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5 Easy Backpacking Breakfasts (Besides Oatmeal)

5 Easy Backpacking Breakfasts (Besides Oatmeal)

Written by Becky Wood

My favorite part of backpacking isn’t the hiking, the summit, or even the stars: it’s mornings at camp. 

It’s waking up to a jaw-droppingly beautiful view that I reached on my own two feet and savoring the sunrise, titanium spork in my hand and a giant smile on my face. 

I’m as picky about my breakfasts as I am about my tent views. The classic backpacker’s breakfast is instant oatmeal, but you can only eat so much of that before you’re sick of it. 

That’s why I’ve spent the past few years trail-testing other easy, delicious backpacking breakfasts. The best meals share three qualities: 

  • Easy to pack: big on flavor, low on weight
  • Easy to prep: just add water (and an epic view) 
  • Easy to eat: good for my taste buds, but also for my body.

With those in mind, here are my top 5 backpacking breakfasts for your next adventure.


  1. Savory Switchback Scramble 

Craving a breakfast that’s savory, not sweet? This is an egg-cellent choice. I call it the Switchback Scramble because the first time I tried it, it had me sprinting up steep Sierra switchbacks like a mountain goat. 

Ingredients: 

4 TBSP OvaEasy egg crystals 

6 TBSP water 

1 pouch Summit Savory Chicken, made according to package

(optional) mini hot sauce packet 

(optional) tortilla or spinach wrap 

Mix all ingredients together in the meal pouch. (Yup, it’s that easy.) Stuff it in a tortilla or spinach wrap for a backcountry breakfast burrito!

You could also just eat dinner for breakfast —in the backcountry, there’s no one to judge— but the eggs make it feel more like a morning meal. Makes enough for two hungry hikers.

Palisade pineapple mango paleo gluten free breakfast meal in snow

  1. Palisade Pineapple Mango Bowl

With views this sweet, who needs added sugar?

The Palisade Pineapple Mango Bowl is just as nourishing and comforting as a hot bowl of oatmeal, but with a sexy tropical twist. Pecans and walnuts add a pleasant crunch often lacking from instant oatmeal, while the natural sweetness of freeze-dried pineapple and mango tickle my tastebuds.

The best part? No sugar crash en route to the summit.

 

  1. DIY Sunrise Smoothie 

On sultry summer mornings that have you shedding layers before you even unzip your tent, a warm meal isn’t always appetizing. Enter the backcountry smoothie, full of healthy fats to keep you fueled all morning.

Ingredients: 

3 TBSP coconut milk powder 

1 TBSP greens powder 

1 TBSP collagen peptides
1 TBSP flax or chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cacao 

(optional) handful Air Dried Tropical Fruit Mix for texture 

Add 1-2 cups of water to taste and shake to mix.

I like to pre-mix a couple servings of smoothie mix at home and bring them on the trail in individual quart-sized Ziplocks. When I’m ready to eat, I’ll mix the packet with water in an empty Gatorade bottle to sip on the go. 

Some of my thru-hiker friends like to cold soak their morning smoothie overnight so it’s ready to go as soon as they are. Just wake and shake! They’ll knock out the first few miles as soon as they wake up, then stop somewhere scenic for a full breakfast down the trail.

Smoothies are also great if tummy troubles or altitude sickness start affecting your appetite. Even when I’m queasy at elevation and don’t want to eat, I can almost always take a few sips of smoothie to keep my energy up. 

Butte cacao banana breakfast meal in nature

 

  1. Butte Cacao Banana Bowl

If I’m being honest, chocolate is my secret 11th essential on hiking trips. Unfortunately, too much of it will leave me trudging down the trail. The Butte Cacao Banana bowl gives me my chocolate fix via tasty cacao nibs without the side effects of giant Snickers bars. (Though I still bring a small Snickers for the summit...it’s about balance.)

Plus, this breakfast packs a whopping 15g of dietary fiber — significantly more than typical processed, preservative-heavy backpacking meals that can leave you feeling blocked. (Paleo porridge = better poops in the backcountry. There, I said it.)

cliffside coconut berry paleo gluten free meal to go hiking camping next to cliff

 

  1. Cliffside Coconut Berry 

Crawling out of my cozy sleeping bag in the morning is always a struggle, no matter how gorgeous the view. But when there’s coffee and Cliffside Coconut Berry waiting on the other side, I unzip my bag a little faster. 

