Blog | Rachel Begun, MS, RD | Page 2

Packing a Gluten-Free Picnic PicnicPhoto courtesy of

I was traveling with a few girlfriends this past weekend, and one of them asked for picnicking hotspots in the Seattle area. I provided several, and then I realized that I hadn’t been on an actual pack-up-the-picnic-basket type of picnic in…way too long. I started daydreaming about what I would pack…

That got me thinking about how my gluten-free friends might pack their picnics, and I wanted to share some ideas for a healthy, naturally gluten-free picnic – good for the gluten-free and not-so-gluten-free alike!

To start, the following are all naturally gluten-free foods, providing a good base to spring from when building recipes:

  • Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products, i.e. milk
  • Quinoa, flax, corn, brown rice, wild rice
  • Oils, honey, molasses, spices and herbs

The Gluten-Free Brunch Picnic: Prepare a scramble at home with your favorite selection of veggies (peppers, caramelized onions, steamed spinach, etc.) and top with rosemary or your herb of choice. Keep the scramble warm during transfer to your grassy hangout with a separate insulated carrying case.

Another tasty egg option is Portobello mushroom caps filled with a thin layer of prosciutto and a baked egg – simply crack the egg over the mushroom and prosciutto base, then bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes.

Lastly, prepare and tote along a colorful fruit salad of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries with mint sprigs.

The Gluten-Free Lunch or Dinner Picnic: A brown rice entree with broccoli, peapods and mushrooms packs well, is hearty and satisfies. Toss with a touch of gluten-free tamari, the wheat-free cousin of soy sauce.

Or, season cooked quinoa with a touch of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil and thyme as a second lunch picnic option. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and currants for crunch and texture.

Slice and dice celery sticks to dip in all-natural peanut butter, or try a salad of greens, pistachios and apple wedges. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the salad.

Dessert options include slightly sweet and satisfying tapioca pudding, or homemade macaroons made with ground almonds or almond flour.

Let’s not forget beverages. Hydrate with ice water and lemon wedges, or if you’re feeling frisky, pack naturally gluten-free wine or champagne. For your relaxing outing, gather up utensils, napkins, glassware, plates, bowls, a corkscrew, a picnic blanket…and your sweetie!

Please share! What do you plan to pack in your gluten-free picnic?

Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RD, is based in Seattle, where she practices in the areas of nutrition writing, marketing and social media. She also counsels clients in weight loss and corporate wellness settings. Follow her at @PhytoK or send an email:


5 Ways to Love Your Greens

Lacinato Kale

If any of you are farmers market regulars, you know that the Spring harvest is loaded with lots of greens.  From delicate young leaves of arugula, mizuna and sorrel to hearty, green leafies like spinach, kale, bok choi and all varieties of cabbage.

While we look forward to the colorful fruits and veggies mid to late summer harvest brings, let’s take a moment to appreciate the abundance of greens we are harvesting right now.

Leafy greens are one of the healthiest foods around, and most of us don’t eat nearly enough. They are loaded with nutrients and very few calories, making them one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat.

I recommend aiming for at least one serving of leafy greens a day.  For those already eating one serving, I challenge you to aim for two serving a day.

Here are five ways to enjoy leafy greens… and one of my favorite salads follows.

#1 Green Smoothies
If you haven’t yet embraced greens, smoothies are what I call the “gateway to greens.” Recipes abound in cookbooks and on the internet.  Aim for green smoothies that have at least one cup of greens per serving.

#2 Eggs and Greens
One of my favorite food combinations (and there are thousands of permutations) is eggs and greens.  Try an omelet made with sautéed kale.  For another serving of greens, top the omelet with a micro green, such as mizuna.  Hard boiled egg halves are a perfect topper for a spinach salad.  And frittatas are delicious when paired with a green side salad.

#3 Pesto
The traditional way to make pesto is with basil leaves.  However, pesto can be made with pretty much any micro green.  I’ve made pesto with sorrel, arugula, pea shoots, and mizuna. I’ve also used the green tops of carrots and beets to make pesto.  If you have greens that you don’t know what to do with…don’t throw them out, make pesto!  Try my Pea Shoot Pesto and Carrot Top Pesto.

#4 Sauteed Greens
This is one of the easiest and most flavorful ways to enjoy greens.  All you need to do is clean off the leaves, dry them and separate them from the stem.  Put them in a sauté pan with your favorite cooking oil and the greens start to break down and wilt, making them softer and less bitter.  For those who are doubtful, try sautéing baby bok choi in toasted sesame oil.

#5 Grilled Greens
To grill a green, it has to have structure, be hearty and be able to put on the grill whole. Grilled Romaine lettuce is just fantastic.  Cut a whole Romaine heart in half.  Brush the halves with olive oil or an oil-based vinaigrette and grill for just a minute or two on the exposed side.  Sprinkle with cheese or a nut cheese and whatever else suits you. I promise you will be grilling Romaine all summer long.

Shades of Green Salad


Dressing Ingredients
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of sea salt

Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Salad Ingredients
6 leaves of kale, de-stemmed and cut into small pieces
1/4 large cucumber, diced (with peel on)
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 Tablespoon hemp seeds

Massage the kale leaves with the olive oil and lemon dressing, making sure to rub in on all spots of all pieces.  Arrange the sliced avocado and diced cucumber on top of the kale leaves.  Sprinkle with hemp seeds.

Makes 1 large or 2 small salads.





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