Monday, October 6, 2014

Paleo-powered AT section hike

From the freezing peak of Big Bald.
I headed out for the weekend to Sam's Gap along the Appalachian Trail down to Nohlichucky River.  This is a beautiful section of the AT following the border or TN and NC with 360 degree views from Big Bald (even of Mt Mitchell in the distance which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi) along with a moderate to strenuous trail that bumps along ridges and ends near the quaint town of Erwin, TN.  I only wish I could've stayed on top of Big Bald for a while longer but the weather (even though it looks inviting in the picture) was absolutely brutal.  Our hike in Friday night included driving winds and cold rain.  By the time we got to Big Bald the next morning the grass was blown over with a thick layer of ice and 40mph winds on top.  My hands were numb so it took numerous tries to get the phone to even recognize my fingers.  I snagged a couple shots and moved on.  Later we spoke with some thru-hikers mentioning that this was the coldest day they had experienced since beginning.

Soooo...what did I eat on my trip?

Saturday Breakfast

I didn't really change up my formula for breakfast.  I am content with pickled eggs and bacon.  I tried a different formula with my coconutter squares that included cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and some almonds.  It didn't turn out quite like I expected so I am going to tweak it a bit before publishing the full recipe.  I wanted a chocolate taste as a breakfast "dessert" but between it being hard as a rock from the weather and the cocoa taking over, it was more bitter than I was expecting.  I didn't have time to make another batch before leaving so I just went with it and kind of just chewed and swallowed.

Saturday Lunch

I was kind of proud of my lunch.  I'll call it faux-carribean as that was the flavor I was shooting for.  I made a batch of turkey jerky that utilized salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a local hot sauce.  I managed to screw this up as well since I over-dryed my turkey and it was less of a jerky and more of a crunchy.  So be it.  I then dehydrated a pineapple and tossed in some coconut flakes.  So I had a tangy hot, fruity, coconut mix.  The flavor profile worked wonderfully.  The texture was the only issue.  I have to say that dehydrated pineapple is pretty darn close to candy, so much so that it could be dangerous.  I also ate some more of my choco-coconutter mishap and some more bacon.

Oh and yes if someone wants the recipe/instructions for this I will certainly put it together sans the over-drying part.  Just let me know in the comments section.


Saturday Dinner


I was looking forward to FINALLY eating my Beef Stew from PaleoMealsToGo. I read through the instructions and fired up the JetBoil to heat some water.  The JetBoil dutifully complied with my request for quick boiling water while I opened the package and hunted down the moisture pack hidden within my meal and then shook the ingredients as described by the instruction.  I tossed in the water and let it sit while I made another batch of hot water for some tea.  While my friend was making his own meal he turned and said "That smells wonderful!".  I had to agree.  I was ready to chow down on this thing and once I got everything stirred up it definitely beat the look of what I normally prep for myself.  There are visible chunks of beef, mushrooms, and veggies.  Other freeze dried meals I have eaten in the past are usually just little nubs of colored things that sort of resemble food.  This looked like it came right from the stove top.  So presentation itself is a plus.  I dumped in my packets of Celtic Sea Salt that it came with and I should've mixed that better as I think I ate all the salt in a few bites.  I am a salt fiend, and after having sweated out most of my salt reserves, I wanted more than what was allotted (a minor complaint).  I have to say though this was definitely a very tasty meal.  I could taste all of the ingredients distinctly.  The proportion given was also solid.  I didn't think I was going to be able to eat it all myself but I gobbled it all down and enjoyed every bite.  I was only disappointed when I got to the bottom.  I do think I will definitely try more of these in the future and if you're not into DIY for meals then definitely consider these.  I am considering grabbing some to keep on hand for an emergency supply as well during winter blackouts or if I need to make a quick out of town trip without time to prep meals.  I think the only thing I would want is more fat added (which I know is difficult for meals like this) but I am more low-carb/high fat and the carb count is nearly equal to the fat content.  I'm ready to try their other meals along with their Paleo Bars.  This company definitely gets it right!

