Backpacking Meals, Vegan Style

This post may come at an unseasonable time of year, however after thinking about it – perhaps not! If you’re like me, the miserable cold (in Canada anyway) and lack of decent quantities of sunshine makes me dream of summer and planning summer adventures. Otherwise I’d get pretty depressed.

I spend a lot of my summer planning, preparing for, and going on trips that get me outdoors and away from the city. Camping, hiking/backpacking, and canoeing trips keep me pretty busy during the few summer months we get here. After enough experience from several years of these activities I’ve become more organized. At least I try to be. When it comes to food, I seem to always be more frantic at the last minute trying to pull our meals together. That’s why I hope to do more pre-season preparation while I have the time during the winter months.

So you might be thinking…how the crap do I get meals together many months in advance? The answer is – with my trusty food dehydrator! I love this device and don’t know how I lived without it. This past year I decided instead of trying to find and purchase decent vegan dehydrated/freeze dried meal pouches when I need to pack compact, light weight meals for backpacking trips (which by the way are packed with a ton of sodium and chemical crap), I would be able to make better, healthier, and CHEAPER dried meals myself.

Making meals and dehydrating them takes time, so it’s not really a great idea to start preparing these while you pack. Maybe I just take too long at everything, but packing for a trip and packing the food takes a long time, so if you add the “make your own dried meals” aspect to the process, you will be a little sick of getting everything ready for your trip and probably not want to go through the trouble of making your dried stuff own again. So yup (* note to self…), start early :)

If you ever embark on adventures like mine, perhaps these meals to follow will inspire you. I might have not documented my process very well because these photos are, in fact, from my once typical rushed process during the summer – it’s pretty hard to remember to take pics at times. But hopefully you get the idea…

The following are photos of my meals coming together and I’ll post the recipes at the bottom:

Jambalaya with Quinoa

jambalaya with quinoa

jambalaya with quinoa

jambalaya with quinoa

jambalaya with quinoa

Spread on the dehydrator tray lined with parchment paper

dried bag of Jambalaya with Quinoa

Ta da! The result!

Nice, compact, light meals great for packing into your hiking or canoe pack. I tend to fill my (80 litre!) pack to the brim so the lighter, the better. Here is a visual of said pack. It sits taller than me.

hiking with pack on scenic trail

Greek Red Pepper Dip

food processor filled with dip ingredients

blended dip ingredients

dip spread on dehydrator tray

When this stuff is nice and dry, I put it in the blender to make it into powder so it can rehydrate properly.

I used this in a wrap, pictured below. I also re hydrated potatoes and peppers to add to the wrap. (The potatoes were sliced and cooked before dehydrating.)

wrap with greek red pepper dip and veggies

Similarly, I make sauces which are dried kind of like the hummus (greek red pepper dip above) and powdered in the blender for use at camp. My husband and my favorite is probably the Mac and Cheese sauce from a recipe I’ve posted on this blog before. We both love this recipe and make it often, and it makes a lot of sauce so we just throw the extra on the dehydrator. Awesome!

I came up with a great combo for camp, inspired by a recipe from a non vegan cook book for asian beef lettuce wraps. The peanut sauce is so tasty and I use it for a sauce for dried TVP (textured vegetable protein) which of course will get re hydrated at camp. I also rehydrate some peppers and onions, fry them, then combine with the TVP and sauce. I’m gourmet like that sometimes.

Peanut Sauce

preparing peanut sauce in blender

peanut sauce on liquid dehydrator tray

peanut sauce from asain lettuce wrap recipe (3)

The top, darker looking bag is the sauce before powdering. The other is the TVP, and the other dried veggies for this recipe are in the background.

Finally, don’t forget about good ‘ol dried fruit! I have another previous post on drying your own fruit. You can snack on it, add it hot or cold to breakfasts, etc.

Now for the recipes used:

Jambalaya with Quinoa – from Backpacker Recipes website

dehydration time: 8 to 10 hours
makes 6 to 8 servings
3 cups quinoa (rinsed and drained)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onion (minced)
2 bell pepper (minced)
20 fresh mushrooms (minced)
56 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
30 ounces canned white beans (drained)
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 5 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender and translucent. Set this aside.
  • Heat a fry pan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions, bell peppers and mushrooms and stir for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and herbs and bring to a boil, let in simmer for 5 minutes. At this point your kitchen should be filled with a heavenly smell.
  • Add the quinoa to the mixture and blend.
  • Spread this mixture out onto dehydrator trays and dehydrate. I did it overnight on the plastic trays that hold moisture, and I had to flip the food over in the morning to fully dry it all.
  • This then goes into ziplock bags. On the trail I simply put the Jambalaya into my cook pot, added water to cover the food and brought it to a boil and simmered a couple of minutes, and then let it sit several minutes to fully hydrate. The amount of water you add is something you need to experiment with, if you add too much you just end up with a bit of soup to finish off your meal with. I do stir the mix while heating to be sure that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Greek Red Pepper Dip – from Backpacker Recipes website

Dehydration Time: 5–7 hours
Makes 4–8 servings

2/3 cup roasted red peppers
2 19-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 tablespoons lime juice
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of kosher salt

At Home

  • (I just used store bought) Roast the red peppers according to the instructions on page xref. Once they’ve cooled, peel them and chop them into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or large bowl if using a hand blender. Process them until you have a thick paste.
  • Spread evenly on lined dehydrator trays, keeping the mixture about 1/4 inch thick. Dry for 5 to 7 hours or until the mixture crumbles and is thoroughly dry. Store in a medium ziplock freezer bag.

At Camp

  • Rehydrate the dip using a formula of 1 1/2 parts dried mix to 1 part water. Wait 5 to 10 minutes then add a little more water if it’s too dry. Serve as a dip with Greek pitas or your favorite crackers or use as a spread in a wrap.

Peanut sauce

1/4 cup light coconut milk
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
4 tsp low sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
4 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp honey or agave
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp hot Asian chilli sauce

Combine ingredients in blender, then dehytrate. At camp, re hydrate sauce by adding boiling water to consistency and let it sit; once sauce is ready add to re hydrated pan fried veggies and re hydrated TVP, simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until the mixture heats through and has had a chance to absorb the flavor.

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Cheap Cookware & Delicious Recipes » Backpacking Meal Ideas

  2. I am trying to dehydrate the “cheese” sauce to bring on our backpacking trip (it was super yummy!). However, I have had it in the dehydrator for 12 hours at 135 deg F and it is still not even close to being crumbly. Do you prepare it differently when you dehydrate it (omit the oil)? Or am I just being impatient! Thanks for all the great ideas! You have motivated me to start a blog to post recipes that I use when backpacking (vegan, wheat free, peanut free).

    • Thanks for commenting Theresa! That is so awesome to hear you’ll be starting a blog because of my post; be sure to let me know the address when it’s up and running and I’ll check it out! Dehydrating the “cheese” sauce definitely takes a while. It’s best to flip it if it’s solid enough to do so and also take a fork or something and break it up, and spread around the wet spots. Expose any areas that are wet so they can dry out. It will eventually become dry enough to be able to blend it into a powder-ish substance. But because of the high fat it will feel oily still. And if you’re not using it for a trip right away, please make sure you store it in a plastic freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer until you head out on your trip. It can go rancid a lot quicker, again because of the fat content. Should be good for a few weeks or more without refrigeration.

      Please let me know how it turns out – I find it is the best comfort food on a backpacking trip!

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