Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home Dehydrated Veggies for Backpacking

As gluten-free vegans, vegetables are our main food of choice when eating at home.  When we are backpacking, we want to eat vegetables too.  It is easy to buy dehydrated fruit, but vegetables aren't as easy, unless you buy the very expensive freeze dried kind.  So, I set my mind to figure out how it can be done.  And my idea worked brilliantly.

I'll teach you how to make dehydrated broccoli and dehydrated peas and carrots in this post.  In another post I'll teach you how to make fabulous dehydrated green beans and sunflower seeds.  Home dehydrated corn does not work well, so if you need corn, go ahead and buy the freeze dried kind.

Dehydrated broccoli

Buy bags of frozen broccoli.  Get the kind that is already chopped small.  You don't want bags of frozen stems, if you can help it.

You can open a bag and sprinkle it on the try, just as it is and dehydrate it, if you will be putting it in something that needs to be boiled just a little while.

If you want something that cooks up real fast, or you can put in a "just add hot water soup", or put in a seasoning mix, you need broccoli that is even smaller.  Easy.  When the broccoli is still frozen solid, open the bag and put it in a food processor.  Process until it is as small as the processor makes it, or as small as you desire it.  Then spread it on dehydrator trays and dehydrate until dry.  It is a fabulous dehydrated vegetable and rehydrates quickly, with good flavor.

Use the larger dehydrated broccoli pieces in quinoa pilaf.  Use the smaller pieces in Asian Noodles, Black bean soup, or in other instant soup mixes or seasonings.

Peas and Carrots

Use the same method for peas and/or carrots.  I buy the frozen bags of mixed peas and carrots.  The more veggies I can get, the better.  While they are still frozen solid, place them in a food processor and whiz them around until they are as small as the processor can make them.  Spread the little pieces on dehydrator trays and dry until they are completely dry.  Seal them in ziplock bags.  In camp pour boiling water over them and they rehydrate in just a couple minutes with nice flavor.

Use them in the Asian Noodle veggie mix with broccoli, add them to your black bean soup mix with broccoli and tomatoes for more nutrition and flavor.  Put them in any thing else your mind dreams up.  Let me know what you come up with.

Gluten-free Vegan Asian Noodles for Backpacking

The traditional noodle for backpacking is Ramen, but they don't work if you are gluten intolerant or a celiac.  There are some pre-packaged asian soup mixes available that are gluten free, but more likely then not they contain shrimp, or MSG.  Here is my answer to the need for easy backpacking noodles, that are almost as fast as Ramen, but much more delicious and nutritious.

Asian Noodles or Pancit

1. In the Asian Section of the store buy some glass noodles, or Vermicelli made from mung beans or peas.  They are clear, very thin noodles.

2.  Dehydrate some vegetables at home for your noodles.  I used dehydrated frozen broccoli, and peas and carrots.  (Directions on this page.) Be generous with the veggies.  This is the nutrition of your soup.

3. Make a Seasoning Mix from:

- gluten free vegan chicken-like seasoning (I use La Chikky by The Vegetarian Express)
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- salt
- any other flavor you desire

Make your own mix.  Be generous with the veggies.  The are the nutrition in this mix.  There really isn't much in the noodles.  Then put in chicken-like seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and salt, according to how flavorful you like it.  You might want to experiment at home with this one too, to see how much you need.

In camp, put your noodles in the pot, and just cover with water.  Pour in your generous amount of veggies and seasoning mix to taste.  Bring to a boil, and start trying to stir.  The noodles soften quickly soon after the water boils.  They will absorb most of the water.  Once the noodles are soft, you can eat.

Gluten-free Vegan Soup Mixes for Backpacking

One of the easy mainstays of backpacking is instant soups.  They are quick to prepare, require only boiling water, and you can find them in most grocery stores.  But when you are a gluten-free vegan, you choices are limited.  I looked through the grocery store before my last trip and found a couple things that would work, but when I read the label further, I found that they likely contained MSG in the form of spices, or natural flavors.  So I set out to make the family some homemade soups.

The basic idea is that you make a soup that you like to eat at home, and dehydrate it.

Below you will find directions for three easy homemade soups for backpacking that are gluten-free, vegan, and MSG free.

Split Pea Soup
The easiest soup to make, dehydrate, and rehydrate is split pea soup.  Cook up a pot of your favorite flavor of split pea soup.  Make sure it is flavored well.  Then spread it thinly on your dehydrator sheets, like you would fruit leather.  It will separate and crumble as it dries, and by the time it is done, it will be more powdery then not.  At this stage, powder it further in a food processor if you wish, and then put it in ziplock bags, either in one person portions, or in a larger bag for a family.