After a few days of eating mostly packaged foods, the strawberries and blueberries add a welcome taste of fresh fruit. They’re freeze-dried so they taste freshly picked. 

The best part of this meal, though, is the 13g of protein. That’s more than the protein in 4 slices of bacon, but with flaxseed to give you more long-lasting fuel. 

When you’re hiking many miles a day with a heavy pack, your muscles crave protein to rebuild. Starting the day with a protein-packed meal makes my muscles happier, which makes my time on the trail much happier, too.
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With breakfasts like these, it’s easy to pack light and eat right in the backcountry. I’ll be taking all of these meals with me on my 220-mile thru-hike of the John Muir Trail this summer, where I know they’ll pair well with a cup of coffee and breathtaking alpine views. 

What’s for breakfast on your next backpacking trip? We’d love to hear your favorites. 

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Becky Wood is a freelance writer, road tripper, and backpacker roaming the American West with her adventure pup, Juno. Follow their adventures on Instagram at @bonjourbecky and at bonjourbecky.com

Why You Should Care About Kales Glycemic Index

Why You Should Care About Kales Glycemic Index

Kale Nutrition Facts and How to Incorporate This Powerhouse Food into Your Diet

What is the glycemic index?

I’ve heard glycemic index before, and haven’t spent the time looking into it because it sounded complicated, and frankly irrelevant to me as someone who just eats with balance in mind. But, it is actually a very helpful tool for people for everyone to understand how our body processes food.

The glycemic index (GI) helps you compare how quickly your body digests different kinds of carbohydrates. The GI index was invented by Dr. Thomas Wolever and Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto to help people with type 1 diabetes manage their blood sugar.

The GI index works by ranking foods on a scale from 0 to 100. The faster that food item raises your blood glucose levels, the higher the GI number will be.

Why is it important to watch your blood glucose levels? Your body needs glucose in order to function every day! High glucose levels are a tell-tale sign that your body isn’t producing enough insulin, which can lead to diabetes. Insulin is key for ensuring that glucose can get into your muscle, fat, and liver cells. When left unchecked, high blood glucose levels can lead to a whole range of complications, including eye, kidney, or nerve damage.

High glycemic foods have a score of 70 or higher, and include white bread, baked potatoes, and doughnuts (really yummy comfort foods). Foods with a GI score of 55-69 are considered medium glycemic, and include bananas, pineapple, and certain kinds of ice cream. Low glycemic foods have a GI of less than 55, and examples include skim milk, kidney beans, and raw carrots.

Fruits and vegetables are both necessary for a well-rounded diet. Vegetables tend to have low GI values, and should feature prominently in your diet! Great GI conscious vegetables to include in your grocery planning include carrots, green peas, yams, parsnips, and kale!

Fruits generally have higher GIs than vegetables, but they also are high in fiber which helps slow down digestion. Eating fruit can help with appetite control, delay hunger cues, and help with weight management. Low GI fruits include apples, prunes, grapefruits, pears, and oranges.

Don’t confuse the glycemic index with the glycemic load! Glycemic load looks at the quantity and quality of carbohydrates in foods, with the ultimate goal of comparing blood glucose values.

GL can be calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate per potion and dividing by 100. But don’t put too much weight on the glycemic load! While it’s very helpful for scientific research, the glycemic index is more helpful for the average person.

 

Why should I follow a GI diet?

You might want to follow a GI diet if you’d like help with the following:

  • Wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Planning and eating healthier meals
  • Maintaining blood sugar levels as part of a diabetes treatment plan

But, as every diet does, the glycemic value does have some limitations. Single food items can impact blood sugar differently than combinations of foods (like 99% of all meals). The glycemic index also doesn’t consider all variables that can impact blood sugar, like how food is prepared or how much you eat. It only contains foods that contain carbohydrates (ignoring most meat and seafood, for example), and doesn’t rank foods based on nutrient content. Foods with a low GI ranking may be high in calories, sugar, or saturated fat.

 

Does the GI value ever change?

