A Mix of Energy Balls, Bars and Raw Treats

Have a good Friday everyone! My morning is to try to fix the havoc the boys have wrecked on our Christmas Tree. Oh yay. It is apparently a “fun tree”.

Complied from posts on my TrailCooking blog, these are some of the treats I take hiking with me when Alistaire isn’t along – on those occasions when I can enjoy the foods he is allergic to!


Almond Balls


For rolling:

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds


Add the dates and almonds in a food processor, process until fine crumbs. Add in cocoa powder, work in. Pulse in almond extract. Add water in, as needed, running on high, until the mixture comes together as a solid ball, this will depend on your dates. Medjool from Costco, in the produce section, are usually quite moist. I needed about 2 Tablespoons water, yours may need more.

Run the coconut and almonds for rolling in a mini food chopper, or break up in the food processor before making the balls. Spread on a large rimmed plate.

Make 1 Tablespoon balls, roll smooth in your hands and set on a piece of parchment paper until all are done (a 1 Tablespoon Disher helps). Roll the balls in the nut mixture, pressing in gently. Set on a large plate, chill for an hour before packing away. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until eating time.

Makes about 24 balls.

You can use juice instead of the water, or even alcohol, for an adult take.


Cherry Almond Bars


  • 1 cup Dried Cherries, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 8)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • Pinch fine sea salt


Grind the cherries and dates together till smooth in a food processor. Add in almonds, process until chunky, add almond extract and salt, process until smooth (it will ball up).

Flatten between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, cut into desired shapes, or make balls instead.

Crumble up some more slivered almonds, roll bars or balls in them. Press additional cherries on top.

To make the “cookie” shapes, roll balls in the almonds, place a cherry on top and gently flatten with thumb.

Store tightly covered in refrigerator till trail time. Carry wrapped or in a small container.


The cherries I use do not have sulfites, look for naturally dried cherries. Medjool dates are sold in the produce section. Costco carries them at a good price. Same with the slivered almonds, look at Costco or Trader Joe’s for best prices.


Halva (Halwa) is often a very sugary treat that can be made many ways but is often based on sesame/honey and a boiled syrup (think candy making). Which while delicious isn’t something I can justify in our current way of eating. But I got inspired that maybe I could make a bar treat that was inspired by it but remain less processed.

I played with it and made a mostly raw batch, cut into bars. I also opted in for brown sesame seeds rather than the more common white hulled seeds. It gives a deep robust flavor, especially when paired with maple syrup. Use what you prefer, if you are not used to whole sesame seeds I recommend going with white (also sold as ‘raw’). And should you love really robust, try finding black sesame seeds. They have an amazing flavor (black sesame oil is a real treat!)

And feel free to play with the sweetener, use what you like as well. Raw honey is the traditional choice.

Pistachio Halva Bars


  • 2 cups brown sesame seeds or hulled white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (roasted or not, salted or plain)
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp or to taste ground cinnamon


Grind the sesame seeds to a flour-like texture in a spice or coffee grinder.


You need your grinder to be clean. Grind through it a handful of raw rice and dump out, the rice removes the scent left behind from spices.

Why a spice or coffee grinder and not a high-powered device such as a Vitamix blender? Simply put, sesame seeds are over 50% oil. They will turn to a butter before you know it. And more so, the more powerful the device, the higher the heat output. And that means the seeds will warm up.

Grind a small amount, dump into a large mixing bowl, then grind a bit more, and repeat. A couple of tablespoons is plenty.

If your grinder gets heated up , stop and let it cool. You want flour, not sesame butter.

Once done, stir in half the maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. For ease put on a pair of food grade gloves and mix with fingers. Keep adding teh maple syrup, until the mixture sticks together, and is as sweet as you desire.

Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, smooth out and wrap the excess plastic over. Press down firmly to pack.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, unwrap and cut into bars. Wrap each bar tightly, store in the refrigerator until trail time.

Due to the high fat content, these bars carry best in the cooler months. They can also be rolled into balls and flattened into “cookies” and wrapped.

Simple Lunches: Tomato & Herb Pasta

Want to see a peek into what is coming soon to the blog? The Natural Barista: Latte Syrups & Drinks:


Want in on a secret? OK, a secret for those of who like to hike and backpack – and heck, just even plain travel – or even to work or school….it is an online store full of fun: Minimus. It is so much fun to get a box full of single serving items. You do have to think up ideas for it all, but that isn’t too hard! And they do free shipping with orders over $20.

This is a recipe I originally developed for my outdoors blog, TrailCooking:


With a few tweaks it is great for lunch or dinner for one, and if you happen to carry a small camping stove setup while car traveling on road trips (you should no matter what – with fuel and emergency food, in case your car breaks down…).


A simple one pot meal, vegetarian friendly. This is pretty similar to how I cook for the guys when we travel out to the coast, and stay in cabins. I sit outside on a picnic table, watching the waves come in, from the Pacific Ocean and cook dinner.


Even in winter it is fun! You just wear more clothing and run inside once it is cooked….someday I’ll have to do a post on the gear we carry when doing road trips – storage bins are your friend, so are checklists!


Tomato & Herb Pasta

Pack in a sandwich bag:

Also take:


Bring 2 cups water to boil in your pot, add in pasta and tomatoes and broth and oil packets. Cook for time directed on pasta package, lowering flame on stove as needed to maintain a gentle boil, stirring often.

Take off stove, stir in garlic, oregano and 3 of the cheese packets, Cover and let sit for a few minutes, top with last cheese packet.

Like it a bit spicier? Add a packet of crushed red pepper flakes.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Crunchy, Salty & Sweet Trail Mix

While I can’t eat this one at home due to Alistaire’s allergies, it has been one of my favorite hiking trail mixes to take along with me. On those rare occasions when I get out kidless!


Crunchy, Salty & Sweet Trail Mix? Oh yeah. This is the good stuff. The stuff you hide and deny you have with you.

There is so much more to life than buying a 5 pound bag of pre-made trail mix at Costco that isn’t at its freshest and frankly, taste is lacking. The textural of this mix is chewy, crunchy, poppy….

Buy the best ingredients you can. I used non-sulfite cranberries and cherries, snappy oven-roasted almonds and organic chocolate chips. When buying the pretzels look for thin rods and read the ingredients. Some brands add in sugar or corn syrup, pass up on those! You want the savory flavor, not sweet in them. The granola was full of raisins and slivered almonds, for even more texture.


Crunchy, Salty & Sweet Trail Mix




Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Break the pretzel sticks up coarsely, place in a cereal bowl. Add the granola to a second cereal bowl.
Place 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a small heat safe mixing bowl. Melt in the microwave on High for 30 seconds, stir, continue on 20 second intervals, stirring after each one, until the chips are melted and smooth. Mix in remaining chips, stir until melted and smooth.
Drizzle half of the melted chocolate over the pretzels, the other half over the granola. Stir each bowl until thoroughly coated. Spread each on the parchment paper, separating into small chunks. Place in the refrigerator until set, about an hour.
Break into small pieces, add to a large mixing bowl with the cranberries, almonds and cherries, toss to mix.
Store in an airtight container, take with you in snack bags.

Makes about 5½ cups.

Trail Eats: Fall Eats

Hiking and backpacking was for a long time my driving force in life, until I had child #3 and could barely keep up with life. I know though that in a few years life will settle back down and I’ll be out more. There was a time between Ford (my oldest) being 2 and when was 12 (when I had Walker, our middle child) that I was out backpacking often weekly, dayhiking every couple of days, often with Ford in tow. I was driven to find what lay behind each knoll, what views I could sweat for hours to glimpse. I once cracked a 20 mile day in sheer stupidity, that ended in a long hike in the dark, listening to elk and cougars in the distance.

This picture is bittersweet in many ways to me. Ford and I had hiked for the day to Summerland at Mt. Rainier, with my friend Jared, in the summer of 2009. I was lagging the whole trip. No energy, but the flower show there is phenomenal and it kept me going. It wasn’t shocking to take a pregnancy test a few days later and find out I was pregnant with Walker.

Let it be said, there is a reason the hike to Summerland is packed in summer. It is one of the prettiest sections of The Wonderland Trail. The creek I am by is usually covered in Marmots, lying around like fat sacks of potatoes. And with views of the summit of Rainier and Little Tahoma’s spire…sublime. I spent the night here in 2004 while hiking the Wonderland and vowed I would come back.

And I’ll admit it: I haven’t backpacked since the summer of 2009. It was hard to give up but with back to back pregnancies it wasn’t happening. Add in I was severely anemic for  over 3 years due to the meds I took during pregnancy, well I had no energy. I still dayhike, I still chase what I cannot see but can imagine is there. Always looking for bears, goats and pretty kitties, often surrounded by fields of marmots chewing grass.

I can see next year I’ll be back out there – the kids will be old enough so they don’t overwhelm Kirk when I run away for the night :-) And I can take them with me soon enough for overnighters. There is little as good feeling as snuggling into sleeping bags in a small tent with your children. Ford and I backpacked 1,000’s of miles over the years, it is good memories :-)

About 10 years ago, this was Ford and I on a frigidly cold hike near the Canadian border in alpine, he had just turned 5 years old. It was below freezing the entire hike. It bears significance as well, I came home and found an email waiting for me from Kirk. He had just moved to Washington and wanted to know if that random offer of going hiking was still an option. I often hiked with hiking forum members from online so it wasn’t weird, we had chatted once and I had said “Oh, if you get out here….”. We met, we hiked, we hiked a lot more…and then I realized I liked him on a long hike to a place called Glacier Basin, which sits above the ghost town of Monte Cristo, a long abandoned mining town.

A 12 mile hike gives one time to think. We are coming to 10 years together this month. We started dating in a rain forest and we still hike together, all these years later :)

If anything, Kirk encourages me to get out there. He knows nothing makes me happy like a sunny morning at 6,000 feet in alpine at Rainier. He isn’t that crazy over alpine hiking so he takes the kids and shoos me out of the house for the day.

So what does this have to do with the title of my post? A lot :) Kirk encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone. When he met me I was known for eating Stove Top Stuffing and freeze-dried peas for dinner plus plenty of Little Debbie oatmeal cookies. Yeah, gourmet it wasn’t. I also believed that commercial freeze-dried meals were great. (Eek) I got hooked on light weight hiking, found snazzy new gear to tote and found a budding outdoor cook hiding in me. Waking up to snow on Labor Day weekend on the Pacific Crest Trail and having awesome food to eat? Priceless.

7 years ago, over Thanksgiving weekend, in 2005, Kirk and I hammered out what would become our first book – Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple. The first version looked different, it had less content and a different cover. We brought a revised version out in 2007, the one that sells now. I was prepping a wholesale order this week and it got me thinking of the years of writing and developing outdoor recipes. When Kirk and I set out, in 2004, it was a different world for publishing. We took a risky plunge and self-published, deciding we wanted all the rewards, hard work and risk. I was “schooled” in PR, thanks to my friend Cat (of Verdant Life). who helped me grow the business. My friend Dani was also there with me, both of them helping me run booths at hiker conventions around the Northwest. I found I achieved goals I didn’t know I had. The first one was strangers buying our book. That was shocking. I’d have been happy selling 50 copies. Many, many thousands later and 7 years later, strangers from all over are still buying my book, around the world. That in itself made it worth it. I was featured in Backpacker Magazine, and then I wrote an article for them as well and realized I just do NOT like writing for corporate magazines….just um..too stifling. They do not see the world as I see it. It is boring and dry…..I like having the freedom to ramble on about whatever catches my fancy. And to be an idiot if I choose 😉 To the point I have turned down writing offers from them. It plays into why I blog here as well. I love being able to talk about what makes me tick, what makes me wonder. It is also why I chose to be my own publisher. And hey, being sold in REI for years was pretty cool as well……I have countless photos of me holding my book in REI’s we visited (dork alert!).

I di though find some writing I liked – it was recipe development for Washington Trails Magazine, in a column that became known as Trail Eats. I have done it for a couple of years now and enjoy it. It is more my style!

With fall settling in, the newest issue of Washington Trails Magazine has arrived. In it are three new recipes for fall-inspired noshing – enjoy the article!

Fall brings crisp days and cold evenings. It also brings Thanksgiving and hearty appetites. I often do a traditional Turkey Day dinner for a hike, complete with mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and more, this year it seemed right to try a new approach. If you would like great ideas & recipes from our collection please visit our Thanksgiving Collection of recipes.

PS: If you want a cheater dessert, look for the tiny pecan pies sold at gas stations. The little sugar bombs make a great treat! (Although super unhealthy…but hey….)

