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More Veggies, Fewer Grains

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Aug 07, 2018 09:32 AM |
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Grains are the foundation of many commercial backpacking meals— wheat, corn, oats, quinoa and rice are commonly used to bulk up meals for the trail. However, for a variety of reasons such as allergies, health requirements or personal preference, many hikers are looking for other sources of nutrition to enjoy on outdoor adventures.

By Shannon Cunningham

Grains are the foundation of many commercial backpacking meals— wheat, corn, oats, quinoa and rice are commonly used to bulk up meals for the trail. However, for a variety of reasons such as allergies, health requirements or personal preference, many hikers are looking for other sources of nutrition to enjoy on outdoor adventures.

You can lose the grains but keep the nutrition with these suggestions for your next backpacking meal.

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Photo by Shannon Cunningham.

Grain-free pasta

If you want a replacement for pasta in your favorite meals, there is a wide variety of grainfree options available on the market today. Tapioca, cassava, mung bean, chickpea and sweet potato starch noodles can be found at most Asian grocery stores, health food coops and online (just make sure to check the ingredients; they can sometimes be combined with a grain flour). When preparing these at home, boil them for a few minutes and then dehydrate to reduce cook time on the trail.

Veggies and tubers to the rescue

Sweet potatoes, zucchini or parsnips can be spiralized, lightly steamed and dehydrated. They make excellent pasta alternatives. Dehydrated prepackaged cabbage, carrot and broccoli slaws also work well. Dried cauliflower or broccoli rice (broccoli or cauliflower that has been chopped into rice-sized pieces by hand or in a food processor) make a great base for sweet-and-sour or curry sauces. Instant mashed potatoes can be purchased in bulk and combined with dehydrated versions of your favorite baked-potato toppings. Mashed sweet potatoes, dehydrated and powdered, can be combined with your favorite spices and powdered milk for breakfast or dinner.

Bye-bye, cereal

So what about breakfast? Your favorite trail mix can easily become “granola” with a few pulses in the food processor. If starting from scratch, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and coconut are a perfect combination.

Be a rebel

Want to go low-carb or carb-free? It may “go against the grain,” but it is perfectly OK to create meals that don’t revolve around carbohydrates. Start with a favorite soup or sauce powder and add small pieces of your favorite jerky, tempeh or nuts. Dehydrate a hearty spaghetti sauce mixed with ground beef, then add some parmesan cheese and olive oil packets on trail, and you have a satisfying meal. Chili and stroganoff are also enjoyable on their own.

How to add calories

But what about the calories, you ask? It is true that most veggies offer fewer calories than grains. If you’re on a hard trip and need calories, you can add things like nuts, seeds and oil packets to your meals. You can also use snacks to keep up your overall calorie count.

Dehydrated broccoli

For dehydrating broccoli rice, steam the broccoli for a few minutes first. Then spread it in a single layer in the dehydrator at 125–135 degrees until completely dry, about 5 to 6 hours. Here are two delicious ways to use dehydrated broccoli rice in your next backpacking meal.

Curried cashews with broccoli rice

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tsp curry paste
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 cashew butter packet
  • ½ cup dehydrated broccoli rice
  • 1 coconut oil packet
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt

Directions:
Cover broccoli rice with hot water to rehydrate, let sit 5 to 10 minutes, stir in the rest of the ingredients and enjoy.

Instant stuffed baked potato

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup instant mashed
    potatoes
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dehydrated chives
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ cup bacon bits
  • ¼ cup dehydrated broccoli rice

Directions:
Add enough hot water to the broccoli rice to cover plus ½ cup water and let rehydrate 5 minutes. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Fluff the potatoes and dig in.

This article originally appeared in the May+Jun 2018 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

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