Friday, December 18, 2015

Silver Falls Hike & True Primal Soup Review

Well, here in Western Oregon, unrelenting rain, high winds, and a mysterious lingering illness in Max's respiratory system have kept us from getting out for longer than a day hike, but we found the best day hike we possibly could! This Wednesday we went to Silver Falls State Park, outside of Salem, Oregon to hike the Trail of Ten Falls, a 7-ish mile hike through a canyon where you guessed it!...ten waterfalls.
Looking out from the eye of the earth
This is one of the most unique areas I have visited for a couple different reasons. First of all, the trail winds behind three of the falls, giving you the opportunity to stand behind a thundering curtain of water. We went in the midst of a two-week rainy spell (I'm from the Northwest originally, and even I thought it was a LOOOOT of rain) and these waterfalls were at their finest. The North Falls were my favorite. The giant rock cave that you walk through behind the falls is eye-shaped, so when you stand behind the waterfall looking down-valley, you have the erie feeling that you are looking out from the eye of the earth. Second, this place is so unique because of how big all of the waterfalls are, and how concentrated they are in one area. Many of the falls are over 100 feet, and you can see them all in under 8 miles.

And of course, it was raining all day, but we're really glad we went. We were also really glad that we brought some True Primal Soup with us to test out for lunch! It was a little extra work to light up the stove just for a day hike, but with how cold and wet we were, we really appreciated it. Some of you may have already read my Paleo-Friendly(ish) Canned Soup Round-up, where I lamented the fact that there wasn't actually a true paleo canned soup. But my prayers were answered! True Primal has created the first canned soup that follows all the Paleo "rules," all the way down to no preservatives, fillers, or flavors, which I think is the hardest thing to find.

The most remarkable thing about this paleo/primal canned soup is that it doesn't have the "canned" soup taste to it, which I find even Amy's Soups have. Probably because they don't use any of the things I just mentioned. It tasted like something I cooked in my own kitchen. Also super convenient is the pull-tab lid, just in case you forget your can opener, which is highly probable. Max and I were a little skeptical looking at the nutrient profile, since each can has only 270 calories, and 20 grams of protein (way better already than most canned soups, but not that much for a hungry hiker). We remedied this by adding hefty amounts of butter, but with that as the only addition, one can each filled us up for lunch and kept us going until the end of the hike.
True Primal Beef & Vegetable Soup
They only have one flavor right now, Beef and Vegetable, but I hope they will come out with more flavors soon! And I think the best part is, they are reasonably priced! You do have to buy a 12-pack through Amazon since individual cans are not available yet, but it works out to about $3.60 a can which is very comparable to Amy's canned soups. I will definitely be buying these for future trips!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Want More Paleo Backpacking Meals? Support Heather's Choice Kickstarter!

I recently found out about Heather's Choice Meals for Adventuring, and I am so excited these are available! Heather is an evolutionary sports nutritionist and she has crafted these meals to be optimal for an active outdoor lifestyle. In addition, she only uses sustainably sourced 100% grass-fed meat, and wild-caught fish, and all meals are gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free. I will be testing them and reviewing them soon on the blog, but in the meantime, check out her website, and if you're as impressed as I am, consider pledging to her Kickstarter!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Canyoneering the Swell: 4-day Menu

I just found this unpublished post! I wrote it all up and then was waiting for pictures from Max. Awesome trip, awesome food.

A couple weeks ago Max and I did a four day trip to the San Rafael Swell in Southern Utah to do a little canyoneering before we move back to Washington and leave the land of canyons behind. We hiked Wild Horse Canyon, Crack Canyon, and Lower Baptist Draw in the Temple Mountain area. All three were gorgeous hikes and Lower Baptist even offered us a little rappelling. We finished off the trip with a short day of bouldering at Big Bend outside Moab. This is some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen; the Reef itself is spectacular to look at, especially in the evening spring light. This was a car-camping trip, so this menu is more suited to cooler-toting folk. And I'm still not eating dairy or nuts, so hurrah if you aren't either. This one's for you.

