Monday, December 9, 2013

Paleo-Friendly(ish) Canned Soup Round-up

Update! There is actually a paleo canned soup now. See post about it here

Having a can of soup in my food bag during the winter at work is such a comfort to me. It ensures I will get a warm, soothing dinner all within about 5 minutes, with minimal preparation. This is essential for those days when everything goes haywire and all of a sudden it's way darker than it was ten minutes ago, and about 20 degrees colder, my fingers aren't functioning, and the last thing I want to do is walk the 50 feet to my backpack to dig out my knife, wrestle with my bottle of coconut oil just to get a couple chips out of it and into my pot, and chop frozen vegetables while my fingertips turn to ice cubes, all while calmly trying to tell the kid who's supposed to be the "stoker" (of the fire) for the day that yes, all the other kids are right, I know you don't want to get up right now, but we do need the fire stoked, even though we're trying to cook on the coals, because it is 18 degrees right now, and yes, they could have said it in a more assertive way, would you like to check in about what you're feeling or give feedback, but first please stoke, but please don't stoke all the way around my pot so that it's engulfed in a fiery furnace and I have no chance of keeping my arm if I try to go in to rescue it. Thank you. Ah! And don't step in my pot of veggies while you do it!

Aaah yes...canned soup. Mmm. 

I have a few favorites floating around out there, but unfortunately none of them are perfect paleo. But read the story above again and you'll agree...I need canned soup. Let me know if you find any perfect paleo ones. (Update! There is now a fully paleo canned soup, which I reviewed on my blog here!Here are my recommendations:

Amy's Soups

  • Organic Chunky Tomato Bisque (contains dairy and sugar)
  • Organic Cream of Tomato Soup (contains dairy and evaporated cane juice)
  • Organic Chunky Vegetable Soup (dairy-free, contains corn)
  • Thai Coconut Soup (contains soy AHHH!! but only teensy tiny pieces and cornstarch)
  • Mushroom Bisque with Porcini Mushrooms (contains arborio rice and dairy) - note, this is different than the "Cream of Mushroom Soup" which contains wheat flour
Max cooking up some Mushroom Bisque with chicken sausage at Zion National Park after climbing Angel's Landing.

Pacific Foods Soups - these come in resealable cartons rather than cans...even easier with no can opener!

  • Organic Creamy Tomato Soup (contains dairy, cane sugar, rice flour)
  • Organic Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (contains dairy, cane sugar, rice flour)
  • Organic Cashew Carrot Ginger Soup (dairy-free, contains cane sugar and corn starch)
  • Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup (contains dairy, corn starch, rice flour, potatoes, natural flavors, canola oil, evaporated cane juice)
  • Thai Sweet Potato Soup (dairy-free, contains corn starch, rice flour, natural flavors)
  • Organic Hearty Tomato Bisque (contains dairy, corn starch, cane sugar)
  • Organic Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque (contains dairy, corn starch, cane sugar)
  • Organic Butternut Squash Bisque (contains dairy, corn starch, cane sugar)
  • Organic Cashew Carrot Ginger Bisque (dairy-free, contains corn starch, cane sugar)
  • Organic Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup (contains dairy, rice starch, rice flour)
  • Organic Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup (contains dairy, rice starch, rice flour)

Since none of these are super-substantial on their own (most are only around 200-300 calories per can), I slice up some salami to eat with them and it makes a nice, balanced at least.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fire-Roasted Apples

A recent exchange with a co-staff on trail:
Me: "Hey, I think your apple's in the fire."
Jesse: "Yea, I put it there."
Me: "Oh. Why would you do that?"
Jesse: "I'm roasting it."

Hmmm...very interesting concept. Literally he just tossed his apple on the hot coals and about an hour later sliced up a perfectly baked, juicy, warm apple to share with us. It tasted just like the baked apples that my mom made in the oven when I was a kid for an after-school snack. No foil required. Just make sure it doesn't get in the flames, and keep turning it to cook it evenly. Dust off the ash and voila! Cozy comfort food.

