STAY FUELED ON THE TRAIL
1. Mindful Planning
Digestibility is important when choosing fuel because many foods take large amounts of energy to digest. Net gain refers to the useable nutrition the body is left with once the food is digested and assimilated. Proper plant-based nutrition will provide you with a solid eating plan loaded with foods that are high in net gain.
For carbohydrates, the best fuel comes from non-starchy, real, whole foods (sprouted seeds, raw nuts, fresh fruit, nutrient dense smoothies). Have a balance of low and high glycemic sugars so that you don’t experience a spike or crash in your energy level. Stevia contains no carbs and has no effect on the body’s insulin levels when ingested. Stevia is about 30 times sweeter than sugar.
2. Steady Nourishment
Your main objective throughout your day of hiking is to never become hungry or thirsty. Always fuel the fire with a nutrient dense snack in their unrefined, unprocessed, whole, natural forms that are easy to digest. Great vegan choices include:
a. Raw nuts & seeds. Buckwheat is a seed, contains no wheat and has amino acids, manganese, vitamin B, vitamin E and calcium. Flaxseed has the highest level of Omega-3 in the plant kingdom.
Hemp Seeds. As a backpacker, what you put in your body will either fuel you or fail you. Hemp keeps our energy levels high, is nutrient-dense, digests with ease, uses minimal energy to digest and keeps our blood sugar stabilized. They’re light to pack and a fun addition to include in every meal. An ancient food, it’s an eco-friendly crop as it is naturally pest-resistant, grows fast and close together and therefore doesn’t require herbicides. This superseed has a sesame seed-like appearance with a soft texture and a nutty flavor similar to a sunflower seed. They contain bioavailable complete protein (all essential amino acids), both soluble and insoluble fiber and an excellent plant source of omega 3 fatty acid, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc.
Hemp Seeds On The Trail: Easy Access: Keep a bag of hemp seeds in the hip pocket of your hip belt for go-to fuel and nourishment.
In Every Meal: Hemp seeds are easy to add to everything you eat – whether it’s in a wrap, oatmeal, a smoothie, or rice.
b. Healthy fats (flaxseed/hemp/coconut/pumpkin seed/olive oils)
c. Fruits (dried and fresh)
d. Energy Bars – look for healthy vegan options such as: Simple ingredients (Pure Bar, Larabar, Cliff Bars), Macronutrient profile (Zing Bars, Vega Energy Bars), Superfood ingredients (Keen-Wah Decadence, Rise Bars). Hammer Bar from Hammer Nutrition is organic, 100% raw, vegan, gluten free, and tastes wonderful. A favourite is the cashew coconut chocolate chip.
3. Hydration coupled with electrolyte balance keeps blood flowing while delivering nutrients to vital organs and muscle. Easy-to-pack electrolytes include: Bananas, sea salt and coconut water. Individually packed replenishers to try: Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator (4. 2 gram packs and different flavours) or Ultima Replenisher (4.3 gram packs and different flavours)
4. Recovery. Eating something first with a liquid consistency is best. Fuel with foods including the following profile, simple + complex carbs, electrolytes, some protein, small amount of healthy fat.
Trail Mix Bars
Super Glorious Gorp
Dried Apples and Apple Crisps
Nothing provides a good pick-me-up any time of year like homemade energy bars. Packed with nuts, dried fruit and maple syrup, these energy bars will provide you with good, healthy fats and replenish those calories lost from keeping your body warm.
• ½ lbs Chopped dates
• 3 tbsp Maple syrup
• 1 tsp Vanilla
• 2 tsp Fresh orange zest or Grand Marnier, or ¼ tsp Orange extract
• ½ tsp Sea salt
• ¼ tsp Allspice
• 1/4 tsp Cardamom
• ½ cup Dried currants or other dried fruit
• ½ cup of your favorite granola or toasted oats
Chop the dates and combine them with the maple syrup, vanilla, orange, salt and spices. Stir in the currants, nuts and granola until you have a firm consistency.
On a lightly oiled baking sheet, roll out the mixture to a uniform thickness of about ½ inch.
Chill in freezer for 15 minutes, then cut into bars.
TRAIL MIX BARS
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup sesame seeds.
