Happy summer friends! With the increase of lovely warm long days I’ve been spending more and more time outside, enjoying the good weather with friends and family. My family’s favorite summer meals are picnics, and when you live in New York City and Central Park is your backyard, those picnics have the perfect backdrop.
Central Park’s 843 acres has it all — lakeside lawns, shaded hillsides, ponds, playgrounds, a pool, a petting zoo, even a castle. There are benches to sit on, historical monuments and museums to visit, and lawns to sunbathe in. There are spots where young lovers can cuddle as they dream up their lives together and paths where you can take a quiet stroll away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One of my favorite spots in the park is Turtle Pond at the base of The Belvedere Castle. It’s named in honor of the large number of turtles that reside there, along with numerous species of birds, fish, and frogs. My family and I just love sitting on the lawn by Turtle Pond and watching these ancient creatures bask in the sun, moving about slowly and elegantly. Whether you’re a local (and slightly jaded) New Yorker or an out-of-towner planning a trip to the Big Apple, I highly recommend this little-known spot!
No matter where you are this summer, be sure to pack up your picnic basket with some light and healthy Veggiecurean recipes. I’ve chosen these three in particular because they’re easy to make and travel well, which means less time inside cooking and more time outside with sun, friends, and family!
Summer Salad with Mango Ginger Dressing
Loaded with the goodness of fresh summer bounty and topped with an amazingly refreshing mango ginger dressing, this salad stays crisp and fresh and travels well. I like to pack mine in a mason jar or cooler and bring the dressing on the side so it doesn’t get soggy. (Hint: If you like this salad, you might also like my Asian Vegetable Salad, which also travels really well!)Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: None! Servings: 4Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce (thinly sliced)
1 small head cabbage (thinly sliced)
1/4 head red cabbage (thinly sliced)
1/2 red bell pepper (sliced)
1/2 yellow bell pepper (sliced)
1/2 cup cilantro (roughly chopped)
1 avocado (sliced)
Black sesame seeds
1 mango (ripe, peeled, seeds removed)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp water
1 inch ginger (finely chopped)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pinch pink salt
To make mango ginger dressing, add mango, apple cider vinegar, water, ginger, red pepper flakes, and pink salt to blender and blend until smooth. Set aside to let flavors develop (refrigerate in small airtight container if not using right away).
In large bowl, add romaine lettuce, both cabbages, red and yellow bell peppers, and cilantro, and toss.
Serve in individual dishes topped with sliced avocado and mango ginger dressing, then add sprinkles of black sesame seeds and slivered almonds on top. (If taking salad to go, divide equally into 4 mid-size mason jars and close lid tight, taking dressing on side. Don’t forget to pack forks!)
Avocado Cucumber Gazpacho
I am all about recipes with avocados these days — they’re incredibly nutritious, high in potassium, low in sugar, and loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and fiber, and all over local supermarkets in the summer. With the weather getting hotter I like my soup colder, like gazpacho, which is traditionally made with tomatoes, but I changed this Spanish-style soup to include avocados and cucumbers instead. With just five main ingredients and ready in under five minutes, this recipe could not be easier to make, PLUS it’s Keto-friendly! (For picnics and road trips, I pack this one in a cool thermos and it’s good for about 3-4 hours.)
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: None! Serving: 4
2 cups water
1 medium avocado
1 cucumber (with skin)
1 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic
1/2 squeezed lime
1 dash Himalayan salt
Peel and scoop out avocado.
Chop cucumber into small pieces, then place that, avocado, cumin, garlic, and lime in blender or food processor, then blend until creamy.
Serve chilled or at room temperature garnished with diced tomatoes, red onions, sliced radish, and chopped cilantro, and a side of Vegan Keto Seed Bread.
Every year I am amazed by the miracle of winter blues turning to spring showers giving way to summer blooms. This excerpt from the poem “Miracles” by Walt Whitman perfectly captures the magic of this beautiful transition:
Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky…
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?