Until a year ago the only camping I knew was driving to a nice looking site and setting up a tent. The world of backpacking and portaging is very different. On my very first trip I pictured myself as Reese Witherspoon trudging through the Pacific Crest Trail in the movie Wild, and all I could think was, “if Reese can do it, so can I!”.
When we decided to take up this new hobby my thoughts of course went straight to what we would eat. I knew kale and spinach would be a wilted mess but I wasn’t interested in eating packaged, dehydrated meals (seriously, what is sour cream flavour??). I saw plenty of blogs suggesting snickers bars for quick “fuel” and dehydrated potatoes, but very little about heathy, natural options. So, here are some of my quick tips and suggestions for healthier camping!
Packaged Food (that’s healthy)
Ditch the dehydrated meals with questionable ingredients and try a ‘cleaner’ option like Tilda or Tasty Bite (stick with the Indian entrees). I usually avoid packaged foods but these are two brands that make their products with very few ingredients. Simply empty the contents into a pot and heat over the fire for the perfect side dish to fresh caught fish. These products require no refrigeration and weigh virtually nothing making them perfect for backpacks.
Long portages with 60+ pounds on your back call for quick fuel! I like KIND, Genuine Health Fermented+, RX Bars and Farm Boy ‘real food bars’.
Avocados.. I never go anywhere without them
Transporting fresh produce can be nearly impossible when backpacking through the woods on 30 degree days. I pack 2-3 avocados that are a day away from perfect ripeness (since we camp for a couple days) and put them in a plastic container to avoid squishing. Mash half and pair with scrambled eggs and pita bread. Other veggies that I have had success transporting are bell peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Oats have been a campers go-to for a long time, but if you are Celiac or gluten-sensitive, you can’t eat just any oats. I usually pack Glutenfreeda unsweetened instant oats (I also bring along a bottle of stevia). Oats are a great option before a big hike or on a cold rainy morning.
A glass bottle of nut butter is not the best option when you are trying to minimize the weight in your pack. I really like Artisana squeeze pack nut butters and coconut oil. Add some to your steamy bowl of oats or eat right out of the pack!
Eggs are the perfect portable protein. I’ve experimented when it comes to transporting these guys and have found that cracking them into a shaker cup (you know, the one buried at the bottom of your gym bag) works best. Just make sure that the lid is on really tight. Otherwise, you can always use the yellow carrying case with a layer of paper towel to keep them snug.
Whole Grain Pita
Sliced bread will likely end up squashed in a pack, so that’s why I usually go with gluten-free pitas like Aidan’s red lentil & blue corn. Slice in half and pair with scrambled eggs, slather in nut butter or eat one as a quick carb source on the trail. If you have no trouble with gluten then sprouted grain tortillas would also be a great choice!
Coconut Oil Spray
I doubt you’re bringing non-stick cookware along, and the last thing you want is your dinner stuck to the pan when your crouched next to the fire. Butter and oils can be difficult to transport and messy to clean up if they leak, so I like to bring a natural coconut oil spray like Rockwell’s.
- Keep everything clean including yourself with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.
- For the ladies, I recommend Natracare wipes. They keep everything feelin’ fresh without harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances and are 100% biodegradable.
- I like to bring a small container of protein powder to mix into oats or drink as a sugar-free snack.
- I will often bring along single servings of Greens+ for a nutrient boost.
- Trekking through the woods in the summer with all your gear can get hot. I bring along plenty of Ener-C packets and add 1-2 to my Nalgene bottle to replenish electrolytes.
Protein bites are quick and easy snacks with short ingredient lists and big, yummy flavour! Each of these rich chocolate morsels contains 11g of metabolism boosting fat and only 2g of sugar. Looking for other bite sized snacks? Try my Tahini Chai Bites or No Bake Fudge Bites!
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour 
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda 
- 1/4 tsp stevia powder
- 1/3 cup + 2tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup of choco chips 
- Combine all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Roll dough into 14 even sized balls.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
-  You could substitute another gluten-free flour like brown rice.
-  No, this isn't a mistake! Baking soda adds a great cookie-esque flavour without the need for baking.
-  I like to use Lily's stevia sweetened baking chips!
Someone gifted me a bag of non-gmo purple corn flour from the Canadian farm, Against the Grain. It sat in my cupboard for a few months but today I finally took it down and decided to put it to good use. I searched all over the internet for recipes using purple corn flour and all I could find were tortilla recipes. So, I decided to get creative and make my own purple corn muffins!