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup olive oil [or a healthier option: 1 cup of applesauce]
1 cup honey
1 cup raisins (plump in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes)
MIXING: Combine seeds and roast in dry frying pan until crackle, place into large bowl. Add rest of dry ingredients. Drain raisins (keep water) and add to bowl along with oil and honey. Mix together with large spoon and add raisin water until dough is completely mixed
BAKING: Scoop with spoon and press dough down onto baking sheet (*note dough will not spread whilst cooking.) Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10-12 minutes. Freeze to keep for next hike.
GRANOLA BARS Makes 16 big bars.
1 c butter
1 1/2 c peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 c brown sugar
6 c oats
1 c coconut
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c sesame seeds
2 c chocolate chips (or 1 c raisins and 1 c chocolate cups)
Method: In a skillet, toast coconut, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add corn syrup and then mix in remaining ingredients. Press into greased 12 x 18 inch cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven for ~20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly and cut while still warm.
Substitute toasted almonds and 1 tsp almond extract for the sunflower seeds and vanilla to ramp it up.
Buy the seasoning/curing mix at Cabelas. They have a good variety of flavors and it is easy. You can also make your own marinade. This is one I’ve used in the past with delicious results.
1. Beef Jerky
What’s not to love about a delicious combination of seasonings and dehydrated meat that provides a protein boost?
No matter the season, jerky can be a staple in our daypacks. But, in the winter, it has the added bonus of being a snack easily consumed on the trails without having to take off gloves or mittens.
• 4-5 lbs sliced meat – You can use deer, elk or beef. We like to use flank steak and get it pre-sliced from our local butcher.
• 1 cup soy sauce
• 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1-2 tbsp garlic powder
• 1-2 tbsp ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp liquid smoke
• A dehydrator
Mix all of the items except for the beef together to form a marinade. Combine the marinade with the beef. You can use a couple of plastic bags or a plastic bowl with a lid. Refrigerate 12-24 hours. Place strips of beef onto dehydrator trays, and let dehydrate for 6-8 hours. Jerky will be done when it feels dry but you can still bend it with your fingers.
Store the beef jerky in a plastic bag or plastic container with a tight sealing lid.
One of the wonderful things about jerky recipes is that they can easily be adapted to individual taste, so feel free to use this recipe as a base and then go wild with your own modifications.
2. Pineapple Jerky
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 t ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
Combine in a glass bowl or baking dish. Add 2 1/2 pounds of thinly sliced beef and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Even better if you can let it stand overnight. Before placing the meat on the dehydrator trays, toss it with the marinade again, to coat. Discard any extra marinade.
Dehydrating. Place in a single layer on trays. I use tray liners, but you don’t have to. Set the dehydrator on the highest temperature setting (155*F) and let it run. After about 2 hours, the jerky should be half done. Flip over the pieces of meat. The jerky is usually completely dry after about 4 and a half hours. (Times will vary depending on how thick your meat is cut and your dehydrator.)
Let the jerky cool completely before bagging it up. The heat from the still-warm jerky will cause condensation on the bag.
Hint: Korean grocery store can supply pre-sliced meat that is intended for bulogi. They use the big fancy slicer and slice the meat when it is frozen, so it is nice and thin. Perfect for jerky!
If you are using a seasoning mix, just follow the directions on the package. There is usually a pouch of curing powder and a pouch of seasoning powder. You mix these together and sprinkle on the meat. How much you make depends on how much meat you are seasoning. I usually do about four pounds at a time. After your meat is seasoned, just follow the directions as if you had made your own marinade.
In addition to eating jerky in all its deliciousness, you can shred it (use a pair or kitchen shears) and use it as dried beef in various dishes.
Most dehydrated fruits give a more satisfying chew when dried in pieces rather than made into fruit leather. But some fruits, like oranges and berries, don’t make very good snacks when dried and are more delicious when blended with other fruits into fruit leather.
You don’t need to cook most fruits to make fruit leather. But cooking apples for apples sauce and mangos for mango-banana pudding produces delicious results. You can turn fruit leather into fruit pudding on the trail by reconstituting it with hot or cold water. Bananas are great to use for fruit leather because they help make a creamy pudding.
Preparation: Wash fruit and remove cores, pits or large seeds. Leave the skins on or peel if you prefer. Cut fruit into smaller pieces. Combine fruits and optional flavorings in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a splash of water or fruit juice to help the blender get going if necessary.
