Healthy Recipes for Your Summer Picnic / Barbecue / Potluck

Schools are out, work has slowed down a bit for many of us, and it’s a great time to do picnics or barbecues with friends and family.

But at the same time, we want to stay SLIM and always look our best, and that's especially difficult when we have lots of social gatherings.

So if you’re trying to stay healthy this summer (maybe you’ve even committed to doing a detox, or are trying to do a low-carb eating plan like Keto or Paleo, or just cut back on gluten and refined sugar), then making your own compliant dishes is the easiest way to enjoy eating with friends / family, while having food you can eat!

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to have fun in the kitchen, and impress your friends!

So I’ve put together some of my favorite “summer picnic” recipes, which are mostly detox-friendly, or adaptable, and free of processed sugar, gluten, grains and dairy. At the same time, they are crowd pleasers!

  • Chicken Zucchini Burgers

  • Kale & Avocado Pancakes

  • Simple Holiday Salad (great for ALL holidays and large meals!)

  • Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad over Arugula

  • Sweet Potato Tater-Tots

  • Two-minute Guacamole

  • Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

  • Sweet Potato Brownies

*see below for recipes

In addition to being DELICIOUS, these recipes are easy to make, and extremely healthy (no gluten, no grains, no junk!) to keep you looking your best in your bathing suit all summer!

Give them a shot and please SHARE your thought/comments, or maybe share your own favorite healthy picnic dish(es)!

Love, Healthy Gatherings and Happy Summer!

Mariana

picnic brindis.jpeg

RECIPES:

Chicken Zucchini Burgers

Ingredients (makes aprox 4):

  • 1 lb. ground chicken (alternatively, use boneless chicken breast, chopped then ground in a food processor)
  • 1 egg (optional; can swap for a flax egg: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2-3 tbsp water)
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 spring/green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Large handful fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil (for cooking burgers)

Instructions:

  1. Place the ingredients – from zucchini to salt/pepper- in a food processor, and roughly process (just a few seconds; you don’t want it completely mushy) until finely chopped and well combined.

  2. Place these minced veggies in a large bowl, and mix (by hand) together with the ground chicken and egg. Note: if you don’t have ground chicken, you can use chicken breast and grind yourself in a grinder/food processor, then mix with remaining ingredients.

  3. Using oiled hands, form the chicken-zucchini mixture into 4 large patties.

  4. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties, 2 at a time in the pan, for around 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.

    *Option to serve with: whole wheat buns (or gluten free buns, or use lettuce as your “bread”), sliced tomato, mashed avocado, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, cheese or vegan cheese, or I love using an herbed cashew cream/cheese sauce (see recipe below)

 

Kale & Avocado Pancakes – with Herbed Cashew Cream Sauce

Ingredients (makes aprox 6 pancakes):

Pancakes:

  • 3 leaves of kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 eggs (ideally organic)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (option to use unsweetened almond milk)
  • ½ cup of avocado, mashed
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon of spices like cumin, turmeric, paprika
  • Coconut oil or ghee for cooking

Herbed Cashew Cream Sauce:

  • 1 cup raw cashews (pre-soaked, min. 1 hour)
  • ½ cup water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 small garlic clove (or more if you like garlic taste)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil + ¼ cup fresh parsley or cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Chop the kale leaves in a food processor.
  2. In a small bowl, sift coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Combine with minced kale, sliced green onion, (other spices if using), and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and mashed avocado until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ones, and stir until well combined.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt enough ghee or coconut oil to coat the bottom of pan. For each pancake, spoon about ¼ cup batter into pan and cook until bubbles begin to appear on the top and bottom is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancake and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Continue with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed.
  5. Prepare the Herbed Cashew Cream. Place cashews, water, lemon, garlic, sea salt and herbs in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as needed.
  6. Serve pancakes with a drizzle of Herbed Cashew Cream. Option to serve with: sliced avocado, mixed greens, lemon slices, thinly sliced green onions and minced parsley.

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad over Arugula

Ingredients:

Roasted cauliflower + chickpeas:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed + drained
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (1 for cauliflower, 1 for chickpeas)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives (optional)
  • 6 oz arugula (about 1 bag)
  • About ½ teaspoon paprika (for chickpeas)
  • About 1 teaspoon fresh thyme and/or rosemary leaves (for cauliflower)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Lemon-tahini dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (+ more if desire)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey (can omit or swap for lakanto maple syrup or coconut nectar)
  • Sea salt + pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon to start)
  • filtered water to thin as necessary (1 tablespoon to start)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Chop cauliflower into roughly 1 inch pieces, florets and some stems (removing core and harder stems) and place on a large baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or avocado or olive oil) and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and fresh thyme and/or rosemary. Toss to coat
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until tender and starting to brown.
  4. At the same time, place chickpeas on another large baking sheet and toss with 1/2-1 tablespoon coconut oil, sea salt, pepper and paprika. Roast chickpeas for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. They should be starting to crisp a bit.
  5. Add the garlic and toss together with another drizzle of oil. Roast about 5-7 minutes. Stir a few times and watch closely so it doesn’t burn. Add the olives in the last 2 minutes to warm.
  6. While roasting, whisk all dressing ingredients until fully combined (or use a food processor). Taste and adjust to your liking. Keep in sealed container and shake before serving, storing excess dressing (sealed) in the fridge.
  7. Remove both pans from the oven and toss together on one pan. Toss with desired amount of the Lemon-Tahini dressing. Taste, and add more salt + pepper if needed.
  8. Place arugula on a large platter and top with roasted cauliflower & chickpea salad. Sprinkle with more sea salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Serve extra dressing on the side.

