An IC Friendly Picnic Basket – Fresh Tastes by Bev
By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB
What better month to have a picnic than June? Get some fresh air and exercise, enjoy nature, play with the kids. Take the family and head for the ocean, mountains or park… with a few stops along the way of course. Traveling with IC can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. With some advance planning we can relax, enjoy bladder-friendly food, and have a great time.
The ICer’s motto: Be over-prepared
There’s just no substitute for good planning and preparedness for a day of recreation. In the last ten years I’ve discovered on numerous occasions that it’s so much better to be over-prepared (even if you get teased about it) than to spend the day tense and worrying about all the “what-ifs.”
Since I’ve had IC, planning means more than just packing medicines, food, and soft cushions, and marking rest stops on maps. I try to prepare my body too, by sticking closely to my diet and being well rested on the day before, not rushed and exhausted by trying to accomplish too much at the last minute. Stress and tension can help bring on a flare too.
If I want to take cooked foods, I try to make them a day or two before. Some foods actually taste better that way… the flavors have a good chance to blend. But what can you take that travels well, isn’t too messy to eat, and doesn’t need to be heated? Of course it needs to be bladder-friendly too. And would easy or quick to fix be too much to ask?
Ready to eat snacks
There are a few companies that produce snack-type food we can eat. But it used to be that brands would stay pretty much the same year after year. Now however, products come and go in the blink of an eye. Companies merge, formulas change, brands disappear. Today an item has no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Tomorrow they decide to change the recipe and add bladder burners like monosodium glutamate or aspartame. That’s why I’m a little hesitant to name products… this article may be around long after the manufacturer has changed the recipe for the packaged food. So please check labels for ingredients your bladder can’t tolerate, no matter what I say here! Also bear in mind that everyone is a bit different, so these are just suggestions for products to take a look at. The items have been suggested by various IC patients and not everyone will be able to eat every one of these.
With that caveat, here are some packaged snack type foods that (for now at least) are good to take on trips:
- Triscuits; Original and Deli-Rye only
- Pringles Original potato crisps (in a red can)
- Potato chips; Kettle Chips natural gourmet potato chips, lightly salted only
- Pretzels; Snyders of Hanover, Old Tyme, regular
- Salted cashews; Costco’s Signature brand has no artificial ingredients added
- Marshmallows, plain white
- Carob-coated malt balls; from Whole Foods Markets
- Orville Redenbacher popping corn, plain (Comes as kernels in a jar. Not the microwave bag-type); prepared at home. Corn may bother a few who need low oxalate.
- Tostitos white corn restaurant style tortilla chips, plain. (Corn may bother a few who need low oxalate.)
- Corn Nuts, original flavor. (Corn may bother a few who need low oxalate.)
- Bubbie’s dill pickles (No acid, no preservatives. In the refrigerated section of the market)
- String cheese or mozzarella strips
- See’s candies; white coated cashew brittle (for those who can tolerate a little white chocolate.
We can also assemble some other nutritious snacks quickly. The veggies are good just dipped in a bit of salt, or with a dip (see recipe from my cookbook below): Black olives, carrot sticks, celery sticks, whole radishes, red bell pepper strips, whole roasted almonds, bananas, blueberries and/or honeydew melon chunks (for those who can eat these fruits).
Drinks are always a problem. I’ve found that if I don’t take my own, drinking fountains and plain water are hard to come by. I wind up drinking canned sodas or fruit juice– and I pay the price later. If you find you must purchase something to drink, fast food establishments that serve Barq’s root beer are good bets. Barq’s has no caffeine and you can dilute it with ice cubes. Depending on your bladder’s sensitivity you may also need something to cut the acidity a bit, Tums or Prelief or Coffee Tamer. But this only applies to the on-tap kind from restaurants… the canned version of Barq’s has all the bladder burning preservatives that most sodas have.
