Monday, December 17, 2012


I just thought of bringing meatballs on trail the other day and I don't know why I didn't think of it before! It's genius: they're small, compact, energy dense and able to withstand a little bit of a beating in a food bag. Also, they're so versatile you can essentially create any taste you wish: Italian, Greek, Thai, you name it, there's probably a meat ball for it. And if all that's not enough, they're usually pretty easy to make; just throw everything into a bowl, mix it up, and make it into balls. A lot of traditional meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs which can either be replaced with ground flaxmeal (like Bob's Red Mill), coconut flour or almond flour, or just omitted altogether (although depending on the recipe, they might not stick together very well). Some of these recipes call for sauces too, in which case it might be more convenient to just make the meatball and not deal with the sauce.

These are the only meatball recipes I've tried so far, and they're both incredible:

Yummy Greek Meatballs - These are some of the most delicious meatballs I've ever had!
Merguez Meatballs - Merguez is a spiced lamb or lamb/beef sausage from North African cuisine, the inspiration for these meatballs.

These are meatballs I've never made before but am really excited to make and test on trail!:

Easy Peasy Paleo Meatballs - This recipes looks very simple and delicious! A basic meatball recipe.
Bourbon & Cider Glazed Turkey Meatballs
Curry Meatballs
Lion's Head Meatballs - Another curry variation.
Breakfast Bacon & Maple Meatballs
Spiced Pork Meatballs
Spunky Coconut's Baked Chicken Meatballs - Nothing coconut about them...just the name.
Bacon Meatballs
Crockpot Sweet Asian Meatballs
Sundried Tomato Meatballs
Czech Meatballs - Pork meatballs with caraway
Italian Meatballs

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nut & Seed Crackers

Last night I tested out three and a half different types of nut and seed crackers and was pleasantly surprised by all of them. My two favorites are the Crunchy Primal Crackers from Mark's Daily Apple and the Rosemary & Sea Salt Flaxseed Crackers from I Breathe...I'm Hungry... 

Today I took some with me when my dad and I did a spectacular snowshoe hike to Kendall Peak Lakes at Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. I ate them with some chorizo, goat milk cheese, parmesan cheese and baby carrots. It was a really satisfying lunch and a great re-energizer after a long hike to the lakes. We only found one of the lakes and it was covered with snow, but the views were incredible! Surrounded on all sides by snow-frosted mountains and hillsides coated with half a foot of fresh powder.

The key to all of these recipes is to roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, getting it AS THIN AS YOU CAN. It really does make a difference. If you roll them too thick they turn out soft and cakey instead of crisp and crunchy. The Crunchy Primal Crackers and the Sunflower Sesame Crackers still taste good even when a little thick, but the Flax Seed Rosemary Crackers definitely benefit from the thinness. 

One: Crunchy Primal Crackers - I think these are even better than real crackers. They have a really nice olive oil and sea salt taste and the dill adds great additional flavor. You can also do a lot of variations on these crackers. Add a half cup of parmesan cheese if you do dairy. Other additions could be onion or garlic powder, sesame seeds, basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme...

Two: Rosemary & Sea Salt Flaxseed Crackers - The dough for these gets really sticky and kind of messy to deal with. Try and get them SUPER wafer thin. Also, she suggests on her website that if you want them extra crispy, turn off your oven when you're done, let it cool down a little bit, and return the crackers on the cookie sheets for another hour to let them dry out more. I recommend doing this. Also, next time I make them I think I might add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, inspired by the Crunchy Primal Crackers. 

Three: Sunflower Sesame Crackers - I could kind of take these or leave these. I added a little salt to the dough in the food processor as well as sprinkling some on top because I thought they would be too bland without. That worked for me, but I still didn't like them as much as the first two. 

Three and a half: Cinnamon Sunflower Sesame Crackers Add a tablespoon of cinnamon to the Sunflower Sesame dough and blend in the food processor. I think I like the original version better, but it is a nice variation.

