Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Central Oregon Lake Fishing with True Primal Soup

Our second backpacking trip of the season came much later than anticipated because I had a foot injury that took a while to subside. I was feeling the pull of the wilderness stronger than ever as I sat at home, unable to even walk my neighborhood to visit my bird friends around the block. We chose a short backpack to a lake in Central Oregon, unsure of how much my foot was capable of yet. It was about a three mile hike in to the lake and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived that we were the only humans there. We had the whole lake to ourselves for two days and nights and only saw people the morning we were hiking out. A much needed salve for the soul. 

It was a hot, hot day hiking in, so of course we got in the lake as soon as we dropped our packs. We were both expecting freezing water, because the two little creeks we had waded through on the way up were frigid. But the water was warm! Warm enough at least to stay in and swim for quite a while. We brought our Tenkara fishing rods and did some casting around our campsite, but it seemed like there were only small fish near us. It was shallow water, so the bigger fish were probably hanging out elsewhere.

Dinner on our first night was my favorite True Primal Soup - Savory Wedding - and some plantain chips. We also brought Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and spent several hours reading her essays as the light grew dim. I had already read it a few years ago, but it is amazing how a book can speak to you so differently depending on your focus in life at the time. I fell in love with it all over again and I highly recommend it to everyone. 

The moon was almost full and we watched her trace her arc each night from east to west over the water. I felt so blessed to bathe in moonlight on this quiet lake.  

The next day we tried hiking an established trail to the top of the mountain overlooking the lake. "Established" definitely never means maintained, which was the case with this trail. The first mile or so was fine, but then we encountered a few downed lodgepole pines. And then a few more. And more...until the trail was just a series of hurdles. Which was actually very fun. Even though we both practice moving through obstacles and natural environments a lot, it was cool to see how, after even just a few hours of picking and choosing how to step over the logs, we became noticeably much quicker, more graceful, and more fluid with it. I'm always amazed what mindful practice can help you achieve in such a short time.

On the hike we saw lots of interesting things, as usual when you start to look. One was a very large Jeffrey Pine...we think. It is apparently very hard to tell the difference from Ponderosa. They used to be considered the same species, and they occasionally hybridize. This one definitely smelled of vanilla or butterscotch, which some people say only Jeffreys smell this way, but others say Ponderosas will also smell this way. I learned after the trip that you can tell by their cones - "Prickly Ponderosa" has barbs on the cones that point outward and will poke you when you pick them up. "Gentle Jeffrey" has barbs on the cones that point inwards and are therefore less prickly. Here's an article with more information as well as pictures of the cones if you're interested! But the interesting thing about this giant Jeffrey was that it was the ONLY Jeffrey pine we saw anywhere on the entire hike. All the other trees were lodgepole pine or noble fir! We couldn't figure out why it was the only one, and why there weren't young ones anywhere. 

Another fascinating wonder of the natural world we came across was a standing stump that was being excavated by carpenter ants. We crouched down and watched as they shuttled piece after piece of wood out of the center via holes in the side of the trunk, then turned around to go back for more. 

On our way back down the hill, we began to hear some interesting animal noises. Kind of a whining noise, and not something I could place right away. Then I caught a glimpse of the animal making the noise and it looked like a horse, then a cow. Which didn't seem right because this was wilderness area, not range land. I told Max, and he said, "Are you sure it's not elk?" Of course! That's exactly what they were. We weren't very far away from them, but because the forest was so dense we could only see a few at a time. They must have caught our scent because they started stampeding, sounding like a freight train in the forest, and we watched through a gap in the trees as cows, calves, and spikes charged past, one by one, maybe 50 of them or more.

When we got back to camp, we got our fishing rods and walked half way around the lake to where we'd seen two osprey fishing the day before. Within about ten minutes, we'd each caught a fish big enough to keep for dinner. The osprey always know the best spots.

We brought them back to camp and used some left over veggies from lunch, a wild onion we found near our campsite, some butter, and olive oil (yes, we had both) to cook a fish stew. I had forgotten the salt in the car, so it was sadly a little bland, but it was amazing to make this meal from fish we caught just 15 minutes ago. 

I feel so grateful for the fish, for the lake, for the mountain, the osprey, the elk. It's trips like these that heal a deep part of my heart. 