Oil & Spice Kit Systems

I think that spices are essential on trips. I discovered about a year ago that one reason I sometimes don't feel satisfied with food on trips is not for lack of quantity, but for lack of flavor. I found this out because I really craved mustard all the time while on a Pacific Coast bike tour. Mustard in itself is not a very substantial food source, but it adds a ton of flavor. I used to not bother with spices because it seemed like more of a hassle and took up extra weight and space but I definitely have come to appreciate the value of it. And of course when eating paleo, fats are essential as well. Here are some recommendations for creating an oil & spice kit. I'm not saying you should use everything listed here (I definitely don't). If you did assemble everything from this list, your spice kit might take up half your food bag, so pick and choose the flavors that you crave most on the trail.


I like to use the GSI Outdoors salt & pepper shaker to store spices because you can put two spices in one little bottle. The also have a spice rack that looks pretty convenient, and cheaper than buying 3 separate salt and pepper shakers. Or a spice missile. Anything called a "missile" has to be worth it.

If I had to choose the top spices to have in a spice kit, these would be it:

  • Sea salt
  • Pepper (actually I don't really like pepper but I know most people do)
  • Chili powder - make anything taste like chili in a second
  • Curry powder - ditto for curry
  • Garlic powder or garlic salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Red chili flakes
  • Cayenne pepper

Additional spices that are nice to have if you really like going fancy on the trail:

  • Dill
  • Paprika - smoked or sweet
  • Ground Coriander
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Herbs de provence
  • Cardamom
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground ginger

Pre-packaged spice blends:

These work well if you want to flavor a dish quickly and easily. Simply Organic makes a bunch of different spice packets, although most of them have stuff like maltodextrin, tapioca starch, and/or silicon dioxide. They are tasty and easy but you could also come up with a similar flavor if you have a good spice kit.


The most convenient thing I've found for oils are Nalgene's travel bottles because they are leak proof. The size you get will depend on how much you want to carry based on the length of your trip and how many people you're feeding.  

Coconut Oil
I carry an 8-oz round, widemouth bottle for coconut oil. The wide mouth allows me to chip it out with my knife because coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees F. The 8-oz size easily lasts me for my 8-day shifts with some leftover, even if I'm cooking for other people. They also make 1-, 2-, 4-, 16-, and 32-oz sizes of the wide-mouth, although since the smaller volume bottles are smaller in general, I don't know if the mouths are big enough to get a knife into. Nalgene doesn't actually sell these on their website, but REI carries them or you can order them on The Container Store website. BPA-free. 

Olive Oil
I use Nalgene bottles for olive oil as well. Olive oil stays liquid at lower temperatures than coconut oil so the wide-mouth bottles aren't as essential, but if you're camping at sub-freezing temperatures it's handy to be able to scoop out the solidified olive gel. It does warm up really fast though, so sometimes I'll stick the bottle in my jacket close to my body while I'm doing other stuff and it liquifies pretty quickly. I currently have a 2-oz bottle I use for the olive oil and it's not nearly enough to last me a week, so I might have to get a bigger one soon.

Butter or Ghee
If you're traveling in butter-melting temperatures, you can either melt the butter or ghee and pour it into a wide-mouthed Nalgene travel bottle like the coconut oil, or use one of those snaplock tupperware containers (the plastic not the glass...unless you want to carry the extra weight). You can get small ones that fit a good amount of butter and won't leak if the butter melts. GSI makes a version that holds half a liter and is 3.8"x1.7"x4.9". Snapware makes one that is a little smaller (.3 L). Both of these are BPA-free. There's also a million other brands, so just go look at the store to find one that works for you. If you're traveling in solid-butter temperatures, just throw a stick in a Ziploc. 

Additional Flavors:

Soy Sauce:
Great for making teriyaki-flavored meals, or added to curries for a little extra flavor. Store in a small leak-proof flip-top bottle, or narrow-mouthed leak-proof bottle.

Hot Sauce:
Tapatío, Cholula's, Valentina's! Store the same as soy sauce. Also included in this category as Tabasco sauce (or "Tabby" as the kids affectionately call it as they argue over it). My favorite is the green Tabby, red is too strong for me. 

Curry Paste:
You can get individual curry paste packets at Asian food markets, or just bring the whole little bottle with you. 

Oh man, I don't go anywhere without mustard! I bring the whole bottle too! I go through about one 9-oz. bottle a week of Annie's Organic Dijon Mustard. If you don't want as much as that, you can always rebottle it in a smaller Nalgene. 

