The winter season is brimming with beauty, a new stage where you can step into crisp cool days full of promise. We often associate picnics with warmer weather; however, a cute cosy picnic is just the thing to do this time of year. Venture outdoors, rug up and create an alfresco picnic day for everyone to enjoy. We have rounded up our favourite ideas, from the tastiest dishes, treats and ways to keep warm!
There's something magical about embracing even the brisker days, gathering blankets, cushions and slipping into those Ugg boots with a hot chocolate. Attempt this old classic with a modern and healthier twist with a cacao recipe. You will need raw cacao powder packed with antioxidants, fibre and magnesium, then mix with a tablespoon of maca powder; this adds a delicious malty flavour and combines well with the chocolatey goodness of the cacao. Maca is also chock full of vitamins and minerals and even helps with memory! Next, your choice of milk, almond or oat is a yummy addition; a little coconut oil, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt put them together in a blender; once thoroughly combined, transfer to a saucepan on medium heat till warm through. It is a rich and creamy alternative that is naturally sweet. Pour into a thermos container to keep toasty all day and share between friends.
You can’t have a winter picnic without some winter warming food! A slow-cooked beef stew is always a crowd-pleaser; filled with seasonal veg, broth and a splash of red wine, this reduction creates a comforting bowl of goodness. Brown off the meat for 5 minutes and set aside, then combine the remaining ingredients in a large ceramic pot or slow cooker and cook your onions and vegetables till tender, return the meat and liquids and let it braise for up to 3 hours on a low heat. It will reduce to a thick and mighty tasty stew! If you prefer a vegetarian version, substitute the beef for either pumpkin, sweet potato or a variety of mushrooms to keep it hearty - feel free to add some spices for a little kick. Keep your dish warm for as close to your picnic departure as possible; in a dutch oven pot, it will retain its insulation with the lid while you transport it. Heat packs are another great way to ensure it's kept warm, but a tin foil covering with a tea towel will work too.
One of the best parts of winter is building an epic fire pit to sit around and toast marshmallows for dessert. Create a circular seating area with logs or camp chairs and soak in the natural heat. Thread a couple of marshmallows on a metal stick, hold over the flame, and slowly rotate till all the sides are golden and crispy; let them cool slightly before tasting! A few other great accessories to bring are a lantern for the shorter daylight hours, and something waterproof in case seating areas are damp. An outdoor umbrella will provide some added shelter, and don’t forget the sunscreen - even on a winter’s day, the sun’s rays can still be harmful. Investing in a decent picnic basket will also be incredibly handy when carting around plates and cutlery, and a cooler bag will keep your fresh food and drink at the optimal temperature. These will all guarantee you some winter weather picnic success!