  • Salami Bowls - salami, cheese, red pepper, carrot, apple, avocado, w/ olive oil & mustard
  • Romano beans from the farmers market


  • Trail mix
  • Bars


  • True Primal Savory Wedding Soup (1 pouch each) & plantain chips
  • Fish Stew - fresh-caught trout, wild onion, red pepper, carrot, Romano beans, steamed in water with olive oil & butter; a bag of plantain chips

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

North Umpqua River Trail with True Primal Paleo Soups!

On top of our fridge are a couple of boxes of True Primal soup pouches. This is a very comforting thought to me, because it means that a paleo backpacking trip can be undertaken at the drop of a hat. Dehydrated dinners are great, but they take a lot of forethought and planning. Besides their convenience, another thing I love about these soups is that they're so nourishing. They're made with bone broth, and this is the only pouch or canned soup I have ever seen where the broth is actually gelatinous, meaning that you know it's filled with collagen and amino acids. Since my job has been closed for a couple months now, due to coronavirus, and with the weather getting nicer, backpacking is exactly what I want to do, so we packed some pouches of soup and other staples, like our favorite Morning Glory muffins for breakfast and headed out.

For our first trip of the season, we decided to go hike a section of the 79-mile North Umpqua River Trail in Southern Oregon. Most of the trail runs along the river, which would be amazing, except the road also runs along the river, on the other side. The trail is broken into sections, and for the Dread and Terror section, the road winds away from the river, while the trail still follows it closely. We decided to do the Hot Springs segment and the Dread and Terror segment, which is 16.5 miles in total. Instead of dropping 2 cars, we dropped a bike at Lemolo Lake, then went back to Toketee Trailhead to start the hike.

It was a gorgeous weekend for a hike. Temperatures in Eugene were expected to be in the 80s, and we were happy to be able to escape into the forest to avoid the late-spring/early-summer heat. I know there will be plenty more where that came from, so I can wait. On our drive down, we stopped at The Narrows wayside for lunch. This is a cool little section of the North Umpqua where it is channeled through a carved rock slot, creating a beautiful run of rapids. The rocks along the edge of the river  make a perfect natural movement playground. Unfortunately for me, I somehow kicked a root hard enough to rip a deep flapper of skin off the ball of my big toe (and I wasn't even barefoot yet!) after only a minute or so of being out of the car.

We got a late start to our hike, but the afternoon sun is always beautiful to hike in. We had the trail all to ourselves, and promptly found a dipping spot to wash off the car sweat. The first section of the hike ran through some low lands that are probably flood plains when the river is higher, and found some dandelions to munch on.  It's a really beautiful section of the trail, although when we got closer to the Umpqua Hot Springs, we began to find trash, and loud people with music.

Once we passed that scene, we came to Columnar Falls and Surprise Falls. Columnar Falls is a really unique feature with basalt columns running with sheets of water.

We found our first campsite after a couple extra miles of hiking than we had planned. After you pass the hot springs, the trail officially becomes the "Dread and Terror" section, so named because forest workers back in the day dreaded the idea of having to fight a fire on the steep slopes. So, camping spots are few and far between. We found ours around 7 that first night, and not a moment too soon, we would find out the next day. For dinner we had a couple pouches of True Primal's Beef & Mushroom soup, truly appreciating the convenience of opening a pouch and pouring it into a pot, since we had been hiking longer than we planned to. I really loved the onion, carrot, and mushroom, and it's not an overpowering mushroom flavor (not that I dislike mushrooms, but I know some people do). There are plenty of chunks of grass-fed beef in it, too. As usual when backpacking, we added some grass-fed butter to the soup to make it a little heartier. To accompany the soup, we shared a bag of plantain chips and some chocolate. 

The next morning we packed up and started hiking again, and within a few minutes discovered more intimately why this portion bears such a serious name. Across our path lay several large tree trunks, which we scrambled over pretty easily. Not so bad. This time. For the remaining 11 miles, though, we would encounter many more downed trees, and a few washouts, including a fun little root ball where we had to shimmy through a hole in the roots and pass our packs down the drop. We came across a group of mountain bikers who didn't seem to be as entertained as we were. "Rough," was all they said when we asked them how it was going.