I don't use vinegar much (or ever) on the trail, and hadn't actually thought about it until writing this post. If you're a vinegar fiend though, it might be worth it. I might try it...I do love balsamic. 

Toasted Sesame Oil:
A good addition for Asian-flavored dishes. 

Raw Local Honey:
Good for sweetening tea. In colder temperatures it solidifies, so warm in your jacket. 

High-Carb Paleo for Cold Weather Trips

In my last post, I talked about needing more carbs in cold weather than a typical paleo diet provides, and I've come up with some ideas for how to do it in a paleo-friendly way.

Plantain Chips 

Salty, crunchy, and carby. Yum.

Terra Chips 

Same as above, and they make me feel like I'm getting veggies, which can be a struggle on trail.


Cheese seems like the perfect winter food to me...a great mix of fat, protein, and carbs. Find raw and grass-fed if you can.

  • See my post on Garlic Bombs for a delicious winter appetizer to whip up while you're waiting for your meal to cook.

Dried Fruit

Mmmm...I love dried mango, but I rarely eat it because it's pretty darn high in carbs. But I'm going to bring some next week!

  • Try to find kinds without added sugar
  • Add it to trail mix
  • Eat it on its own
  • Make it into energy bars

Energy Bars

  • Larabars use dates as a base and are therefore higher carb than other bars. My favorite is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. 
  • KIND bars are gluten-free, but not strict paleo, since they use rice crisps and peanuts. I normally get the lowest-carb Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, but the Dark Chocolate Cherry and Cashew one is just as delicious and higher in carbs.
  • Or make your own, with a blend of nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, chia seeds, and whatever else sounds good!

Living Intentions Superfood Cereals

I've talked about these before in my 'Nola post. They are sprouted gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free cereals made with buckwheat, which isn't actually a grain, and is not related to wheat. It's a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. Maybe not the MOST paleo thing, but it makes a tasty gluten-free, granola-like cereal while providing a slightly higher dose of carbs. 

Garlic Bombs

I was introduced to this delicious appetizer by a co-staff and they really hit the spot when all you need is a snack to keep you going until your dinner is ready. The raw garlic might turn some of you off, but the cheese really mellows out the bite and it's not quite as intense as you might think. Plus raw garlic is really good for you (it strengthens the immune system and supports the heart) and these little morsels are a tasty way to get it down. 

Hot sauce (such as Tapatío)
Raw garlic cloves

Cut the cheese into approximately 1/2" cubes.
With the point of your knife, dig out a dip in the center of the cube (big enough to hold a couple drops of hot sauce).
Fill the dip with a couple drops of hot sauce.
Set a garlic clove (or half a clove if they're big) on top of each cube.
Toast to strengthened immunity, a happy heart, a hike well done and toss one back!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Carbs in the Cold

So the cold weather has settled in on the field area for my job. Last week brought us a 13-degree (F) morning, 22-degree days, and a constant low-hanging fog that lasted about 7 days, obscuring everything further than 100 yards away. That's the longest I've gone without seeing the sun in Utah.

I felt like the apocalypse was coming, because every day we'd wake up in a cloud, with no sign that it would ever subside. However, on day 9 of the shift, the sun finally made a spectacular appearance and blasted away the fog, leaving us with sweeping views of the Uinta mountains to the north, the rock cliffs to the east and west of us still blanketed in snow, and a beautiful blue sky. The temperature only slightly increased with the arrival of the sun, and then became even more biting with the entrance of the wind that threatened to bring our first big winter storm.

Along with the weather, I've noticed a change in my appetite in the field: I've been craving CARBS. Lots of them. Almost immediately upon arriving in the field, I want what my co-staff are eating: Pop-Tarts (I never even liked these before), mac & cheese, king-size Snickers bars, granola and oats (known in our groups as "G-n-O"), and dense cups of beans and rice ("B-n-R") loaded with sharp cheddar cheese.

As soon as I return home, these cravings are gone. Right now I want to make a big pan of roasted brussels sprouts, devour a huge grass-fed burger with no bun, and snack on leftover stir-fry. I started to think that there had to be some primal answer to why I'm craving carbs when I'm living in the cold, and that I shouldn't ignore them, stubbornly clinging to a low-carb diet in the field. So I sent a question to Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple, and he answered in his "Dear Mark" column. He explains it way better than I could, but essentially he says that yes, we do need to eat more carbs while living in the cold. Hurray! Here's the link to his response!

