The Olympic Picnic…
29th July 2012
As those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter probably realise, I’ve got a bit of a beef with the IOC over their choice of Olympic partners and sponsors – particularly the choice of McDonalds, and Coca-Cola. The Olympics is all about people performing to the very best of their abilities and the highest possible level and a big part of achieving that focuses on diet and nutrition. I can guarantee you that McDonalds and Coca-Cola do not form a key part of any athlete’s diet.
“Inspire a Generation” is the official slogan for London 2012 – inspire them to eat and drink junk food at a time when obesity is on the rise and diet related disease is soaring. Well done Seb!
Anyway all that sounds a bit negative and I don’t mean to be because I’m actually so excited about the Olympics and I thought Danny Boyle did the country proud on Friday night – wasn’t it just amazing?!
So if you’re off to the Olympics and don’t quite believe the information leaflet that says “[T]here’s a wide variety of healthy and tasty food inside the venues” (if you’ve already visited the Olympic park let me know what you thought about the choice of food), then follow my tips for packing a gold-medal worthy picnic!
- There are free water fountains around the park so take an empty bottle (or drink it before you go in) to keep hydrated for free!
- Unfortunately there is no alcohol allowed in the park (even I enjoy the odd summer cider) but at least this means you’ll have great memories of what you saw and no sore head the next morning.
- The rules say excessive amounts of food are prohibited – now this is pretty subjective but as you’re only allowed one 25 litre capacity soft sided bag, small enough to fit under your seat, I can’t see how this is going to be a problem. You can pick up cool bags like this or you can use a simple rucksack but obviously things won’t stay as cool and you might have to be careful with certain items such as prawns.
- Decant and food into smaller plastic tubs to save room – you can get individual and sets of plastic tubs from your local supermarket or cook shop. Become a Tupperware queen! And chill everything over night to make sure everything stays fresh in your bag.
- Don’t forget plastic cutlery and some plastic plates/bowls and cups – it makes the whole picnic experience much more civilised. And take some wet wipes and napkins – great for cleaning up after your feast but also good for cleaning cutlery and cups before packing them up.
- And most importantly, invest in a plastic backed rug – the floor is likely to be damp – have you seen how much rain we’ve had?!
Now you’re all organised, here’s a few tips for what to pack to make your picnic tasty, healthy and fit for any budding Olympian:
- Falafels are great cold and even better when dipped into chunky home-made hummus
- A whole avocado that can be cut and mashed with a fork when needed. Add some lemon juice and some chilli flakes, add some sliced up tomato. Or you can make it before you leave but you might find there is a little browning
- Vegetable batons or crudités are great for dipping in hummus, salsa or tzatziki
- Olives, sundried tomatoes and jarred peppers all combined in one pot
- Sandwiches tend to go soggy and get squashed so take some whole-wheat tortilla wraps which won’t squash and are easy to pack! Each person can pick their own fillings from whatever you have in the cool bag – salad, avocado, roast chicken, grated cheese etc.
- Salads travel well when the dressing is added later – try a mix of different lettuce such as little gem (really crispy and the sturdy individual leaves can be loaded with toppings), romaine, iceberg, radicchio, red chard, frisee, spinach, rocket, watercress. Add mangetout, sugar snap peas, radish, cucumber, whole cherry tomatoes (avoid cutting large tomatoes as it gets messy), spring onion, avocado, grated carrot, beetroot (not the pickled kind), peppers, courgette ribbons, olives, shredded cabbage
- To make your salad really filling you need some protein so add some roast chicken (left over from Sunday lunch), prawns, grated cheese, tofu, prawns (marinated in chili and olive oil is really tasty), mixed beans, boiled eggs – the choice is endless
- Packets of pre-cooked quinoa, lentils etc. are perfect added to salads
- Make a dressing from lemon and extra virgin olive oil and put in a little travel cosmetic bottle or spray! In fact these little bottles are perfect for decanting lots of things that you only need a small quantity of, for example, freshly squeezed lemon juice for adding to the free water or putting over your salad, balsamic vinegar. Remember bottles of liquids must be under 100ml
- Take a jar of chilli flakes if you like things a bit more spicy!
- Home-made Spanish tortilla is quick to make and chills really well. It’s also packed with protein
- Home-made sausage rolls – a picnic isn’t complete without these and if they are home-made you know exactly what went into them so they are a little less naughty!
- Fruit salad – keep lumps bigger as they tend not to go as brown or soggy
- Frozen grapes – these will help keep things cool too
- Mixed nuts and dried fruits for easy healthy snacks
I hope this has given you a little inspiration – with a bit of planning you can save money and have eat the best food when you’re out for the day. And if you haven’t got tickets for the games then just pack up a picnic and get outside somewhere pretty!