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.


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.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Planning Paleo Meals for the Trail

I know I haven't spent much time here writing out things as much as I thought I would.  So, I will try to stay the course but I have so many projects bouncing around in my head it sometimes becomes difficult to focus on one task for very long.

Regardless, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to plan out my meals on the trail.  I have experimented with a lot of different things with what I had available at the time.  Some of those items worked and others not so much.  One thing I did learn was that although jerky is good, you can't rely on it for an entire weekend on the trail.  One's jaw tends to get tired of chewing and it doesn't make for a quick lunch meal when you're trying to cram in 15 or more miles in a day.

As a Boy Scout when I was younger (and eventually an Eagle Scout) we were always forced to plan our meals for our camping trips.  This is something that always stuck with me so I always have to have a solid plan and then I will toss in a little extra just in case there is an emergency or something falls through.

Fail Safe foods

I always want to keep foods with me that are not going to spoil on me.  So the standard fare for the pack are trial mixes (which I often mix myself since not all nuts agree with me).  I used to keep huge batches with me and then realized I always went home with a ton after the trip.  So I'll keep it to a minimum (about a cup total) to reduce costs in weight added.  I will go for something like cashew, coconut flakes, and some sort of dried fruit (but go easy on the dried fruit).


Fats are one of my stumbling points to date on getting them packed for the trail.  I do keep coconut manna (butter) with me in some form or another and it really is a booster for satiating me and keeping me fueled on my trip.  I am still trying to bring more fats with me that will not go rancid.  During cooler months I will bring precooked bacon often mixed with a pickled eggs for breakfast.  I seal these in individual vacuum seal backs so it sort of ends up wrapped together.  I didn't think I could go for a vinegar based meal first thing in the morning but it was actually refreshing and got the body moving.

Since Tallow is often utilized for Pemmican (which I have yet to find a recipe that doesn't make me gag) I may consider just bring a small container of tallow on the next trip to see if it can hang in for a couple days before bombing out.


Carbs are something that I have underutilized on my trips in the past but I am not reconsidering the usage of more to recover at the end of the day and refill my glycogen stores.  I think this is a vital key that I have been missing regarding recovery.  I eat extremely low carb on a daily basis (very close to a steady Ketogenic state) so I thought I would continue that on the trail when I think int fact I need a boost.  So my next venture will include a heavier dose probably in the form of dehydrated sweet potatoes and or a few more dried veggies.

Pulling it Together

My typical weekend trip is usually a Friday evening night hike with a full Saturday and usually out by around lunch time on Sunday.

Friday Night:
A small snack (trial mix and maybe some jerky) once getting settled in for the night (Steve's Paleo Kits are perfect for this)
Sat Breakfast:
Pickled eggs, bacon, Coconut butter treat
Summer sausage (or one that can handle room temperature), Dried Fruit, Nuts, and maybe some hard cheese (if you go for a more Primal diet)
Sat Dinner: 
You'll want something hearty and warm after a long day.  I am working on some recipes myself but I would go for a dehydrated meat (chicken or beef).  Both of which can be done in your home with paying a boat load for the pre-packaged meals.  Add in some dried veggies and carbs of your choice.  Note that the flavors will be diminished so keeping a spice combo available in your kit is a good idea.  A favorite for me is to go with a beef, sweet potato mix with mexican/cuban spice.  I've heard Avocado CAN be dehydrated as a guacamole but I have yet to try it.
Sun Breakfast:  Same as Sat (because I am super inventive)

As I said before I will always pack a couple extra things, be it extra jerky or something snacky just in case I end up on the trail longer than expected or I want something for my ride home.

I'll report back once I start working on some recipes again.  I'd love to hear other suggestions.  My goal is high fat, moderate protein, and a decent boost of carbs as needed.  I'll keep the natural sugars to a minimum.  They're good for an uphill boost but that's about it until I crash and need the sustaining power of fats.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PaleoTriad.com live

I finally have my new website online: PaleoTriad.com.  This is a web directory for the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina.  My hope is to bring together all of the local organic farmers and sources of local meats into one location so that anyone following the Paleo/Primal lifestyle in the area know where to go to get their grub.

So far it looks like things are going well with the site and a lot of praise and that makes me happy.