I didn’t have any old bananas but I did have a few jars of organic pureed sweet potato by PC Organics, which was the perfect ingredient to sweeten and moisten these muffins. As you know, I don’t eat a lot of grains, but I’m all about balance and not putting a title on the way I eat, so sometimes I eat grains and that’s okay. Another recipe containing grains that I LOVE are these No Bake Sunflower Energy Bites. Now, go get your wooden spoon and make these colourful muffins!
An important note about corn: make sure that you choose organic, non-GMO corn products since corn is often a genetically modified crop. For more information on GMO’s visit nongmoproject.org.
- 1 cup organic purple corn flour
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp coconut sugar*
- 1 cup sweet potato puree (bottled baby food works best)**
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 2 organic eggs
- 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combine, but don't over mix!
- Add 1/4 cup amounts of batter to 12 greased muffin tins.
- Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until centre is firm.
- *You could also use organic cane or date sugar. Feel free to reduce the amount slightly.
- **I used PC Organics baby food puree.
Mooove over milk! There’s a way better source of calcium that wont cause inflammation, mucous production or digestive upset.
Can you guess what it is? Keep scrolling to find out👇🏼
Have you guessed yet? Well.. it’s actually canned salmon with bones!
Yes, that’s right – 1 can of wild pink salmon including the bones has close to 600mg of calcium and over 35g of protein! Salmon, along with other fish are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3. I know, you’re concerned about the bones, right? What’s lovely about canned fish is that it’s sitting in water, which allows the tiny bones to get really soft. Mash the fish up with a fork and I promise you wont notice them at all!
I love snacks that are quick, easy, and of course nutritious. Canned fish is a single ingredient, totally affordable and packed with nutrition. I always keep a few cans on hand for a quick snack or salad topper. I love to throw in some high quality mayo and scoop up the mash with a grain-free plantain chip (make sure to avoid vegetable oils here too). Make sure to be mindful of BPA in the cans, any additives like salt or flavours, and the quality of the fish (farmed versus wild).
I’d love to hear what some of your favourite quick, healthy snacks are!
- 1 can of wild salmon (with bones)
- 1 heaping tbsp Primal Kitchen Mayo
- Salt + pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp green onion, chopped (optional)
- Drain liquid from can and add salmon to a small bowl. Remove skin if desired but keep the bones!
- Add mayo plus salt + pepper to taste.
- Mash the salmon until bones have completely disappeared.
- Serve with crunchy plantain chips.
- Please use a high-quality mayo made without vegetable oil.
- I like to use Raincoast canned salmon, they do not add BPA to the lining of their cans.
As stated in a previous post, I was prescribed oral contraception for irregular cycles at age 15. Keep in mind that “the pill” stops the body’s natural cycle and causes an artificial period each month. Many women are prescribed the pill to cover up symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as acne, irregular cycles, painful periods, and PMS. Even though the pill gave me the false sense of security that my period would arrive each month, I’d had enough of the unpleasant side effects and decided to stop taking the drug at age 21.
For an entire year after stopping the prescription I didn’t get a period. For some ladies that may seem like a dream; a whole years worth of periods gone. Not only is it far from a dream but it is completely unnatural (it can commonly take up to six months for cycles to return). I had an ultrasound to rule out fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome and everything came back normal. I had a blood test done to measure hormone levels and things seemed fine. We couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a period. However, I was experiencing what many other women have dealt with when coming off the pill; all the symptoms that were there before taking the drug were still an issue.
As someone who tries to seek the most natural route for healing, I of course discussed the situation with my Naturopath. She had a strong feeling that my stress levels had a lot to do with the imbalance. I was also eating a vegan diet at the time, which we discovered was not the healthiest diet for me. We worked out a treatment plan and I took some much needed time to nourish myself. I started eating organic grass-fed meats and taking hormone balancing herbs like vitex and ashwaghanda. I made a conscious effort to meditate. No cycles changed to a period every other month. It wasn’t perfect but it was something.
I realized that I was not the only woman struggling with this issue. Women would tell me that it was “normal” for them to skip a few periods. I heard stories of women coming off the pill and not having a period for years. Women around me were being diagnosed with PCOS, infertility, fibroids and endometriosis. I was not alone in my hormonal struggles.
