June 16, 2017

What to Take on a Picnic: Tips and Easy Recipes

Picnics are a great summer activity: they can make an everyday routine, like mealtime, feel special and exciting! What’s even better about taking your meal outdoors is that you can enjoy even more of the good weather we covet all year long.

Whether you are picturing this summertime classic as an extraordinary event for a big group of friends and family, or if you just want to make lunchtime a bit more thrilling for you and the kids at the park, there are some essential tips you can follow to make sure your outdoor meal is a success!

This week, we put together a small list of Picnic Pointers that will come in handy for any outdoor meal you are planning; big or small, in the backyard or on your mountain hike. But that’s not all! In collaboration with recipe developer and blogger Unsweetened Caroline, we suggest two easy recipes to take with you for your open-air dining event: an easy-to-toss-together Asparagus Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Vinaigrette, and deliciously sweet Sugar-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Thumbprint Cookies!

With Unsweetened Caroline’s delectable recipes and our great tips, eating outdoors will be a sure way to up your everyday fun level over the summer months!





  1. Picnics should be a breeze!
    Don’t stress over planning them& just take it easy. The great thing about picnics is that they are informal and simple.
  2. Be Prepared:
    Accessories like corkscrews and napkins are easy to forget and don’t grow on trees! Create an organized checklist of all the necessary items you’ll need!
  3. Travel and Transport:
    Make sure you have a sturdy, cool, and spill-proof way to transport your food. A backpack might be necessary depending on how far you have to travel, but if your destination is close by, something whimsical like our Biscayne Picnic Basket could be just right! Better yet, it comes fully loaded with a service for 4, including a wine cork!
  4. Avoid Fragile Food:
    Leave the frosted cakes at home. Cookies are an easy dessert that won’t fall apart and that don’t require any assembly at your destination. Plus, it will satisfy your sweet tooth just the same!
  5. Feature Fresh Finger Food:
    Dishes that are easily served and consumed, perhaps by only using a fork or nothing at all, and that will hold up in the heat (try to avoid mayo) are perfect picnic choices. A fruit platter, for instance, is easy to share, a crowd pleaser and will keep foodies feeling refreshed!
  6. Dismiss Dining Conventions:
    Drop the formalities and forget the fancy dinnerware. No need to plan separate courses, so let guests enjoy as they please! Lightweight reusable melamine dishes are the best way to go for dinnerware and are a good choice for the environment!
  7. The Forecast is a Factor:
    Whether it be hot or cold, sunny or cloudy, the weather is a factor. Bring sunscreen or an extra cozy throw to cuddle up in–just in case! Place food that needs to stay cool in the shade and don’t forget about other outdoor necessities like bug spray or bug repellent candles!

Asparagus Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Vinaigrette
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Servings: 4
Author: Unsweetened Caroline
Pasta Salad:
  • 4 cups whole wheat Fusilli
  • 2 cups asparagus fresh or frozen, chopped
  • 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 140 g soft goat cheese crumbled
  • 2 cups arugula
Lemon Vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea sal
  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, chop asparagus in bite-sized pieces. When the pasta is done cooking, add your asparagus and peas and cook for less than 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large salad bowl.
  3. Add arugula and goat cheese.
  4. Prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl or jar, add oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, grated garlic and salt. Whisk together and pour in the salad.
  5. Toss all the ingredients together in our Laura Salad Bowl and serve.



Sugar-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Thumbprint Cookies
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
32 mins
Servings: 12 Cookies
Strawberry rhubarb compote:
  • 1 cup rhubarb fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup strawberries fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cup water
  • 12 Medjool dates about 1 cup, pitted and chopped or torn into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole grain spelt flour or whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup margarine or butter melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of strawberry rhubarb compote + leftover compote for topping recipe above
  1. In a small pot, add rhubarb, strawberries, water, dates and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 4 minutes or until the mixture thickens and the rhubarb and dates break down. Mash with a fork. Let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats and baking soda. Add the melted butter, egg and 1 cup of the strawberry rhubarb compote. Mix all the ingredients together.
  4. Make 12 cookies and place them on the prepared sheet. Press your thumb in the center of each cookie to make a small dent. Place a spoonful of leftover strawberry rhubarb compote on top of each cookie.
  5. Bake at 350˚F for 12 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

If using unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon salt.


Here to help you prep a meal that is useful for a hike, convenient to take to an outdoor sports game, or to set the mood on a grassy hill at sunset,



IMG_6233Caroline is the photographer, writer and recipe developer behind Unsweetened Caroline, a food blog that features healthy, sugar-free recipes. In addition to being sugar-free, most of her recipes are vegetarian and can be made allergy-friendly. She created Unsweetened Caroline when recovering from a sugar addiction, in hopes of inspiring others. When she’s not cooking, she’s either hiking, practicing yoga or dreaming about new recipes.

Caroline is a soon-to-be dietitian living in Saint John, New Brunswick. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or on her blog for more recipes!


8 thoughts

  1. The best way to take advantage of the beautiful, warm days ahead is with a delicious picnic eaten in a lovely al fresco setting. There’s something about eating outdoors, and on a blanket, that makes food taste slightly more delicious.

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