Tag Archives: dehydrating

All We Think About Is…

Trail food is the soul of invention - take the Double Double; two double stuffed Oreos, remove two of the cookies, and stack - leaving double the double stuff. Why this is better? Because...

Trail food is the soul of invention – take the Double Double; two double stuffed Oreos, remove two of the cookies, and stack – leaving double the double stuff. Why this is better? Because… it is.

And it begins.. the endless conversation about food. The circular thoughts regarding how much food is in your pack, how much it weighs, when the last time you ate was, and when you can eat again. Also, but on a completely different tip – TOWN FOOD. (See HARPO & GROUCHO’S ETERNAL PIZZA PARTY)

As we start preparing for the southbound PCT Harpo and I are reassesing our food system.  As any backpacker knows, part of the fun in this adventure is the endless tinkering…

As vegans, we were concerned with eating well in the rural south, so we insisted on mailing ourselves almost all of our snacks on the AT. We ate well – I even gained 5lbs towards the end of the hike, while hiking 20+ miles a day in 20-30 degree weather, which is virtually unheard of. We did quite a bit of food prep for out AT thru-hike (check the details here) and we were overall happy with how we ate… however shipping was one of our primary expenses on trail. And, once we were locked into the food system, it was difficult to make impulsive/intuitive decisions during our stops in town…

Some things we plan to change for the PCT:

  • Our first resupplys we’ll pack and either ship from home, or have them delivered. As we live in the Seattle area, we hope to see some of the homies in Snoqualmie… for these we’ll depend on all homemade dehydrated super hippy organic food.
  • We’ll rely primarily on in town resupply, which means more ramen and flavored oatmeal packets when we’re resupplying in towns with conventional grocery stores. It’s fine, and leads us to our next point…
  • We’ll send ourselves hard to find items, like powdered miso and dehydrated vegan coconut cream. This allows us to save mailing costs and only ship an envelope, rather than a medium size flat rate box.
  • In towns with a co-op or natural food store, we’ll shop for the next several weeks and then take some specialty items (like powdered beans, hummus, nutritional yeast and soup mixes) to the post office and mail packages ahead. This allows us the flexibility to decide on the fly what we’ll eat for the next couple of weeks.
  • For the AT we bought all our trail mix and dehydrated fruit from Trader Joes, which was great for variety but expensive considering shipping. We should be able to build GORP from whatever Planter nuts or random bulk sections we can find, mix in some Craisins and Rice Dream chocolate chips and call it good. If we’re lucky and we can find an Asian grocery, we can make some Grouchy Mix.
  • Bars are always the same. Basic Clif bars are always vegan. And though we don’t love them, we’ll eat them for 4 months and then forget it ever happened.
  • We found some of our most rewarding meals were simply PB or powdered or real hummus with tortillas, so we’ll continue using those as staples. And they’re available anywhere. In fact our homie 3D finished a PCT northbound last year eating almost exclusively PB&J – perhaps we’ll try that for a week…

We also used an alcohol stove for the entire AT trip. For the PCT we plan on cooking for the first month as we make it through Washington – it should still be cold in May/June, and it’ll be nice to have hot meals. Once we get into the hot weather the stove will go home and we’ll cold hydrate until the Sierras. We’ve found that cold-hydrated ramen with powdered miso is super tasty. And ultimately, unless you need the emotional boost from hot food, cooking is a drag… it’s way more efficient to cold-hydrate and you can be more flexible about your eating habits. Not to mention you get to ditch the weight of the stove and fuel…

Sprout world...

Sprout world…

We’ll definitely continue with the trail spouting though. It makes us feel like real hippies – and the hemp sprouting bag we got from Outdoor Herbivore is still going strong after almost 3000 miles. And no matter what, it’s a pleasure to have fresh food on trail. Usually we start the sprouts in town and take a 1lb bag of shredded kale for the first day out. By the third day the sprouts are ready and can be added to morning savory oats, evening cold-hydrated noodles, or lunch hummus and sprout burritos.

Appalachian Trail Snack Package or Dehydrator Madness!

Food prep for the AT hike has been a super hippy adventure. We typically eat veggie food – Sara is a long time vegetarian, and NKO has been vegan for 7 years, and rarely eat out. Most of our meals are whole grains and greens – we were interested how we could still eat healthy food we enjoy on the trail.

We started where all super hippy journeys begin – with the smallest sprout.

Sprout world...

Sprout world…

Having had disappointing experiences with commercially available dehydrated meals – especially vegetarian ones -we decided it would be better and cheaper to make our own food. The idea has been to create a food system that is portable, stores well, has high caloric value and good balance between protein, carbs, and fat – while also being tasty and having some variation (we will be eating these meals for 4 months minimum, after all…). We wanted to include a component of fresh, live food as well since we typically eat an even mix of raw and cooked foods, and it needed to be vegan…

We stated experimenting dehydrating various foods – trying to make beet and miso powders (moderately successful – but actually cheaper buying organic commercially made powders) and powdered guacamole (total fail – avocado has too much fat…) and finally deciding to pre-cook and dehydrate pasta, rice, and bean/legume components of the meals and to create some dehydrated snack food. NKO worked on designing the cooked food (breakfast and dinner) and Sara developed some snack foods like flax crackers and seaweed & sesame wraps (to supplement or replace the standard GORP and Cliff bar rations).

Note the Excalibur food dehydrator on the end.. everything in the picture will pass through that machine.

Once we decided NKO’s sister Kate was working at the Madison Market Central Co-Op and helped us place a large bulk order. With 25 lbs couscous, 25 lbs pastas, 25 lbs green lentils, 50 lbs short grain brown rice, 75 lbs rolled oats, and 5 gallons extra virgin olive oil we were ready to get started.