Optional Flavorings: Fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, sugar, fruit jams, shredded coconut, vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg. Go easy on fruit juice or the mixture will be watery and take longer to dry. Fruit juices and sweeteners increase the stickiness of leather. Use extracts like vanilla sparingly.
Banana Fruit Leathers:
1 banana, ½ lemon, 1 Tbsp honey
1 banana, ½ large orange, 1 Tbsp cranberry sauce
1 banana, 1 cup pineapple, 2 Tbsp coconut
1 banana, 1 apple
1 banana, 1 cup blueberries, 1 Tbsp blueberry jam
1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
2 large bananas, 1 large mango, ½ cup water. Cut mango flesh away from pit and peel. Dice into small pieces. Bring mango and ½ cup of water to a boil in pot. Reduce heat to medium for ten minutes and then to low for another twenty minutes. Turn off stove and let sit another fifteen minutes. Add chunks of bananas to cooked mango and mash. Put mashed mixture in blender and blend until smooth.
Dehydrating Fruit Leather
Spread thinly, about ⅛ inch thick on non-stick sheets, parchment paper, or fruit leather inserts.
Dry at 135° for 6 – 12 hours depending on the juiciness of the mixture. After about six hours, peel leather off the non-stick sheets and place directly on the mesh trays to expose the bottom to more air circulation. Fruit leather dries pliable, not brittle. Nevertheless, dry it thoroughly so that it is not sticky on the surface or still holding moisture in any thicker parts. Expect fruit leather with bananas to turn darker in color by the time it dries due to oxidation. This does not affect the flavor or usability.
Packing Fruit Leather
Tear fruit leather into pieces and pack in plastic bag separated from other dried ingredients. Vacuum sealing your daily rations for longer trips will keep it from absorbing moisture from the air. The pressure of vacuum sealing may cause fruit leather to stick together but you can still use it. Another way to pack it is to roll half a sheet of leather up with plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to itself. One sheet (Excalibur Dehydrator tray) equals about ¾ cup, so two rolls are perfect for one serving.
Preparing Fruit Pudding on the Trail
Combine fruit or apple sauce leather with an equal quantity of water. ¾ cup each of water and fruit leather is good for one serving, but you will have no problem eating a full cup. If serving cold, soak for ten to fifteen minutes and stir vigorously.
If serving hot, combine with water and heat gently for ten minutes. Three tea light candles under a fry pan lid do a great job of warming fruit puddings. Enjoy for breakfast or as a dessert after lunch or dinner.
Fresh ginger root is a rhizome, or underground stem. And the smell is as distinctive as the appearance, a pungent but not unpleasant aroma attributed to a number of volatile oils, many of which have demonstrated physiologic properties.
Of course, most of us know ginger by taste, rather than smell. What would gingerbread or ginger cookies be without this versatile spice? But ginger is good for a lot more than just making gingerbread men. Sailors drink ginger tea to prevent or allay seasickness.
A good summary of the relevant literature, including the evidence bearing on safety and efficacy, can be found in the Wikipedia article on ginger.
Buy fresh ginger root and make your own candied ginger. Candied ginger — it’s also called crystallized ginger — is a chewy, toothsome confection, with a pleasant flavor that’s simultaneously tangy (gingery, in other words), tart, and sweet. You can buy candied ginger readymade, but it’s less expensive to make it in your kitchen at home. Homemade also tastes better. If you store it out of the light in a tightly closed container, it will keep for several weeks — several months if it’s dried.
Fresh ginger root, is in the produce aisles of your local grocery store. Simply break off what you need. Don’t get too much, however. Buy just what you’ll use immediately — the fridge is fine for short‑term storage — or plan to freeze it.
1. Rinse about ½ pound of ginger root. Dry. Then slice the root crosswise into coin‑sized rounds. You needn’t scrape off the ginger’s papery peel before cutting it up — I don’t bother — but if you notice any discolored or hard bits, or if the peel simply doesn’t appeal, go ahead.
2. Place the rounds in a single layer in a skillet. Cover with water. Simmer gently until the ginger is fork‑tender.
3. Lift the ginger from the skillet and put it in a bowl. Drain the cooking water into a drinking cup and set the cup to one side.
