The summer is in full swing, and if you can skip the showers, a picnic is an enjoyable way to pass time with with children, friends or family. Whether it is at the beach, a park, the countryside, the back garden, or a favourite nostalgic spot, getting outside into a relaxing environment can actually bring us physical benefit.
A 2013 Review by Gladwell et al, titled The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all, looks into the effect that being outdoors can have on both physical and mental health.
To summarise, outdoor natural environments may provide some of the best all-round health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion, altering physiological functioning including stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue, and improving mood and self-esteem and perceived health. Thus, exercise within green spaces and the great outdoors may be a useful natural medicine … to address health challenges facing developed countries.
A picnic out, in a peaceful environment, can be restorative, taking you out of the day-today rush, enabling you to return to routine feeling refreshed and revived. With our fast-paced lifestyles, taking some Time Out is vital in supporting our taxed adrenal glands in dealing with the stress-response. One lecturer I heard on Adrenal Health said, “Make sure you do something that makes you smile every day!” Help yourself to reduce the sting of stress, and find things to do to make you smile and relax! A picnic just may be one such activity – as long as you go prepared for any weather – with blankets, coats and umbrellas!
But what can I eat on a picnic? Being on the Anti-Candida diet doesn’t have to close the door on packed lunches. Not using bread for sandwiches just means we need to give a little more thought to meals. For the easiest lunch pot ever, chop some salad and top with humus or tinned fish and some pumpkin seeds. If you want to get a little more creative, the next few blogs will list some recipe ideas which can be used cold for picnics, packed school/work lunches, or warm as evening dinners. They are all quick and simple, and can be made in advance and stored for a few days in the fridge.
Adding some roasted or griddled vegetables to the humble lettuce leaf can transform a salad. Try tossing roasted butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes or red onions into some mixed salad leaves. This can either be served straight from the oven as a warm salad, or allow to cool for a mediterranean-type salad. For this meal I simply placed 1cm thick onion rings on an electric griddle, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and cooked until golden and soft.