Harvest Rice


  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • ½ cup freeze-dried vegetables
  • 2 Tbsp homemade broth mix or 2 tsp lower sodium chicken bouillon
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • Pinch of sea salt

Also take:

  • 5 ounce can (w/ pop-top lid) or 7 ounce pouch chicken
  • 1 Tbsp or packet olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

At home:

Pack the rice ingredients in a sandwich bag or quart freezer bag, depending on cooking method. Mark “Add 2 1/2 cups water” on bag. Pack the walnuts in a snack bag.

One Pot Method:

Add the chicken, with any broth, water and oil to a cooking pot. Bring to a boil, add the rice bag, return to boil. Turn off the stove, cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. In cooler weather or at altitude insulate the pot with a pot cozy.

Stir the rice, top with the walnuts.

Freezer Bag Method (FBC):

Bring the water to a boil, set aside. Place the freezer bag in a cozy, add the oil and chicken, with any broth and the water. Stir well, seal and let sit for 15 minutes.

To make a second ‘bowl’ bring along a second freezer bag, cuff in half.

Divide the rice and top with the walnuts.

Serves 2.


This recipe can be adapted to vegan by leaving the chicken out and adding in chickpeas if desired, or more nuts. Use the same amount of water called for, if using dehydrated chickpeas, hydrate them separately  add, drained, with the hot water to the dry rice..

To make your own vegan-friendly dry mix see here.

Cranberry Pear Compote


  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup dried pears, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp dried orange zest (or a True Orange packet)
  • Pinch fine sea salt

At home:

Pack the ingredients in a snack bag or pint freezer bag, depending on cooking method.

 Insulated Mug/Bowl Method:

Add the ingredients to an insulated mug or small bowl, cover with ¼ cup of water. Cover and let hydrate for 20 to 30 minutes. If a bit dry, add in a little more water as needed.

Freezer Bag Method (FBC):

Bring ¼ cup water to a boil, set aside. Place the freezer bag in a cozy, add the water and seal bag. Let hydrate for 20 to 30 minutes. If a bit dry, add in a little more water as needed.

Serves 2.

Pumpkin and Gingersnap Pudding


  • 2/3 cup dry milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch or favorite thickener, arrowroot works as well
  • 2 Tbsp dried and powdered pumpkin purée (see below)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Big pinch ground nutmeg
  • Big pinch ground ginger
  • Big pinch salt

 Also take:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 bag crisp gingersnap cookies (any size, more is better..say 7-9 ounces)

At home:

Pack the pudding ingredients in a sandwich bag. Tuck the butter in a small bag.

One Pot Method:

Add the mix and 2 cups cold water to a cooking pot. Using a small whisk, stir while bringing to boil, over a lower flame. When the pudding comes to a boil and is thick, take off the stove and whisk in the butter. Serve warm or let cool, a cold stream or snow bank works well for chilling.

Divide between mugs or bowls – or in a pinch served in pint freezer bags.

Crumble up some of the gingersnaps, dust on top, serve with the rest to dip in the pudding.

Serves 2 to 4, depending on appetite.


Dried pumpkin? Very easy! Spread a can of organic pumpkin purée on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, dehydrate in your oven at lowest temp till bone dry, then powder. Store tightly sealed. Or see here on how to do it in a dehydrator.

Want it even better? Add in some rum at the end, after it comes off the stove.

PS: Wondering what an FBC Cozy is? What FBC means? A full on primer of what the heck Trail Cooking is? Dehydrating 101?


Of Hiking and Raw German Chocolate Bars

I was so happy last weekend, Kirk and I got the boys out for two hikes, both at Mt. Rainier National Park, which is up the road from us (literally!)

On Saturday we took the two youngest on a lake hike to Bench & Snow Lakes:

On Monday we went to Sunrise, which is the highest road in the park – the parking lot is at 6400 feet – in Washington State that is alpine.

I posted this recipe earlier this week on my other blog, TrailCooking, it was so tasty I had to share it here as well!

Last weekend I made a batch of raw German Chocolate Bars that I was inspired by a recipe I saw recently on a favorite blog, NomEatNom, I made these bars using my favorite form of raw cacao, Navitas’s Sweet Cacao Nibs. The sweet ones add just enough to take any bitter cacao taste away. They have a pleasant boozy taste that works well in raw bars.

Find the Medjool dates and raw pecans at Costco or Trader Joe’s for savings, Costco now carries young coconut that is shredded but I find that Let’s Do Organic is my favorite. You can get it online or at natural food stores like Whole Foods.

German Chocolate Bars



Add everything to a food processor, process on high until finely chopped and it starts coming together in a ball. Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, flattening. Chill for a couple of hours, slice and wrap each bar. Keep refrigerated until trail time.


FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review/recipe development.

Trail Eats: Gourmet Car Camping Fare

The latest recipes from our column “Trail Eats” in the May & June 2012 issue of Washington Trails magazine are for gourmet yet comfort food car camping – and if you don’t mind a heavier backpack, these recipes can be easily made while backpacking as well.

The recipes are, I will admit different from what we eat daily, but I also realize that camping can be a fun time! And if one shops carefully and has a cooler along they can get all-natural versions of the pepperoni and use fresh crab (if car camping). If you would like to see more recipes for backpacking, hiking and car camping, head over to our sister site, Trail Cooking.

Crab Mac n’ Cheese
Pack in a quart plastic bag:
8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1 Tbsp dried onion

Pack in a sandwich bag:
1/2 cup dry milk
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Also take:
8 ounce bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 ounce can white crab meat

In a 2 or 3 Liter pot bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil, add in the macaroni/onion and cook for time on pasta package, turning down the flame as needed to maintain a gentle boil.
Drain the crab meat (the cans often have parchment paper in them, be sure to discard). When pasta is done (do not drain), turn the flame to very low and add in the seasoning bag and crab meat, stir well. Turn off the stove and add about 3/4 of the cheese, stir till melted. Taste for seasoning and add more pepper and or salt as desired (or a shake or two of hot sauce!).
Dish up and top with the remaining cheese.
Serves 2 large or 3 small portions.

Pizza Biscuits
Pack in a gallon plastic bag:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp dry milk
1 Tbsp Italian herb blend
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Also take:
1 package shelf stable pepperoni
2 ounces string cheese (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, in leak proof bottle
1 packet of pizza sauce (Boboli brand for example)

Open up the bag and fold over making a “bowl”. Dice up the cheese and add it and half the pepperoni to the bag along with 1/2 cup cool water, stir till mixed.
Heat a non-stick frying pan or shallow/wide pot over a medium flame, add half the oil and drop in small biscuit size of dough, flatten a bit and let cook till golden, flip over and cook till golden as well, lowering the stove’s flame if cooking too fast.
Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough and oil.
Serve with the pizza sauce for dipping.
Makes about 6 biscuits, enough for 2 to 3.
The shelf stable pepperoni is found often with deli meat in grocery stores refrigerated but doesn’t need to be kept cold until opened – it is noted on the label, Hormel is most common for brands. It comes with two separate inner packets, you need just one. Or look for Hormel’s Mini Pepperoni slices (also shelf stable) and use half of the 5 ounce bag. See above at the top about sourcing more natural versions if desired.


Photos by my husband.

Trail Eats – No Cook Meals For The Trail

The latest recipes from our column, “Trail Eats” In Washington Trails Magazine (the March/April 2012 issue, page 40).

Three courses for those rainy & cold spring hikes! Do the work at home and eat gourmet while everyone else has a soggy PB&J!

Pistachio Couscous Salad

2 cups lower sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp diced dried onion
1½ cup couscous
15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried basil

¼ cup shelled and diced pistachios

Bring the broth and onion to a boil in a medium saucepan, add in the couscous. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork into a large bowl, toss with the chickpeas.
Whisk the dressing in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let chill overnight, stir in the nuts and then pack into lightweight sandwich containers (such as Glad or Ziploc brand ones) with tight-fitting lids.
Makes 2-3 large portions.

If vegetable broth and agave are used this recipe is vegan friendly.

Hearty Spinach & Artichoke Wraps

1 burrito size flour tortilla, per wrap (see notes)
1 Tbsp ranch dressing, per wrap
2 slices cheese, per wrap
3 slices deli meat, per wrap
14 ounce can water packed artichoke hearts, well-drained
¼ cup baby spinach leaves, per wrap

At home –
Lay out a tortilla for each wrap. Brush on the dressing. Lay down the cheese, then the meat on top. Squeeze the artichoke hearts gently to remove all water, chop up two hearts per wrap and sprinkle on top. Lay the spinach on top, roll up each wrap tightly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Carry to the trailhead in a cooler, insulated with ice packs.