Sunday Breakfast


It was mop up time.  I plowed through my eggs, bacon crumbs, and whatever else I had to shuck some weight on the pack.

I'm only about 130 lbs but when moving through the mountains I blast through calories and always need fuel.  I can become a bottomless pit so it is sometimes difficult to gauge what I need, hence the need for higher fat meals.  I still need to conjure up better high fat meals or ingenious ways to add it to my current meals.  I'm all ears for any suggestions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dehydrating...when is it done?

Here's a quick tip for when dehydrating pretty much anything.  You want to remove all moisture so it doesn't turn rancid or collect mold.  So, if you think it's about done place a piece of or a spoon full of whatever it is you're dehydrating into a ziploc bag and seal.  Wait for a minute or two and see if moisture collects on the bag.  If so, it aint done yet.

That's it.  I like simple things!

I'm getting ready to start prepping for my next trip.  So, I will try and put together my process for making some turkey jerky (with pictures!), which could be applied to beef or whatever meat you prefer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Paleo Joe Recipe

Ok, so a lot of people have asked for the Paleo Joe recipe (the dehydrated meal in my previous post).  All credit goes to Dana Carpender's "500 Paleo Recipes" book.  There are some gems in this title but some people complain because there are no pictures.  Funny, I don't remember Grandma's recipe box having any pictures either yet I managed to eat just fine.  I know in this day and age people have to have photos before trying something but whatever...get the book, it's cheap with a ton of ideas.  Ironically I don't have any elegant photos of this meal other than me chowing on it in my other post.

So, let's get to it.  Here's what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Lbs Ground Beef
  • 4 oz Mushrooms (Rough chop)
  • 1 Medium Onion (Chopped)
  • 1/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes (Chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 10oz. Spinach
  • 5 Eggs (Whisked)
  • Salt and Pepper
Note: For the spinach I get frozen because, well, it's already 10oz and I don't have to wait for it to cook down.  Just thaw it prior and wring out the juice in a cheese cloth or clean tea towel.  If you'd prefer Kale or Collards I'm sure both would work just as well.  In fact, this recipe for Sukuma Wiki from The Domestic Man (which uses collards) would make for a perfect dehydrated meal as well with some slight adjustments.

Directions:

  1.  I change things up a little from the book's recipe.  I always cook onions first.  So get a dollop of your favorite fat (bacon grease, lard, butter, coconut oil etc.) over medium high heat and get your onions cooking in your cast iron skillet.  I usually cook them down a bit until they're translucent.
  2.  Add in your garlic and give it a quick saute (careful not to burn it) 
  3.  Add in your beef and start breaking it down with your spatula and getting the onions worked in.  I always season my meat as I go so, add salt and pepper here.
  4. When the meat is nearly browned, add in your mushrooms and they'll absorb the fat and the flavor.
  5. One the mushrooms begin to break down a bit, and all meat is no longer pink, add in your tomatoes and spinach.  Get all of the ingredients worked in real well.
  6. Now take your whisked eggs and pour them over the mixture.  Keep stirring until the eggs begin to set.  
  7. Add a little more salt and pepper at this point to taste.
Now we have our vat of yumminess.  If it's time for a meal, go ahead and grab a bowl and enjoy.  It's also a good gauge to see how much you might eat on the trail.  Once you are ready for the next step, scoop out a portion for your trail meal and add a little extra to it.  You just hiked 20 miles, you deserve an extra bite, right?!

Now, dehydrate what you have until all moisture is removed.  When you're ready to rehydrate, just add about a cup of boiling water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  The burger may have a little crunch if you're impatient like me but it didn't stop me from gobbling this down.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

PaleoMealsToGo.com


I have a sample from PaleoMealsToGo that I will be reviewing in the very near future.  I have gotten behind on updating this blog (which is of no surprise to me) and thus my review of the product.  I am an IT guy in my professional life so it overshadows my hobbies and extracurricular activities more often than not.  If I had it my way I would spend my days promoting Paleo to everyone, hiking, and doing fun things but money rules our society and we kind of need it to survive and work prevails.  So, I update when I can or rather when I am thinking about it.


