I love to eat outside! At our house, we have some really fun places to have a little picnic right at home or we often take the our meal on the road and go up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to dine on an overlook or on the hiking trail. We have even been known to pack a basket to take to the summer series of Shakespeare plays by the Montford Park Players. I have heard about places here in Asheville where you can pick up a picnic meal all ready to take with you but for me part of part the fun is packing the food to take with you! That is why I love Ashley English’s book A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors for on the go meal inspiration! In her book, she has created 20 different menus and theme ideas to keep the ideas flowing! She made sure all the meals of the day were covered when eating a la fresco. Ashley also has included some simple, creative projects to enhance your picnic such as instructions for making your own corn hole game or a little table, and many more fun activities to do on your picnic!

I love how Ashley shares seasonal ideas for spring, summer picnics for warm weather when most of us think about a picnic but also has lots of picnic ideas to have in the fall and even in the winter to get us out in the sunshine when we need it most of all. Her theme picnic ideas include an autumn leaf viewing party, movie night under the stars and an afternoon tea and each of these include how to set the scene and activities!

The photographs were taken by Jen Altman and I love how she and Ashley have given the book the feel that I was really going on the journey with them! The plates, tablecloths, napkins, cutlery and baskets were had a vintage and handmade feel. Next time call me to come with you! I will bring the side, entree, dessert or beverage!

For Mother’s Day, my husband took me on a hike to see three lesser known waterfalls where we live and I had made us a picnic the day before from A Year of Picnics.  I did a few little modifications and blended three of the Ashley’s menus together to come up with our final menu. A Year of Picnics works well for inspiration to get started and make your own little additions or a do it by the book guide.

Here is the menu that I came up with for our Hike:

Trout Salad with Crostini

Twice-Bake Potatoes

Strawberry Granola

Seasonal Picnic Menu

Main dish, side and dessert are fun to make from A Year of Picnics by Ashley English

In the trout salad, I substituted the capers for some chopped olives and modified the Cherry and Ambrosia Parfaits to Strawberry Granola Parfaits while the strawberries in our area were in season. With a few little recipe and menu changes, the sky is the limit for ideas to take your meals outside!

A Year of Picnic has been out for a little more than a month month so it is still making its way available at local bookstores so you may need to order it, I think that you are really going to love it and have lots of fun trying the menus and getting you and your family outside to eat some delicious food!

Life is a picnic!

Seasonal Trout Salad

I am enjoying making delicious, healthy outdoor meals to take the fun on the go in the summer. I am loving Ashley’s new book and if you are looking for picnic inspiration, get you a copy! As an Asheville, NC, registered dietitian nutritionist, I love helping others find healthy tools to make their lives easier. You can find some additional recipe ideas here!

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