High Protein, Veggie urban picnic
I'm considering taking an "urban picnic" to my bf at a marine base on Sunday. there is nothing really remotely chow-ish near base, and if the weather stays at above 50, I might bring a blanket and just feed him from my kitchen on the run.
I'm looking for some good ideas.
the BEST would be if it could be made the day before, because I'll be heading down there around 8:30am.
Pluses: very high protein. He is in insanely high physical training, and he needs protein. He is a vegetarian (yes, I know, but he eats whatever they feed him to survive).
I'm thinking a nice asian inspired pasta salad with tofu, but not sure of a good tested recipe. Even though I don't cook fish, I could always pick up a piece of already cooked salmon for the side and he could toss it in his portion (he eats fish for now for the protein).
Or should I try an Orzo salad with some white beans? and cheese? Or would sandwiches be better? Hummus, avocado, etc?
I have lots of grocery options, and am a good cook. I just can't decide on whether a themed picnic is best, or if I should just show up with good cheese, fruit, good bread, and antipasta things and just graze. I can pack things decently enough, but am not adverse to picking up a small cooler if needed.
anything considered, as I want it to be good and healthy for him. I plan on bringing a lot because he needs the food.
You have lots of good ideas there. I'd say to choose one or two things you'd enjoy making and bring a collection of good cheeses, breads, fruits, antipasto items. You could make your own sandwiches from those items or not. If you like making desserts, you could make something high-energy, with dried fruit and nuts (or even whole grain flours), choc. chips etc. and possibly send the "extras" of those back with him!
A middle eastern theme comes to mind: hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, eggplant salad, olives, feta, grape tomatoes, pita bread, salad.....with some baklava, maamoul, dates, figs, nuts...
cheeses, vegetarian pate, good breads, pickles, salad, fruit, homemade bar cookies with dried cherries, nuts, chocolate chips.
Do you have a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or ethnic grocery stores near you?
Make sure you keep it relatively simple for yourself so you can focus on enjoying the time together...have a wonderful time and best of luck!
Make him some fresh Vietnamese vegetable wraps loaded with tofu, bean sprouts and egg. That should take care of the protein requirement. If it's not enough protein, then whip up some peanut dipping sauce or sesame noodles (use peanut butter in addition to sesame paste).
You can make them the day before, but they tend to stick together. However, once they are made, they are super easy to eat.
Aww, that sounds really fabulous. Other thoughts- frittata! You could do mexican or italian or almost anything, really, and if you wanted it super-duper protein, not only use real whole eggs but also top with cheese, and throw in some black or garbanzo beans as well?
There was also a thread a while ago about pistachio-crusted tofu, which sounds pretty awesome and healthy on a variety of levels.
I also second the leftovers idea; could you pack a cooler for him to take back? There are also some great recipes for homemade power and nut bars, which you can customize with whatever dried fruits/chocolate/spices he likes.
I was thinking of making a quinoa salad actually. maybe with some chick peas, mint, parsley, feta, veggies and pine nuts...
I do have tons of grocery stores near me (in DC), and I was going to get him a bag of good trail mix to munch on throughout the day.
So, maybe I can do the Quinoa salad, some homemade hummus and toasted pita chips, a fruit salad, and maybe make some banana chocolate chip bread...he can't really have left overs, as they can't bring food into the barracks, but I'd like to bring extras in case other guys in his platoon are hungry for some home made items.
I think I can do 99.9% of that the day before, except maybe adding the cheese to the quinoa.
He isn't a foodie at all, but he needs food in his belly (or what's left of it), and I hate the thought of this week being a big training week full of nasty MREs.
I haven't made this, but it's been on my "to try" list...a high-protein banana choc chip bread recipe from Mollie Katzen. I saw it in her "Sunlight Cafe" book but she also has the recipe up on her website:
She also has an excellent granola recipe (great for snacks!) that I've made...it's really good and she has lots of options for making it higher protein:
Your spread will be fantastic and he will love it. Being with you and eating your food will make him feel good in so many ways. Have fun!
hm...good recipe for the banana bread...
I use a mix (because I'm lazy, and it tastes good!) but I was thinking of adding a few scoops of whey protein powder to it (we both prefer whey to soy, and he's discouraged in the Marines from using supplements).
hopefully I can get stuff organized and make food that will stay with him for a few days and refuel his tired, broken body.
And hopefully I can managed to pack everything well enough so it'll stay fresh enough!
i add protein powder to baked goods all the time. start slowly, subbing for about 1/4 cup of flour. whey protein can sometimes toughen baked goods, so i'd suggest either using agave nectar or honey as your sweetener, or increasing the fat by about 10%. some recipes can tolerate higher protein additions than others, so play around with it. you can also use whole wheat pastry flour in place of AP...personally i also like to use part buckwheat flour. it has a great nutty flavor that works really well in banana bread.
rice protein is a little heavy for baking, and the flavor & odor can be pretty nasty. it's difficult to get the right balance, so i only use it when i'm baking for a strict vegan who can't tolerate bean flours.
i don't use soy products anymore so you're on your own with that one. however i can tell you that soy flour/protein tends to have a beany odor & flavor that can be difficult to mask.
took me a second to figure that one out...i'm assuming you meant hemp protein?
fortunately, unflavored & unsweetened powders are becoming easier to find. "jarrow naturals," "NOW foods" and "jay robb" [finally!] all make good, pure, 100% whey isolate powders with no additives.
i've used and liked various other products from all three brands, but so far i've only tried the NOW Foods whey isolate, and i like the way it behaves in baking. it's extremely light. if you can't find it, however, jay robb & jarrow both make excellent products, so i'm sure either one will be fine.
your comment about pasta salad with tofu got me thinking that a tofu pesto pasta salad would be perfect. it's a healthy high-protein way to do a vegetarian pasta dish. there are tons of recipes on the web, just choose one that contains flavors/ingredients you both like.
for dessert [make extra for him as a leave-behind treat], how about baking some meringues in different flavors? they're a good source of protein thanks to the egg whites, and you can even blend in some flavored protein powder.
most importantly, don't stress too much about the food, and enjoy your time together!