5 healthy picnic dishes perfect for runners

1/ Mediterranean pitta with hummus

Olives contain healthy fats and electrolytes. Chickpeas are high in insoluble fibre.

Serves 4

1 medium aubergine (about 340g), cut into 1 cm slices

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp tahini

1 clove garlic, chopped

¼ tsp salt

4 wholemeal pittas, halved

Handful of rocket

1 large beef tomato, cut into ½ cm slices

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

50g Kalamata olives, chopped

Brush both sides of the aubergine slices using 1 tbsp of the oil. Cook under a medium grill until lightly charred and tender – about 5 mins each side. Set them aside to cool.

For the hummus, place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, the remaining 2 tbsp oil, garlic, salt and 2 tbsp water in a food processor. Whizz until smooth – about 1 minute.

Spread some of the hummus inside a pitta half. Fill with rocket, tomato, vinegar, olives and aubergine. Repeat with the remaining pittas.


2/ Curried chicken salad with grapes

Curcumin, which is found in turmeric (an ingredient in curry powder), is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may reduce post-run soreness. Celery is high in vitamin K, which is vital for bone health.

Serves 4

500g cooked chicken, cubed

115g celery, diced

100g red seedless grapes, halved

25g spring onions, sliced

40g roasted salted cashews, chopped

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp honey

¼ tsp salt, plus extra to taste

¼ tsp ground black pepper, plus extra to taste

1 round lettuce

Combine the chicken, celery, grapes, spring onions and cashews in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, curry powder, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle this dressing over the chicken mixture. Toss well to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line the bottom and sides of a large lidded container with lettuce leaves. Fill it with the chicken salad and then seal the container.

Related: 6 recipes that are perfect for meal prep


3/ Watermelon, ginger and cucumber salad

Watermelon and cucumber are packed with vitamins and will help you to rehydrate.

Serves 4

600g watermelon, cut into 2.5cm cubes

2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

300g cucumber, diced

1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and chopped (optional)

2 tbsp chopped coriander

Juice and zest of 1 lime

Pinch of salt

1 avocado, diced

Place all the ingredients except the avocado in a bowl and stir to combine. When ready to serve, mix in the avocado.


4/ Peach-bourbon compote

This delicious dessert treat contains sugar, butter and booze, but all is not lost – peaches are a good source of minerals, including potassium and magnesium, and almonds are high in vitamin E.

Serves 4

4 large peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and sliced into eight

60ml bourbon

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp light brown sugar

¼ tsp cinnamon

30g flaked almonds

Combine the peaches, bourbon, butter, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are softened and liquid is glossy – about 15 mins. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a small frying pan over a low heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Scatter the almonds over the peaches before serving.

Related: 4 naturally sweet desserts


5/ Tabbouleh salad with za’atar seasoning

This salad is a source of antioxidants that combat inflammation.

Serves 4

225g uncooked bulgar wheat

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ tsp za’atar seasoning (optional)

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

25-30 multicoloured cherry tomatoes, halved

25g fresh basil, chopped

25g fresh mint, chopped

25g fresh parsley, chopped

½ cucumber, diced

75g red onion, chopped

In a pan, bring 240ml water to the boil. Add the bulgar wheat and stir. Remove from heat, cover and let the bulgur soak for one hour. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, za’atar (if using), salt and pepper. Once it’s soaked, fluff the bulgar with a fork, drain any remaining water and transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, mint, parsley, cucumber and onion, then drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.