3 Recipes for a Perfect Thanksgiving Picnic

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Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health

Floridians know that fall is the best season to spend outdoors—whether you’re at the beach, at the park, or just in your backyard.

If you’re looking for more ways to get some fresh air and spend time in the sun this season, we recommend hosting a Thanksgiving picnic! Pack up a basket with blankets and check out these 3 Thanksgiving recipes designed to be enjoyed outdoors.

Click to jump to each recipe:

Tips for a Less-Mess Picnic

  • Go with a smaller menu. Having fewer side dishes and desserts can take some of the stress out of picnic planning and cleanup. When deciding what to bring, focus on recipes with lots of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
  • Pack portions individually. It’s more convenient—and hygienic—to pack portions in individual containers when possible. Consider bringing lunch boxes along for this picnic.
  • Bring extra silverware, plates, and napkins. Accidents happen, especially if you’re eating with kids outdoors. In case of a spill, be sure to have extra utensils available and lots of napkins hand.
  • Don’t forget the hand sanitizer. If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water before eating, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

P.S. Wear sunscreen! If you’re spending time outside, always wear a layer of sunscreen even if it’s not sunny out. (Here’s a dermatologist’s guide to choosing sunscreen.)

Recipe #1. Roast Turkey Dinner Hoagies

Thanksgiving turkey goes portable! Leftover turkey sandwiches are a classic day-after lunch (and dinner) favorite, but they conveniently make for great picnic food, too.

The best part? This turkey sub is customizable—top with a cheese of your choice, your favorite sauce, or even a scoop of mashed potatoes.

Tip: If you decide to use cranberry sauce on these subs, consider packing the sauce in a separate container to keep the subs from getting soggy.

Makes: 6 subs

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6-pack whole-grain hoagie rolls
  • Dijon mustard (to taste)
  • Cranberry sauce (to taste)
  • 1.5 lbs leftover turkey (or roast a turkey with this guide from the New York Times)
  • Fresh lettuce leaves
  • Sliced Swiss, brie, or provolone cheese
  • 2 red apples (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Instructions

  1. If not already pre-sliced, cut into the sides or tops of each roll without going all the way through to keep the filling from spilling out. Open each roll and spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard.
  2. Shred leftover turkey with two forks or cut into thin slices like deli meat. If using, slice each apple very thinly.
  3. On each roll, layer lettuce, turkey, cheese, and apple slices to your preferences. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt.
  4. If desired, press each sandwich with a panini maker.

Recipe #2. Refreshing Cranberry & Crispy Brussel Sprout Salad

This bright and refreshing salad is kid-friendly thanks to a burst of sweetness from dried cranberries. And picky eaters may not even know they’re eating Brussel sprouts when they’re sliced finely and tossed with this tasty dressing!

Tip: Remember to pack this salad into individual containers for each person at the picnic to cut down on accidental spills—and keep people from double-dipping with the same utensil into a shared bowl.

Makes: 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tsps Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 lbs Brussel sprouts
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (look for kinds with no added sugar)
  • 1 green or red apple (optional)
  • Shaved parmesan, crumbled feta, or crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup (or honey), Dijon mustard, and a sprinkle of kosher salt.
  2. Rinse Brussel sprouts thoroughly and cut off any remaining stem. Slice as thinly as possible with a knife, mandolin slicer, or food processor. If using, dice an apple into bite-sized chunks.
  3. In a large bowl, toss salad dressing and sprouts. Add in dried cranberries and green apple chunks before mixing one last time. Sprinkle with optional parmesan, feta, or goat cheese.
  4. Scoop into individual containers. If it’s hot out, be sure to pack with an ice pack to keep the salad crisp.

Recipe #3. Spiced Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Skip the mess of pie in the park by opting for these soft, fluffy pumpkin pie muffins instead. This recipe substitutes refined white sugar for maple syrup for naturally rich sweetness. While a muffin tin makes it easy to control portion sizes, this batter bakes well in a loaf pan, too.

(And if this isn’t enough to satisfy your pumpkin spice craving, check out our pumpkin spice recipe blog!)

Makes: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Required tools: Muffin tin, paper muffin cup liners

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice blend
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • ½ cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. If not using paper muffin cup liners, grease a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, kosher salt, and pumpkin spice blend.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together maple syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Crack in eggs, and beat until fully combined.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients slowly, being sure to stir regularly. Some lumps are OK.
  5. When mixed, scoop the batter into the lined or greased muffin tin. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin. Set to cool on a wire rack.

If you have your Thanksgiving dinner outdoors this year, we’d love to hear about it! Upload a photo of your picnic spread and tag @FLMedClinic on Instagram.

For more tasty, good-for-you recipes, sign up for the official Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health newsletter or check out previously published recipes on our blog.

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