Creative Vegan Pack and Go: Foods for picnics, hikes and other outings

Summer is the time for backyard barbecues, beaches and blistering heat. And for vegans, that means trying to fit in with the beef jerky, turkey sandwich and burger crowd on summer outings. Veggie hotdogs and burgers have their place, but there are other options. To break away from veggie imitations of these meals, consider branching out – think about where you are going and your cooking options. With a little effort, you may be munching on gourmet fare in the grass.


Summer evenings are the perfect time for a weekend dinner in a park. Vegan picnics can follow suit with their non- veggie counterparts, consisting of traditional fare complete with red and white checkered blanket. Or, a vegan picnic can be a chance to show off some impressive and tasty dishes. Sometimes parks have cooking equip- ment available. Check with your local city parks and nature centers before packing your picnic.

Here are two recipes that are sure to satisfy your palate:

Grilled Seitan Kebabs and Asparagus Spears
Serves 8

Kebabs are relatively easy and just a little bit funkier than veggie burgers. Served with lightly seasoned grilled

asparagus spears, this meal really takes vegan picnics to another level.

For the seitan-onion kebabs:

1 package seitan (you can also make your own), cut into bite-sized chunks

1 medium red onion, chopped to large chunks

16 skewers (bamboo or metal is fine) For the seitan marinade:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons brown sugar

Small pinch cayenne (optional) 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1/3 cup water

Whisk the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Place the seitan in the bowl, making sure the marinade fully covers it. Marinate the seitan for 15 to 20 minutes before placing on the skewers. To prepare the kabobs, alternate between seitan

and onion on skewers. Place the kabobs on the grill and brush them with any marinade that remains. Cook the kabobs for 5 minutes, turning often to evenly cook them.

For the grilled asparagus:

Asparagus spears
1-2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon rosemary Salt and pepper to taste

On a plate or a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over the asparagus spears. Sprinkle with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Turn to season other side. Place the spears on the grill; you will want to place them perpendicular to the grill rack so they do not fall through. Cook the spears for about 6 minutes (or until the tops are crispy), turning them often so they do not burn on one side.

Quinoa Salad with Fresh Veggies

Serves 8-10

No grill? No problem! Prepare this meal at home and then tuck it away in a picnic basket for a healthy and tasty alternative to traditional potato and pasta salads. Quinoa is a super food; it packs tons of nutrition and is as versatile as a grain. Instead of dousing the salad in dressing, cook the quinoa in vegetable broth and toss the veggies in a lightly seasoned oil mix.

For the salad:

1 cup quinoa
1 cucumber, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
2 cups chopped baby spinach 1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced

Prepare the quinoa. Mix the oil, seasonings and garlic in a small bowl and add the chopped vegetables, tossing them to coat evenly. In a larger bowl, add the quinoa and vegetables and mix. Refrigerate until you leave for your picnic.


The variety of attendees at a music festival is astounding; the food you bring should have as much variety. Music festivals can be a lot like camping, even more so if you actually do stay overnight. And, with staggering prices for the food and drinks that are available, bringing your own snacks is a must. Take a small cooler to keep this lunch fresh:

Veggie Empanadas

Makes 12 Small Single Servings

This recipe calls for some prep time before, but will give you a forkless feast at any festival or day-long outdoor event. The dough recipe

below was adapted from another at the Tomorrow Austin blog at WordPress. These will be tasty out of the oven, but chilled for a while, they make a nice pocket sandwich.

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup vegan margarine, such as Earth

1/3 cup cold water

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together. Mix in the margarine with a fork until the dough becomes lumpy, add the cold water and then knead for about 2 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough is combined, roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick. For small empanadas, use the top of a glass. For larger empanadas, use a saucer or a plastic lid.

For the filling:

If you want to substitute other veggies in this filling, you can!

the refrigerator before leaving on your outing, then store in a cooler until you are ready to eat.


Hiking requires fuel. Although peanut butter and jelly is a quick fix, regular hikers may tire of this combination. Hiking usually means no heat to cook and no ice to keep food cool; this combination makes for squashed wraps, soggy sandwiches and hungry hikers. And if you are an avid hiker, embarking on trail adventures often, you will become tired of the same granola bars and trail mixes. The following recipe takes the idea of a trail mix – crunchy and energizing – and puts a new spin on it.

Spicy Chickpea Snack*

Serves 4

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons chili powder Small pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chickpeas well before baking. In a shallow baking dish, combine oil and spices. Add chickpeas and mix until coated. Bake for 7 minutes, then stir. Bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until crunchy. Store in the fridge until you leave for a hike. These are great hot or cold and will last in a backpack. n

1-2 green bell peppers, chopped Large onion, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped finely
1 zucchini, cut into small chunks 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chopped vegetables in a small bowl. Add the oil and seasoning and toss to coat. Place about 1/2 spoonful into the center of your empanada rounds. Fold the round in half and then press the edges with a fork. Cut a small area in the top of the empanada to allow steam to escape; this will help the filling from oozing out the sides. Brush the empanadas with a little margarine and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Chill the empanadas in

*This recipe was adapted from Laukaus at

KRISTA PARKER is a blogger and online writer who focuses on vegan and vegetarian recipes. She has written product reviews and cookbook reviews on her personal blog: As a lover of vegetarian foods from all over the world, she is constantly looking for new culinary experiences.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *