Eating Paleo on the Go: What about the Sodium?

Eating Paleo on the Go: What about the Sodium?

How sodium in your hiking food is really impacting your health and performance.

Now that it’s officially summer in many parts of the world, lots of us are venturing outside for new adventures or to escape the sweaty, smelly gym. And I don’t know about you, but I know that I tend to vastly overestimate my outdoor abilities. I’ll be slowly trudging my way up the trail, weighed down by all the meals and snacks (looking at you, energy bars)  that I thought could pass for backpacking food--don’t even get me started on water!

When times get tough or we’re pushed to the max, we turn to food for both comfort and to push us forward. I return home after a long run feeling ravenous and end up throwing instant rice in the microwave. I’ve tried surviving on granola bars or staying hydrated by chugging water, but the result is always the same! I’m left feeling bloated, weighed down, and unsatisfied. I had heard of freeze-dried meals, but I didn’t think they were right for what I needed--and I was nervous about the sodium. 

I started experimenting with dehydrated and freeze-dried meals, even though I was skeptical, and have loved them! The good ones can be expensive, but I really only wanted ones that had whole food ingredients.  When I feel like they have been too bland and unsatisfying after a long day on the trail, like many backpackers and endurance athletes, I’ll add peanut butter, olive oil, ghee, or even powdered milk for creamier, richer dishes. All you need is to boil some water, wait, and enjoy.  It’s great for when you’re exhausted and just need to get in the shower and then on the couch.

How does sodium impact your body?

Like I said, I was nervous about high sodium content when I started trying freeze-dried meals.  It seemed so high! So, I did some research, and here’s what I found.

Sodium is an example of an electrolyte, a mineral that your body needs lots of to do things like control muscle contractions or transmit nerve impulses. Most sodium is located in your blood and in the fluid around cells.  Sodium also helps to keep your body’s fluids in normal balance. 

Also, fun fact I found while researching, sodium actually carries an electric charge when dissolved in body fluids (such as blood).  Our bodies are so cool.

You shouldn’t try to pre-load with salt before working out! You’re more than likely already consuming more than enough sodium for your average daily life, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Electrolytes and Exercise

Electrolytes’ best-known use is as a way to replenish your body during intense exercise. Salt is a good idea to carry and take with you during an endurance workout. There’s even pills or candies that fit perfectly in a backpack or fanny pack (I’m partial to the fanny pack, myself.) 

When you sweat, you’re losing both fluids and salt. And the hotter you are, the more you sweat just to balance your body temperature. In a dry climate like the one here in Colorado, your sweat evaporates almost immediately! If you’re sweating more than usual, it could deplete your sodium supply and affect your performance by causing lightheadedness, a slower pace during runs, or muscle cramps. 

As we drink water and it goes to our stomachs, it gets absorbed into the intestines. Electrolytes allow our bodies to properly absorb, retain, and distribute the water throughout our cells. 

I want to make a note and draw your attention to the words “intense” and “endurance”. If you are taking the dog for a walk or attending a beginners yoga class, you don’t need to worry about sodium so much. In fact, you should avoid salt before a typical, moderate workout of about 30 minutes.

After you hit the trail for the day or the week, go for a long run, or take an intense bike-ride, these are the times you need to prioritize sodium intake. That way, your body can properly absorb water and nutrients so that you can recover efficiently.

How do I know if my sodium levels are too high or too low?

Your brain has a particular sensitivity to sodium level changes. If the level becomes too low, lethargy and confusion are the first symptoms many will experience. If the levels worsen, muscle twitching and seizures may occur. Older people are more likely to experience severe symptoms in this scenario.

If your sodium level becomes too high (called hypernatremia), you will feel extraordinarily thirsty. Brain dysfunction will also cause lethargy and confusion. Severe hypernatremia can lead to muscle twitching or seizures.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal blood sodium level is between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter.

Why do you need to eat enough sodium before a backpacking trip?

Many of the symptoms of low blood sodium (also known as hyponatremia) can be confused with altitude sickness. With a salt imbalance, a person can become confused, stumble around, or have seizures. 

In general, to avoid low sodium levels you should keep in mind these principles:

  • Moderately increase your salt intake during and after workouts and hikes
  • Consume something with salt in addition to water (like trail mix or a freeze dried meal!)
  • And if you start experiencing symptoms of low sodium, go down in elevation as soon as possible

Don’t forget about potassium!

Potassium is another type of electrolyte, that works in tandem with sodium to balance the fluids in your body. Most potassium is stored inside your body’s cells, while sodium is stored outside. The transfer of these minerals into and out of cells--otherwise known as the “sodium-potassium pump” makes between 20 and 40% of an adult’s resting energy expenditure.  They are a match made in heaven.

Potassium is found in so many types of food that you usually won’t have to worry about experiencing low levels. Other than the incredibly well-known banana, fresh fruit like oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, and grapefruit are all great sources of potassium. Even some dried fruits (prunes, raisins, and dates) are all full of potassium and great to bring on the trail. 

A quick note about sodium and eating Paleo on the trail

While sodium is considered very beneficial on the trail, some people need to be more careful. Diets that have emphasized the health benefits of lower sodium levels (notably, lower blood pressure) should focus on eating whole foods on the trail, like fresh fruits and vegetables. The Paleo diet has been known to be a good solution for people living with high blood pressure. Paleo meals are a good option, but be sure to read the nutrition label and find meals that have sodium levels that are recommended by your doctor. 

Paleo, without directly limiting the consumption of salt, gets at the root causes of what lowers blood pressure. Humans are physiologically inclined to eat a certain level of salt, and salt has been a popular way to preserve food for generations. As long as you balance our salt intake with potassium, you should be just fine. 


Sodium and Wild Zora’s Paleo Meals to Go

Wild Zora’s Paleo Meals to Go have been a go-to.  On an easy morning hike, I’ll usually eat half of a breakfast meal at the end. On a day-long hike, I’ll devour an entire savory meal no problem.   Usually with a little bit of ghee in it to add some fat. The breakfast meals have significantly less sodium than the savory meals; ranging between 140mg sodium in the Cliffside Coconut Berry and Palisade Pineapple Mango meals to 760mg of sodium in the Mountain Beef Stew

But, with this sodium comes a huge dose of potassium! The savory meals range between 30 and 40% of your daily recommended potassium value, and the breakfast meals even have between 15 and 20%. Whether you’re Paleo or just looking for something that’s fast, freeze-dried backpacking meals like can be right for you. And don’t be put off by sodium, which is pushing you forward on your next adventure.

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.

How a Nightshade Free Diet Can Change Your Life

How a Nightshade Free Diet Can Change Your Life

Removing Nightshade foods from your diet is an important component of starting AIP (auto-immune protocol) and healing your gut.

Having a chronic, invisible illness is frustrating and isolating. You want to get to the bottom of it; for someone to be able to just tell you what’s wrong. You feel alone and hungry, afraid to eat.

But, there are over 50 million Americans living with an autoimmune disease. There are more than 100 confirmed autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Although these diseases have a genetic component, medical advice is beginning to recognize environment, diet, and lifestyle factors as well. A great first step on your new health journey is to eliminate nightshades as part of the autoimmune paleo diet.


So...what is it?

What the heck is a nightshade? Nightshades are a botanical family of plants, also known as Solanaceae. There are more than 2,000 plant species in the nightshade family! Most of them are highly inedible, and many are even poisonous (such as jimsonweed). Did you know that even tobacco is a nightshade?

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne at The Paleo Mom has done a ton of research on the impact of nightshades on your health and has put together a full list of nightshades.

It’s important to note that many nightshades you’re unlikely to encounter in your daily life. But, there are some heavy hitters that you’ll find in tons of foods and snacks, including bell peppers, eggplant, Goji berries, hot peppers (like chili peppers, jalapeños, habaneros, chili-based sauces, red pepper, or cayenne), paprika, pimentos, potatoes (not sweet potatoes), tomatillos, and tomatoes.

Nightshade vegetables can feel impossible to avoid! There are hundreds of different varieties of nightshades; think of how many varieties of potatoes are at the grocery store! If a product lists “spices” in its ingredients, there’s a good chance paprika will be included.

Avoiding inflammation and leaky gut

Why does eating too many nightshades make you feel bad? It’s all about the science! Nightshades contain lectins and saponins, which cause inflammation. There are certain lectins that can cause an increase in intestinal permeability by resisting digestion, being heat resilient, and negatively interacting with proteins in the membrane of the cells that line the intestine. If that wasn’t enough science for you, saponins also contain adjuvants, chemicals that stimulate and exaggerate an immune response.

They rev up the immune response to proteins leaking out of the gut, which ultimately increases the likelihood of developing an antibody that mistakenly attacks normal proteins. This is how autoimmune diseases begin. Chili peppers, in particular, contain capsaicin, a steroidal stimulant that gives chilis their heat but also can potentially irritate skin, eyes, and mucous membranes and increase intestinal permeability.

If you’re suffering from any of the following symptoms, you might be sensitive to nightshades: irritable bowels, diarrhea, heartburn, nerve problems, joint pain or swelling, arthritis, acid reflux, heartburn, itching, leaky gut, autoimmunity or other chronic conditions. If you’re experiencing trouble breathing or mouth swelling, you should absolutely consult with a medical professional immediately. Working with a medical professional to figure out an individual plan is, of course, always recommended.

AIP Diet (auto-immune protocol)

One of the best ways to eliminate nightshades from your diet is through the autoimmune protocol, or AIP. AIP is a long term elimination diet strategy, which focuses on both food and lifestyle. Eliminating nightshades can help to reduce inflammation for many people.

The autoimmune paleo diet can be divided into 6 primary categories: vegetables (such as arugula, cauliflower, or kale), herbs and spices (like basil, cilantro, or turmeric), fruits (such as apple, mango, or plum), proteins, healthy fats, and pantry staples. The AIP diet recommends up to 9 servings of vegetables a day! It’s best to not overdo fruit, and to stay at about 2 servings per day. Fruit is fiber-rich, and may even contain antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage.

High-quality animal protein is a great vehicle for minerals, healthy fats, and energy! Look for grass-fed, pasture-raised, or wild-caught protein when possible to ensure they are compliant. Healthy fats also have a ton of great health benefits, like regulating the inflammation process in your body, acting as a carrier for nutrients, and allowing us to stay satiated. AIP compliant healthy fats can include avocado oil, beef tallow, chicken fat, coconut oil, olive oil, or palm oil.

You might feel nervous about ensuring that you’re still eating enough nutrient dense foods, or getting enough protein. Not to worry! Two foods heralded by many on the AIP, that can be the backstop of an exciting new food life, are bone broth and organ meats. Bone broth is super clean, with collagen and gelatin to support your intestinal lining as it heals. Yes, it sounds incredibly boring, I know!  But, adding bone broth in during the evening when you are winding down can feel really warming and soothing. Plus, the nutrients have the added bonus of encouraging healthy hair growth, skin elasticity, and strong nails.

Bone broth is also incredibly easy to digest for those with gut issues, and has been eaten for thousands of years! It’s real food, made with real ingredients that your grandma would know. Also, anything for glowy skin and gut health, am I right?

Organ meats can encompass a huge range of proteins, like liver, kidney, tripe, heart, or even brain! Organ meats are the most concentrated source of vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K; minerals like iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc; and all 9 essential amino acids your body needs to function effectively. Organ meats also have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D of any food source!  

It was not that long ago that organ meat was a common dinner across the world, especially liver. Organ meat can be very cheap compared to muscle meat! Liver, in particular, is a very concentrated source of vitamin A. It’s also an important source of vitamin D, B12, copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, and iron (in an easily absorbable form). If you’re still disgusted by the idea of eating organ meats, you’re not alone! Try liver pills for the benefits of liver in a more conventional form.

Make a plan

When I’m trying to implement a new habit, I need to have a specific, day-by-day plan to ensure my success. Luckily, lots of very smart people have spent a lot of time creating, compiling, and researching best practices on how to eliminate nightshades. You can find full meal plans for your busy life!

Breakfast can be difficult to accommodate on the AIP, without any grains or eggs. Keep it savory must of the time to keep you full and satisfied, and don’t be afraid to incorporate “leftovers” into the most important meal of the day!

Everyone loves sandwiches, and you don’t have to worry about losing those once you’re following the AIP! Try using lettuce instead of buns, or coconut wraps! The final food hole that you need to fill is: what snacks are you going to bring on your next adventure? Is there anything you can throw in your bag, without having to meal prep for hours the night before? Not to worry! The world of AIP snacks has expanded greatly in recent years; I’m partial to our Mediterranean Lamb bars!

Scientists and other researchers are studying whether avoiding nightshades has a measurable health impact. There have been 3 major studies, each expanding on the next to create a fuller picture. A 2012 study found that bacterial growth in the gut might be linked to inflammatory and autoimmune disease. In 2014, a study showed that gut wall inflammation can affect how well the gut wall functions and that food allergies can make the gut wall more porous, causing leaky gut! In 2017, the first major study focused on AIP effectiveness found that eliminating certain foods as part of the AIP diet can improve symptoms of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). There has also been a growing interest in how the AIP can help those with rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re interested, try keeping a food diary for a week to track how often you eat nightshades. This will help you observe trends and connect symptoms to certain foods.  Some of our favorite resources for AIP and nightshade avoidance are Sarah at @thepaleomom, Tracy @wholedailylife, and Michele @thrivingonpaleo.

Paleo Cassava Flour Crusty Bread Recipe (Gluten-Free) For Fancy Toast

Paleo Cassava Flour Crusty Bread Recipe (Gluten-Free) For Fancy Toast

We tested Otto's Cassava Flour's Paleo, gluten-free bread recipe to make wild avocado toast, and it's amazing!

Listen, if you are a paleo or gluten-free person out there, you know that the bread struggle is real.  If you’re anything like me, you spend way too long lingering outside of bakeries staring at crusty bread wondering if you will ever get to enjoy that texture and flavor again.

There are so many gluten free flours out there that require xanthan gum (which is crazy expensive) for everything and aren’t grain free. Cassava flour, on the other hand, is a true multi-tasker. It is compliant for people with wheat and gluten allergies as well as people that follow the Paleo diet and the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, and it can be a 1:1 replacement for flour in many recipes.

Otto’s specializes specifically in cassava flour. It is made from 100% yucca root, and therefore is sugar-free, grain free, and is high in fiber.  Check out those squeaky clean nutrition facts.

Nutrition Facts

cassava flour nutrition facts

Otto’s Gluten-Free Crunchy French Bread Recipe

Many paleo bread recipes that I have tried have been a huge letdown, as they either didn’t rise and end up being incredibly dense, or they are spongy in the worst way.  Not this time. This bread has a crusty exterior, a fluffy interior and even had some rise to it! In a world of disappointing gluten-free paleo recipes, Otto’s has made a GREAT recipe!

Don’t believe me?  See photos below. That crust can’t lie.

Recipe Notes

I made some minor tweaks based on what I had available in my kitchen:

  • I used ghee instead of butter.  While it is not dairy free, it is lactose-free and that is less risky for the sensitive gut.  You could likely use coconut oil if you are looking for a completely safe option.
  • I substitute honey for maple syrup.  It’s a flavor preference, and honey contains beneficial amino acids so it’s great to have around any kitchen.
  • If you have an egg allergy, the absolute best solution I have found is the flax egg trick.
  • When I think crusty bread, I think of a big round loaf.  Therefore, I doubled the recipe and baked the bread in a round cast iron skillet instead of a traditional bread pan.  

gluten free paleo bread recipe cassava flour

  • Since the baking time was obviously going to be longer than their recipe, after 50 minutes in the oven I would remove the bread every few minutes and tap the bottom.  Once the bread has a hard crust and makes a hollow sound, you know it’s ready (thank you great British bake-off). They recommend taking it immediately out of the pan and using a cooling rack to keep the crust nice and firm.  Take that seriously, it’s important for the final result!

While this recipe is not AIP (autoimmune protocol) compliant, Otto’s has tons of beautiful AIP recipes.  Hello, they have waffles!

Wild Avocado Toast

When you have a picturesque grain free loaf of bread in front of you, what do you do?  Make fancy toast of course. These two savory and two sweet toast ideas will make you the bell of any brunch party.
gluten free paleo avocado toast recipe 

Southwest Chili Avocado Toast

This avocado toast is for people that don't mind a little kick to start their day!

  1. Slice your bread into 1” thick sections.
  2. Spread a thin layer of ghee over a slick of bread, and place it in a medium-hot skillet until toasted and golden brown on each side.
  3. Slice half of an avocado thinly, and spread across the toasted bread.  Salt and pepper to taste (nobody likes an unseasoned avocado).
  4. Add thinly sliced raw red onions and thinly sliced peppers (spicy or miniature bell) to the top.
  5. Cut a Wild Zora Chili Beef Bar into cubes and sprinkle them over the top.  If you’re looking for extra fat, drizzle some olive oil over everything.

Breakfast Taco Avocado Toast

If you think eggs and avocado are a match made in heaven (which they are) this is for you:

  1. Slice your bread into 1” thick sections.
  2. Spread a thin layer of ghee over a slick of bread, and place it in a medium-hot skillet until toasted and golden brown on each side.
  3. Slice half of an avocado thinly, and spread across the toasted bread.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cut a medium boiled egg into slices and add over the avocado.  We used eggs that we got from Peckish and they truly are perfectly boiled.  Plus, we added some of their ranchero crunchies, and I absolutely loved the extra texture they added.  
  5. Cut a Wild Zora Taco Pork Bar into cubes and throw those babies on top.
  6. Add cilantro and lime juice for bright, herbaceous notes (been watching a lot of Chopped).

gluten free paleo avocado toast recipe

Honey Strawberry Chia Toast

When the office was testing out all of these toast options, they especially loved this recipe:

  1. Slice your bread into 1” thick sections.
  2. Spread a thin layer of ghee over a slick of bread, and place it in a medium-hot skillet until toasted and golden brown on each side.
  3. Feel free to add a little bit more ghee at this point so that they strawberries have something to stick to.  Plus, it makes this sweet toast a little bit more savory.
  4. Slick 4 strawberries into slices and place them on your toast in whichever way you like.
  5. Drizzle a tablespoon of honey over the strawberries and sprinkle chia seeds over it immediately.
  6. Get eating, this bread is amazing and is best eaten when warm!

Almond Butter Banana Toast

  1. Slice your bread into 1” thick sections.
  2. Spread a thin layer of ghee over a slick of bread, and place it in a medium-hot skillet until toasted and golden brown on each side.
  3. Cut a banana into thin slices and get as many on there as possible.
  4. If you don’t have a nut allergy, add a few pecans for a nice crunch.
  5. Drizzle the almond butter over the top.  I used a Justin’s individual packet, which I seem to have lying around everywhere.  They’re so convenient!
  6. I threw a little bit of sea salt on top, but that is completely optional.  It really brings out the sweetness of the bananas (yes, that sounds crazy but it’s true).

Other Things This Bread Would Be Perfect For

This bread has inspired so many new recipe ideas that I can’t wait to try.  What would you use it for?

The things I’m considering are:

  • French Toast
  • Bruschetta
  • Dipping in Soup (or as a topper in french onion soup, right?!)
  • Garlic Bread

If you decide to make this bread for a recipe, be sure to tag @wildzorafoods and @ottos_cassava_flour on Instagram!  You are all so creative, it would be so fun to see what creations you come up with!

Freeze-Dried Porridge is the Healthy Backpacking Food You Need

Freeze-Dried Porridge is the Healthy Backpacking Food You Need

Paleo backpacking meals are not just for dinner anymore! 

pieonthetrail photo hiking up a mountain

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’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

  1. 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).

wild zora freeze dried paleo porridge flaxseed and fruit
  1. 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 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1.  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.