Ah the picnic! It comes from the French 17th century word pique-nique, pique means to peck or pick. The English didn’t pick up the practice till the mid 18th century. By the Victorian Era, picnics were elegant affairs with wine, roast beef, duck, ham and veal along with assorted salads and cucumber. Picnickers watched boat races or played a leisurely game of croquet. Here are some ideas and recipes for enjoying your own low-carb picnic!
History of the modern picnic
Many North American towns starting in the late 19th century had annual summer picnics where the entire population attended. They enjoyed listening to bands, watching community plays and participating in races.
The family picnics I remember weren’t quite so elegant or large, but just as lavish. My mother cooked all day so our picnics were always for dinner. She produced baskets of chickens — at least two kinds, cold roast beef cuts, five salads including plain lettuce and tomato, we took large thermoses of juice. It was feast. We’d sit, eat, talk and play until the sun set. We were fortunate to live near beaches, so our picnics included swimming, beach volleyball and sand castles building.
A picnic isn’t just for eating, it’s a great time for the family to be together and play non competitive sports like Frisbee, or freestyle volleyball, catch, lawn bowling or softball. A picnic can be part of your all over all summer exercise plan! It’s also a wonderful way to relax and get away from all the pressures of both work and home, and to reconnect with family or friends.
I’ve put together a picnic basket of food that everyone in the family will enjoy even if they’re not on a diet. Since people eat just as much with their eyes as their mouths, use different colored cabbages for the coleslaw.
Ground walnuts make an excellent substitute for flour in a chicken that’s baked instead of fried. I’ve added lamb because it’s both good hot or cold and it’s finger food if you don’t mind the mess. Instead of the picnic tradition of potato salad, there’s cauliflower and asparagus perked up with lemon and lime.
You can add sour cream with instead of lemon and lime if you like. I’ve suggested soaking red onions in lime juice over night so in the morning they’re almost sweet.
It’s a good idea to plan your picnic early in the morning or preferably the night before. Soak the red onions for the Cauliflower and Asparagus Salad first and just before you leave, fry up the lamb.
Remember to check the weather forecast first! And don’t forget the sunscreen, a hat and lots of water!
Cauliflower and Asparagus Salad
Juice of half a lime
1 small red onion
1 head firm cauliflower
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup parsley
1 small tin (8 oz) wax beans
2 spring onions
Zest from one lemon
Juice of half a lemon and lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop red onion. Soak onion in lime juice and then put in small plastic container for at least one hour or overnight. Discard cauliflower and asparagus tough ends. Steam both until tender but still firm. Let cool. Chop parsley and green onions. I cut them with scissors.
Mix all the vegetables, parsley and onions together, then the lemon and lime juice. Sprinkle lemon zest on top. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Makes eight servings.
Per serving: 5g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 1g protein; 0g fat; 22 calories
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package Splenda
2 tablespoons vinegar
Lemon pepper spice to taste (or use lemon zest with pepper)
1 small green or white cabbage
1 small purple cabbage
3 stalks celery
1 large green pepper
Mix lemon pepper, vinegar, Splenda and mayonnaise together, cool in the refrigerator.
Chop up or put through widest setting on food processor cabbages, celery and green pepper. Mix in mayonnaise mixture. Refrigerate at least one hour before use. Makes 16 servings. Per serving: 8g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 2g protein; 11g fat; 136 calories
Walnut Oven Baked Chicken
1 cup finely ground walnuts
8 pieces of chicken legs
8 fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
Zest from one small lemon
Marinate chicken in balsamic vinegar in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Place a fresh basil leaf on each leg, sprinkle legs with oregano, thyme and cumin and lemon zest. Coat legs in ground walnuts. Place on uncovered in shallow, lightly-greased tray. Turn over when brown. Cook until done; about 30 minutes on each side. Makes eight servings.
Per serving: 4g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 34g protein; 24g fat; 369 calories
Herbed Lamb Chops
8 lamb chops
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Flatten lamb chops hammering them down. Rub in fresh rosemary. Marinate chops in balsamic vinegar and dry spices for at least one hour in refrigerator. Fry chops until brown and cooked all the way through. Makes eight servings.
Per serving: 1g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 16g protein; 22g fat; 266 calories