There are innumerable benefits to spending time in nature, which helps us reduce stress levels, lower our blood pressure and boost our mood. When the weather allows for it, we love to combine the perks of nature with the powerful benefits of food by enjoying a culinary nutrition picnic. We have our favourite essential gluten-free picnic recipes we love to make, but generally we like to choose recipes that are:
- Easily portable. Delicate recipes aren’t the best place for a picnic!
- Weather-resistant. Generally, we like to stick to plant-based foods for picnics that can withstand the heat of the sun and won’t spoil quickly. Unfortunately, that means no dairy-free ice cream.
- Made for sharing. Recipes like big salads, dips, crudites, crackers and baked goods are wonderful for family-style eating.
- Simple to prepare. We want to spend more time outside, not endless hours in the kitchen.
- Allergen-friendly. Our favourite recipes are always gluten-free and dairy-free. We also aim for egg-free, grain-free, nut-free and soy-free options too.
- Delicious cold or room temperature. While we’re not averse to bringing along a thermos with a good elixir, we prefer making recipes that are tasty when taken right from the bag or cooler.
- Light yet satisfying. We don’t want to feel bloated and stuffed to the gills by a huge meal. Our essential picnic recipes combine a multitude of macro and micro-nutrients, but won’t make us feel overfull.
Culinary Nutrition Picnic Equipment
We prefer to reduce our footprint as much as possible, which is why we aim for a waste-free picnic. Some of our picnic equipment essentials include:
- A reusable bag or cooler for transporting dishes
- Glass containers, stainless steel containers, mason jars or beeswax wraps for meals and snacks
- Cloth napkins
- Real cutlery
- A picnic blanket
- Glass or stainless steel water bottles to stay hydrated
- Reusable plates
And now let’s get to the recipes!
Culinary Nutrition Essential Picnic Recipes: Mains + Salads
Wild Rice Protein Power Salad
Wild Rice Protein Power Salad by Meghan Telpner (*ACN Founder + Director)
If you’ve never eaten wild rice before, there is no time like the present. This tasty salad is light, flavourful, nutty and delicious!
Roasted Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Salad
Roasted Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Tahini Drizzle by Abigail Keeso (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)
You’ll want to create this salad for the heavenly dressing alone!
No Mayo Potato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
A delicious potato salad recipe with tips about how to make the best boiled potatoes – ’cause no one likes mushy potatoes in their potato salad!
Veggie Sushi Rolls
You can cut these into sushi rolls, but we like leaving them whole or cut in half so they are easier to eat with your hands. And don’t forget an awesome dipping sauce.
Baked Paleo Falafels
These grain-free and bean-free falafels are loaded with veggies and are perfect for dipping in your favourite condiments.
Quinoa Summer Salad in a Jar
Mason jar salads are one of the best essential picnic recipes – no need to bring any plates, everyone can just eat straight from the jar!
Chopped Kale Salad with Tahini Citrus Dressing
You’ll love the tang and crunch in this fresh, vegan kale salad.
Culinary Nutrition Essential Picnic Recipes: Dips + Spreads
These are great when paired with crudites, crackers, gluten-free breads, or salads.
Grilled Guacamole by Carla Matthews (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)
Grilling avocados takes them to a whole new level, but if you want to explore more traditional guac routes that check out our 20 Best Guacamole Recipes.
Simple Hemp Chocolate Spread
Simple Hemp Chocolate Spread by Meghan Telpner
This is the absolutely most amazing nut-free chocolate spread you’ll ever make.
Beet, Carrot and Cashew Dip
Beet, Carrot and Cashew Dip by Sondi Bruner (*ACN Head Program Coach)
This bright, creamy and luxurious dip is completely dairy-free, so there’s no need to worry about it spoiling in the sunshine.
Spicy Chipotle Hummus
Add a kick to your day with this spicy twist on traditional hummus.
With eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and herbs, this is basically like dip-able ratatouille.
Peach and Black Bean Salsa
Take advantage of summer stone fruit by transforming it into a sweet and spicy salsa.
Golden Turmeric Hummus
Match the sunshine outside with the bright hues of turmeric by blending it into hummus.
Culinary Nutrition Essential Picnic Recipes: Baked Goods, Snacks and Treats
These recipes are great to cap off your meal, or for a little mid-afternoon nibble. If these don’t tickle your fancy, you may want to check out these 25 Bite-Sized Snacks or these 20 Gluten-Free Kid-Friendly Snacks.
Spiced Carrot Cake Energy Bites
Spiced Carrot Cake Energy Bites by Valerie Piccitto (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)
Whip up a batch of these gluten-free and dairy-free carrot cake bites and you’ll have a delicious and healthful treat on hand if you need an energy boost.
Grain-Free Almond Flour Cookies
Grain-Free Almond Flour Cookies by Jenni Beharry (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)
You won’t feel the least bit deprived of dessert when these grain-free cookies are on the scene – especially if you opt to add in the chocolate chips!
Chocolate Cherry Chia Bread
Chocolate Cherry Chia Bread by Laura Olson (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)
A fudgy and chewy bar that isn’t overly sweet, so it won’t make your teeth hurt.
Healthy Blueberry Banana Bread
A gluten-free, grain-free and Paleo recipe that everyone will reach for.
Rosemary Oat Crackers
A simple, 5-ingredient cracker recipe that you can pair with any dips and spreads you like.
Roasted Pizza Chickpeas
We love these oil-free, herbed crunchy roasted chickpeas for a high-protein, high-fibre munch.
Other simple picnic snacks include:
- Fresh cut up fruit and veggies
- Trail mix, or raw nuts and seeds
- Coconut chips
- Non-GMO corn chips
- Dried fruit
- Granola or granola bars
- Dark chocolate (if you’ve got a cooler so it won’t melt)