4. Weigh the cooked ginger, make a note of the weight, and return the ginger to the skillet. Now measure out an equal weight of granulated sugar into the bowl. Don’t worry if the sugar is lumpy. It’s the weight that counts.
5. Add water to the sugar. Use just enough to make a thick syrup (I used 3 tablespoons of water for 6 ounces of sugar). Mix.
6. Pour the sugar water over the candied ginger in the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently.
7. Before long, the fluid in the pan will develop a frothy “head.” Continue simmering until almost all of it has boiled away. The sugar has now candied. It is extremely hot. Do NOT let any water drip into the pan at this point. If you do, the molten sugar will sizzle and spit, inflicting nasty burns on any unprotected flesh. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the ginger rounds out on a plate or baking sheet.
8. Decant any remaining fluid into the cup of cooking water. Squeeze in some lime or lemon juice and enjoy a cup of real ginger tea.
9. Allow the ginger to cool. Once it’s reached room temperature, coat the pieces with granulated sugar. At this point, you have a decision to make. You can store the candied ginger as is, in a tightly sealed container, or you can dry it first. Dried crystallized ginger will keep better, but it also has a chewier, more leathery texture. I don’t bother to dry ginger I plan to use in the next week or two, but if I expect that it will linger longer on the shelf (or in the pack), I pop the sugared rounds into the dehydrator and dry them at the lowest setting for 30 minutes or so.
SUPER GLORIOUS GORP
2 c cereal grains – 3 of: wheat germ, rolled oats, muesle, granola, Grape Nuts
2 1/2 c dried fruit – 3 or 4 of: orange peel, cherries, raisins, apricots, pears, figs, apples, bananas, cranberries, peaches, dates
3 c chopped nuts – 3 or 4 of: coconut, cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, pecans
42 oz chips: semi sweet chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter
1 tbsp mollasses or honey
My Recipe: Chop 1/2 cup each of almonds, pecans, cashews. Chop 1/2 c each of cranberry and apricots. Add 1 c currants. Mix with 1 c shredded coconut, 1 c rolled oats, 1/2 c obtain, 1/2 c Rice Krispies, 1/4 c each of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, Zest of 1 orange.
Melt 24 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips + 18 oz peanut butter chips + 1 tbsp molasses in double boiler
Pour over mixture and mix well. Press onto a cookie sheet. Cool and cut into 2×4 chunks. Wrap in Saran or tin foil. Freeze or store in fridge.
1 c cashews, 1 c flaked coconut, 1 c chocolate covered coffee beans.
To make your own, slice the apples ¼-inch thick. If you choose to leave the skins on it is best to use organic, pesticide-free fruit. Dip the slices in a solution of Fruit Fresh or a mixture of 1 part lemon or lime juice and 3 parts water. Separate the slices to ensure that both sides get treated with the mixture. Dehydrate on screen-lined dehydrator trays at 120°F for 6 to 8 hours or until leathery. To check if they are done just tear a piece and there should not be beads of moisture but the apples should be pliable. A cup of dried apples will expand by about ¼ cup upon rehydration.
You can use dried apples in hot cereals, pancakes, stuffed French toast, granola, energy bars, wraps, baking, trail mix, or simply as something to munch on while you hike. You can also place a few rehydrated apple slices between two oatmeal cookies and drizzle a little bit of caramel sauce over top for a quick and yummy dessert. Rehydrated apples that have been heated in your pot with a bit of maple syrup and some walnut pieces can be a wonderful topping for a pancake or sweet biscuit. This can be for a decadent breakfast or a dessert, depending on your preferences.
Dried apples should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from light. They will keep for 8 months. Apples are wonderful in savory dishes, coleslaw and other trail salads, in a wrap with chicken, or I use fresh apples in recipes and then dehydrate the whole dish.
Apple crisps are somewhat similar to apple chips but they aren’t fried. To make apple crisps take 6 Royal Gala or Granny Smith apples, core and slice them into rings, with the skins on, 3/16 to ¼-inch thick. Place them in a mixture of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1½ cups water. Separate the slices to ensure that both sides get treated with the mixture. Drain the apples and pat off any moisture with a paper towel or clean tea towel. Place on lined dehydrator trays and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Dry the apples at 135°F for 8 to 10 hours, until they are crispy like chips. Let cool and pack in a sturdy airtight container.