Max hiked almost the whole thing barefoot (probably our rockiest barefoot hike yet). Sadly, although I felt like my feet would normally be up to it, I was only able to hike a few miles the first two days before my wound from the rest stop was bothering me too much. In the mean time, I still managed to kick a hole in the bottom of my other foot as well. This doesn't usually happen to me when I hike barefoot, but to be fair, the name of the trail does warn you that you're in for it. 

We had originally been planning to camp on the river the second night as well, but decided to hike all the way out to Lemolo Lake. Along the second half of the trail, we passed Lemolo Falls, a stunning 165-foot waterfall. The word Lemolo is Chinook for "wild" or "untamed." 

At the lake, we found that the campground was closed (no surprise...COVID), but just near the campground was a private little sandy beach right on the water. And since the campground was closed, there was nobody around. We had an amazing view of Mt. Thielsen to the southeast as we cooked our True Primal Savory Wedding Soup for dinner. Of all the flavors of soup I've had from True Primal yet, I think this one might be my favorite. It has onion, cauliflower, and spinach in it, and grass-fed beef, and a warming, unique flavor that I can't say I've had before. 



Lunch & Snacks:

  • Salami Bowls - salami, avocado, carrot, & red pepper with olive oil, mustard, and salt
  • Trail mix
  • Apples


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cashew Chicken with Yogurt

So a few years ago, Max's mom discovered that you can dehydrate yogurt!! for dinner like curries and things like that. It works amazingly well. A quart of yogurt dehydrates down to about a half cup or so of powder and is the perfect complement to spicy foods, serving the important role of breaking up food monotony on the trail. It tastes a lot tangier than it does when fresh, so it's better for adding to dinners than eating straight for breakfast (at least I think). On a recent trip, I paired it with a Cashew Chicken dish that I made up and it was so good.

Cashew Chicken 
Serves 2

1 small butternut squash

1 cup cashews
1 onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 tsp ground cloves
1 TB ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 TB cumin
2 TB coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup water

3 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 lb ground chicken

1/2 bag frozen peas
1/2 bag frozen spinach
juice of 1 lime

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and place face down on oiled baking tray. Roast about 45 minutes, or until soft.

In a food processor, grind the onions, garlic, ginger, and cashews into a paste.
In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil and cashew paste. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring, until it turns golden brown.
Add the cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and coriander, and stir until well combined.
Stir in coconut milk and water and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a deep pot, heat more coconut oil over medium heat. Add celery and carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add ground chicken and cook until meat is cooked through, stirring and breaking up chunks often.

When squash is done roasting, let it sit until it's cool enough to handle, then scrape out the flesh. Add squash, cashew paste, frozen peas, frozen spinach, and juice of the lime to the chicken pot. Stir to combine. 

Let cool about 20 minutes, then spread on dehydrator trays covered in parchment paper and dehydrate 8-12 hours at 150 F, checking several times during this process to break up clumps and turn over. More dehydrating directions found here

Dehydrated Yogurt
Makes enough for 2 dinners for 2 people

1 quart grass-fed yogurt

Spread yogurt with the back of a spatula on parchment paper-lined dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at low temperature (or use yogurt setting if your dehydrator has one) for 6-8 hours. 
Once dry, use a food processor or spice grinder to grind flakes into a powder (rehydrates better if smaller).

To rehydrate - put powder in a ziplock or bowl and just cover with water. Start with less water because you can always add more. If rehydrating in a ziplock, you can just squish the bag until it starts to rehydrate (kind of takes a while). If doing it in a bowl, use a spoon to mix well.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Smith Rock Climbing Trip & Skout Backcountry Review