If you don't have the time to make crackers, White Lion Baking Co. makes paleo crackers from almond flour. They have four flavors: Cheddar & Sea Salt, Chili-Herb, Onion & Dill, and Rosemary & Thyme. With the exception of the Cheddar & Sea Salt, all the crackers are made with grass-fed ghee (the Cheddar & Sea Salt are made with grass-fed butter) so they should still be ok for anyone not eating dairy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TR's Jambalaya

I got this recipe from a fellow field staff of mine who is gluten-intolerant. We like working together because we can trade recipes and I always appreciate the nights he cooks because I don't usually have to make something different than the rest of the staff. This is a simple meal but it relies heavily on fresh vegetables. This isn't a problem for us during work because we get food drops, but if you're looking to keep weight down, you can probably do a similarly delicious meal using dehydrated vegetables that you rehydrate. The spice packet is gluten free, but it does have soy in it. 

1 packet Simply Organic Jambalaya Spice Mix
1/2 cup of water

1-2 TB of your choice of fat
1 cup of chopped veggies (onion, broccoli, red or green pepper, etc.)
1/4 cup of chorizo, chopped
1/4 cup of pepperoni stick, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced

Dissolve the spice packet in the 1/2 cup of water and set aside.
Saute the chopped veggies and meats in whatever fat you choose to use (I usually use coconut oil) until tender.
Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two.
Pour in the liquid spice mix and cook for a few more minutes, allowing the meat and vegetables to absorb the flavors, and to evaporate a little bit of the water so it makes a thicker sauce.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hot Dogs in Soup

This meal is so simple it doesn't really need a recipe, but it's worth mentioning in case you never thought of it! The only paleo "canned" soup I know of is True Primal's Grass-Fed Beef & Vegetable soup, which actually comes in pouches (even more convenient for backpacking!). See my review of their soup here. If you don't mind compromising, then there are other ideas on my post Paleo-Friendly(ish) Canned Soup Round-Up

For the hot dogs, Applegate Farms has a wide variety of organic, grass-fed beef hot dogs, as well as chicken and turkey. I don't know about all of them, but the kind I usually get, the "Great Organic Beef Hot Dog" is fully cooked already, so all it needs is a little heat.

One can of your favorite soup
2-4 grass-fed hot dogs

Open the can of soup and pour it into a pot.
Slice up the hot dogs and add to the soup.
Heat and eat.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Smoked Salmon Coconut Curry

I carry coconut oil in an 8-oz round, wide-mouth Nalgene bottle. Since coconut oil turns solid at moderate temperatures, I just chip out a little bit with my knife and dump it in my pot. They also make 1-, 2-, 4-, 16-, and 32-oz wide-mouth bottles if you want to bring more or less with you. 

 Cooking on the crash pad at a rest camping is the best.
Serves 1
1/2 a large onion
1/2 a large green pepper
coconut oil
1 small 5-oz can organic coconut milk
1 - 2 TB curry paste
smoked salmon (or canned salmon)

Chop the onion and green pepper and saute in coconut oil. Once the veggies are soft and the onions are turning translucent, add the whole can of coconut milk, the curry paste, and the smoked salmon. Continue to heat while stirring to combine the coconut milk and curry paste, and breaking up the smoked salmon into flakes.

Bacon with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions

This meal is simple but very filling. 
Serves 1

3 strips thick-cut, pasture-raised bacon (or more)
1 small Ziploc of baby spinach
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 large mushrooms (such as crimini), sliced (optional)
sea salt & pepper

Cut the bacon into bite-size pieces (I do this before I go on trip and store it in a baggie).
Saute bacon in a small backpacking pot until it starts to give off some fat.
Add the onions and mushrooms and saute until the bacon is cooked and the veggies are soft.
Add the spinach and put the lid on. Let it sit on the fire for a few more minutes to let the spinach wilt.
Remove from heat and stir in spinach.
Season with sea salt and pepper if desired.