Now I just need to make sure I can keep them "healthy" carbs and resist the urge to go find gluten-free Pop-Tarts. Stay tuned for a post on carb-dense options that would still fit a paleo diet.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Magic Winter Bars

I just discovered my staple food for this winter when I'm shivering in the field at (hopefully not) -20 degrees and just trying to stay alive while also providing therapy for a group of teenage kids who definitely don't want to be out in the Utah desert in winter. They like it when they're done, I swear. But seriously, the weather does pose a huge problem because 1) you need a lot of fat when you're in the cold 24/8 (our work weeks are 8 days long), and 2) food freezes solid at these temperatures so you can't just bring anything out there and expect to still be able to eat it.

Sooo....these bars are perfect!! They've got almond flour (basically more almond for less space), coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut milk, more shredded coconut, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans or walnuts. How's that for fat? In addition, they have a little bit of honey and chocolate chips in them 'cuz sweetness and chocolate are always welcome in the winter.

My roommate just made these for a cookie party, and they seemed a little bit melty at room temperature. And what happens when you have a job where you sometimes have to think about survival things is that you subconsciously start tuning into things that will help you, well, survive. Like when I see a piece of wood while I'm hiking and I get the urge to pick it up for firewood. Or I spot a good-sized rock and think, "Ooh...too bad our shelter spot's not here...that's the perfect anchor!" So when I saw the bars she had made melting at room temperature, and saw how much fat was going into them, I thought, "That would be the PERFECT winter paleo food!" They need to be cold, and they're fattier than Santa Claus!!

So without further ado, the recipe: Magic Coconut Bars at Simply Living Healthy.

P.S. I'll let you know how I survive the winter.

'Nola - Grain-free Granola!

Granola and oats (or, as we call it at my program, "G-n-O") are a backpacking breakfast staple. Unfortunately, oats are not paleo. Fortunately, granola is easily paleo-fied! Here are a couple different recipes to get you started, but there are endless flavor combinations. I recommend soaking the nuts in salted water overnight, changing the water out once or twice if it's not already part of the recipe. This helps cut out the phytates that are in nuts that can keep you from absorbing nutrients.

Basic Granola from The Primalist
Apple Pie Granola from Multiply Delicious
Vanilla Nut Granola from Five and Spice
Vanilla Almond Granola from Against All Grain
Spiced Pumpkin Granola from Against All Grain (I tried this one this week and it was soo good!)
Chocolate Nut Granola from Paleo Diet Lifestyle

Now, to hydrate, your options will depend on your tripping situation. Car camping? Bring grass-fed raw milk, raw goats milk, or some good grass-fed, whole-milk yogurt and keep it in a cooler. Doing a couple days overnight? Maybe bring a couple small 5.5-oz cans of coconut milk and either split one with your tripping partner, or if you're hiking 30 miles that day, eat it all to yourself.

Extended expedition? The small cans might still work for you, ooor....powdered coconut milk! Apparently it's a thing. It's got two weird things - sodium caseinate and non-GMO maltodextrin - as emulsifiers, but their statement on their website says, "It is scientifically impossible to have pure 100% organic coconut milk powder. As we strive to offer products free of emulsifiers we feel that the benefits of the Coconut Milk Powder outweigh the tiny amounts of emulsifiers in this product. We are working diligently in R&D to remedy this situation."So stay tuned, I guess. And, as you probably already know, you could just use the original Pow-Cow (powdered milk) if you're a dairy-eater.

If you don't have time to make your own granola, a good alternative is Living Intentions' Superfood Cereals. They come in a lot of tasty flavors, like Cacao Crunch (so good), Chia Ginger, Hemp & Greens, and Acai Blueberry. They're made with organic buckwheat sprouts, which are gluten-free, and technically not a grain, but they are still pretty high in carbs. The cereal is sweetened with coconut palm sugar, and have other intriguing add-ins like astragulus extract and reishi mycelium in the Cacao Crunch, spirulina, chlorella, and dandelion leaves in the Hemp and Greens, and bilberries, elderberries, amla berry extract, and camu camu berries in the Acai Blueberry cereal.