It's the end of January, but apparently spring is here in the Northwest. Last weekend Max and I took a trip to Smith Rock State Park to get in some winter climbing, on a 3-day trip which featured both tank top weather and snow as Oregon tries to make up its mind if it should be hot or cold right now. Well, I enjoyed both variations on the weather, and I especially enjoyed the snacks we had along with us. We were out with a friend who is a really strong climber, so we had a rope gun to set routes that we wouldn't normally try ourselves. It was fun to push myself harder than I probably have on other climbing trips, and as a result I was much hungrier.
To the rescue was Skout Backcountry, an Oregon-based company which makes organic and tasty pumpkin seeds and delectable trail bars. Their bars are one of my favorites of all the paleo-friendly bars out there...there's just something about their taste that is unique and satisfying. They use dates and pumpkin seeds as their base, and I appreciate how the date flavor isn't overwhelming like it sometimes can be. I sampled one of each flavor, and my favorite by far was the Peruvian Chocolate (no surprise there, I'm sure...). I was surprised by how much I liked the Washington Apple Cinnamon bar and the Oregon Blueberry Almond bar since I honestly don't usually like bars that don't feature chocolate in some prominent way.
It could have been that we ate them at the top of Wherever I May Roam, a fun 5.9 multi-pitch with unbeatable 360 degree views of the entire park...but either way I think they were pretty darn tasty. They're perfect for a small snack, or an addition to a lunch, with each bar being between 110-150 calories a bar, with about 3g of protein (from pumpkin seeds), and between 20-24g of carbs.
We also thoroughly enjoyed their pumpkin seeds. The Spicy Texas Chili seeds were the perfect mix between spicy and salty (an essential flavor boost to the sometimes bland and monotonous trail food options), but if you prefer sweet and salty, you'll love the Paraguayan Cane Sugar and Cinnamon seeds. They have the perfect crunch to them and are somewhat addicting after a few tiring hours of climbing. I can definitely say my muscles appreciated the pumpkin-powered pick-me-up. Skout is especially near and dear to me since the seeds they use are grown in the Willamette Valley, where I currently live and I think local food can connect you to the land in a really special way.

I told you there was snow!
Day 1

  • Eggs at home


  • Leftovers in the car



  • Homemade Sweet Potato Chili (from our freezer) w/ lots of butter & a bag of plantain chips
  • Theo 85% Dark Chocolate

Day 2

  • Scrambled eggs & meat sticks
  • Salami, cheese, avocado, banana

  • Homemade Sweet Potato Chili (from our freezer) w/ lots of butter & a bag of plantain chips
  • Theo 85% Dark Chocolate

  • Day 3
    • Scrambled eggs & meat sticks
    • Salami, cheese, avocado, banana

    Thursday, November 30, 2017

    Spring Break 2017: 9-Day Menu (Car & Backpacking)

    A post from last spring that I just finished up...
    It’s been seven years since I’ve graduated college and I’m still not ready to give up my spring break. This time of year, when it’s been raining for about five months straight in the PNW, the dry and dust of the desert really call me. Also, Max and I conveniently still have some friends living in Salt Lake who love to adventure. We decided to meet up and do some backpacking, but they weren’t available until later in the week, so Max and I took the Nevada route from Eugene down to Utah and made a stop at Great Basin National Park. There we toured the Lehman Caves. I hadn’t been in a cave since I was little so it was a pretty cool experience. Seeing all of the elaborate stalactites, stalagmites, columns, shields, “cave bacon,” and “cave popcorn,” it was so hard to comprehend just how slowly they all grow. It was also a trip when the guide turned out the lights and the darkness was so heavy it felt like it was pushing on my eyes, and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I was pretty shocked to learn that visitors in the 1800’s would throw parties deep in the caves, with music and food and dancing.

    After the cave tour, we tried our hardest to get up to the Bristlecone Pine trail, but since the road to that trailhead is closed until a little later in the season, we had to start at the Upper Lehman campground, which added 3.6 miles to the trip, most of it post-holing in soft snow. We hadn’t brought snowshoes or even micro-spikes, so it was a laborious 3.6 miles. We made it to the campground but decided to turn around, since the snow had been getting unpassably deep for us without snowshoes.

    My favorite part of the trail was the rose hips we found. We collected some for tea later and nibbled on the bright, sun-warmed red flesh as a little trail treat. They tasted like a fruit roll-up.
    Then we headed to Ibex, Utah for some rock climbing. The first day of climbing outside after a winter of only gym climbing is always humbling. But that’s part of why I climb because the rock can really cut through your ego and teach you some real lessons. Essentially I climbed nothing beyond a V1 the first day, and even failed on some V0’s. The familiar discouragement set in, threatening to ruin the trip for me.

