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Summer Time Picnic Foods

By Valerie Wilson

Summer time is a great time to get outdoors and have a picnic. There is just something about foods eaten in the great outdoors that makes them taste better. Here are some recipes inspired by traditional picnic foods only made healthier.

These Tofu Kabobs taste great on the grill. Try using a variety of vegetables, whatever is your favorite. My favorite is mushrooms, especially portabello. The Cooling Cucumber Salad was inspired by a dish my mom made in the summer. She made the salad with sour cream; I have used a tofu dressing to substitute. Cucumbers have a high water content which helps to cool your body, making this ideal for those hot summer days.

The Cherry Tea is very refreshing and not overly sweet like drinking fruit juice straight. To serve the tea, you can make cherry ice cubes. Take some fresh cherries and pit them, then place in an ice cube tray. Pour water over them and then freeze. Just the thing to make your picnic colorful and tasty.




wooden kabob sticks
1 pound firm tofu (cut in large squares)
1 onion (cut in thick chunks)
4 carrots (cut in long diagonals)
1 yellow summer squash (cut in cubes)
20 radishes (cut in thick rounds)


1/3 cup tamari
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbls. brown rice vinegar
2 tbls. mirin
1 tbls. brown rice syrup
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 cup water


  1. Arrange the tofu and all the vegetables in a big shallow dish so that they are laid flat and not stacked on top of each other.
  2. Pour the marinade over and let marinade from 30 minutes to all night.
  3. Soak the wooden kabob sticks before using to prevent burning. Place the tofu chunks and vegetables on the kabob sticks. Alternate the vegetables to make each one unique.
  4. Grill until browned or bake in oven on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes at 350º.




1 large cucumber (cut in rounds)
1/2 onion (cut in thin half moons)
1 package extra-firm Mori Nu tofu
1 tbls. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ume paste
1 tsp. ume vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. tarragon


Steam the tofu for about 5 minutes. Place into a food processor along with the lemon juice, ume paste, ume vinegar, sea salt and tarragon. Puree until smooth. Mix the cucumber and onions with the tofu sauce in a bowl. Make sure all cucumbers are covered with sauce. Serve cold and store in refrigerator.




4 cups water
1 kuchucha twig tea bag
2 cups dark sweet cherry juice


Bring the four cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bag and let steep for 10 minutes. Add the 2 cups cherry juice. Refrigerate and serve cold with cherry ice cubes.

Valerie Wilson is a whole foods chef who teaches cooking classes in Garden City, Michigan. She is the author of “Perceptions in Healthy Cooking,” a collection of both recipes and poetry. Email her at macroval@cs.com or visit www.macroval.com or phone (734) 261-2856.

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