Welcome to our Picnic Page
This page isn’t just about picnic foods, it’s also about eating healthy delicious foods inexpensively as I travel.
I am probably the only person that I know who looses weight on vacations and outings.
Every trip that I have ever taken I loose between 6 – 10 pounds whereas most people tend to gain between 6 – 10 pounds. It’s because I carry a lot of foods with me and I steer clear of the fast-food joints. If I do eat out it is not as frequent, it’s more of a treat for me.
Eating out can be very fattening as most of the time we really don’t know the exact ingredients that were used in the dishes we are eating.
I tend to stop into the deli counters of the local grocery stores and buy foods like pasta salads and grilled fish as my take-out foods.
When I carry my own foods with me then I am in control of my caloric intake, I control the ingredients in my food and besides, Gordon and I are good cooks, (he is a chef by the way) and to be perfectly honest most of what we make ourselves tastes better than what we buy when we eat out. My focus tends to be more on the sight-seeing part of a trip and not the food.
Even when I am in the car headed out the door for the day just to run errands I always have food with me so that way I am not at the mercy of whatever unhealthy stuff I may come in contact with.
Obviously we can’t always take food with us when we travel but here is our recipe for successful eating for those times when we can.
The backseat of my car loaded with my foods for a vacation that I took a year ago.
As a borderline diabetic I want to be in control of my food intake. I can’t eat much sugar and unfortunately sugar is used far more than it needs to be in cooking. I also rarely eat fried foods unless the food is fried in olive oil.
My car is packed full of delicious foods for my trip. The front passenger seat of my car. The hat box is filled with food and also acts as my table for my lunch and dinner. You can see my key limes from my tree that I love to add to my drinking water.
Here is an example of something that I would eat for lunch in the car while driving.
Rotisserie chicken salad on pumpernickel bread with rice crackers and Asian snacks.
I put my lunch together while I was stopped at a rest area. Now it sits beside me in the car and it’s easy to just nibble while I drive. I did the same thing with my dinner below.
Salad for Dinner
No one ever thinks of having a salad on a road trip. But why not? It’s healthy and delicious.
Muffins From Home
I realize that a lot of hotels come with a complimentary ‘continental breakfast’ of muffins, bagels, donuts and danishes……
But they are usually loaded with lots of fat and sugar. So I prefer to bring a tin of homemade muffins with me when I travel. Sugar free, of course.
Here is my Food Prep for my Road Trip
Seeing as how I am traveling by car alone, there was plenty of room in the car.
Hat Box Full of Asian Snacks
I find that all these little Asian rice crackers tend to be a little fragile and get crushed when I travel so I like to put them inside something that won’t ruin them. I find an old hat box works great. This one I picked up at a thrift store years ago for about $1.00. Love it! It has exotic beaches from all over the world on it.
All packed up and ready to go!
I’m also bring gifts of wine and some homemade goodies as gifts.
Wine, diet cranberry and blueberry juices, paper plates, cups, napkins, serving ware, snacks, olive oil, cans and jars of some of my favorite foods to eat along the way……
We buy our food very cheaply at the commissary on base so bringing some of my food with me helps me to save money. More money to spend at the antique malls.
If I am going to snack while driving it is better to snack on stuff like this and not the fattening, unhealthy things. Rice crackers, Wasabi peas, seed cookies….
Yet Another Car Lunch
(Egg salad on pumpernickel bread with some stuffed olives).
Who says we have to eat like cave women?
Grab the cocktail picks ladies!!
Sometimes it’s nice to pull off to some rest area and have a nice little picnic lunch, but when I am in a hurry I prefer to just have a nice little lunch or dinner in the car. The hat box is a perfect table for me.
Yet Another Car Dinner
The drive was 9 hours from my house to my mother’s so I had two meals along the way. Cheese, crackers and mustard was my dinner.
I tend to not eat much when I travel. I really don’t know why that is? Maybe because I am so busy doing other things like driving and enjoying the scenery?
Hotel Room Eat In Maryland
In my picnic basket I always have a little cutting board and knife, cocktail picks, plastic wine glasses, and of course the usual paper products and cutlery. Above I opened some jars of bruschettas, some grilled marinated artichoke hearts in olive oil, some grilled red and green bell peppers marinated in olive oil, some kalamata olives and feta cheese with crackers. I stopped off at a grocery store and bought some citrus pasta salad bowties that made this delicious dinner complete.
Waiting for our Boat Cruise
While we were waiting for our boat ride out to Anclote Key, Gordon and I decided to have our picnic lunch in our trunk.
Although we were very impressed with the restaurants in Tarpon Springs. We don’t eat out too often, we prefer to bring our own food most of the time. We tend to view eating out as something ‘special’ and not something ‘regular’.
Our Light Greek Themed Lunch
Seeing as how we were spending the day touring a Greek fishing community we wanted to gear our food toward a Greek themed palate.
We made a Greek pasta salad, roasted Greek olives, cheese, crackers and a spicy mustard, and some fresh grapes. We tend to eat light when it is so hot and besides, we were saving our appetites for dinner at Hellas.
Recipe for Roasted Olives
OMG! These olives are wonderful!
We made them the night before our trip. I cannot even describe to you how wonderful that they smell. It would make the best air freshener ever.
This is now going to be a staple in our kitchen.
-2 cups Greek olives (or any olives you prefer)
without the pits.
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
-2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary.
-2 – 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon-thyme leaves.
-About 2 wedges of preserved lemon sliced into skinny strips.
Our Preserved Lemon
(See our Preserved Lemon Post for this recipe.)