    But the next morning we grabbed our rope and headed up to the Scorpion Slab for some 5.8/5.9 sport climbs. We started to figure out the rock a little more on these climbs, a little more comfortable experimenting with the safety of a rope. The rock in Ibex is quartzite, which I really liked. It took a while to trust my feet, but I finally realized that my shoes were gripping even the tiniest of ledges, and I didn’t have a foot fail the entire time. The sun baked us by noon, so we headed down to siesta in the shade of the boulders for a couple hours and then broke out the crash pads for another afternoon session once the sun had gone behind the cliffs. We chose a boulder that had about eight solid V0’s and V1’s all around and just really enjoyed the routes. It’s true when they say that you have to ignore the grades and just climb.

    The first half of our trip was car camping, so we had the luxury of a cooler. Breakfasts were Soft-Boiled Eggs with Butter & Mustard, a hot dog, and a Morning Glory Muffin. Lunches were various takes on sandwich-style “Bowls” (which are really more like salads without the lettuce). On this trip we alternated between sardines or pepperoni, and added bell pepper, apple, carrot, avocado, and of course mustard. We didn’t bring enough olive oil to use some for lunch, but usually we douse it in some good extra virgin for a little extra fat. We always buy sardines packed in olive oil, so that helped a little, but the pepperoni definitely needed a little something to bring it together. Just to highlight how much we love mustard: we used an entire bottle in the first three days and ran out by Thursday breakfast. That was rough.

    Sunday - Drive from Eugene, OR to Spring Valley, NV
    (meals were mostly a bunch of leftovers or pre-cooked foods we brought in our cooler)
    Breakfast - hard boiled eggs, avocado, yogurt & carrot radiccio salad
    Lunch - grass-fed burgers, steamed carrots with olive oil, green salad
    Dinner - grass-fed meat, onions, and mushrooms cooked in tallow, delicata squash, green salad

    Chicken Pesto Broccoli
    Monday - Great Basin National Park: Lehman Caves, Lehman Creek Trail
    Breakfast - Soft-Boiled Eggs with Butter & Mustard, hot dog, Morning Glory Muffin
    Lunch - Sandwich “Bowls”
    Dinner - Chicken Pesto Broccoli, delicata squash (leftover from home), Theo chocolate

    Tuesday - Bouldering in Ibex, UT
    Breakfast & Lunch - same as above
    Dinner - Salmon-Apple Bake (same as the Onion Apple Tuna Bake, but with salmon), delicata squash, carrot radicchio salad, Theo chocolate

    Wednesday - A few sport climbs and some more bouldering in Ibex
    Breakfast & Lunch - same as above
    Dinner - Salmon Coconut Curry, Theo chocolate

    Thursday - Headed to SLC to meet up with some friends and prep for the second half of our trip
    Breakfast - same as above
    Lunch & Dinner - city food

    The second half of our trip we planned to do a little backpacking in Southern Utah. We had picked out Lower Muley Twist Canyon, but when we showed up at the ranger station to get our permit, the ranger on duty told us that they limit the number of parties in the canyons for each night, and that Lower Muley had already hit the limit of three. But she was really kind and pointed out a few other options for us, and we decided to hike Lower Spring Canyon. Because they limit the number of groups in the canyon per night, we didn’t see or hear a single person once we arrived at our campsite and we felt like we had the canyon to ourselves. We took some time to just lie and soak in the beauty of the sandstone walls, played some cards, ate some delicious food, and watched the bats swoop over our heads in our sleeping bags while we stargazed. The next day, we day-hiked Upper Spring Canyon, then returned to our campsite and moved down canyon for the night. On Sunday, we hiked Lower Spring Canyon. The ranger had told us that we would notice a difference between the upper and lower part of the canyon and she was right. The sharp, straight lines of the deep red Navajo sandstone gave way to the softer, rounder, lighter walls of the lower canyon. Since we started early enough, most of the canyon was in the shade the whole morning. At the very end we had to ford the Fremont River to get back to the road. I love any trip that ends in cold water, so I was thrilled.