I say "intriguing" because I'm not convinced that getting a small dose of these superfoods in a bowl of cereal in the morning is enough to get lasting benefits from them, but they sure won't hurt. The cereal overall is high in carbs (30 grams per 1/2 cup) but if you're doing a lot of work and eating low carb in other meals it's probably just fine.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Salad Theory

This post is not about trail food. It is about my most-craved, first-thing-I-want-off-the-trail food: salad.

Salad and chocolate tie for my two favorite foods, but, while I can easily have chocolate on trail (well...unless it's summer), salad is probably the most impractical trail food you can find - it takes up a lot of space for not that many calories. is a great way to celebrate renewed access to fresh produce when you return to the front country, and to replenish some of the vitamins and nutrients that may have been lacking in your back country menu. And with the right ingredients you can make it substantial enough to be a whole meal in itself.

So, now that you know that salad is one of my two favorite foods, you should also know that I am a salad artist. And, as such, I have a whole theory about making salads. And this theory works; my salads are really good. Ask my boyfriend Max. He said he started dating me for my salad making abilities. Well, maybe he didn't say it like that, but he did say that when we first started dating, he was "really impressed" with how well I could make salads. And then I knew we were supposed to be together because he was really good at making salad dressings, and introduced me to my all-time favorite dressing that comes from his family.

Here it is: my cornerstone work on the theory of salad. I'm not sure if you'll ever meet anyone who has put as much thought into how to make a good salad as I have, so this is lucky for you that you have found this page.


If it is organic and mostly clean I don't wash it because dry lettuce is essential. If it is dirty or non-organic, rinse it really well and then either let it drip dry for a long time, dry it in a salad spinner, or pat it dry with tea towels. Again, it is important that the lettuce be pretty dry (although it doesn't have to be all the way dry) or else all the excess water will dilute the dressing and interfere with the adherence of the dressing to the leaves.


I think herbs are essential to salads. And not in the way most people use them, which is to add a tablespoon or two of chopped leaves. I try to put in at least a quarter cup to a half cup total of different kinds. It sounds like it will be overwhelming, but it's not. The normal amount is underwhelming, so go crazy and enjoy. My favorites are parsley, cilantro, green onions, and basil. If I have all of them, I'll throw them all in.

Dressing Binder:

This isn't a necessary addition, but there are things that I think of as "dressing binders" that help absorb dressing and then stick to the lettuce leaves so you get more dressing in each bite! These things include: grated carrot, grated cheeses, flax seed, and avocado. Not every salad I make has these things, but the better ones do.


Use any kind of dressing you like. My favorites are the vinaigrettes, and I've shared my favorite vinaigrette recipe below. The most important thing about the dressing though is that you must add it to the salad and toss it VERY, VERY well before serving it! Salads are infinitely better if they have been thoroughly tossed with the dressing, rather than serving the vegetable part and the dressing part separately and each person pouring a little spoonful over their salad.


Toss it A LOT. When you think you are done, keep tossing. Make sure everything is coated and then toss again. Believe me, it's important. If you don't believe me, you can do a test: Make two salads, toss one for 15 seconds, and toss the other one for a whole minute and see which one is better.

Basic Ingredients:

Ingredients will vary a lot depending on what's available to you due to the season or what's at the store that day. My basic salad has most or all of these ingredients:

  • Lettuce
  • Baby spinach
  • Grated carrots (if I'm in a rush, I'll just chop them)
  • Chopped red bell pepper
  • Chopped avocado
  • Fresh herbs 
  • Grated cheese


I add these ingredients when I want to make a stick-to-the-ribs salad, which is probably what you'll want when you get off-trail:

  • Flax seed - a couple tablespoons
  • Sunflower seeds - a handful or two
  • Olives
  • Shredded or chopped chicken, pork, beef, or sausage
  • Smoked trout or salmon
  • Chopped nuts: walnuts, almond, macadamias, pistachios
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Sour cream

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

8-day Paleo Backpacking Meal Plan

The last couple weeks in the field I've used the exact same menu and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. I probably will tweak some things pretty soon, but it makes a great starting point for a week-long meal plan.