Next up is to work on some new recipes for my other website and possibly even work on dehydrating some of those meals so I know what I can play with hiking.

Anyone else use pickled eggs on their trips?  I tried one recipe and it worked well and a real eye opener having some vinegar in the morning for breakfast.  I would like to dig up some different recipes/spices to try out and see how well they work though so if anyone has anything to try I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Osprey Manta 20 Review and more

I've been a busy bee working on a local Paleo directory website.  I wanted to create a site that others starting the Paleo diet or even people who have been on it for a while could find local sources of grass-fed meats, know which restaurants were safe, and also add a list of health and wellness sites to keep us all optimal.  All I have to do now is dream up a logo and work it out in Illustrator.  Then it will be off to build a new website for flat feet people, like me.

In the meantime I have been doing some updates on my other site and I finally got around to adding my review of the Manta 20 from Osprey.  If you're looking for a solid day pack for hiking, biking, or climbing this one is a good choice.  Have a look at my review here.

I also finished up my journal of my Stone Mountain hike.

I have had much time lately to work on any new recipes but I did manage to put together my own spin on fish tacos.  I created a Smoky paprika Coconut-Crusted Cod with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette.  It was fairly simple and tasted nice.  I just need to make some tweaks to the recipe and get the measurements down before adding it to the website.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stone Mountain State Park

Stone Mountain State Park Summit
I made it out to Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap, NC. It was a great short hike with a lot of features in such a short trip. The weather was nice and sunny and only a little chilly near the summit where there was no wind break at all. For such a close by trail it was well worth it. I definitely recommend it as well. I'll do a full write up on the trip on my website within the next week.

So, what did I eat for this trip?  Well since it was a day trip, I didn't put a whole lot of effort into things as I didn't need to watch my static load much at all.  The Manta 20 Hydration Pack provided plenty of space and I could almost do an overnight trip with that thing.  I digress, here's my menu:

  • Happy Baby Organic Sweet Potato - I just happened across these in Whole Foods and thought it would be good for a little carb boost
  • Half of a Summer Sausage roll (just watch the ingredients)
  • A few slices of a hard Goat Cheese from a local farm (similar to parmesan)
  • Dehdrated banana and strawberry from my new Nesco Dehydrator along with some coconut flakes and a small handful of macadamia.

I wanted to load up on the fats to keep me going and I did so with the nuts, coconut flakes, the goat cheese (I know it's more Primal than Paleo), and the Sausage.  I complimented this with a little fructose boost from the fruit and also picked up a few carbs with the sweet potato pouch and fruit.  So it was a well rounded selection and helpful to me to know what worked well for my next weekend outing.

I am hoping to get my hands on an eye of round this weekend from the local farm so I can work on some jerky recipes.  After I get that down to an art I definitely want to work on some more complex recipes such as a dehydrated chili or some other beef based meals.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Testing the Osprey Manta and Dehydrating Trail Foods

As long as the weather holds this weekend I am going to take a day hike out to Stone Mountain Park.  There's a nice loop trail of about 4 miles so it's a pretty easy trek compared to what I am normally doing on my backpacking trips.  Over the holidays I got an Osprey Manta 20 pack for doing some day trips.  I did a bit of research before the purchase.  I looked at Black Diamond and CamelBak.  I really did like the CamelBak packs but the price point compared to Osprey wasn't worth it to me.  The Black Diamond packs were better priced but none of them seem to give me exactly what I wanted.  I am familiar with Osprey with my Atmos 50 (review on my website) and I couldn't be happier and I really like the styling and fit of Osprey packs for me so it was an obvious choice.  Granted Osprey has a number of different day packs to choose from so it came down to styling and the Manta 20 included the Hydraform.  Most of the CamelBaks included a hydration pack as well but for another 50 bucks that I was unwilling to spend.  It didn't hurt that Amazon was running a sale on all Osprey packs at the time of my purchase as well.