In camp, boil some water.  Put your soup powder in your cup, and pour boiling water over the top.  It is ready to eat in just a few minutes of soaking.

Thai Curry or Other Soups

These soups usually aren't instant, but it doesn't take long to cook them up in a pot of boiling water. I have a great recipe for Butternut Squash Curry on my blog if you need one.  When you cut up the vegetables for your curry, cut the pieces small.  Potatoes work best if they are cut in thin slices.  Make the curry like normal.  Once cooked soft, spread it on dehydrator trays.  Dehydrate until completely dry.  Put it in the food processor to make the pieces even smaller.  Guess at the amount you will need per meal and seal in a ziplock bag.

In camp, guess at how much water you will need.  Mix in your dehydrated curry mix.  Bring the water to a boil, stirring as needed.  Simmer until the soup is soft enough to eat.  Enjoy gourmet food in the wilderness.

Black Bean Soup

In the bulk section of our grocery store, there are dehdrated pinto bean flakes, and black bean flakes.  These are great for backpackers who eat simply.

Buy some black bean flakes
- dehydrated veggies (I used dehydrated broccoli, peas and carrots, ground up sun dried tomatoes are nice too) (pictured at the top of the page; directions on this page)
- dehydrated onion
- garlic powder
- chili powder
- cumin
- salt

Make a sample of the soup at home to check your seasoning levels.  Boil some water.  Put a little of your soup mix in a bowl, pour on some water, stir, wait until soft and then eat a spoonful.  Add more of what ever flavor it is missing.  If you like spicy food, make it spicy.  If your seasoning is too strong, add more black beans.  Once you have it good.  Divide it into servings and put in little ziplocks.

In camp, put your mix in a cup, add boiling water, stir, and eat when soft.  It won't take long.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gluten-free Vegan Backpacking Food

View from Kintla Lake Backcountry Campground, Glacier National Park.
If you are a gluten-free, vegan, and like to go backpacking, you know the challenges of finding something worth eating while you are on the trail to the back country.  It is hard enough eating from day to day, but the choices get even slimmer when you try to carry your food on your back, especially if you want that food that has simple seasonings, no MSG, lots of veggies, whole grains and not cost very much.

I went to my nearest grocery stores to see what I could find, and the results were discouraging.  I started reading labels, and decided it was time to dehydrate my own food.  It was time to go gourmet.  We were going to have the best gluten-free, vegan backpacking food on the Kintla Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. 

Ramen isn't gluten-free, but there are some noodles that are.  They are tiny clear noodles in the Asian food section.  Sometimes they are called Glass Noodles, sometimes vermicelli.  My favorite is made out of mung beans, but there are others made out of rice.  With these noodles I made a quick and easy dish that reminds me of the dish from the Philippines called Pancit.  I simply call them Asian Noodles.  Make your own soup seasoning mix to go with it, or anything else you want to add flavor to or lots of home dehydrated veggies.

Dehydrated green beans sound unusual, but after eating them, you will want more.  They are quite versatile, good as a dry veggie snack, or in cooked food.

Dehydrate your own potato slices, and make your own potato dishes.

Quinoa is good for breakfast or supper.
Soup or Pancakes?

Dehydrated spaghetti sauce and walnut cheese sprinkles, and your favorite noodles.

Black bean soup, using the dehydrated black bean flakes in the bulk section of the grocery store.  I also make easy dehydrated Split Pea Soup that will save a lot of money when you make it yourself and dehydrates faster then anything else.

You can make most any other favorite soup you like to eat at home and dehydrate it too.  I like to make dehydrated Thai Curry

Homemade granola for lunch.  Yes, for lunch.  It is crazy sounding, but works for us.  We have time in camp to make a full meal for breakfast.  But lunch is on the trail, and pre-made granola bars don't work for us.  So why not put your granola bar in a bowl with some milk powder, pour on some water and enjoy.  Supplement with some dried fruit, and nuts if you are still hungry.  I also take some dehydrated kale chips, flax crackers, and such, but granola is the main deal.  It's best feature is that it is simple, and fast.  No thought needed and little prep time needed in the middle of the day.  You are back on the trail quickly.

And the most popular food item of the whole trip, Back Country Burritos.  It takes some prep work ahead of time, but it was absolutely delicious in camp.

So here's the deal.  I'll give you detailed instructions in additional posts and link from this post to them.  So get your dehydrator ready.  There is still plenty of time for backpacking before the snow flies.

The only bear we saw on the trail hung out in this backpack.  He knew where to find good food.