Localicious: Picnic Fun

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Warm weather and delicious fresh foods make picnics a perfect summer outing while enjoying the beauty of nature! Getting together with family and friends in combination with a healthy meal is always a recipe for a good time.

A picnic that includes water fun makes a great hot-weather destination. Bring your picnic to Fantasy Fountain in Kid’s Kingdom at Enterprise Park in Redding, to Sycamore Pool at Bidwell Park in Chico, or schedule a free Kayak tour at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. You can also rent paddle boards or kayaks to take on a nearby lake of your choice from Adventure Recreation in Redding, Forebay Aquatic Center just north of Oroville, Shasta Base Camp in Mt. Shasta, or McCloud Outdoors in McCloud.

Depending on your picnic group, hiking to a more secluded area can be a fun adventure! Pick up trail guides at your local forest service office or visitor’s center to get ideas for routes to picnic locations. 

When it comes to filling the basket, try keeping it simple. There are plenty of choices that can accommodate a variety of taste buds and special dietary needs. Freshly cut-up fruits and veggies are a simple and easy choice to pack, as are dipping foods, wraps and salads.

Keeping a basket or dedicated backpack on hand and ready with your non-food items can reduce packing time on your picnic day, and allow you to focus on the food. Include the essentials: napkins, utensils, blankets, and deterrents for those pesky bugs. 

Sometimes we appreciate things more when we have to work for them. Children may find it rewarding to play a part in the picnic’s preparation. Little ones can help put fresh fruits and/or veggies into reusable plastic containers. Older children can help wash the fruits and veggies, fill spill-proof water bottles with water, ice tea or fresh juice, and help pack the basket. 

To make your picnic easy and fun, especially if you’re short on time, spice up your picnic basket with healthy and delicious foods from Bacio Catering and Carryout in Chico, located at 1903 Park Ave. Bacio has been catering for 30 years, and knows how to combine delicious with nutritious, as well as respecting bellies that prefer gluten-free and vegetarian foods. All dishes are made from scratch and are pre-packed. Bacio owner Amanda Leveroni says that kid favorites include Turkey Spinach Meatballs, the not-too-spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Salad, and Hummus. For the older palate, try the Lemon Herb Chicken, Polenta Lasagna, and Chico Rice Salad. 

If you are further north, visit Mount Shasta’s natural and organic café at Berryvale Grocery at 305 Mt. Shasta Blvd, where choices include gluten free options. Try their vegetarian wraps, sandwiches and salads. “Life is a picnic!” says Tammy Noack-Budesa, a cook at the café and avid picnicker. “I like to save plastic water bottles to fill, freeze and use as icepacks on picnics, to drink after they thaw,” she says. Berryvale also carries vegetarian sushi and rice pockets in the grocery department, made locally by Clara Chapman of Food Arts Sushi.

Hummus is an all-time favorite bean dip that’s easy to make and can be served with fresh-cut veggies, crackers or chips. A great source of dietary fiber, hummus contributes to the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. It contains protein that contributes to satiety and fats that are great for long-lasting energy. Once you get the traditional recipe down, try experimenting with adding your favorite spices, roasted peppers, olives and more to find your favored taste.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and make nature your dining playground!   

Traditional Hummus

Source: http://www.freshslowcooking.com/88/cooking_chickpeas_in_your_crock-pot

8-10 servings

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 ¼ cups cooked, drained and rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 35 cup tahini (ground sesame paste)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh, chopped parsley leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)

Prepare beans ahead by dissolving 3 tbsp. of salt in 16 cups cold water. Soak 1 lb. (2 ½ cups) beans overnight in a covered bowl or pot. In the morning, drain the water and rinse the beans. Place beans into a slow cooker/crockpot and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Cook until tender (approx. 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low). 

Note: You can substitute two 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans for dried beans; however, soaking and cooking decreases the gas-promoting factors in the beans, making them easier to digest.

In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients except for parsley and pine nuts. Pulse (scrape down the sides as needed) until smooth. If needed, add more water while pulsing to bring hummus to the desired texture. Garnish with parsley and pine nuts and serve with your favorite dippers!

Hannah Kraemer
About Hannah Kraemer

A resident of Siskiyou County since 2013, writer Hannah Nelson’s main passion is nutrition. Graduating from the Nutritional Therapy Association in June 2011, she gives her best to helping others live a healthier, fuller life.

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