Going On a Picnic with Dana Carpender

Check out our CarbSmart Low Carb Picnic Basket (pictured above) which includes an autographed copy of Dana’s The Low-Carb Barbecue Book.

Going on a picnic is one of the great joys of summer. Few things are more pleasant than spreading a blanket under a tree and lazing away an afternoon, noshing on simple but tasty foods. A picnic is a great way to entertain friends, too – because you won’t be stuck running back and forth to the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying themselves!

But the traditional picnic leans toward sandwiches and chips. What’s a low carber to do?

There are plenty of goodies for the low carber to pack in the picnic hamper! How about:

  • Cold chicken. A picnic favorite! You can roast it at home, if you like. If you do, may I suggest cooking a chorus line of drumsticks? They’re neat and easy to handle. Or you can pick up rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Bring plenty of napkins! (There’s a rumor that rotisserie chickens are loaded with sugar. I’ve called my local grocery store delis, and looked up the nutrition charts for Boston Market, and so far as I can tell, it’s not so. Count no more than 1 gram of carb per serving.)
  • Turkey roll. More upscale is the turkey roll, a combination of boneless white and dark turkey meat rolled together. Cook it at home, let it cool, and bring along a knife for slicing. Add a loaf of bread and some condiments, and the carbivores can make sandwiches, while you eat yours breadless, or wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves. Butterball turkey roll has less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving.
  • Hard boiled eggs. I adore hard boiled eggs, and what could be easier? Bring salt and pepper, of course. If you don’t have sealable picnic shakers, foil or waxed paper under the lid works nicely. You could make stuffed eggs, but they’re nowhere near as easy to transport. If you really want to, stick them together, face-to-face, to make them tidier to pack. One egg has 0.5 grams of carbohydrate. The carb count for stuffed eggs depends on your recipe, of course.
  • A simple, elegant, and very European approach to a picnic is to bring salami or other hard sausages, some varied cheeses, and a bottle of wine. You can bring some French bread for those who want it. 1 ounce of Italian hard salami has 0.3 grams of carbohydrate, a slice of Oscar Mayer beef salami has 0.4 grams. One ounce of provolone (good with salami!) has 0.6 grams. Most dry wines run 1-3 grams of carb per glass.
  • If you insist, you could bring sandwiches made on low carb bread, but I can think of better ways to “spend” 6 or 8 grams than on a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Up to you.
  • Trendier are “wraps” made with low carb tortillas. Just layer a tortilla with your favorite sandwich fixings, and roll it up. I’d bring the fixings and make these right before eating them; tortillas can get soggy pretty fast. La Tortilla Factory low carb tortillas run just 3 grams of usable carb per serving. There are other brands on the market; do read the labels. Many are higher in usable carbs, and a few deceptively list a serving size that is smaller than 1 tortilla!
  • Raw cut up vegetables with dip are an easy choice, and fun to eat.
  • Fruit is the traditional picnic dessert. Peaches and plums travel well, as does a “clamshell” of strawberries. A medium peach has 9.4 grams of carbohydrate, with 1.5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 7.9 grams. A medium plum has 7.5 grams of carb, with 0.9 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 6.6 grams. A half a dozen fresh strawberries? Just 5 grams of carb and 2 grams of fiber, for 3 grams of usable carb.
  • Cole slaw is a picnic staple, but most commercial cole slaw dressing has lots of sugar. Make your own, substituting Splenda or another low carb sweetener for the customary sugar. I like half mayo, half sour cream or plain yogurt, with a dollop of spicy brown mustard, a little cider vinegar, just a touch of Splenda, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Make your favorite potato salad recipe with chunks of cauliflower instead. I have tried at least eight or ten “unpotato” salads, and they’ve all been great. Never had a failure.

Or for something more posh, make this…

Not-Quite-Middle-Eastern Salad

Here, shredded cauliflower stands in for bulgar wheat. This salad is incredibly delicious, incredibly nutritious, and quite beautiful on the plate.

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 2/3 cup sliced stuffed olives
  • 7 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cups triple washed fresh spinach, chopped fine
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small ripe tomato, diced small
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

Run the cauliflower through the shredding blade of your food processor and put it in a microwaveable casserole. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover and nuke it on “high” for 5 minutes. Uncover it as soon as the microwave stops, and let it cool.

While that’s cooking, cut up your other vegetables, and assemble them in a large salad bowl.

Drain the cooled cauliflower well, and dump it in with all the other vegetables. Add the oil, garlic, and mayonnaise, and toss. Salt and pepper to taste, toss again, and serve.

6 servings of roughly a cup each. 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving, with 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams. 1 gram protein.

Check out our CarbSmart Low Carb Picnic Basket (pictured above) which includes an autographed copy of Dana’s The Low-Carb Barbecue Book.

© Copyright 2009 by Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the fun-in-the-sun author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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