I believe in empowering women to make the right choice for themselves and I urge them to understand the lasting effects of the pill. To know that we are bombarded on a daily basis by endocrine disrupters and xenoestrogens. Plastics, pesticides, canned foods, cleaning products and even cash register receipts contain hormone-mimicking chemicals that pose a risk to women’s health.
At age 23 my cycles are still not normal, lasting anywhere from 37-50 days. I am always trying to cultivate balance in my life, but I have to work extra hard when it comes to my hormonal health. It is not normal to go months without a period, to feel depressed and anxious all the time. Don’t allow symptoms to simply be covered up with prescription drugs, find the answers. As women we deserve to thrive. We deserve to ask the tough questions of our health care providers. WE are strong, amazing women and WE deserve to live a beautifully balanced life!
- 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1/4 cup sustainable palm oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp Dandy Blend or espresso powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a high powered blender or food processor add the eggs, banana and cooked quinoa. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add the quinoa mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in optional chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into 9" greased baking pan and bake for 40min or until centre is firm.
- Cool cake on wire rack and top with optional chocolate*. Serve and enjoy!
- *I melted Lily's stevia sweetened baking chips (vegan + gluten-free) using double boiler. You could use any organic chocolate of choice.
- 1 (400mL) can organic full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water or coconut water
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 5-10 drops liquid stevia*
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl and place in fridge for several hours - chia will gel and pudding will be extra creamy!**
- Store pudding in an airtight container for up to a week.
- *I like to use NOW organic liquid stevia.
- **I stir the mixture a few times while it's thickening to stop the chia from clumping.
Welcome to my first post in over two weeks! Life has been hectic and I haven’t had much time in the kitchen. No worries because I am back with a real gem of a recipe. Let’s be honest, a dessert that requires no baking and is topped with melted chocolate is a winner in my books.
I’ve mentioned in several other posts how much I love sunflower seed butter, and I’ve also used it in my No-Bake Sunflower Energy Bites. It’s nut-free (make sure to check labels), Canadian made, nutritious and extremely affordable. What’s not to love?
As for the awesome chocolate layer, I’ve used organic chocolate chips sweetened with stevia. The brand of stevia sweetened chocolate that I once loved started adding dairy to their chips, which I just wasn’t cool with. Then I discovered Lily’s baking chips, which is both vegan and gluten-free! Using any high-quality dark chocolate will do however.
When purchasing shredded coconut make sure that you read the ingredient list. Watch our for added sweeteners and sulfites, especially if you’re purchasing coconut from a bulk bin. Not familiar with lucuma powder? Check out my quick post about this natural, low-glycemic sweetener.
Now, get your butt in the kitchen and make these!!
- 2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
- 2 tbsp lucuma powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp milk alternative or water
- Pinch sea salt
- 2/3 cup chocolate chips*
- 2 tbsp coconut butter
- In a food processor combine all ingredients except chocolate and coconut butter, pulse until well combined.
- Add the dough to a 8" parchment-lined square pan. Evenly press the dough into the pan.
- Place the pan in the freezer until firm, about 20min.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut butter in small metal bowl placed above a saucepan of boiling water (use double boiler if you have one), this will stop the chocolate from burning. You can also use the microwave, but I'm not such a fan.
- Place the melted chocolate on top of the firm squares and spread evenly.
- Place the squares back into the freezer to allow chocolate to harden, about 20min.
- Cut the squares into desired serving sizes and keep in freezer for several months (they never last that long however).
- *I used Lily's stevia sweetened baking chips (vegan + gluten-free)
- I used Giddy YoYo lucuma powder
- 1/2 cup cocao powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill coconut flour
- 2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill tapioca starch
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup beet puree*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
- 1 batch Vegan Drizzle (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift the coconut flour, tapioca starch and cocoa into medium bowl. Add remaining dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine. Add chocolate chips if using.
- Add batter to a 9" square baking pan. Bake for 40min or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool on wire wrack, top with optional vegan drizzle and enjoy!
- *I boiled 3 large beets until soft, removed the skin and pureed in a blender. Keep any leftover puree for smoothies.
- Tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same thing.
- 1lb organic ground chicken
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sea salt or 2 tsp kelp
- Preheat oven 350°F
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients.
- Form mixture into 4-5 even sized patties.
- Place on lined baking sheet and cook for 25-30min.
- Alternatively, you could barbecue these guys too.
- I like to freeze these and have them for lunches throughout the week - simply thaw in the fridge overnight!
- See below for an image of the kelp powder that I like to use.