This plan is best for moderate weather (30 degrees to 70 degrees), otherwise freezing temperatures make some things inconveniently frozen and hot temperatures may spoil things too quickly. Also, I have a couple disclaimers:

1. We don't do a TON of hiking in the field because we have days spent completely on therapy and other things (and the kids can't hike as much as adults with a trip agenda) so I pack my food bag pretty heavy.
2. I am a smaller woman who doesn't consume as much as a larger man would; you might need to take more food than this.
3. We get a food resupply half-way through the 8-day shift which isn't feasible for all 8-day excursions.
4. KIND bars are not 100% paleo, but they are gluten-free, and the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt one has only 5g sugar and 16g carbs, compared with LARABARs, which have almost twice as many carbs and three times as much sugar.

Sooooo...this is intended as an outline, and something that works for me, but you'll probably have to add more food in for an intensive activity schedule, or tinker with some things so your food bag isn't gigantic.

Day 1:

Breakfast - Whatever you want, you're probably not on the trail yet
Lunch - Again, whatever you want, preferably packed with little trash (leftovers in a ziploc or something)
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Dinner - Bacon with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Onions

Day 2:

Breakfast - 2 hard boiled eggs w/ 1 TB olive oil, sea salt & mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - Sardine Salad: 1 tin sardines, a large handful of baby spinach or greens, 1/4 chopped red pepper, 1/8 chopped onion; 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Salami Veggie Saute

Day 3:

Breakfast - 2 hard boiled eggs w/ 1 TB olive oil, sea salt & mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - 1 tin sardines packed in olive oil topped with a couple TB diced onion and 1 TB mustard, 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Salami Veggie Saute

Day 4:

Breakfast - 2 hard boiled eggs w/ 1 TB olive oil, sea salt & mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - Tuna Salad: 1 packet or can of tuna, 1/8 chopped onion, 1/2 chopped apple, 1 TB olive oil, 1 TB mustard, sea salt; 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Smoked Salmon Coconut Curry

Day 5:

Breakfast - 2 oz. grass-fed summer sausage & 2 oz. raw goat cheese topped with mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - Apple Onion Tuna Bake (or Tuna Salad again if no access to fire)
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Sweet Potato, Apple, & Onion Chorizo Bake

Day 6:

Breakfast - 2 oz. grass-fed summer sausage & 2 oz. raw goat cheese topped with mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - 1 tin oysters packed in olive oil topped with a couple TB diced onion and 1 TB mustard, 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Sweet Potato, Apple, & Onion Chorizo Bake

Day 7:

Breakfast - 2 oz. grass-fed summer sausage & 2 oz. raw goat cheese topped with mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - 1 tin sardines packed in olive oil topped with a couple TB diced onion and 1 TB mustard, 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - One pouch Tasty Bites Palak Paneer or Taste of India Palak Paneer; a couple slices of salami

Day 8:

Breakfast - 2 oz. grass-fed summer sausage & 2 oz. raw goat cheese topped with mustard; 1 paleo muffin
Lunch - 1 tin oysters packed in olive oil topped with a couple TB diced onion and 1 TB mustard, 2-3 TB Paleo Cookie Butter
Snacks - one carrot, one Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bar, a few pieces grass-fed beef jerky
Dinner - Hopefully off trail! :)

Food totals:

6 hard boiled eggs
8 oz. grass-fed summer sausage
8 oz. raw goat cheese
7 paleo muffins

6 oz. olive oil
8 oz. mustard
8 oz. coconut oil
1-2 TB curry paste
1 5-oz. can coconut milk
sea salt

2 cups Paleo Cookie Butter in a locking tupperware
2 tins oysters packed in olive oil
3 tins sardines packed in olive oil
2 packets or cans of tuna

3 large onions
3 red peppers
1 green pepper
1 bag baby spinach
1 sweet potato
1 apple
8 large mushrooms
2 small spears broccoli
8 carrots

8 Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt KIND bars
one pint-sized Ziploc bag of grass-fed beef jerky

3 slices thick-cut pastured bacon
1 log salami
1 log chorizo
1 packet smoked salmon

1 packet Tasty Bites or Taste of India Palak Paneer

Emergency food (this is extra food I bring for the days I'm more hungry than I thought I would be. They aren't planned out for a certain time or day, so I just eat them when I feel like I haven't gotten enough at a meal):
2 extra KIND bars
2 extra paleo muffins
2 extra carrots

Monday, July 29, 2013

Paleo Cookie Butter

Nut butters are an obvious choice for sustained energy because they're densely packed with fat and protein. However, nuts aren't the best food to consume in large quantities because of their phytic acid (see this article for an explanation), and unfortunately it's easy to overdo it when consuming nut butters.

