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. Packing your gear and food is time consuming enough, so if you add the “make your own dried meals from scratch” aspect to the process, you will be a little sick of preparing 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!

The following photos show a glimpse of the process for my meals coming together, with recipes posted at the bottom:

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 favorite is probably the Mac and Cheese sauce from a recipe I’ve posted on this blog before. My hubby and I both love this recipe and make it often – 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. 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.

 

Now go fire up your dehydrators!

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You Can Call Me Mrs. Blogger – Back to Blogging with a Vegan Honeymoon Adventure in South America

Well, I am FINALLY back to blogging, after not posting anything for over 3 months. You see, wedding planning is almost like a second full time job, so I had no choice but to neglect my blog. I still cooked great vegan food, however didn’t document much of it. But I do have a backlog of things to post, so I’ll be working on that.

So now I’m a Mrs!! We had an amazing wedding and the hard work did pay off…

bride and groom

After the wedding we went on a honeymoon in South America. It was such an amazing way to unwind after over a year of wedding planning, and to start off our lives as husband and wife. Our trip went something like this: Quito, Ecuador then the Galapagos Islands, back to Quito, then to Otavalo, then back to Quito, and then sadly back home. We definitely could have spent more time in South America; it was an amazing place to visit.

I could go on and on with stories of our adventures, however this is a food blog and I wanted to focus on our experience as two vegan travelers on another continent. Overall, we ate very well and didn’t have many issues. It just took a little effort.

I could tell you being prepared is key, however we were not really prepared for this trip. We didn’t have much time to spare with the wedding planning, so we kind of winged it, but it all worked out. A couple of tools we picked up along the way became very handy – our Lonely Planet guide book we picked up at the airport, and an English/Spanish speaking stranger we met who wrote out a list of “no’s” of what we do not eat as vegans. The guide book listed some vegetarian restaurants and Spanish phrases, and the list clearly defined what we didn’t want to consume in our meals. The list went as follows – no queso, no leche, no huevos, no mantequilla, no carne, no pollo, no pescado. Now try to repeat that one! In Ecuador, meat means only pork or beef – chicken is chicken, and fish is fish. They also don’t know the term dairy, so you have to list cheese, butter, and milk. So it was good to be as clear as possible!

The airlines were an issue. But who ever has a good experience with airlines? We were not fed a single vegan meal as we requested. We ended up being so hungry on the way there that we broke down and ate a vegetarian meal with cheese and probably eggs. But we lived…although I will be sending an angry email to said airline very soon. We learned after this experience and brought a ton of snacks on each flight afterwards.

Eating in Ecuador was quite inexpensive! Our first meal we had was lunch, which only cost us $2.50 US each. We came across a vegetarian Asian restaurant not far from our hotel.

vegetarian restaurant sign

vegan food platter

Not bad for $2.50 – cabbage slaw, rice, veggie mix, soup, lentils, popcorn, and fresh juice!

vegan food platter variety of food

It was delicious and we were stuffed!

We went to the grocery store often to fill up on snacks. Ecuadorians do seem to like their meat, eggs and dairy, but it seemed they eat more variety and less processed foods than in Canada/USA.

bulk bins of legumes

vegan snacks from the grocery store

An example of one of the snack bounties we picked up – sweet potato and plantain chips, peanuts, dark chocolate.

When we visited the Galapagos Islands, we basically lived off a boat so we were served all our meals on the boat. We of course requested our vegan meals when we booked the trip, and they happily accommodated this. The chef did a great job and we ate a lot.