To carry safely on the trail build “ice packs” by putting ice cubes in quart freezer bags. When you get to lunch time your wraps will be safely chilled and you will have ice/ice water to add to your water bottle!
Look for the gourmet tortillas in fun flavors like Sun-Dried Tomato or as well ones sold as wraps in the bread section of the store. Water packed artichokes can be found inexpensively at Trader Joe’s, oil packed can be subbed, drain well.
We used Swiss cheese and smoked turkey on our wraps, use what you crave!

Chewy Granola Bars

1½ cups Rice Krispies® or similar cereal
1½ cups quick cooking oats (1 Minute)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, frozen
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
½ cup peanut butter (preferably natural)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix the cereal through chocolate chips in a large heat safe mixing bowl.
In a medium saucepan bring the sugar and syrup to a boil, take off the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla, stir till smooth.
Quickly add the hot syrup to the dry, mixing while pouring in, with a silicone spatula. Stir quickly till the cereal is coated and immediately dump into the prepared pan, pack down firmly with the spatula.
Let sit till cool and then slice into bars with a thin knife, wrap tightly for carrying.
How many? Depends on your size of bar!

Substitute any favorite nut or seed butter for the peanut butter and any small dried fruit for the raisins.


Trail Eats – Winter Soups: New Recipes From My Wa Trails Column

The latest recipes from our column, “Trail Eats” In Washington Trails Magazine (the January/February 2012 issue).

The theme was warm and nourishing soups, perfect for cold weather hiking/backpacking/snowshoeing trips.

Clam and Bacon Chowder

In a sandwich bag:
1 cup instant plain mashed potatoes
¼ cup shelf stable bacon
4 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon
1 tsp dill weed
¼ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp black pepper

In a second bag:
¼ cup dry milk
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Also take:
1 Tbsp or 1 packet olive oil
6.5 ounce can minced clams
¼ cup shelf stable Parmesan cheese with 1 tsp dried chives mixed in

Add 1 cup cold water to the milk bag, seal tightly and shake up till dissolved.
Add 3 cups water, oil and contents of potato bag to your pot. Bring to a boil and stir the milk mixture into the soup. Bring back to a gentle bubble and let thicken.
Turn to a low flame and add in the clams with broth and cheese, let heat through but don’t boil.

Impress your eating partner tips: Sprinkle the top of the soup with additional bacon and dill weed, pick up 2 sourdough “bread bowls” at the bakery on the way out of town. Carve and serve the soup in them.

Serves 2

Notes: Oysters (smoked or not) can be used instead. Find lightweight tins in the canned fish aisle. Find olive oil packets at www.minimus.biz

Chicken Stew & Dumplings

In a sandwich bag:
1 cup biscuit mix
1 Tbsp dry milk
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp dried parsley

Mark on bag “Add 1/3 cup water”.

In a sandwich bag:
3/4 cup freeze-dried vegetable mix
1 Tbsp diced dried onion flakes
1 Tbsp diced instant hash-browns

In a small bag:
4 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp diced dried garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Also take:
7 ounce pouch of chicken

Cover the vegetables with cold water and let soak for 5 minutes in a 2 Liter pot (or bigger).
Add 4 cups water, both the broth and vegetable bags and the chicken with any broth to your pot. Bring to a boil, taste the broth and salt to taste. Lower the heat a bit on your stove and keep simmering at a low boil. Meanwhile mix up the biscuit mix in its bag. Add the water, push out any air, seal the bag and knead till mixed. Snip a corner on the bag and start squeezing out dumplings. Let them simmer on the soup, with lid on for 5 minutes or till the dumplings are steamed and done (poke a spoon in one to check for being doughy), lowering the flame as needed to prevent boil-overs.

Serves 2 large bowls or 3 small bowls.

Notes: Instant hash browns are sold with the instant mashed potatoes and Costco. Look for Just Veggies brand dried veggies at Whole Foods, REI and other stores. Dried onions find in the spice aisle and Costco.

Slide Mt. Bean Chowder

In a quart freezer bag:
1/2 cup instant rice
1/3 cup instant black refried beans
1/4 cup freeze-dried corn
1 Tbsp shelf stable Parmesan cheese
1 tsp diced dried bell peppers
2 Tbsp dried salsa

Freezer Bag method (FBC): Add 2 cups near boiling water. Stir well, seal tightly and put in a cozy for 15 minutes. Stir again well.