Zucchini Chips

As many zucchinis or other summer squash as you want
Olive oil
Sea salt

Slice the zucchini or squash into 1/8 - 1/4-inch slices (the thinner the better).
Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. I use about 1/2 tablespoon per medium-size zucchini. Toss with your hands until all the slices are thoroughly coated with oil.
Lay out on mesh dehydrator trays, leaving a little room between slices. Using a salt shaker, sprinkle each slice individually on one side with a little salt (don't go overboard here, because they shrink down and can become quite salty).
Dehydrate for 2 hours at 145 F, turning once half-way through. Dry until they become leathery and pliable.

Sprinkle with any kind of seasoning you want. Basil, oregano, smoked paprika...anything that sounds good!

Salmon Jerky

1/2 cup gluten-free tamari
1/2 cup water
1 TB minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp hot sauce

1 lb. uncooked skinless boneless salmon fillets

Put all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Slice the fish about 1/4-inch thick. Add to the marinade and stir to mix.
Marinate for 15 minutes or longer.
Oil the mesh dehydrator trays and lay the slices out on them.
Dehydrate for 4 hours at 145 F, flipping the slices once half-way through.
When completely cool, store in Ziploc bags in the fridge or freezer.

*We tried storing this outside of the fridge for a month and it grew mold. It will be fine for the length of your trip, but for extended storage time, use the fridge or freezer.

Maple Salmon Jerky
I've really been enjoying the maple flavor in the Maple-Sage Beef Jerky that I've been making so much lately, I decided to try it out with salmon. The marinade is different than the beef marinade; I traded balsamic vinegar for the apple cider vinegar and left out the sage.

2 TB coconut aminos
2 TB maple syrup
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB water
1 clove garlic, minced or run through a garlic press
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 lb. uncooked skinless boneless salmon fillets

Put all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Slice salmon 1/4-inch thick. Add to marinade and stir with hands to mix well, making sure all pieces are coated well with the marinade.

Grass-Fed Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is one of those foods that just hits the spot when you're working hard and need a quick boost of energy. It's also super dense and you can put it in your pocket when you start hiking for a quick snack later. I have honed my jerky-making technique over the years, and it would be my pleasure to pass on what I know to you.

  • First, and maybe most importantly, marinate for 48 hours if possible! I have found that it really infuses the flavor of the marinade a lot better, and makes for a softer jerky, too. 
  • Second, don't cut the strips too thin (unless you like crispy jerky). About a solid quarter inch makes a good strip. 
  • Third, find a good source of cheap, 100% grass-fed meat if you can. There was a place in Utah I used to get perfect London Broils from for about $5.99 a pound, and I was sad when I moved away, but then I found a similar deal in Eugene! If you live in Eugene, hit up Bartel's Farm retail store off of Bertelsen Rd. 
  • Fourth, if you have little slabs of fat on your piece of meat, trim them off, but still throw them in the marinade, and dehydrate them. They won't keep well, so don't store them with the rest of your jerky, but eat them quickly (especially delicious warm from the dehydrator!). 

My two favorite recipes:

Maple Sage Jerky

Low-Carb Whole30 Compliant Jerky

Simple Jerky

This jerky seems really boring, but properly salted it is actually very good and almost a little too addictive! The key is a lot of high quality sea salt. The first time I tried it I didn't salt it enough and it basically just tasted like dried meat. The next time I put so much on that I thought I was over salting it, and it turned out perfect! I don't know how to quantify the amount because I didn't measure it, so you might have to do some experimenting on your own. This is the easiest, fastest method, and requires no marination time, and also is diet-friendly for almost all elimination diets because it's just meat, salt, and pepper. 

1 lb. very lean round steak or London Broil (100% grass-fed)
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Cut out all visible fat (you can save it for use elsewhere).
Slice the meat into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Lay the strips on the dehydrator trays.
Liberally salt and pepper the strips, then flip them all the salt and pepper the other side.
Dry in the dehydrator for about 6 hours at 155 degrees (F). Check them after 6 hours, and if still moist and raw-seeming in the center, add an hour or two at a time until they're dried.
When cool, store in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator or freezer* until your trip.