Tuesday - Wild Horse Canyon

Wild Horse Canyon

  • Eggs & bacon (at home)
Morning Snack
  • 1 grass-fed pepperoni stick
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5 olives
  • 1/2 bag plantain chips
Afternoon Snack
  • 1/2 bag plantain chips
  • couple kale chips
  • olives
  • 1 stick celery
  • couple sips of wine
Cooking up some bacon, mushroom, spinach, and onion for dinner

Wednesday - Crack Canyon

Crack Canyon

Breakfast bacon, and in the background, our homemade
rocket stove
  •  Eggs & bacon
  • olives
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
Morning Snack
  • tin of oysters
  • couple kale chips
  • couple spoonfuls coconut butter
  • 1/8 log salami w/ mustard
  • 1/2 a sweet potato (baked at home)
  • some leftover spinach stems removed from dinner the night before
Afternoon Snack
  • 1/2 an apple
  • 2 oz. grass-fed summer sausage
  • olives
  • 1/2 a carrot
  • couple sips of wine
  • 1 15-oz. can coconut milk, 1 15-oz. can salmon, 1 bag organic frozen veggies, 1 green bell pepper, chopped, and plenty of coconut oil all cooked together until melded (it was going to be curry, but I forgot the curry paste...)

Thursday - Lower Baptist Draw

Lower Baptist Draw

  • Eggs & bacon
  • 1/4 cucumber
Morning Snacks
  • 1 bag plantain chips
  • 5 slices salami
  • 1/2 an apple
  • 1/4 log of salami
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 can coconut water
  • some kale chips
  • olives
  • couple sips wine

Friday - Bouldering in Big Bend

  • 1/4 lb. pork sausage
  • 2 eggs scrambled in coconut oil
  • 1 large carrot
Morning Snacks
  • 10 slices salami
  • couple spoonfuls coconut butter
  • 1 tin oysters
  • 1/2 a cucumber
Afternoon Snack
  • olives
  • 1/2 a sweet potato (cooked at home)
  • 1/2 an apple
  • Bison burgers at a friend's house in Moab!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kayak Circumnav of Orcas Island: 3.5-day Menu

Point Doughty, and behind me to the left, Sucia Island

The San Juan Islands are my favorite place in the world. That is not an exaggeration. In college I somehow got the idea that I wanted to be a camp counselor...I'm not really sure how or why, because I had only been to camp a couple of times as a kid and I was homesick for most of it! At the time, I could never have known that it would change my world forever. I applied to several different camps and, not knowing anything about any of them, I chose YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island (click here to donate for scholarship funds for kids! I can personally testify that they give kids such an amazing summer!). I didn't know why then, but I was just drawn to it. Now I know why I was...

The San Juans have world class sunsets

During trainings, our directors talked about creating "camp magic" for the campers, which might seem like it's just for the kids, but as an adult, I can honestly say that Orkila is one of the most magical places I have ever been to myself. And I got to spend four whole summers there. Now I get homesick for Orcas.

Which is why I wanted to return for a kayak adventure! So Max and I loaded up our truck and took off for North Beach to launch a 3 and a half-day circumnavigation of Orcas Island, including stops at two of my favorite places - Jones Island and Point Doughty. After the trip notes is the menu for the trip, and (I think) this is a good one! Max and I both commented in the middle of the trip how we felt so well-fed! The only thing I didn't like that much were my breakfasts....that one's a toughy since I haven't been eating eggs, dairy, or nightshades, so my normal paleo breakfasts (the fabulous Meat & Muffin Combo) were out.

