Heading out for a backpacking trip this summer? Try these tasty, filling, and nutritious recipes from Alan Paschell, GMC Montpelier Section member and two-time Long Trail End-to-Ender along with his wife, Morgan Irons. Start with these recipes and find out more about trail nutrition from Alan in the upcoming Summer 2018 Long Trail News.
BLACK BEAN DINNER for one or two
(ingredient source in parentheses)
3/4 cup black beans* 1 ½ cup (Mary Jane’s Farm)
1/4 cup mixed vegetables* ½ cup (Iherb.com)
1/4 cup whole wheat cous-cous ½ cup (Co-op)
1Tbs. white cheddar cheese* 2 Tbs. (Frontier)
1 ½ tsp. chili powder 1 Tbs. (Co-op)
½ tsp. dulse granules (optional) 1 tsp. (Vitacost)
¼ tsp. salt ½ tsp. (Co-op)
Put in metal bowl, cover with boiling water, stir. Cover bowl with metal plate or pot lid and let sit five minutes. Mix in 1-2 Tbs. olive oil to bump calories.
This dinner is about 600 calories before adding oil, and nutritionally balanced; it’s good to bulk up on carbs at night. We never get tired of this meal – it’s truly delicious. Eating it day after day on the trail, you never have to worry about constipation either. I include the dulse as a source of iodine. A two-serving bag weighs 9.4 ounces.
BROWN RICE DINNER for two
(ingredient source in parentheses)
1 cup brown rice* (Outdoor Herbivore)
2 Tbs. white cheddar cheese* (Frontier)
2 Tbs. tomato powder* (Frontier)
½ cup vegetable soup mix* (Frontier)
2 oz. ground raw cashews (Co-op)
1 tsp. onion flakes (Frontier)
1 tsp. garlic flakes (Frontier)
1 tsp. dulse (optional) (Vitacost)
½ tsp. lemon peel (Frontier)
½ tsp. Italian seasoning (Co-op)
½ tsp. salt (Co-op)
¼ tsp. black pepper (Co-op)
Put in metal bowl, cover with boiling water, stir. Cover bowl with metal plate or pot lid and let sit five minutes. Add more hot water to desired consistency. Mix in 1-2 Tbs. olive oil to bump calories. The rice tends to be a bit chewy, but good. A two-serving bag weighs 9.2 ounces, and provides about 600 calories per serving before adding oil. Much as we love the bean dinner, this provides enjoyable variation.
ENERGY DRINK for two
4 Tbs. nonfat dry milk
3 Tbs. coconut flour
2 Tbs. cocoa
1 tsp. coconut sugar
Makes enough for two small mugs, and is good hot or cold. It offers a quick pick-me-up on the trail, but it’s not easy to mix (putting water in your cup first helps). Morgan mixes it with less water to make a pudding to avoid the flour settling out as it tends to do.
GINGER ROUNDS (trail wafers)
6 Tbs. coconut oil
Mix oil with other liquid ingredients:
¼ cup agave
1 beaten egg
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine dry ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup buckwheat
½ cup walnut halves/pieces, generous (puree walnuts before adding)
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
Add dry to wet and mix well.
Last mix in:
2 Tbs. chia seeds
If dough is too wet to handle, chill for an hour. Roll out on floured board to desired thickness, 1/8-¼ inch. Place on greased and floured cookie sheet (or use nonstick pan). Bake 10-12 minutes at 350’. Store in freezer.
I use a round cutter that makes the cookies just the right size to stack in a Nalgene container. However, they are quite sturdy and we generally carry them in bulk in plastic zip lock bags at the top of our packs. We ask our re-suppliers to keep them frozen until they meet us. However, in cases when we’re getting our re-supply packages in other ways, our ginger rounds have kept okay for up to two weeks between sitting in a post office and traveling in our packs. We haven’t tested to see just how long a shelf life they might actually have.
Chop in food processor:
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup barley and/or rye flakes
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup almonds
2 Tbs. raisins
1 Tbs. chia seeds
To each cup of the chopped mixture add 3 Tbs. powdered milk.
These batch amounts are dictated by my mini food processor. A larger appliance can probably handle a double batch. A serving size is very individual, but 1 cup provides 500 calories. You simply add water to this mixture to eat as breakfast cereal. It’s easier to digest than granola thanks to the pre-chopping. We find we don’t have great appetites first thing in the morning (we’re very early risers), so we start the day with a quick snack of a ginger round, fill in with trail mix if needed, then enjoy a break for breakfast after an hour or so on the trail – by then we’re warmed up and have better appetites.
SALTY TRAIL MIX
1 cup curried cashews
1 cup tamari roasted almonds
1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup toasted tamari sunflower seed
1/3 cup cocoa nibs (optional)
“SWEET” TRAIL MIX
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raisins and/or dried cranberries
½ cup. cocoa nibs
These are just suggestions – everyone has their own favorite trail mixes. “Gorp” is the hiking standby, easy to toss down on the move and providing nutrition and much-needed calories, but it sure can get old. We start the day with a container of each kind in our side pouches, so we can alternate as our tastes dictate. Also, salt intake is important in hot weather.
Asterisked items* are dehydrated/freeze dried. I use only organic ingredients, some of which are available at my local co-op but are sometimes cheaper from online sources. I’ve indicated sources I’m currently using (2018), but companies and products come and go. If you’re not fussy about organic, there are likely other sources and better prices.
Mary Jane’s Farm has black beans (3 lbs.) in two versions, both are spiced, but one is hotter. I buy the less hot one as I think too much heat might wear on the taste buds.
Iherb.com sells lots of dehydrated/freeze dried organic foods, fruits, and veggies. I use their mixed vegetables (Karen’s Naturals brand) to add texture to the bean dinner. A 4-ounce bag is about 1 ¾ cups.
Frontier sells mostly herbs and spices. Their dehydrated white cheddar cheese is pricey but fabulous, goes a long way, and doesn’t spoil on the trail.
Vitacost is my source for trail-tough Dr. Krackers, our lunch staple along with peanut butter or a nut-butter mix. You can buy these crackers at a discount provided you order enough to qualify for free shipping. I also get powdered milk from Vitacost (we’d prefer a full-fat version, but cannot find an organic one except from Australia at an exorbitant price), and Raw Revolution Bliss Bars, organic chocolate coconut. (Yes, we know Snickers are the best calories-per-ounce “food” source, but since we avoid refined sugar they’re not an option for us.) I also get dulse, for iodine, from Vitacost.
Chunksofenergy.com sells organic, fruit-based, energy chunks in bulk. The cacao goji are great. They have gluten-free options as well.
Do you have any favorite recipes for the trail? Share them in the comments!