Absolutely! Fat, fiber, and acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) lower the glycemic index. And the longer you cook starches, like pasta, the higher their glycemic index will be. If you want to enjoy a high-glycemic index food like a baked potato, combine with a lower GI food like salsa, or a kale salad, to bring down the meal’s overall GI score.

 

Wait, kale? Why is kale a great GI food?

Kale is trendy for a reason, it is the king of super healthy greens!

Kale is the ultimate multi-tasker for your overall health.  It provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins A and K. Kale also contains chemicals called glucosinolates, which help neutralize cancer-causing substances. Kale is also a good source of potassium, and has even been shown to help manage blood pressure!

Kale is a low-calorie food; rich in vitamins and minerals like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, lutein (commonly referred to as “the eye vitamin”), and important antioxidants like beta carotene (which is converted to vitamin A), zeaxanthin (helps your vision), and manganese (which helps bone health). Studies have shown that diets rich in lutein and beta carotene may help support eye health, and people who have diabetes may be more susceptible to certain eye conditions).

Kale is a member of the cruciferous (that’s a good one for Scrabble!) vegetable family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress, and radishes. These vegetables are also rich in vitamins A, C, and K; and phytonutrients which may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Adults should aim for at least 2 ½ cups of these vegetables per day.

There are 4 main types of kale: curly, lacinto, redbor, and Russian (Siberian). Curly kale is definitely the most common, but each variety is appealing to the eye and stomach!

 

Kale and Oxidative Stress

Kale is also great at relieving oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals (molecules with oxygen and an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants (molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable) in your body.

Under oxidative stress, free radicals can begin damaging fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. This damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time, including: diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure/hypertension, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Oxidative stress can also contribute to aging!

Free radicals are naturally produced in your body through exercise or inflammation. This is completely normal! You are also exposed to free radicals in the environment, through sources like: ozone, certain pesticides and cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation, and pollution. Free radical production is also influenced by consuming too much sugar, fat, or alcohol.

 

Kale and Weight Loss

Kale is an incredibly nutrient-dense vegetable, and can be a great component of any healthy lifestyle. Instead of potato chips or other fried snacks, try kale chips baked with garlic. Kale is also a great addition to many soups, stews, or sauces to make them more filling, while keeping the calorie count low. Did you know that kale contains tons of dietary fiber--about 10% of the average daily value?

 

How can I eat kale?

I get it, kale is good for me.  But it taste's, you know, good for me.

Kale’s unique taste and texture surprises even the most seasoned food veterans. But, kale makes a delicious backdrop in many recipes; so don’t worry if you’re a little bit intimidated by raw kale.

Many of kale’s top health-promoting compounds are even more effective when combined with other food. Kale goes great paired with healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, or Parmesan cheese to make carotenoids--which help deactivate free radicals!

Cooked kale, in particular, has been misunderstood for many years! For better-cooked kale, remember to use plenty of seasonings (garlic, for example, has lots of health benefits!) or try sauteing with plenty of olive oil.  

A leafy green salad can be taken to new heights by adding kale (make sure to remove the stem!) and a lemon based dressing, like this one from The Garlic Diaries. Kale chips are an easy snack to bring on road trips or to work, and are still packed with great health benefits. You can even add kale to smoothies! I’m partial to our Mountain Beef Stew or our BBQ Beef bars.

 mountain beef stew in the wilderness

 

But I thought Mountain Beef Stew had sweet potatoes?!

If you’re a longtime Mountain Beef Stew fan, welcome to the club! And also, you might have noticed that this meal used to include sweet potatoes, but now includes kale. With our Paleo Meals to Go, we’re focused on jam-packing as many nutrients as possible. Adding kale allows us to accomplish this goal! This change also helps lower the sodium for others who are salt-conscious.

Give Your Veggies A Glow-Up With These AIP Paleo Recipes

Give Your Veggies A Glow-Up With These AIP Paleo Recipes

Vegetables are the key to nutrient-dense, elimination diets like the Paleo and AIP diet.  Here are some recipes to give more life to our fibrous friends.

 

Lemon Rosemary Cranberry Brussels Sprout Recipe

Brussels sprouts are a multi-tasking vegetable packed with nutritional benefits! If they aren’t in your diet because you have sour childhood memories of boiled brussels sprouts (me), it’s time to change your tune! This recipe will help you achieve that crispy, restaurant-style sprout at home.