The Trip

Lunch break on a small strip of beach

Day 1: North Beach to Doe Island
Campsite on Doe Island
We started at North Beach, the northernmost point of Orcas that looks out on Sucia Island, arguably my favorite San Juan I've been on. I'd led kayak trips for Orkila around the more sheltered western side of the island, but had never been on the more open east side and was excited to see it. We had dark skies, but calm weather as we paddled down the coast. Towards the end of the afternoon, the wind picked up and we decided to cut the day short, stopping at tiny Doe Island instead of Obstruction Pass like we had planned. This turned out to be a great decision, because we had all of Doe Island to ourselves! There are only 3 or 4 campsites on the whole island, and you can walk all around it in about 10 minutes. As the sun came out to warm our tired bodies, we were glad we hadn't made it to Obstruction, which is nestled in a grove of trees.

Day 2: Doe Island to Jones Island

The next day, the water was looking chooooppyyyy.....but nothing too dangerous, so we paddled around the corner to Obstruction Pass and continued across East Sound. We had to use a lot of mental concentration to watch the waves as they peppered our boats. None of them were very big, but it does only take one wave... Since we'd cut yesterday short, we had a longer day ahead of us to Jones Island off the southwest tip of Orcas. Once we got past East Sound, we were on the more sheltered side of Orcas, and could relax a little. Also, the sun started coming out again which always boosts the spirits. We stopped at another of my favorite places (you may have noticed that they're all my favorites), Blind Island, for lunch. Then we paddled through the Yellow Islands, and got our hopes up several times, thinking we spotted Jones, only to realize Jones must be the next island. Oops, not that one, the next one. And so on. But once we finally made it to our destination, it was an amazing evening. A beautiful sunset, AND an orca sighting! With a baby orca!!! And then to top it all off, we woke up in the middle of the night to go pee, and Venus was out so bright, and bigger than I had ever seen it. There was some serious angular size to it, not just a pinprick. Max didn't share my enthusiasm.

Me: "Oh my gosh, Max! Do you see that!!?? Is that Venus?? It is SO BIG! Holy cow! It's like a quarter the size of the moon! I've NEVER seen it like that!!!"
Max (in monotone voice): "Yea. It's really bright." (Goes back in tent)

Day 3: Jones Island to Point Doughty

In the morning, we packed up for the last full day of our trip, and crossed back to the Orcas coastline to contour up to Point Doughty. We caught a serious current and made the 6 mile paddle in just a couple hours, then had the rest of the day to lounge around on the beach, read, nap, and water gaze. Of course this was the one night we decided to leave our rain fly off our tent, and predictably, had to wake up around 2 in the morning to put it on as the uninvited rain drops came splashing through our mesh ceiling.

Day 4: Point Doughty to North Beach

The rain continued through the morning as we finished our circumnavigation to North Beach, giving us a final treat as we paddled in silence. As we watched the tiny beads of rain drop into the ocean, they would sit on the surface for a moment, the fresh water droplets battling with the salt water giantess, then finally succumbing to the sea's pull, disappearing in a circle of tiny ripples. This is the kind of magic that the San Juans always seem to unlock as I wander through the maze of islands, sometimes on land, sometimes on water, and once you find this magic, you must always return.

The Food

Food we took on the trip - the block of cheese was Max's...I thought I would end up eating some but I was so full from all the other stuff I never needed it! Dehydrated dinners not in picture. 


  • 1/2 a carton of So Delicious "culinary coconut milk" (turned out to be more like coconut cream - would not get this one again! I had to squeeze the box just to get it out! I got a little nauseous from the texture I think...but it sure filled me up! Next time I'm going to use Aroy-D...I've already taste-tested it, and it is SO amazing! It is the only coconut milk I know of that doesn't use thickeners like guar gum or carageenan, and it wasn't separated when I opened the carton, had a consistency more like real milk, and tasted better than other ones I've tried! It also comes in a convenient carton that can be cut open with a knife, and squashed flat when finished.)
  • 1 Epic Bar
  • 1/3 bag of Go Raw! Zesty Pizza Flax Snax


  • 1 tin oysters
  • couple handfuls Terra chips (we bought 3 bags and then repackaged them in a big Ziploc)
  • 1 Bubbies naturally fermented pickle (repackaged some pickles w/ juice in a snap-lock plastic tupperware container - the pickle juice is a great pick-me up, too!)
  • 1 raw carrot
  • 3 or 4 Bacchanalian Banana Bars
  • sea salted macadamia nuts (took 2 packages of Mauna Loa macadamias)