Spicy Jerky

1 lb. very lean round steak or London Broil (100% grass-fed)
3 TB gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos
1 TB chili powder
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB white wine (optional - I like it with, my partner likes it without)

Cut out all visible fat (you can save it for use elsewhere).
Slice the meat into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
Mix the other ingredients together in a large shallow baking dish.
Add the meat strips and stir to coat.
Marinate for 24-48 hours.
Oil the mesh dehydrator trays and lay the strips directly on the trays.
Dehydrate for 6 hours at 155 F. Check them after 6 hours, and if still moist and raw-seeming in the center, add an hour or two at a time until they're dried.
When cool, store in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator or freezer* until your trip.

*Although some jerkys from the store can last long periods of time outside of the fridge, they most likely have some preservative added. We tried storing some of this homemade jerky unrefrigerated for a month and it grew mold. It will be fine for the length of your trip, but any extended storage time should probably be spent in the fridge or freezer. We also like to add silica packets (that I collect and save from my pill bottles) which helps keep moisture down.

Maple-Sage Jerky in the making.
Here are some links to other ones that sound great, although I haven't personally tried any of them yet:

Paleo-Friendly Beef Jerky on Brian's Backpacking Blog
Beef Jerky on The Food Lover's Kitchen
A Really Tasty Beef Jerky on Jen's Gone Paleo

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Trail Mixes

Trail mixes are always a great thing to have on hand just to take the edge off your hunger in between meals. I prefer to soak and dry the nuts I use in my mix to make them more digestible. To do this, put the nuts in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let them sit overnight, then put them in the dehydrator on a low setting for about 5 hours, or until they're completely dry when you bite into one. Here is a list of paleo trail mix ideas:
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Dried blueberries
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Banana chips

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are really fun to roast and are great because you can get creative with it and add whatever spices you want. I’ve done cinnamon and sea salt before which was delicious, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with other blends.

One pumpkin 
Sea salt
Olive oil, pasture butter or ghee

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and guts. Put them in a colander. Pick out all the orange guts, leaving just the seeds behind. Rinse well. Allow the seeds to drain for half an hour or so, then spread in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 F to dry out the seeds. Check a couple times and stir so they don't burn. Remove them from the oven, toss with a couple tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter or ghee and whatever spices you want. Return to the greased cookie sheet and spread evenly again. Bake another 20 minutes until they are crisp and golden. Again, check every once in a while, and stir so they don’t burn.

Seasoning Ideas:
  • Sea salt
  • Cinnamon & sea salt
  • Cayenne pepper, thyme, sea salt & pepper
  • Garam masala
  • Chili powder & sea salt
  • Smoked or sweet paprika
  • Garlic salt or garlic powder
  • Cinnamon, allspice, ginger & sea salt
  • Paprika, curry powder, cayenne pepper & sea salt

Greek Moussaka

This recipe is pretty time consuming, but really delicious and has a lot of vegetables in it, which I always miss when I'm on the trail.  

1-2 large eggplants, sliced in ¼ inch rounds
1 bunch kale, chewy lower stems cut off
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
1 pound ground lamb
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
3 eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
olive oil for sautéing
salt and pepper to taste

Salt the eggplant to draw out moisture and prevent slices from soaking up a lot of oil. Put in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, let sit 20-30 minutes until moisture appears on surface. Rinse thoroughly and blot dry.

Pan-fry eggplant in a skillet over medium high heat, turning until both sides are lightly browned.
(Try brushing with olive oil first, then roasting in oven…so you can do more at once)

Boil the kale for 3 minutes.
Puree kale with tomatoes and ½ cup of water.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion and garlic.
Sauté a few minutes then add meat, cinnamon and allspice. Stir, so the meat browns evenly.
After 5 minutes, add dill and tomato mixture.
Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
As the meat cooks, whisk together eggs, yogurt, and nutmeg.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a lightly-oiled baking dish, place a thin layer of eggplant then cover with the meat. Layer the remaining eggplant on top, then the yogurt. Top with additional grated cheese if desired.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the top is set and golden brown. 

Let sit 20 minutes, then spread on dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 150 F for 8-12 hours. Check several times throughout the process to break up clumps and turn over.