For breakfast it was always lots of fruit, toast with jam, granola, coffee and fresh juice. One of my favorite things about eating in Ecuador is that they always had fresh juice. It was so delicious! I never want to drink juice from a box again. Also, our dessert was always fresh fruit. Here is a fruit salad we had for dessert:

fruit salad

Here are some more of the meals we ate on board the boat:

vegan soup

vegan plate of food

Rice, veggie/potato mix, salad with cucumber and hearts of palm, fried potato & onion patty (so yummy!)

soup with greens

vegan food plate including plantains

Plantains, cabbage salad with avocado, potato cake with peanut sauce, rice

vegan food plate with beets

avacado salsa salad

A part of one of my fav meals on the boat. This avocado tasted marinated in lime juice or maybe in the salsa itself. The whole thing was tasty and filling.

Okay, I just had to share a pic of a visitor to our boat (we also got to snorkel with them and I love these creatures!)

sea lion

And now eats in Quito:

fresh fruit plate

fresh pineapple juice

Fresh pineapple juice, YUM!

bread with jam

Fresh bread and jam. They also have amazing jam flavors in Ecuador!

Manatial Vegetarian Cuisine restaurant sign

We made a couple visits here, their food was amazing!

fruit bowl with granola

Breakfast at Manantial – fruit bowl with granola, coffee with soy milk…

fresh blackberry and passionfruit juice

…and fresh blackberry and passionfruit juice!

spicy mushroom and zuchhini mix with garlic bread

More Manantial eats…this was sooo good! Appetizer – spicy mushroom and zuchhini mix with garlic bread.

salad, avocado, potato cakes, fried tofu, vegan chorizo sausage

My dinner pick: salad, avocado, potato cakes, fried tofu, vegan chorizo sausage.

vegan burger plate

My hubby’s choice, vegan burger. It was wheat based, so probably seitan, and he said it was probably the best burger he’s had!

On to El Maple in Quito:

El Maple Vegetarian Food and Bar restaurant

vegan burrito

Vegan burrito. They removed the cheese and topped it with this red sauce instead. Yum!

vegan burger

My husband said this wasn’t as good as it looked, unfortunately.

And now on to Otavalo, a more rural city about 2 hours outside Quito.

Deli Cafe Restaurant

vegan nachos

These were awesome nachos loaded with good stuff!

vegan burrito

Bean burrito filled with mostly the same thing as the nachos had.

guacamole nachos

The best guacamole I’ve ever had!

Our hostel just outside Otavalo was amazing. If you ever go here, I highly recommend staying here at the Hosteria Rose Cottage. Some reasons:

Rose Cottage Hosteria sign

priviate cabin

Our cozy little accommodations at Rose Cottage. Not your typical hostel!

hammocks with a mountain view

Beautiful, peaceful place to chill.

view at Hosteria Rose Cottage

baby black cow

One of the friends hanging around the hostel.

We showed up to Hosteria Rose Cottage with no reservation. They didn’t speak much English but happily cooked us vegan dishes that were wonderful! We only got a couple nights there but wished we could have stayed for weeks.

Wow, that was quite the post! I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope it will help you eat wonderful vegan food when you travel.

Meatville, USA

I just survived a weekend in a small hick town in the USA. My fiance and I went for a weekend of skiing, and it was only a couple of hours away from home. Because of the many restrictions there are on bringing food across the boarder, we decided that we would just go to the grocery store when we arrived in the USA. We called before leaving home to find out when the grocery store would be open until, but unfortunately when we arrived at our destinaton it was closed. They must have closed early, those silly small town-ers. Good thing we ate supper already. We went to a restaurant for a late night snack and the best we could do there is fries and onion rings. Not so healthy. The rest of the menu was meat, meat, more meat, and a lotta cheese… Even the salad options looked pretty sad.

The next day the grocery store was quite a disappointment too. Most of the veggie soups contained chicken or beef broth. We managed to escape the store with some slim pickings but they were fine. Kashi cereal, soy milk, tomato soup, Instant brown & wild rice (just throw in the microwave), oranges, baby carrots, almonds…

Lesson learned, bring more canned and packaged stuff next time!

On an unrelated note, I finally decided to create this blog!! Keep checking back, and take a look at my Resources page. Enjoy!! 🙂