The "Sausage Scramble" mystery meal
  • 1st night: Something from our freezer labeled "Sausage Scramble" (?!) that neither of us remember making, and it did not appear to have eggs in it, like the name would imply. It essentially seemed like a bunch of pork sausage cooked with some onions. Very tasty, though! We had a pint-sized Ziploc full of it, and it filled us both up for dinner! There was a bit of a scare when I thought I had accidentally cooked in a silica packet that we sometimes use to reduce moisture. I couldn't remember if I had put one in the pouch, and there was no sign of it after cooking, so we didn't know if it was dissolved in there or not. We ate it anyways. Hungry kayakers. You understand. 
  • 2nd & 3rd nights: Greek Moussaka YUM!!! Truly gourmet! Again, about a pint-sized Ziploc, almost full to feed the both of us. 


  • Theo Dark Chocolate & Ginger bar

Totals (for one person):

(Max and I eat slightly differently, but share some things, so this is as simple as I could make the list. This is the list of food that I ate on the trip.)
  • 3 cartons So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk (these were shared between 2 people)
  • 3 Epic bars
  • 1 package Zesty Pizza Flax Snax
  • 3 tins of oysters
  • 3 bags of Terra Chips
  • 3 pickles
  • 3 raw carrots
  • 12 banana bars
  • 2 packages macadamia nuts
  • 2 cups trail mix
  • 1/2 pint Ziploc of beef jerky
  • 1 coconut water
  • 1 pint Ziploc of "Sausage Scramble"??? (shared between 2 people)
  • 2 pint Ziplocs of Greek Moussaka (shared between 2 people)
  • 1 Theo Dark Chocolate & Ginger bar (shared between 2 people)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bacchanalian Banana Bars

What are Bacchnalian Banana Bars you ask? Well. This post comes with a little vocab lesson. I modified this recipe from a non-paleo recipe and they turned out GREAT!! They're small, dense, and  delighted everyone I tried them on. I field-tested them on a kayak trip and they passed with flying colors. Then I sat down to write the post and all I could come up with for the name was "Banana Bars." I've got to sell them better than that. After an unsuccessful attempt with Max at naming them, ("banana breads," "banana bread bars," "bananner bars," etc.) Max suggested I look on for adjectives starting with "b." Here, I found the word "bacchanalian." I loved the sound of the word, and when I clicked on it to see the definition, it showed "used of riotously drunken merrymaking." Perfect! These bars are so good they'll make you want to have a night of riotously drunken merrymaking! they're not that good, but the other options were even less true (barbecued, barefoot, barebacked, baritone, basaltic, bipartisan, bloodthirsty, bloodsucking, bluish, burlesque, burglarproof...and the list goes on...Not exactly names that will help sell these little gems, although it was fun to imagine these bars as being all these things). With that being said, I hope I sold them to you...but I'll probably just call them Banana Bars.

Bacchanalian Banana Bars

3 ripe bananas, peeled and chunked
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mash the bananas in a bowl.

Thoroughly mix in the nut butter.

Add the coconut flour and cinnamon and mix well. Make sure that the dough is not too sticky (when you tap it with your finger, none of the dough should come off onto your finger). If it is still sticky, add coconut flour in increments of 1/4 cup until it is more dry.

Scoop the dough into the middle of a large piece of parchment or wax paper and form the dough into a long rectangle.

Wrap the dough in the parchment or wax paper.

Chill 4-6 hours until set.

Slice gently with a serrated knife (dough will still be quite squishy, so it's important to work delicately here)

If using almond butter: place on dehydrating trays and dehydrate for 6 hours at 145 degrees F.
Check after 6 hours, and if they are still moist, add more time.

If using peanut butter: place on dehydrating trays and dehydrate for 10 hours at 145 degrees F.
Check after 10 hours, and if they are still moist, add more time.