Take it Outside

Being outdoors can be a magical event.

Research has shown that too little time spent outside, or, “nature deficit disorder”, can lead to depression and anxiety. Getting outdoors can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve immune function. Want more reasons on the benefits of green spaces? Incorporating elements of nature into your day can give your brain a boost, resulting in increased productivity and focus. Also, natural environments have been shown to be one of the most restorative for creative thinking.

What better way to unplug and step outside, whether it is a half hour at lunch or for an entire afternoon, than a picnic in the park. Fresh air makes everything taste better – both spur-of-the moment sandwiches on the grass and well planned moveable feasts.

It seems only fitting to think portability and casual charm when considering food ideas. These tips and strategies will make for the perfect picnic.

Grab-and-go finger foods such as sugar snap peas, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, crackers, firm cheese, apples, grapes are easy to pack and transport.

Stock a tote bag or backpack with the essentials: bread, a knife, cutting board and fillings of your choice for a build-your-own sandwich or wrap.

 

Fill inexpensive, reusable glass jars with salsa, pickled vegetables or chutney that can be served over salad greens or grilled chicken.

The refreshing goodness of watermelon is so versatile that you can use it as a starter, a side or have it for dessert.

More food in jars! Layer salad ingredients and you are ready to go. Place the dressing on the bottom, follow with hearty ingredients like beans, broccoli, cucumber, avocado and pasta and top with lighter ingredients like lettuce.

Skip the soda, and opt for water, iced tea, or ginger lemonade instead.

Foods such as rice, eggs, cheese, poultry and red meat can spoil and harbour bacteria when not stored at the proper temperature. Keep everything cold with refreezable ice packs or fill a couple of bags with ice cubes and place into a cooler. If you pack raw poultry or red meat to cook at the picnic, keep it packaged separately to avoid cross contamination.

If you intend to cook at the picnic site, barbeque grills are available for public use in some designated areas. Any gathering over 25 people, or a gathering that requires a designated picnic site, requires a permit. Gatherings are only able to use a portable barbeque where authorized by permit or where posted to allow their use. Also, only charcoal or briquettes are permitted to be used in permanently fixed barbeques. You can contact 416 392 8188 for further information.

Plan for clean-up at the beginning. Pack extra resealable plastic bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap for leftovers. Moist towelettes are handy to wash up after eating. Bring plastic bags to dispose of any garbage.

Once you have decided on the food, just add sunshine and a shady tree at one of the many parks in Downsview!

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