Paleo backpacking meals are not just for dinner anymore!
Summer is quickly approaching, and we’ve all started dreaming of sunny days ahead, with plenty of time to recharge and see new sights! Summer is a great time to get outside, whether you’re relaxing by a campfire or summiting a mountain. But, getting outside requires a lot of preparation, and breakfast meal planning is often glossed over or overlooked entirely.
Backpackers, in particular, have to balance packing nutritious meals with not overloading their packs. It can be easy to prioritize lunch and dinner. However, a calorically substantial breakfast is likely even more important for getting the long-lasting energy that keeps us full for the next mile, or five!
You’ve already heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But did you know that hiking on a flat trail is equivalent to walking on the treadmill at a 3% incline? Or that the average person burns about 4,500 calories a day backpacking? You need the nutrients and taste of a home-cooked meal in the morning to get you going, but making that happen before the sun is up is ambitious.
Quick meals and snacks are easy to grab but will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling drained. Many outdoor enthusiasts rely on instant oatmeal or protein bars that are high in grains and sugars; only to be looking for a sunny spot to take a nap just a few hours later. Instant rice lacks the nutritional diversity you need to thrive. And, don’t even get me started on eating all of the M&Ms out of the trail mix...you’ll feel exhausted by the time you reach the bottom of the bag!
If you have any sort of allergies or dietary preferences, this important task becomes even harder on backpacking trips. How do you incorporate the great flavors of home cooked breakfast with your food needs?
The secret: freeze-dried foods! We too often associate freeze dried foods with astronaut food, AKA not available or appetizing for our daily lives. But freeze-dried food has come a long way in the past several years, especially when it comes to the most important meal of the day: breakfast. And while there are all sorts of freeze-dried breakfasts available, I want to draw your attention to just one, porridge.
Top 5 Reasons Freeze-Dried Porridge is the Backpacking Meal You Need
- Porridge is the king of breakfasts!
Porridge is one of the best, most portable breakfasts you can bring backpacking! One bowl of porridge offers more fiber than a slice of whole wheat bread, and is rich in minerals like copper, iron, and manganese. Porridge also has a low glycemic index, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes.
Beta glucan, the fiber found in porridge, helps you feel fuller sooner, and balances your immune system! Beta glucan also helps encourage the growth of good bacteria in your digestive tract (and we’re all about gut health around here). Beta-glucan fiber helps reduce total cholesterol levels and blood sugar. Studies have shown that regular consumption of beta glucan helps lower the risk of obesity and speeds up your metabolism. Those of you who are gluten-free might be thinking that this isn’t an option for you--not so fast! All of the Wild Zora porridges are flaxseed based and certified as gluten-free (we’re especially partial to our Cliffside Coconut Berry).
- Freeze-dried porridge is shelf stable, perfect for a last-minute need.
I’m partial to a spontaneous adventure, decided on the whim of a phone call to a friend or gazing outside while stuck at work. But, if you find yourself digging in your glove compartment for that one energy bar you swore was there...you need a back-up plan.
The practice of freeze drying was first invented by communities in Peru, Japan, and Vikings in Northern Europe. Potatoes, tofu, and codfish would be covered in snow or placed on triangular wooden racks to evaporate excess water--and in the case of the Vikings, this allowed fish to be safe to eat for two years! It’s the tried and true way to be prepared.
Freeze-dried meals will last for years, whether tucked away in your trunk or the back of your pantry. The best part? The process of freeze drying eliminates the need for chemicals or preservatives for many companies--just real food we all can love. But of course, always check the label for crazy words you can’t pronounce.
- Freeze-dried porridges will help you remain Paleo compliant, even in the forest.
Freeze-dried meals made with real ingredients are a great match for any dietary need. You’re able to have a balanced, dairy-free meal that’s ready in just a few minutes. Paleo backpacking no longer needs to be a time-consuming process that leaves you lying awake in your sleeping bag wondering what on Earth you’re going to eat. Better yet, you don’t have to lug a refrigerated bag around to have real, nutrient-dense food available. Let yourself relax and take in the beautiful scenery. There’s a wide variety of compliant options; and you deserve adventures too.
- They won’t weigh down your pack.
Freeze dried meals are incredibly light; to the point where I have to double- and triple-check my backpack to make sure I remembered to grab one when walking out the door! Freeze drying food allows the food to retain 90% of the nutrients, but only 20% of the original weight.
Porridge sometimes has a reputation for lacking flavor or being a boring palate lacking the healthy fats that help you feel ready to start the day. But consider this: porridge as a beautiful backdrop, allowing dried fruit like strawberries, pineapple, or banana to shine. To continue on your flavor journey, add some extra fresh fruit, powdered milk, olive oil, or peanut butter!
- It’s all about performance nutrition!
When you hear a phrase like “performance nutrition”, you might think of professional athletes, not your casual day trip with your friends. When we say performance nutrition, we should think of how we treat our bodies under stress. Implementing the principles of performance nutrition can have a huge positive impact on your next adventure, whether it’s an easy morning hike or an all-day summit.
Performance nutrition begins with breakfast--specifically, a breakfast that provides fats, fiber, carbs, and some protein. Beginning the day with balanced micronutrients fills you with both quick and lasting energy. After breakfast, prioritize hydration. We oftentimes don’t feel thirsty until we are already exhausted; don’t let your body get to that point. Start drinking immediately to optimize your hike.
Following these tips will help you avoid hitting the trail in a fasting state, where you’re also most prone to injury.
- No prep, dishes, or mess! Leave your environment looking just the way you found it.
We all love the environment and exploring all that surrounds us. It’s so important to clean up our spaces before we leave them so that all can enjoy. Approximately 40 million Americans go camping and backpacking each year, and many go on multiple trips.
You might assume that cooking a full breakfast while camping requires a lot of expensive tools that take up valuable space in your pack. And who wants to lug any extra things around, let alone have to navigate setting up when you’re already hangry and are itching to get moving? Freeze-dried meals just need water, and you can watch the magic happen! When you’re finished eating, you can leave your environment looking just as nice as when you found it.
Zora Tabin (Founder, Mom & Healthy Snack Enthusiast)