Love, and Picnics

After a crazy day, a picnic with loved ones—or by yourself—is the perfect way to relax.

After a crazy day, a picnic with loved ones—or by yourself—is the perfect way to relax.

It was one of those #[email protected] days at work—we've all been there. I was so upset, I could hardly breathe or imagine how I could possibly show up at work the next day.

Clearly, the only way to salvage the evening was to get out of the house.

I grabbed my baby, a picnic blanket and my keys, and I stopped at a grocery to pick out a carton of raspberries, a multigrain boule, some spinach and artichoke dip, a cold Orangina and a chocolate hazelnut bar. After a short drive up the Trace, my son and I stretched out in the soothing September sunshine and began to relax.

Whether you've had a bad day at work or your kids are driving you to the limits of your sanity, whether you are planning a romantic evening or just need some fresh air, a picnic is the perfect solution. Even on the hottest summer days, the early evenings are usually quite nice for getting outside, especially when you remember to bring your favorite bug spray. Whether you are new to al fresco dining or you are an old picnicking pro, here are a few ideas for you to take along on your next outdoor adventure.

For a truly fresh outdoor dining experience, pack your bread separate from your fillings to create a less soggy dining experience. I highly recommend a versatile pita pocket that you can fill with a wide variety of stuffings to suit your taste buds:

• egg salad and sliced pickles

• cream cheese and raspberries

• tabouli with farmer's market tomatoes

• grated carrots with blueberries

• lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar and fresh avocado

• three-bean salad

• pesto, buffalo mozzarella, and heirloom tomatoes

• tuna salad and cucumber slices

• peanut butter and jelly

• havarti cheese and Granny Smith apple slices

If sandwiches are not really your thing, another one of my favorite picnic themes involves various foods that are vehicles for a variety of dips. Some of my favorite delicious picnic dips include:

• bagel chips and roasted red pepper hummus

• mixed veggie sticks and ranch dressing

• sesame blue corn tortilla chips and fresh guacamole

• apple slices and caramel dip

• hunks of pumpernickel bread and spinach dip

• pretzel sticks and Nutella

Whatever delicious flavor combinations you come up with, don't forget to pack a picnic blanket, napkins, hand sanitizer, dishes and cutlery, bug spray and sunscreen, depending on where you decide to go as well as the time of day. You may find yourself along the Reservoir, near a playground, at a state park or in the middle of a soccer field. Wherever you are, turn off the cell phone, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the moment with your family, your friends or yourself.


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