Along with my Manta, after a refund from one of my holiday gifts, I picked up a Nesco food dehydrator.  I've been wanting to get a dehydrator for a long time now and finally have one to use.  So I am excited to start putting together recipes to try out and post on my website for others to try.  I think I may do a simple fruit dehydration for this weekend's hike and see how it goes.  Prior to this purchase I was using the Lex Rooker box method for making jerky.  It worked and it was cheap however it wasn't always precise and it depended a lot on the conditions of the air (humidity and coolness) where I was using the box in my basement.  Now I feel like I can control the environment a bit better or at least regulate it enough to better dial in when things should be completely dry.  The other advantage will be the ability of creating a paleo meal and then dehydrating that meal completely to be used on the trail.  No longer will I need to worry about no-cook meals (unless I want to).  Now I just need to convince someone to get me a JetBoil to try out and I will be complete  Ok maybe I should just purchase it myself!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sourcing Clean Sustainable Foods

One of the most important things to me with Paleo is to source clean foods.  I started out merely as gluten free and the more I read and researched the more I removed from my diet to see if my body, energy levels, and mood responded in kind to the change.  This is how I ended up on the paleo diet in essence.  I was actually leaning towards this way of eating before I knew what it was called.  I wanted to have the most 'organic' food as possible and this also became an important factor when considering what to take on the trail.

I didn't really know where to go to get clean foods at first and Whole Foods Market was about the only thing that popped in my mind.  I knew they were much more expensive than the local markets here but I didn't mind paying extra for better quality food that I knew wasn't a GMO or was not laden with harmful pesticides.  After a little research a whole new world opened around me, literally, in my backyard.

I also started off, and still use, US Wellness for some of my meats.  Sometimes, I cannot find a certain cut or I just want to order a load of sugar free bacon and it's nice to have the option.  The prices are decent for mail-order.  I am quite impressed since they ship quickly and even offer non-frozen fresh-chilled meats once a month, which is awesome if you want to make your own cuts.  So US Wellness was great at first but then I started getting into the local scene and I found quite the treasure trove of local farms around me.  I used the directory on EatWild.com and found a couple small places, then found more by visiting the farmers market, and then even more by either word of mouth or through the local eateries.

I must admit the more research I have done in the Piedmont of North Carolina is that I am pretty lucky to have a lot of resources nearby that offer fresh organic vegetables and fresh grass-fed/finished beef products.  I know others are not so lucky, so US Wellness will definitely help and now Wild Mount Paleo Market is open online to help fill in the gaps as well.  Their pricing is a little bit more expensive but they are a start-up and it may take some time to have competitive pricing.  So, I encourage you to use them if you don't have readily available local sources, just to help them out and show support for this community.

Without clean sources for my trail foods it would almost be useless to even try Paleo while backpacking.  None of the dehydrated food companies have embraced a cleaner style that I have seen just yet.  Many are definitely not geared towards paleo and some are just now using Gluten Free products.  Even then, if it's a mix it often contains some nasty preservatives or chemicals.  My approach lately is to take what I have an invent my own meals.  Once I get a dehydrator I'll be adding more and more things and ditching the idea of ever finding a Mountain House package that fits me.  Instead of can have a dehydrated grass-fed meat with whatever vegetable I want, remain Paleo on the trail, and actually feel comfortable about what I am eating (sans the flatulence involved with dehydrated meals).

For more information follow me on my new website: Alter Auslander and coming soon: PaleoTriad.com

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Back to blogging!

I just recently finished building my latest website www.alterauslander.com which focuses on the Paleo Diet, Backpacking, Cookbook Reviews, Physical Fitness, and some stories about my hiking trips.  I was finding it difficult to just write general news about things or focus solely on backpacking and Paleo as one.  I ended up breaking down each subject, which is great for articles specific to a topic but this blog will be more about just Backpacking on a Paleo diet and or random relevant blurbs that don't necessarily fit into my website.

I wanted to create a web presence that identified mostly with those people that have similar interests as me.  When I first went Paleo I was finding it difficult to find information on what to eat while I was hiking so I had to improvise a lot.  Some things have worked and others did not.  So hopefully that is what I will focus on here with this blog and anything that needs closer examination, a solid review, seems worthy of a full article I will move into onto my website.

I am also working on a local directory for those in the Triad of NC wanting to source foods for their diet as well as work on a website geared towards those with flat feet (that's me!).  Hiking with clown shoes and eating like a caveman, that's what my world has turned into when I am not typing away or troubleshooting IT issues.  Oh IT, that could be another blog one of these days if it weren't already so crowded with such things on the interwebs.

So, if any of those things interest you or you would like to interact with me and help me develop certain aspects, even research on items, I would surely welcome the discourse.