Sara’s snack experiment: lembas bread, take 2.

Sara’s snack experiment: lembas bread, take 1.

Based on an assumption of about 225 kcal/oz our goal is to eat 1.4 pounds of food per person per day (ppppd) for the first 10 days of hiking, 1.75 ppppd for days 10-20, and 2 ppppd every day thereafter. We decided the best thing to accomodate our caloric and nutrition needs was to eat 6 ounces of cooked food for breakfast and the same for dinner, supplemented with snacks throughout the day.

We’ve created and tested versions of the meals and snacks listed below and will update on the main page as we see how they work out over the next few months… it’s both exiting and terrifying to try and plan everything you will eat for months in advance, and hopefully all the work is worth it!

Recipes

Breakfasts are simple affairs here – we typically prefer savory oats with sprouts. For breakfast on the trail we will each eat:

  • 4.5 oz oats
  • .5 oz sprouted dehydrated buckwheat groats or lentils
  • .7 oz red miso powder packets (which include seaweed & dehydrated tofu)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 tbsp superfood powder (acai, goji, mangosteen, amla, pomegranate, maca, spirulina, noni, buckthorn, chlorella, ashwagandha, alfalfa leaf, papaya, cordyceps, bladderwrack and stevia powders)
  • .5oz of infused olive oil
  • salt & pepper
12 oz oats with 2 miso packets

12 oz oats with 2 miso packets

If we’re feeling particularly hungry on any morning, we can also add a scoop of peanut butter, or if we’re seeking more flavor we have spice packets including small daily allowances of beet, carrot, spinach, blue corn, tomato, or broccoli powders…

This should give us enough carbs and protein to make it though a couple of hours of walking.

And don’t forget the coffee! We’re still working this out, but it looks like Medaglia D’Oro instant expresso premixed with sugar and coco powder might be the way to go….

Dinners are a bit more complicated and more variable. NKO created 7 variations of dinners, which means we can eat a different meal every night repeating each one only 20 times (we assume between 120 – 150 days on trail). Like the breakfasts, the following recipes can be adulterated with flavored olive oil, veggie powders and spices to enhance or vary the flavor. We also plan on adding fresh food – like spinach or other greens – for a few days after we resupply in town.

All of the lentils and beans in these meals are organic and sprouted. After sprouting some of the beans/legumes were cooked with onion, garlic, carrot, celery and a variety of herbs, depending on the recipe, then dehydrated. The rice for all recipes was cooked with veggie broth then dehydrated, and any pastas were parboiled to facilitate faster cooking times. Each person gets a 6 oz portion per meal, making the total meal weight 12 oz – the recipes listed represent the total for a 2 person meal.

Curry #1Curry # 1

  • 8 oz rice
  • 3.5 oz curried lentils
  • .5 oz lentils sprouted & dehydrated, raw
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp tomato powder
  • dash Hawaiian sea salt

Note that there are 2 variations of this meal – one is a green lentil dahl, the other is made with red lentils. Each has it’s own variable spicing as well..

Black Bean & Lentil Curry #2

  • 8 oz rice
  • 3 oz curried lentils
  • .5 oz lentils sprouted & dehydrated, raw
  • .3 oz dehydrated pasillo peppers
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp carrot powder
  • dash pink sea salt

Dilly Lentils & Rice #3

  • 8 oz rice
  • 3 oz dill lentils
  • .5 oz lentils sprouted & dehydrated, raw
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp spinach powder
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dried dill
  • dash pink sea salt
IMG_4783

Processing Dill Lentils & Couscous… this is about 25 dinners.

Dill & Couscous #4

  • 8 oz couscous
  • 3 oz dill lentils
  • .5 oz lentils sprouted & dehydrated, raw
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp spinach powder
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dill
  • dash pink sea salt

IMG_4796Mac & Chz de Provence #5

  • 8 oz veggie spiral pastas
  • 3 oz herbs de provence lentils
  • 1/4 C instant potato flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp tomato powder
  • 1/2 tsp SPIKE spice mix
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dill
  • dash pink sea salt

Mac & Chz de Provence #6

  • 8 oz macaroni
  • 3 oz herbs de provence lentils
  • 1/4 C instant potato flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp blue corn powder
  • 1 tbsp broccoli powder
  • 1/2 tsp SPIKE spice mix
  • dash pink sea salt

Note the addition of the instant potato flakes to the pasta recipes – having a limited amount of water and food means making the most of every bit. These meals should end up being more like mac&chz, which allows us to save the starchy pasta water for a few extra calories.

Couscous de Provence #7

  • 8 oz couscous
  • 3 oz herbs de provence lentils
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp blue corn powder
  • 1 tbsp broccoli powder
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp SPIKE spice mix
  • dash pink sea salt

With all of that effort, we still only end up with 12 oz of food per person per day. The remaining weight is fresh food (greens, tortillas, etc.), GORP (which we considered making, but is easily and cheaply sourced from Trader Joe’s in convenient 16 oz packages), dried fruit (also sourced from TJ’s), bars, and homemade snacks. We will post more about how that works once we get on the trail and have a chance to try out our portioning.

The last, and maybe most hippy-trippy ish on this journey comes back to sprouting. We want fresh, live food as a part of every meal, but can only probably count on 2 – 3 days of fresh food from town. Our answer to this problem? Trail sprouting. We ordered hemp bags from the Outdoor Herbivore and various kinds of spouting mixes form the Sprout House. Between the two of us, we should be able to rotate sprout crops and harvest them continually… yup. More info after we start sprouting….