Mug method: Add 2 cups boiling water to the dry ingredients in a large mug. Stir well, cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes.

One pot method: Bring 2 cups water to a boil in your pot. Add in the dry ingredients; stir well and let sit for 15 minutes tightly covered, in cold weather wrap your pot in a pot cozy to retain heat.

Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side cup of soup

Notes: Instant black refried beans are sold in natural food sections of grocery stores, look for bulk or Fantastic Foods brand or use black bean dry soup mix. Freeze-dried corn is sold at many natural food stores and REI, look for Just Veggies brand. Find dried bell peppers in bulk sections of natural food stores. On cold weather trips carry fresh salsa in a tightly sealed snack bag instead of drying it. Salsa is easily dried at home, for more info check our dehydrating pages out. To add more calories in winter add a stick of Pepper-jack cheese diced up (find with the string cheese) at the end.

Want more recipes for hiking? Check out my other website, Trailcooking!


Trail Eats – 3 New Recipes

My “real life” business is trail cooking, or rather recipes and gear for backpacking, hiking, kayaking or whatever sport a person loves. Kirk and I have worked on a couple more books (the recipes are done, the final editing isn’t) but our first book has been out for a couple of years and has done well for us – Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple.

We write a column for the WTA’s Wa Trails Magazine, “Trail Eats”, which comes out every other month. After the issue has been out we add the recipes to TrailCooking, our website. I love the writing of the recipes because I get to have fun with them and play with the theme. And it keeps me busy thinking about new ideas 😉

So…..Fall is here, the air is crisp and the days are shorter. Heartier meals to keep the cold at bay! These don’t have to be “outdoor recipes” either, they make great lunches or dinners for two :-) And best of all they use pantry items on hand, great for emergency kits as well. Lets put it this way….I’d prefer to eat tasty food over slop 😉

PS: Kids love the PB Bites. Great for lunches and snacks!

P’Nut Butter & Granola Bites

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup puffed rice cereal (Rice Krispies©)
3/4 cup granola of choice

Spray a 9×5” loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan heat the honey over medium heat till it comes to a boil. Pull off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Quickly work the cereals in till coated.
Using a silicone spatula pack the mixture into the pan and press down gently.
Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, turn out of the pan and cut into pieces. Stash in the refrigerator until trip time. Cary tightly sealed in a plastic bag.

Serves 2

We used a chocolate hazelnut granola from Safeway, use what you like!

Chicken and Apple Soup

In a sandwich bag:
1 cup instant rice
1/3 cup chopped dried apples
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)
1 Tbsp diced dried onion
4 tsp chicken bouillon (regular or lower sodium)
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder

Also take:
7-ounce foil pouch chicken

Add the dry ingredients, chicken (with any broth) and 4 cups water to a large pot (2 Liter works well) and bring to a full boil. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. In cooler weather or at high altitude wrap your pot in a pot cozy.

Serves 2 large or 3 medium servings

This soup is an easy last-minute recipe – everything you need can be found at most grocery stores. Find the tomatoes hidden in the produce department (look up high), apples with the dried fruit and onions in the spice section. It can also be made vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and using vegetable broth, just double the tomatoes and apples!

Lemon Tuna Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs

In a sandwich bag:
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into thirds

Also take:
1 Tbsp or 1 packet olive oil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 Tbsp lemon juice (3 packets or 1 lemon)
2.6 to 3 ounce pouch Albacore or Light tuna

In a small bag:
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shelf stable Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In your pot bring 4 cups water to boil. Add in the pasta and cook for time on package, drain carefully reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add in the oil, olives, lemon juice, tuna and reserved water to the pot, and toss to combine.
Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture and toss again.

Serves 2

For short trips carrying olives is fine, they are nicely preserved. Use any favorite pitted type from the olive bar! For longer trips or to save weight substitute freeze-dried olives (find at www.packitgourmet.com), add with the pasta to rehydrate.
Lemon juice packets and olive oil packets can be found online from www.minimus.biz. For lighter weight use 3 packets of True Lemon (found in the baking aisle at most stores) and 3 Tbsp water.
For extra calories in winter consider using the newish foil packets of tuna packed in olive oil (found in many grocery stores in the tuna aisle).


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