 

Simple Holiday Salad

Ingredients (serves about 8):

Salad:

  • 2 bunches of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 small/medium green cabbage, outer leaves removed, shredded
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (can also use chopped pecans or shelled pistachios)
  • ½ - ¾ cup dried cranberries (no added sugar); note: can swap for chopped apples if avoiding dried fruit
  • 2 small avocados, peeled, pit removed and chopped
  • Optional: 1 cup crumbled goat cheese, feta cheese or gorgonzola (skip to keep dairy-free)

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
  • Pinch of sea salt, pepper and turmeric
  • dizzle of water to thin if needed (I usually add 1 tbsp.)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare salad dressing by whisking dressing ingredients together or blending (in blender or food processor).
  2. Finely shred cabbage and romaine. You can use a large food processor with a shredding disk, or a mandolin slicer, or finely chop by hand using a sharp knife. (Option to also buy cabbage already shredded).
  3. In a large bowl, toss all salad ingredients together, then toss your desired amount of dressing. Note: add avocado and dressing only 10-15 minutes before serving.  

 

Sweet Potato Tater-Tots

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 ½ cups fresh spinach (if using frozen spinach, just 3/4 cup is fine); option to use kale instead
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (I used thyme leaves and rosemary)
  • juice (and zest; optional) of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp sea salt + ¼ tsp ground black pepper (and more if needed)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot flour (or tapioca starch or coconut flour)
  • Coconut oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Wilt your spinach by either steaming (in steamer basket) for 2 mins or lightly sautéing with just 1 teaspoon of oil on low/medium heat. Squeeze out any additional moisture, then chop your spinach.
  2. Put the sweet potato cubes into a pan filled with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium/large pan and sauté the onions on medium high for about 5 minutes until translucent and golden. Add your chopped spinach, garlic and thyme leaves to it and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and option to add some lemon zest. Set aside. 
  4. Drain the sweet potato and put into a bowl. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash them. It’s doesn’t have to be super smooth. Add the spinach-garlic mix, salt, pepper and the arrowroot flour and mix everything well together.
  5. Heat a thin layer of coconut oil in a frying pan until piping hot. Then turn down the flame, wet your hands and make golf ball sized balls. Fry them for about 2 minutes on each side, making sure they get golden all over.
  6. Set your tater-tots on a paper towel lined plate, taste and add sea salt if needed, then enjoy!

 

Two-minute Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp fresh salsa (ideally organic if store-bought, or homemade)
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Pinch of cumin + pinch of cayenne pepper (I use about ¼ teaspoon of each)
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Scoop out avocado flesh with a spoon, place in a bowl, mix in lime and sea salt and mash with a fork.
  2. Mix in the finely chopped cilantro and salsa. Note: If making salsa at home, just finely chop and combine: 2 medium tomatoes, ½ medium onion, 1 small garlic clove, 1 tablespoon cilantro, ½ tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon vinegar or lemon, pinch of sea salt, pinch of cumin (and option to add 1-2 tablespoons of corn, too, if not detoxing).
  3. Taste guacamole and adjust for seasoning as needed. Enjoy with baby carrots and celery, and/or gluten free seed crackers.

 

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ -½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for spicy kick)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. First dry the chickpeas (already rinsed) with paper towels, then toss into a large baking pan.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil, sprinkle the sea salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and mix until well covered. Bake on top rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, add the spices, mix and toss, then stick back in the oven for 10-15 minutes more, until crispy but not burnt. (Note: I add the spices half-way through to avoid the spices getting burnt).
  5. Enjoy them hot and save the rest for later!

 

Sweet Potato Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups cooked & mashed sweet potato
  • Flesh of 1 avocado (medium Hass avocado or small Nicaragua avocado)
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (option to use raw honey or coconut nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut flour + 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or tapioca starch)
  • ½ cup raw cacao powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda + ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional to drizzle on top: shredded coconut, sea salt + coconut sugar, almond butter + honey

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease 8x8 pan with coconut oil and line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl, combine moist ingredients: avocado, sweet potato, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla. Once creamy, add in cacao powder. Then add in eggs. (You can also use a food processor).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: coconut flour, arrowroot flour, salt and baking soda. Then combine with other mixture until you have a smooth brownie dough.
  5. Transfer to greased pan and bake for 25–35 minutes.
  6. To serve, option to sprinkle with: sea salt and coconut sugar, and/or a drizzle of almond butter mixed with honey and/or shredded coconut