Picnic & Play
Celebrate Earth Day and enjoy the fleeting spring weather with a nature-themed scavenger hunt and picnic in the park.
Story and Photography by Kerry Guice
When the weather starts warming up, the kids and I can't get outside fast enough! We know spring doesn't last long in Arkansas
and 90-degree days are soon ahead, so picnics at the park are on the top of our to-do list. We celebrate Earth Day, April 22, every year with a picnic and a fun nature- themed scavenger hunt. I reuse small paper produce bags from Whole Foods and glue the scavenger hunt lists to them, tying pencils to the handle.
My kids and their friends had a ball helping each other mark off all the items as they collected them in their bags. I wanted to keep the list simple and chose items that would encourage the kids to engage with their surroundings and talk about what we see. We finished it off with a fun picnic, laid out on a blanket with colorful food and lots of laughs!
ALMOND BUTTER & STRAWBERRY PINWHEELS
Makes 24 pinwheels
2 large flour tortillas (white or whole wheat)
1/3 cup almond butter (add a tablespoon of peanut butter if it's hard to spread)
1 cup sliced strawberries
Spread the almond butter in a thin layer evenly over the whole tortilla, then line the sliced strawberries in one even row at the top 1/3 of the tortilla. Carefully fold the top of the tortilla over the strawberries, and roll all the way up, being careful to keep the strawberries tightly rolled without tearing the tortilla. Repeat with second tortilla. Let sit 2-3 minutes to let the almond butter stick to the tortilla, then carefully slice the rolls into 1⁄2 inch pinwheels, wiping the knife clean in between slices. Serve cool. The pinwheels taste like a PB&J without all the sugar you'll find in jam!
WHOLE WHEAT BANANA MUFFINS
Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins
1 large overripe banana 1⁄4 cup melted butter
1 large egg
3⁄4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1⁄2 cup oats
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. In large bowl, mash banana with the melted butter. Add milk, egg and vanilla and stir to combine. In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients except chocolate chips. Add banana mixture to flour mixture, and carefully combine. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and sprinkle the tops with the dark chocolate chips. Bake 12 minutes. Sprinkling the chocolate chips on top of the muffins make them look like a special treat without having to add too much chocolate to the batter, keeping it healthier.
LEMONY BROCCOLI PASTA SALAD
1 cup orzo (or your favorite pasta)
Juice of one lemon (3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil orzo in large pot of salted water for 10 minutes, then drain and rinse. While pasta boils, heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the minced garlic. Stirring occasionally, let garlic infuse in the oil about 5 minutes. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the chopped broccoli, boiling for 3 minutes. Drain broccoli and immediately add to a bowl of ice water (this shocks the broccoli, stopping the cooking process and locking in the bright green color). Combine the broccoli, pasta, garlic oil and lemon juice in large bowl. Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, cold or warm—you can't go wrong!
Use this list for your Nature Scavenger Hunt!