Saturday, January 9, 2010

A vegan on a hike

One of my hobbies is hiking and winter is one of my favorite times to do it too! Despite my recent complaining about the cold, there really is no better time to hike (in my humble opinion) than when the mercury drops.... the world is beautiful, the air is crisp and as you can see above, visibility is for miles!

In addition to what to wear, what gear to pack and making sure you don't forget your rain stuff, hikers need fuel, i.e. food. What should a vegan hiker pack? Typically I focus on hydration, quick energy, and some protein. Here is a list of what has worked well for me:

Water spiked with juice- This is my favorite way to stay hydrated, as well as keep my sugars up throughout a hike. I vary between a 25/75 mix up to a 50/50 mix for more strenuous hikes. My personal favorites are water with grape juice or water with cranberry. The little bit of flavor keeps me sipping and the tiny amount of sugar helps my energy levels.

PB&J on wheat- This is easy to eat, easy to pack and has both protein and sugars. A word of caution, in hot weather the natural peanut butters become unbearably runny. This is a better food for fall or winter.

Hummus with crackers/chips- Another good protein/ carb combo. I learned the hard way to pack the crackers or chips in a fairly sturdy container or they often end up crushed at the bottom of my backpack!

Pre-made veggie burger on wheat- Although I don't love pre-made food, this was an easy (and clean) item to eat while still wearing my gloves on a cold hike. It was cold though, which could be a turn off for some.

Dark Chocolate- I usually throw some in my pack "for emergencies".... but then I have a chocolate emergency near the end of every hike. Seriously though, it doesn't melt that easily and is high in sugar so in a real emergency it could be good to have. Plus who doesn't like a dark chocolate treat after several miles!

GORP or other trail mix- Although I am not a big trail mix person, these have served their purpose on various occasions and are easy to make or buy at store like trader Joe's.

LUNA bars/ LARA bars - Also good to carry in case of an emergency.

Baked tofu- This actually travelled well and was quite tasty. Just make sure to bake it FIRM or else it may crumble.

Fruits and Veggies- In general the more prep work I do the better luck I have with fruits and veggies. For example... Ever tried peeling an orange in 20 degree weather? With gloves? Chop up your fruits and veggies so you can just eat them out of hand. Carrot sticks have always worked, so have apples. Tomatoes seem to always get watery and squashed!

Coffee- The reason I was so smiley in the picture, is that I had just finished coffee out of my trusty Stanley thermos and in 24 degree weather it was steaming hot! Man was everyone else jealous! Get a good Thermos or food jar and you can take coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate to warm yourself up on cold hikes.

Warm soups/chilies- See my note above about a good food jar. You can get portable silverware to go with it at hiking & camping stores. My personal favorite is the bamboo flatware from to-go ware. Bamboo is a very sustainable resource and by buying bamboo you are avoiding the manufacture of more plastics.

A final note of food and waste in the woods. Many hikers are very environmentally conscious these days. It is possible to use lightweight reusable containers (I often take my bento boxes), cloth napkins and bamboo flatware without weighing down your pack. Also remember not to throw your food waste onto the ground. The rule is: If you hike in with it, hike out with it. This includes your banana peel!

For further explanation on why you shouldn't leave your food waste behind and other tips, check out these sites:

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