    Friday - Backpacking in Capitol Reef National Park: Spring Creek Canyon
    Breakfast - eggs & bacon at our friends’ house before leaving
    Lunch - Sandwich “Bowls”
    Dinner - Cream of Mushroom Chicken Soup, chocolate

    Saturday - Backpacking in Capitol Reef National Park: Spring Creek Canyon
    Breakfast - Living Intentions Superfood Cereal w/ collagen & coconut milk
    Lunch - Sandwich “Bowls”
    Dinner - Beefy Spaghetti Squash 'n' Sauce, chocolate

    Sunday - Backpacking in Capitol Reef National Park: Spring Creek Canyon
    Breakfast & Lunch - same as Saturday
    Dinner - Sausages, salad, sweet potatoes, wine, and chocolate back at our friends’ house in SLC

    Monday - Drive from SLC to EUG
    Breakfast - eggs & bacon at the house
    Lunch/Snacks - sardines & oysters, carrots, apple, avocado, trail mix, plantain chips, sweet potato chips, kombucha

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

    Oregon Elk Hunt & True Primal 100% GRASS-FED! Soup Review: 6-Day Menu

    I never thought I would want to hunt. I always thought of it as just a recreation activity for people who liked to drive trucks, shoot guns, and wear camo. But the more I've tried to learn about ancestral life ways, the more I've realized that hunting is an inseparable part of life. How else would we be able to nourish ourselves from a wild landscape? Foraged berries and leafy greens contribute essential nutrients and are obviously a very important part of a natural diet, but berries and leaves alone will not give us the protein and fat that our bodies have evolved to require. And so I have come to a point in my life where I want to become a huntress. Deciding to become her was the easy part. Learning to become her is much more difficult.
    Most of the hunters I know have grown up hunting. They have been taught by their families, with this knowledge being passed down from many previous generations. Max and I both do not come from hunting families and have very few friends who hunt. Hunting and all the know-how that goes into it is very mysterious to me. How do you find the elk? is the biggest question, but I have many others like, How do you set up so you can get a good shot? How do you read the wind so your scent doesn't give you away? How do you track the elk once they are shot? How do you field dress it? And then there's the matter of being practiced enough with a rifle to take a successful shot. It seems like so many years of knowledge and skill required to make one kill, and I feel discouraged, starting from scratch. A seasoned hunting mentor who lives near us has yet to materialize, so we decided to start on our own this year anyways. We have a friend who has been hunting a couple years and so we planned a trip together to the Umpqua National Forest for Oregon's October elk season.
     This hunting trip required the most sustained energy output I have ever had to give for a trip. Up around 4 or 4:30 every morning, followed by 6-8 miles of tiring cross-country travel with packs, interspersed with hours of sitting still in the cold while glassing across valleys or waiting in a clearing for the chance to glimpse an elusive bull. This was all the energy I could muster on our last day in camp:
    I was exhausted and bone-tired by the end of the five and a half days, and not a single elk was sighted, but I felt like I gained what I had come for. We found a few signs of elk - hoof prints and droppings - and I'm beginning to learn the type of habitat elk like. I made friends with the dark cold mornings, and learned to appreciate sitting in the cold, waiting for the magic of an elk to appear. These elk introduced me, through their absence, to their favorite times of day - dawn and dusk. Never had I so closely watched the coming and going of the days, and without these elk, I might never have done so.
    Like any first time endeavor, this hunting trip surfaced more questions than answers, but it gave me a solid place to start from, on a learning journey that will take a long time. It also helped me decide that I don't want to rifle hunt; I am drawn much more to the backcountry and a bow than roads and rifles. The sound of a rifle, and hours spent at a shooting range to hone the skill is the opposite of the peace and connection I am seeking through learning to be a huntress. I know this will be exponentially more difficult than learning to rifle hunt, but I also feel like I have exponentially more to gain from it.
    Oh yea! And I forgot to mention we saw a PACIFIC GIANT SALAMANDER!!! This is us looking at it, but it fled before anyone could get a picture of it, so you'll just have to take my word. It was giant!
    A notable addition to our camping food pantry on this trip was True Primal's 100% Grass-Fed Beef & Vegetable Soup. I wrote a review on their original soup a while back, but recently they switched over to 100% grass-fed beef, and changed from cans to pouches. As before, I was impressed with the taste and quality. My favorite part is the absence of the "canned soup" know what I'm talking about...even Amy's Kitchen soups have it. And each pouch of fully primal/paleo soup has 24 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 300 calories (more than the previous version). There's a substantial amount of vegetables and meat in each serving, and with some sweet potato chips or a coconut flour biscuit on the side, makes a pretty filling meal. Max, of course, always likes to add a scoop of butter, too.
    I love companies who go the extra mile and try to make their product the best, and I really appreciate True Primal choosing to go with 100% grass-fed beef. I hate having to compromise quality food while out on adventures, and companies like True Primal make it so I don't have to! I also love that they are now pouches. They are easier to cram into a backpack, and the trash is more packable. We love this soup so much, we brought enough pouches along for 3 of our 5 dinners.