I am usually a DIY type when it comes to preparing my own meals for the trail but if this dehydrated meal works out then you better believe I will use it quite often.  There are a handful of positive reviews already and I hope to add my own to the stack.  If you're not one to create your own meals and don't wish to eat the other junk from REI or your local outfitter (which I can't blame you) then this will be a good place to visit in the future.  I am also all for small start-ups when they're trying their best to do the right thing with nutrition.  I will gladly pay extra for a quality product that matches my needs.

Anyway, have a look at their wares and I will be back with a review of the product as soon as I am able.

Coconutter Squares

Ok, so I am not very good at food photography and in fact I am terrible but you get the idea of what this should look like.  I also lied, saying I wold have this out before last weekend.  Life has a funny way of distracting your best intentions though.

So, let's make some Coconutter Squares for your next trip! This thing is a fat bomb as it is almost completely Coconut Butter/Manna.  This recipe is totally free-form but it will give you an idea on how to modify it on your own as you see fit.  You'll need some Coconut Butter, a trail mix of your choosing, and some cinnamon.

Scoop out about a half a cup of coconut butter and toss it in a small sauce pan.  Heat it on low and keep an eye on things as it heats up.  You just want to melt it without burning it so be patient.  Add some cinnamon along the way as you stir and melt.  I have no measurement for this but I do like a lot of cinnamon personally.

Once your coconut butter is fully melted, add a little trail mix at a time until there is a decent ratio of mix to coconut.  Add as little or as much as you want.  I liked a trail mix with just a little dried fruit mixed in.  The coconut butter is naturally sweet to me so it doesn't take much to make it super sweet.

After you get everything mixed together, pour it into a mold of your choosing.  I have some little glass dishes for storage that I use (hence the shape in the photo).  If you're worried about it sticking, just line your mold with a little wax paper.  Just be mindful of folds in the wax paper as it will get stuck easily and you may be munching on wax paper on the trail  (Yes this has happened to me).

So, that's it!  It's a very simple creation and can be modified as needed.  Heck, add some vanilla or even some clean chocolate chips if you dare.  If you've ever eaten coconut butter from the jar you know it's a little dry but its super yummy and satiating.  It forces you to drink some extra water which is never a bad thing on the trail anyway.

If you want a printable version of this I have it on my other website

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2lbs of Paleo meals for a weekend

The awesomeness that I consumed on the trail
I had meant to write up an entry before I went on this hike but my trip was delayed due to my hiking buddy succumbing to a most serious injury...from tether ball with his daughter!  Yeah, seriously.  So we delayed our trip for a month and I soon forgot I even had a blog pertaining to Backpacking or Paleo or whatever it is that I write about.  Nonsense mostly!

So, anyway I just wanted to share what I had on the trail.  We headed out to the lower Nantahala National Forest in NC and tried out the Standing Indian Loop trail  I had heard great things about this trial so it was on my to-do list.  Since we're late in the season I wanted to make sure I had at least one warm meal for Saturday since I knew it would be a long day.  The early weather forecasts had called for highs in the 40's and lows in the 20's, which then switched to highs in the mid 60's and lows in the upper 40's.  That sounded much better but what we got was something completely different.  We ended up with a persistant fog, wind, and moisture that must have added about 10 lbs of weight to my back.  The fog destroyed any chance for any type of scenic view but I was content getting on the trail.

Alright, so, yeah I was talking about my meals.  Since I actually planned this for October and not November I had my meals sitting in a freezer until it was time to go. I ended up weighing the pouch before leaving and realized it was still a little hefty at 2lbs but I'll work on cutting weight in the future.  I was happy with what I had so I can complain and it sure beat the typical freeze dried crap or tasteless oatmeal that I used to eat long ago and crashed halfway through the morning.

Friday night I just had some cashews and some clean chocolate chips.  We were starting after dark so I made sure I had dinner in me beforehand.  I also gulped down a coconut water before I got to the trailhead to ensure hydration and boost the potassium.

Saturday morning I had 3 pickled eggs and some pre-cooked bacon and my infamous coconutter squares.  I also enjoyed a nice hot black tea.  The vinegar in the eggs is a real boost in the mornings!