-Freshly ground black pepper.
Pre-heat your oven to 400F
Use a cookie sheet and place aluminum foil down onto it.
In a bowl mix together all your ingredients making sure everything is coated. Then place on the cookie sheet and cook for about 10 – 13 minutes. The olives will get a bit wrinkly. You might want to remove from the oven about half way through and stir around on the tray, then place back into the oven.
(I think these olives would make an excellent edible gift when placed into a pretty jar.)
Looking for bread to go with our Greek Tzatziki Chicken Salad for Lunch
As we kept walking back down Athens Street from Dodecanese blvd. we came across what we had been looking for since we arrived in Tarpon Springs, a bakery that sold healthy breads.
There are bakeries on the main drag that sell everything sweet. There was nothing in any of them that I could have eaten. So it was here that we found our whole wheat healthy bread for our Tzatziki chicken salad that we had made for our picnic lunch at Fred Howard Park.
Gordon did buy some homemade baklava and we also bought this delicious loaf of Tyropsomo, a Feta cheese bread. Delicious!
We also found some sea salt from Greece to add to our Christmas care packages at this bakery. We will definitely be back!
Lunch at Fred Howard Park
Fred Howard Park is just a few miles away from the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs. It is a beautiful park with lakes and ocean inlets. You can rent a kayak, swim, snorkel, picnic, etc….
I wish I had taken more photos because it was such a lovely area but we will go back again soon.
Lovely trails that lead you to picnic pavilions by the lakes.
We found a cute little lake all to ourselves for our picnic.
It had been raining so we used all our beach towels to sit on.
The delicious whole wheat bread that we bought from Fournos Bakery and Cafe for our Tzatziki chicken salad.
Tzatziki Chicken Salad
This is so good! We made it with Greek yogurt. The dill in this is perfection!
-One Rotisserie Chicken (we used a lemon pepper one)
-Plain Greek Yogurt, about 2 1/2 Cups
-1 Medium Sized Cucumber Grated
-1/2 Cup of Chopped Red Onion
-2 Minced Garlic Cloves
-Juice of One Whole Lemon
-2 Tablespoons of Chopped Fresh Dill
-1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt
-1/2 teaspoon of Lemon Pepper
-1 teaspoon Lemon Rind
Now you just combine all the ingredients being sure to grate the lemon rind before you juice the lemon.
We topped chicken salad with some lemon pepper and some fresh dill as a garnish.
Serve with a nice healthy bread or you can use pita chips.
Light and Delicious!!!
There is always room for cheese, crackers and a spicy mustard.
We bought the flattened bottle in Tarpon Springs depicting a sponge diver. I thought it was appropriate for our picnic. You can also see our roasted olives in the photo below.
Greek Pasta Salad
We also chose this Greek Pasta Salad as part of our Picnic
-1 15 oz. can of Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
-1 box of Penne Pasta, about 8 – 12 oz.
-2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, Chopped
-1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
-1/2 Cup Shallots, Chopped
-3/4 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
-2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
-1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves
-Grated Lemon Rind (to taste).
-Pinch of Salt
-1/4 teaspoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
First you want to cook your pasta until al dente, follow package instructions. When pasta is ready then drain and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat you want to add your olive oil and your shallots and garlic. Saute for about a minute, stirring constantly. Next stir in your red bell pepper and chickpeas sauteing for an additional 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Next you want to add your tomatoes and saute an additional 2 more minutes.
Next you want to add your penne pasta and cook through an additional minute or so until thoroughly heated.
Remove from heat and add your feat cheese, herbs and the remaining ingredients.
Refrigerate when done.
We Couldn’t have chosen a better picnic spot!
After our picnic we then headed out to our winery tour in downtown Tarpon Springs.
What a wonderful day!
Back To Fred Howard Park
Gordon Enjoying our Picnic Lunch
We love this park. It is not just for picnicking, it also has hiking, lakes and even a peninsula with a great beach, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, paddle boating, you name it!
The Park Peninsula
I love these beach buildings.
This is a great place to spend the day with your family whether you just want to spend a day on the beach or rent any boating equipment.
Paddle Boards and Kayaks
There is a life guard on duty and parking is $5.00 for the day.
Everything about the beach is beautiful! I especially love all the bright colors of swimsuits and beach towels and umbrellas.
Back to Our Lunch
We pretty much did a repeat of our picnic above but his time we had our Tzatziki Chicken Salad on pita chips. We also bought a great Spicy Feta Dip from the local Agora, (Greek for Market.)
Our Greek Chicken Salad
The Fiesty Feta Spread
I did make a new friend,
with a pita chip.
Gordon and I shared a chocolate croissant for dessert. Actually, I just got a bite but it was delicious!
My Basic Picnic Basket Supplies
As always there are the regular paper products that we all need. Plates, cups, napkins and plastic silverware.
But I always add some extra things that are important to me. Such as some tea towels, a hot/cold beverage container.
My tea cup and green tea. Some sugar free biscotti for my tea. Tissues and of course my Van Gogh serving tray that I eat on.
I also always have some party picks for things like olives and pickles. As always salt and pepper shakers and coasters and napkins.
Oh, and never forget the chip clips!
And plastic bags to collect your trash in.
I also always have with me bandaids, (in this case my sushi bandaids), some sea salt in addition to my regular salt and pepper shakers, (Florida vintage) and some small scissors and some sugar free gum when I can’t use a toothbrush.
Throw in a small cutting board and a sharp knife and you have my picnic supplies.
What’s in YOUR picnic basket?