frank and i started dating in doldrums of winter. we had plenty of dates in warm, cozy coffee shops in the east village, heated movie theaters, or long walks through central park bundled up in hats and scarves. as soon as spring hit we would drive north of manhattan to where i grew up, where we would take walks along the hudson river, breath fresh air (while also having sneezing fits from all the pollen), and lay in the grass with sunshine on our faces. getting out of the city and into a more natural world is something i crave this time of year. so when we had a free weekend and the weather was nice we made our way up to one of our favorite spots. the area where we usually park was closed so we took a new adventure through an overgrown path, down a hill, and into the most beautiful pasture that led us to a gravel road. it was lined with the most beautiful mossy stone walls, tall grasses, and wispy wild flowers - slice.of.heaven.
not that i'm a pro picnic-er or anything, but i've learned some tips and tricks along the way to packing a super fun and totally functional picnic meal:
first - i prefer parchment paper to plastic bags for sandwiches. yes, parchment could certainly be better for the environment, but it also doubles as a plate/placemat which is an awesome thing when you're out in the wild (er, at a park).
second - snack packing is a must! especially for me. no one (and i'm really just talking about myself here) should get hangry in a beautiful walk/hike situation. i reach for snack, or light energy bars in the car, as we're walking, or in some cases as dessert. i'm digging kashi's new plant-based GOLEAN bars, especially the salted dark chocolate with nuts! it's packed with plant-y protein, and there's no laundry list of ingredients you've never heard of or can't pronounce. they're a new favorite, for sure!
third - when deciding what salad to bring, lose the greens. salads that don't wilt are my go-to, usually a grain or bean salad, or a chopped israeli salad.
fourth - fresh fruit preferably packed in some sort of jar to avoid any unwanted mushiness, along with a small cutting board and some sort of pocket knife for cutting, although that's not totally necessary, and totally depends on what fruit you're packing.
fifth - i prefer using cloth napkins. not because i'm too good for paper, but they act as really efficient padding when i'm packing the picnic bag. they also don't blow away as easy as paper, and they're reusable (i wrapped my cutting board in one at the end of the picnic so i didn't get the inside of my bag all messy - 2 thumbs way up!).
and lastly - beverages. we happened to pick up an insanely delicious raspberry and tomato (!!!) smoothie that was awesome, but we also had plenty of water to keep up hydrated as well.
avocado asparagus sandwiches (*recipe below)
fresh strawberries (or whatever fresh fruit is at its peak)
grain or bean salad
energy/snack bars (like these)
water or beverage of choice
small cutting board
plates - disposable or enamel
fresh picked wild flowers, picked along the way (totally optional)
* this post was created in partnership with kashi. all opinions, as always, are my own. thank you for supporting dolly and oatmeals's sponsors!
sautéed asparagus and dijon avocado sandwich | gf (vegan option)
sandwiches like these are my favorite - fresh, simple, and wholesome. i love the sandwich as is, but i could see a splash of balsamic adding even more delicious flavor.
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise or veganaise
- 2 tablespoons good dijon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- half a bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
- fine sea salt & fresh pepper
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced thin
- handful of baby greens
- 4 slices toasted whole grain gluten free bread (or bread of choice)
- whisk together the mayo (or veganaise) and the dijon. set aside.
- heat a skillet over medium heat. once the pan is hot add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom. add the asparagus, a couple pinches of salt, and a few cracks of pepper. cook asparagus, shaking the pan every few minutes, until tender and lightly browned. remove from heat and let cool.
- top each slice of bread with the dijon mayo, then add some greens, avocado slices a few pinches of salt and pepper, and as many asparagus spears will fit (depending on what bread you use).
- wrap the sandwiches in parchment paper.