Watch out for dehydration too. It’s easy to have fun and get so interested in what you’re doing that you forget to drink something. Being a bit dehydrated can produce concentrated urine and major pain for many IC people. (IC urine has been found to have irritants like histamine and methyl histamine as well as a protein that helps keep the bladder lining from healing). Of course if pain is not a big problem for you but frequency is, then you’ll want to balance your body’s need for fluids with your ability to find a rest room. (If you’re not near a restroom, the disposable TravelJohns are great to have. Just tuck one in your pocket for emergencies). Try packing these bladder friendly drinks for your picnic:
- Herb tea bags; Stash licorice, Celestial Seasonings peppermint, Bigelow Mint Medley (take a thermos of hot water and a ziplock bag for the used tea bags. Or make tea and refrigerate for iced herb tea.)
- Evian water, individual bottles
- Sobe lizard blizzard (It’s available seasonally and perhaps not in all markets around the country. It comes in a big bottle but for traveling I pour it into small plastic ones like the empty Evian bottles.)
- Gerbers pear juice
The Perfect Main Course
Now down to the nitty-gritty, the main course for the picnic. Fried chicken is wonderful on picnics. For dessert, how about some fruit? Remember to keep your food cold enough to discourage bacterial growth.
Southern Herb-Fried Chicken
- serves 4
- 8 chicken legs
- 1/2 c. All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 tsp. ground savory
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional, omit for low oxalate)
- Combine flour and herbs in a paper or plastic bag, add one or two pieces of chicken at a time and shake.
- Heat about 1/4-inch of shortening or cooking oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles and pops.
- Add chicken pieces.
- Brown one side, then turn with tongs to brown the other.(Be sure not to crowd the pieces)
- It will take about 15 or 20 minutes to brown the pieces.
- When browned, reduce heat to low and cover tightly. (If you don’t have a tight-fitting lid, add 1
or 2 tablespoons of water)
- Cook until tender, about 25 minutes (uncover the last 7 to 10 minutes)
- Remove and cool, then refrigerate until time to pack.
This quick and tasty cucumber sandwich idea was sent to me by IC patient Toni Wickhart. Thanks for sharing, Toni!
Basic Cucumber Sandwich
- cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
- softened cream cheese
- 2 slices sandwich bread (without preservatives)
- Spread two slices of bread with cream cheese.
- Add layer of sliced cucumber between the bread. (Or mix chopped cucumber with the cream cheese and spread on bread)
- You can also add: a tablespoon of chopped chives, chopped black olives, or chopped hard-boiled egg.
- If bacon doesn’t bother you, add a bit of cooked chopped bacon.
Easy IC Style Tuna Sandwich
- 2 slices sandwich bread (without preservatives)
- 1 can pure tuna (Star Kist Gourmet’s Choice Tuna Fillet, in water– this kind does not have soy or flavor enhancers, unlike others)
- margarine, tub kind
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried chervil for low oxalate)
- red lettuce leaf
- Spread margarine generously on one side of each piece of bread.
- Drain the tuna and break up with a fork.
- Mix with the parsley and a dash of salt.
- Arrange tuna on one bread slice, top with lettuce and other bread slice.
Here is a clam dip recipe originally from Taste of the Good Life, a Cookbook for an Interstitial Cystitis Diet. Kept cool, it’s great with crackers, chips, cooked large shrimp, or veggies.
makes about 1-1/2 cups
- 1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
- 1 7-oz can minced clams, drained (try Snow’s- or make sure the brand doesn’t have these: monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed anything, or soy anything)
- 3 Tbsp. clam juice (reserved from clams is ok)
- 1/2 c. cottage cheese
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper or white pepper (optional)
- salt to taste
- Drain clams and reserve 3 Tbsp. of the juice.
- Beat together the cream cheese and clam juice until smooth.
- Process cottage cheese and milk in a blender or food processor until fairly smooth consistency.
- Add clams and process a few seconds more.
- Fold cottage cheese mixture, allspice, garlic powder, and pepper into the cream cheese.
- Chill at least two hours to let flavors blend.