz off for good!
BEAR makes delicious natural fun foods for families, from pure fruit snacks BEAR yo-yos and Paws to healthy (no refined sugar or salt) breakfast cereal Alphabites. Urban fruit offers delicious pure fruit snacks for grownups. Look out for both in leading supermarkets and lots of lovely independents.