Saturday lunch I had dehydrated some sweet potatoes (see previous post) which turned pretty much into chips (or could be reconstituted into mash potatoes if you wanted), some Applegate Farms Salami slices, some homemade jerky, and another chunk of coconutter.  I munched on my cashew/chip mix throughout the day to keep some fats rolling and replenish the salt that steadily dripped off of me.

Saturday dinner was a new recipe straight from my dehydrator.  I used a recipe called Paleo Joe from Dana Carpender's 500 Paleo Recipes.  It consisted of ground beef, spinach, eggs, garlic, onion, sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper.  I might be missing a couple of other items but if anyone wants to know the full process for this, just let me know and I'll add an entry on it.  So I made a huge batch for this back in October, scooped out a portion for a king after a long day hike, and added it to the dehydrator for a few hours until it was nice and crispy.  I then vac sealed it and tossed it in the freezer to make sure it kept well until my trip.  When it came time to eat I just added about a cup of boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes.  I was too impatient and started eating and a few morsels were crunchy but it tasted great.

I also wanted to have a little desert.  So, I grabbed one of those organic baby food pouches.  Yeah it may be a little hefty for the Ultralight crowd but it tasted great.  Sometimes I will allow the extra weight for a little comfort.  That's why I have a pack pillow.  I survived for years on ziploc bags crammed with clothes but I am a big boy now and I carry a pillow.  Shut up.  Yeah I eat baby food too!  Giggle all you want they're really tasty and I use them all the time on my day hikes.

Of course Sunday morning I stuck by my old standby with pickled eggs and bacon and whatever else I hadn't consumed already.  There's nothing like an empty pack on the way out of the trail especially when your ankles and calves are banged up from the previous days, any load off the back is worthwhile.

I don't really keep tabs on who or what reads this blog.  If anyone finds it useful let me know.  Or, if you want to know my process for things or recipes....I'd be more than happy to oblige.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes

For my next outing I wanted to add a little more carbs to the trip so I have created some simple dehydrated sweet potatoes.  One site called it Sweet Potato Bark but it added cinnamon and sugar and a bunch of junk I don't need.  I wanted a more savory flavor with a hint of natural sweetness from the sweet potato.  Once created one could eat these as "chips" or smash them up and reconstitute them with some boiling water as a side dish.

For this little project you'll need a dehydrator or dehydrate in your oven at its lowest temperature

Making a Paste

 

I didn't want to waste a lot on this one so I only used one potato to experiment.  I was impressed how well it came out and its similar to a fruit roll up but crispier.  So, what you want to do is roughly chop up a potato and toss it in some water with a little salt and boil away.  Keep an eye on things until the sweet potato softens up real well and them remove from the burner.  Don't pour off the water just yet.

I pulled out my trusty ninja for the task but any blender or food processor should do just fine.  I scooped out the potatoes into the blender and pulsed it a few times and then drizzled some water in to make it into a paste.  You want the consistency similar to baby food so it can be spread well.  Mine was a little thick yet but still came out quite well.  It may take a little longer to dry though if it's too thick.

Dehydrate


I setup the dehydrator and cut out some parchment paper to fit the trays and spread the mixture as evenly as possible across the paper.  I then added a little salt and pepper to punch up the taste a bit.  Once complete just fire up the dehydrator.  I ran mine around 135 degrees for about 12 hours but time may vary depending on the equipment used and the humidity in the air.  If you're doing this in the oven you may have a temperature of around 150-170 degrees so it may take less time.  Keep it doing until it turns crispy or if you want more of a veggie leather, go with less time.

I admit this comes out a little weird and it's akin to eating salty candy as it tends to stick in my teeth.  That said, it's very tasty and extremely light so it will make a great snack or addition to my lunch on the trail.  I am thinking it may pair well with some roasted coconut flakes.  I'm sure there are other combinations of seasoning to try like cumin/chili powder for a more latin flair or you could still do the cinnamon but ditch the sugar for a breakfast type addition.

Next up I will be prepping a dehydrated dinner for my next trip in a couple weeks.