These Lemon Rosemary Cranberry Brussels Sprouts are a perfect spring-time vegetable. They are citrusy and herbaceous with a touch of sweetness from the dried cranberries.  I love to incorporate them into my weekly meal plan routine because they are rich in fiber that regulates gut health and digestion, high in vitamin C which helps your body absorb iron and boost immune function, and are packed with your full daily recommendation of vitamin K, which improves bone health.


Time Required: 1 hour

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 Minutes

Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, AIP Friendly, Paleo Friendly, Nut-Free


Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups brussels sprouts
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½-¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 medium lemon
  • Sea salt ½ Tbsp + extra to taste
  • Wild Zora Mediterranean Lamb Bar

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Cut all of your brussels sprout bulbs in half and lay them out on a sheet pan. Press them with a paper towel and sprinkle ½ Tbsp sea salt over them in order to draw out moisture.  Let them rest there for 10 minutes while your oven preheats. This will dry them out and lead to those crispy leaves you are looking for!
  3. Place the sprouts in the oven on the middle-rack and let them bake for 10 minutes.  Open the oven, shake the pan or use a wood spoon to turn over the sprouts. Bake another 5 minutes. The leaves should be browning and the sprouts will develop light golden brown color.
  4. While the sprouts are in the oven, dice the garlic and pull the rosemary needles off of the sprig and chop roughly.
  5. Take the pan out, and turn the oven down to 400°.
  6. Place the sprouts in a large mixing bowl and add the olive oil, garlic, and half of the rosemary. Mix everything together, and spread the sprouts back in the pan.
  7. Bake for another 30 minutes. While the sprouts are baking, chop the Mediterranean Lamb Bar into small pieces.
  8. Pull the sprouts out and give the pan a good (and careful) shake so that you can get an even bake.
  9. Sprinkle the chopped lamb bars and the rest of the rosemary over the sprouts and add the juice from half a lemon over the top. Place the sprouts back in the oven for the last 10-15 minutes.
  10. Pull the sprouts out for the last time (phew!) and add the cranberries.  Taste the sprouts and add more lemon and sea salt to your preference!
  11. Enjoy!

I oftentimes pair these with roasted chicken breasts or seared lamb chops! The kids love them and your gut will thank you.

 

Other AIP recipes to make your veggies delicious…


Michelle from Unbound Wellness provides so many Paleo, AIP and Whole 30 recipes that are highly creative and incredibly easy to achieve! Her Hashimoto's diagnosis has led to such empathetic and practical knowledge that makes her recipe content as educational as it is delicious. She makes me feel like a chef on a regular basis.



My favorite veggie recipe? Her Turmeric Cauliflower Risotto! She walks you through the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and even teaches you to make your own bone broth.  It’s a must-try!

I go to Angie from Autoimmune Wellness (I know I always talk about them, but they’re the experts) for recipes every time I’m in a cooking funk. Her recipes are incredibly well-balanced and thoughtfully put together.  

 

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: salads do not generally excite me. A bowl of greens, while great for me, often leaves me wanting more.  This Beet and Blueberry Chop Salad is a very tasty exception! The golden beets prepared in this way are perfect.  They are not overwhelmingly earthy as they sometimes can be in their raw state, and paired with the tart blueberry and slightly sweet balsamic dressing, they are beautiful. I’m gushing, can you tell?

Biohack U puts out tons of innovative AIP and low-fodmap recipes like this Rhubarb Ginger-glazed Bok Choy with Bacon.  They often force me to branch out and try cooking things I haven’t tried before. This bok choy is savory and deeply satisfying, plus it really impresses at a dinner party!

 

Need more information about the AIP Diet?

In case you are new to the term Autoimmune Paleo Protocol Diet (AIP), it is a slightly more restrictive version of the Paleo diet. Along with the foods you cannot eat on the Paleo diet, AIP eliminates nightshades, alcohol, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  These foods have nutritional benefits and are not harmful to everyone. But for some, eliminating them from their diet reduces inflammation, supports more prosperous gut health (no more leaky gut), and helps combat the frustrating, chronic effects of autoimmune diseases.