A solution I've found was inspired by Nora Gedgaudas's Nut Ball Snackers. The idea is basically to blend nut butters with pastured cow butter and some other things like shredded, unsweetened coconut and chia seeds to dilute the nuts and add a healthy dose of fat from another source. I store mine in a small snap-lock plastic tupperware and eat spoonfuls of it at a time or dip carrots or apple slices in it. It fills me up and keeps me going for a LOONG time.

I think this recipe (at least when made with sunflower seed butter) tastes a bit like cookie dough, but even more buttery. This recipe has undergone a couple name changes, each of them not that great (originally "Nut Butter Butter" - yes, that's two "butters" - and the equally exciting "Coconut Nut Butter") I have now renamed it to a more fitting description of the delicious sweet butteriness it truly is!

2 cups nut or seed butter (my favorite to use is sunflower seed butter)
1 lb. pastured butter
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chia seeds or sesame seeds
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Throw it all in a food processor or blender and blend away!

*A note on packing - just like real butter, this cookie butter has no qualms about melting all over your backpack in the heat. So I recommend either packing it in a snap-lock tupperware, or using a Ziplock bag around the tupperware it's in. Or if you just put it in a Ziplock to start, double-bag it. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sweet Potato, Apple, & Onion Chorizo Bake

I love the combination of sweet, savory, and smoky in this meal. It's very filling and satisfying. I even cook it at home sometimes it's that good. The key to cooking it quickly on trail is to dice the sweet potato really small (1/4-inch pieces) so they cook more quickly. The onion and apple can be chopped normally, but sweet potatoes take forever, so put in the extra effort to get them really small and your meal will be ready quicker.

2 TB coconut oil
1/2 large apple (I prefer Fuji), chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 large sweet potato, diced small
1/4 log chorizo, chopped
sea salt

Heat the coconut oil in a pot until it's liquid. Add the apple, onion, sweet potato, and chorizo. I like to put the apple and onion on the bottom since they have more moisture and won't burn as easily as the sweet potato. Stir to coat with the oil. Add about a half cup of water, then cook with a lid on, stirring often so it doesn't burn. You may have to add a couple more tablespoons of water if it looks like it is getting dry. This meal burns quickly so I usually err on the side of more water. Even if there's leftover water at the end, it's still good. If you can, cook on low heat, or in a bed of coals. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the sweet potatoes to get soft. Once everything is cooked through and a little caramelized, remove from the heat, and season liberally with sea salt.

Salami Veggie Saute

I never get tired of this meal. It's so nice to have a fresh veggie saute with a healthy amount of salami at the end of the day. I go to bed feeling really good and it's very simple and quick to prepare.

2 TB coconut oil
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
4-6 mushrooms, chopped
1 small spear broccoli, chopped
large handful baby spinach leaves
1/4 log salami, chopped
sea salt

Heat the coconut oil in a pot. Add all the chopped veggies (excluding the spinach), as well as the salami and saute until the veggies are soft. Stir frequently so it doesn't burn. If you're cooking over a high, unadjustable heat like a Whisperlite, or a really hot fire, add a couple tablespoons of water half way through to make sure it doesn't burn. In the last few minutes of sautéing, take the pot off the heat, add the spinach leaves, and return to the heat for another minute or so. Remove from heat and stir in the spinach leaves, which will have steamed by this point. Season liberally with sea salt.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Meat & Muffin Combo

