Healthy Eats for Summer Camping

Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-Owner, Nourish Northwest

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I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time because many clients have asked me about this particular topic.  I personally do a lot of car camping, meaning that the possibilities for bringing healthy foods are really endless.  Backpacking brings on a whole new set of challenges, so I’ll save that topic for a different time.  While I do love a good hot dog and s’more from time to time, going camping doesn’t mean you can or should just throw healthy eating out the window.  Here are some ideas for camping meals that you can enjoy, without demolishing your nutrition goals:

 

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is easy peasy to make over a campfire or with a camp stove.  All you need is dried oats and water.  If you want to get fancy, set up an oat meal bar for your fellow campers and include a variety of fruit (fresh or dried), nuts and seeds.

 

Oatmeal at Timothy Lake
Oatmeal at Timothy Lake

 

  • Eggs: Again, if you are car camping, eggs are pretty easy to bring along.  Just make sure to pack a skillet and some butter.

 

Breakfast with a view at Box Canyon, Mt. Rainier
Breakfast with a view at Box Canyon, Mt. Rainier

 

 

  • Granola: Pre-make and bring in a jar.  I like to bring an unopened box of almond milk or hemp milk, since they don’t require refrigeration.  My favorite homemade granola recipe can be found by clicking here.

 

Yum!
So much better than store bought!

 

Lunch:

I like to keep lunch really simple, in case the day involves a hike or other adventure.  I like lunch food to be portable and easy to assemble.  I typically like to go with the good old standby: the sandwich.  If you are camping for a few days, this is one of the easiest and most economical ways to tackle the lunch issue.  Or you can can just bring a hunk of cheese, salami, hummus, fruit and crackers if you prefer a picnic.

 

Keep lunch simple. A good old PB&J can taste like the best thing ever sometimes.
Keep lunch simple. A good old PB&J can sometimes taste like the best thing ever.
Get fancy with your sandwich. Pack ingredients, assemble at campsite and pack for your hiking adventure
Or, get a little fancy with your sandwich. Pack ingredients, assemble at campsite and pack in a sandwich bag to enjoy on your daily adventure.

 

Yep.
Yep. Glad I packed that sandwich.

 

Snacks:

  • Dried fruit and nuts: Make your own trail mix before you go.  Again, this will be more economical and allows you to control for sugar.  A lot of commercial trail mixes have tons of chocolate and sugar coated dried fruit.  Hit up Trader Joe’s for the best selection of nuts and dried fruit.
  • Dolmas in a can: I also get these from Trader Joe’s and all I can say is yum!  They make me feel fancy while I’m out in the woods.
  • Popcorn: I don’t know why it is but I always see tons of bags of potato chips and cheese doodles when I go on a group camping trip.  Try to keep it a little healthier with some popcorn.  Bring kernels and pop in a pot with a tight fitting lid over the fire or go the easy route and by some pre-popped corn.  My newest obsessions are the herb popcorn and the pickle popcorn at Trader Joe’s.
  • Turkey Sticks: I like the Vermont Smoke and Cure brand, which have no unnecessary additives.  They are a good source of protein on the go.
Turkey Stick Snack at the Cowlitz River
Turkey Stick Snack at the Cowlitz River
  • Crunchy Chickpeas: Make these at home or buy already made for a crunchy, filling snack.  To make at home roast a can of chickpeas in a 400 degree oven until almost burnt, about 45 minutes.  Toss with olive oil an seasonings of choice ( I like smoked paprika, salt, turmeric, cayenne and lemon zest).

 

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Dinner:

  • Tasty Bites: These are my go- to camping dinner.  It’s so nice to have a warm, savory meal with literally no effort.  You can even buy the pre-cooked rice and cook both packets together in boiling water.  If you haven’t heard of them, they are little packets of Indian food that you can find in the international section of most stores.

 

Tasty Bites at the campsite. Just boil in the bag and enjoy!
Tasty Bites at the campsite. Just boil in the bag and enjoy!

 

  • Sausages and Veggies: Saute them all up in one pan and enjoy!

 

A hearty, healthy dinner at Billy Chinook Lake
A hearty, healthy dinner at Billy Chinook Lake

 

  • Homemade soup.  Make ahead of time, keep in the pot and re-heat over the fire or assemble this easy chili by bringing cans of beans, pre-measured spices and pre-chopped veggies.  Don’t forget your can opener!

 

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  • Veggie Packets: These would be considered a component of a meal but go really well with your protein of choice.  Cut vegetables in similar size pieces and place on large squares of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and close tightly.  You can place these on a grill right over the campfire.  Cooking time will vary but can take from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how hearty the veggies.

 

Hearty Roots provide good energy for camping adventures
Hearty roots provide good energy for camping adventures

 

  • Leftovers:  Leaving for a trip usually involved cleaning out the fridge so that you don’t have to come home to rotting food.  Why not bring that food with you instead of tossing it?  Mix together whatever you have for a flavorful bowl.

 

Pre-cooked polenta and leftover veggies
Pre-cooked polenta and leftover veggies

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