    As far as the rest of our food goes...we were in a bit of a time crunch for preparing food, and also discovered last minute that the paleo bread we were trying to bake from Other Foods wouldn't work out because, lo and behold, we don't have a bread pan! So, we had to cut some corners and this isn't a fully paleo menu, but you can easily adapt it to be!

    Food lessons from this trip:
    • Bring more bars!!!! Waking up at 4am means there's a lot more of the day to be eating! 
    • Don't bring breakfast foods (like hard boiled eggs) that require prep at 4 in the morning! Only bring foods you can stuff in your mouth as is. 
    Day 1:
    • roast beef, raw cheese, and mustard on Franz Gluten-Free Bread
    • plantain chips
    • apple
    Homemade Beef & Sweet Potato Chili & Coconut Flour Biscuit
    Day 2:
    • 1 gluten-free blueberry muffin
    • 3 Knee Deep pepperoni beef sticks
    • roast beef, raw cheese, and mustard on Franz Gluten-Free Bread
    • plantain chips
    • apple
    Cooking up a pot of True Primal soup!
    Day 3:
    • roast beef, raw cheese, and mustard on Franz Gluten-Free Bread
    • plantain chips
    • apple
    Day 4:
    • salami, raw cheese, and mustard
    • plantain chips
    • apple
    • trail mix
    Day 5:
    • salami, raw cheese, and mustard
    • plantain chips
    • apple
    • trail mix
    Day 6:
    • Tacos & salad at Falling Sky Brewery in Eugene!!

    Monday, November 6, 2017

    Cream of Mushroom Chicken Soup

    I've been trying to experiment with more dehydrated meals lately and I am particularly excited about this one. It turned out really good and I packed SO many vegetables into it. I've been contemplating a lot lately how we in the civilized world have ended up eating just a few vegetables over and over again. Carrots, onions, celery. Carrots, celery, onion. Onion, celery, carrots. But there are so many other foods out there and each one offers a unique energy for your body to use. So in this meal, I tried to use a wide variety of vegetables. Ideally they would be from the wild because there is so much more energy to be drawn from wild places than from a cultivated garden or farm, but this is what I had available. I used two different types of mushrooms, onions AND leeks, cauliflower, garlic, kale, peas, and sweet potato. I think all the different ingredients also give it a much more complex flavor, something that is essential (and often lacking) in backcountry foods.

    1 TB cooking fat (I think I used lard)
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
    2 cups crimini mushrooms, chopped
    2 large white sweet potatoes, chopped
    1 tsp sea salt
    2 quarts chicken broth

    1 TB cooking fat
    1 large leek, diced
    2 large portobello mushrooms, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 TB dried rosemary
    1 TB dried thyme
    1.5 lb. ground chicken

    1 bunch kale, chopped
    1 bag frozen peas

    In a large soup pot, heat the cooking fat over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, crimini mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and sea salt. Stir to coat with the cooking fat, and cook until veggies begin to get tender.
    Add chicken broth to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
    Simmer veggies in the broth until they are very soft.
    Remove pot from heat and let cool.

    Meanwhile, heat another tablespoon of cooking fat in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add leek and portobello mushrooms and sauté until veggies are tender. Add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Stir for about a minute to release the fragrance, then add ground chicken. Break up the chicken into small pieces with a wooden spoon and cook until chicken is cooked through.
    Once broth and veggie mixture is cool, run it in small batches through the blender to puree (I like to put a towel on top of the blender and hold down to make sure splatters are kept to a minimum).

    Add the blended broth mixture to the cooked leeks, mushrooms, and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer about 20 minutes.
    Towards the end of the cooking time, add the kale and frozen peas. Stir to incorporate and cook until kale is wilted and peas are thawed.
    Remove pot from heat and let cool.

    Dehydrating & rehydrating directions found here.