My favorite breakfast on the trail lately has been what I'll call the "Meat-and-Muffin Combo." Essentially, it is just that: meat and some muffin. I've been having hot dogs for breakfast instead of dinner the last couple weeks, and they're really good roasted over the fire in the morning. I'll eat 2 Applegate Farms Grass-Fed Hot Dogs, and half of a Wild Blueberry Flax4Life muffin. I know those aren't really paleo, but I've been short on time lately and haven't been able to experiment with making my own paleo muffins. They're pretty high carb, which is why I only eat half at a time. With two hot dogs, I still feel balanced after breakfast and I have plenty of energy through lunch time. 
Enjoying a glorious morning with a Morning Glory muffin, my go-to breakfast. 
In Northeastern Utah, we are quickly leaving the deep-freeze months where I didn't worry about any of my food spoiling (the days never reached above freezing for weeks at a time) and entering what my co-guides have called "food poisoning season." So I'm starting to rethink the hot dogs part of the combo and looking into other forms of meat. Possibilities could be: 
  • grass-fed beef jerky
  • summer sausage
  • smoked salmon (expensive to eat for 8 mornings every other week)
  • pepperoni sticks
  • pemmican
  • salami (already eat this for lunch and dinner a lot...)
  • sardines (also eat this for lunch every day...)
As for the muffins, if you're in a time pinch, I would recommend the Flax4Life muffins. The Wild Blueberry ones are the lowest carb at 20g per half muffin. They're not perfect (the third ingredient is evaporated cane juice, and they use oats, safflower oil, soy lecithin, and "natural" blueberry flavoring, but they require no prep and are at least gluten-free). This week I had enough time to make my own, so I made these Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins. They turned out really good and have considerably less carbs per muffin (9g per one muffin, versus 20 g per half muffin). I'm going to take them on trail and see how they hold up*. 

Here are some others I tried, with calorie & carb info:
  • Morning Glory Muffins - My go-to muffin. It's an involved recipe, but they're a pretty good meal on their own and worth the work. (For 12 muffins per batch: 225 calories, 12.5 carbs)
  • Carrot Raisin Everything Muffins - Very dense and SUPER tasty! (For 18 muffins per batch: 198 calories, 17.5 carbs)
  • Paleo "Cornbread" Muffins - Also dense, and they do taste slightly reminiscent of cornbread. They turn out pretty small though. (For 6 muffins per batch: 148 calories, 9.3 carbs)
  • Lemon Chia Seed Muffins - HOLY COW! These are SO good. They're a similar density to the "cornbread" muffins, and taste like sunshine. Seriously. Try them. 
Here's a list of others I would like to try!
*Update: I took the Coconut Pumpkin muffins out on one of my 8-day shifts, and kept them in a locking plastic tupperware (not super space-economical, but I was worried about them getting squished in a Ziploc...and I really don't care very much about how much room my food bag takes up because it's worth being able to eat paleo on trail and not have gut-bending G-n-O (granola and oats) for breakfast every morning). The verdict: They started to condensate inside the tupperware on the second day (they're pretty moist muffins) and I was worried about them molding by the 8th morning, but they didn't. As a temperature gauge, we were in the 60's during the day and high 30's at night. I'll probably have to figure something else out once we get up to the 90's but at these temps, the muffins were fine.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Onion Apple Tuna Bake

This is a delicious, simple, 4-ingredient lunch, although it takes a little time to cook so it might be best for rest days or short, leisurely days. And again, it requires fresh ingredients which makes the pack a little heavier. But the sweet and savory taste of this dish makes it worth it for me to tote around heavy food (it only makes you stronger anyways, right?). I think this dish is best slow-cooked in a bed of coals but can easily be done on a stove as well. I'll make this on trail when we have time for in-camp lunches, nestling my pot in our ever-present giant coal-and-ash pit and waiting about 20 minutes until the apples and onions have softened and all the flavors meld. You can use salmon instead of tuna for an equally tasty meal.

Coconut oil
Half an onion, chopped
Half an apple, chopped
One packet or can of tuna (or salmon)
Sea salt

Put lots of coconut oil in a pot (a couple tablespoons - this is where you're getting most of the calories in this meal since none of the other ingredients are particularly calorie-dense) and heat it until it melts.
Add the onion and apple and sauté, stirring for about 5 minutes.
Add the tuna (or salmon), and mix well.
Cover and nestle in a coal pit. Leave for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every once in a while if you can (not necessary). If you're using a stove, turn the heat down (as much as you can) and continue stirring until it is cooked to your liking.
Season with sea salt.

Hot Dogs

Grass-fed hot dogs roasted on a fire in the morning are one of my preferred breakfasts. I'll have two dogs, some flax and almond crackers, and maybe some sliced cucumber (if it's not sub-freezing in the field) and that will hold me for quite a while. If you don't have a fire, you can put a little water in a pot and boil them. I get Applegate Farms hot dogs which are already cooked, so you don't need to worry about cooking them all the way through, which is nice. Also they have never gotten too frozen that I can't stick a sturdy whittled roasting stick through them, so that's a plus when camping in sub-freezing temperatures.