Once your body has adjusted to the much more limited food selection and you feel better, you can slowly reintroduce foods. The process will give you a greater understanding of what triggers your own immune system. For more information on this, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne from The Paleo Mom provides detailed, step-by-step information about the AIP diet (like the graphic to the right).

So whether you follow the AIP or Paleo diet, these recipes are safe for you.

Paleo Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Banana Bread

Paleo Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Banana Bread
This recipe was inspired by a serious chocolate craving and a brown pile of bananas that had been staring at me for a while.  It is paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and has no added sugar, but has tons of flavor. The sugar from the banana breaks down as it bakes to add sweetness and moisture, while the dark chocolate baking cocoa adds a deep, sharp chocolaty flavor.  Sea salt adds just the right amount of savory to every bite so that it's not too rich.  That way, you don't have to stop at just one piece.

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The Tale of The Taco Pork Bar

The Tale of The Taco Pork Bar-Wild Zora

Yes, close your eyes and you can taste the carnitas (braised Mexican shredded pork).  But unlike carnitas or tacos, the Wild Zora Taco Pork bar fits in your pocket.  It’s not messy or sticky.  Did we mention it was tasty?

Wait, there is more.  It’s healthy!  Did you know jalapeño and cilantro have medicinal properties?


Are jalapeños good for you?


Just like any of its cousins in the pepper family, jalapeños are rich in vitamin C, helping boost your immunity, fight free radicals, and support healthy bones, teeth and gums.  You will find a hefty dose of vitamin A in jalapeños, too.

 

                    Source: draxe.com

The compound that makes jalapeño a health powerhouse, however, is capsaicin.  It is the naturally occurring chemical that gives peppers their heat.  Capsaicin is a stimulant, similar to caffeine, without the unpleasant side effects, like caffeine “jitters” or heart palpitations.  

Capsaicin is also known to have pain-relieving properties.  It is used in natural ointments to help combat arthritis and muscle pain.  There are studies that suggest that capsaicin can help curb your appetite and as such, can be helpful if you are struggling with portion control.

Not ready to bite into a raw jalapeño?  Try our Taco Pork bar.  The jalapeño is carefully blended with other spices and aromatics, creating a pleasant warmth.



Health Benefits of Cilantro

Many people hate cilantro with a passion.  It’s rarely a love at the first bite, but if you're not a cilantro fan, you might want to give it one more chance.  If you're already a cilantro fan, then you'll definitely want to eat more!

Cilantro, or coriander leaves, is rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals.  It’s one of the best sources of vitamin K.  It has antiseptic properties and also eases digestive issues, namely excess gas.  It supports kidney health and it is believed to be a powerful aid in body cleansing.

                         Source: organicfacts.net

Still can’t get over the flavor?  Start small; chop a few leaves and add them to your salsa.  Or, grab a Taco Pork bar  the cilantro is present in the blend, but it's very subtle.



Wait! What about the meat? Is pork healthy?


Pork is rarely considered to be “healthy food”, which is unfair: pork is rich in B vitamins, selenium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.  Unfortunately, pork is often consumed in the form of sausages, bacon, and other cured meats, which tend to be high in salt, nitrates, added sugar, and preservatives (things that Wild Zora would NEVER use)!  

On top of that, the majority of commercially produced pork is laden with antibiotics because the pigs often live in horrible conditions.  The pigs are forced to live in confined spaces, sometimes in their own filth.  Such environments don't  produce healthy animals, as you can imagine.  Pigs are not picky eaters and some "farmers" will feed them all sorts scraps, including rendered pig flesh.  Doesn't sound healthy, does it?

Luckily, there are farmers who are determined to raise pigs in the way nature intended, and because Zora insisted, we found pig farmers who raise their pigs naturally, with respect to their needs and health.

Our piggies have plenty of space, fresh air, and fresh, clean straw for bedding.  The farmers feed them a vegetarian diet, rich in protein.  They are healthy, so they don’t need antibiotics.  We take animal welfare seriously and we were happy to find farmers whose standards match ours.  We were delighted when we tasted this pork!   With just the right marbling, it's succulent and rich tasting.  And because we know the hogs were living healthy lives, we know this is healthy meat.  Try it for yourself!

 

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR PORK TACO BARS?

 

 

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