Eating well in a mountain or wilderness environment can bring up some interesting challenges, particularly if it’s a multi-day or multi week adventure.
For starters we will probably not have traditional hygiene and food storage solutions to hand e.g. hot running water, fridge/freezers, 4 ring burners, and cooking space.
Kieran is an expedition and private chef and International mountain leader with more than 20 years experience cooking and leading in a wide variety countries and on vastly differing terrains and climates around the world.
He is a freelance contributing editor for Sidetracked Magazine, having started off with an outdoor cooking pitch three years ago.
Over the past few years he’s also produced gourmet outdoor recipes for a number of print and online magazines including Adventure.com, Ripcord Adventure Journal, Garden Heaven and the Irish Independent Weekend supplement.
He gives us the most important tips for cooking outdoors and what to look for. In addition, he has designed for us a few simple and delicious recipes for trekking!
But let’s start with the general tips before we get to the cooking.
Go directly to the recipes here.
Additionally we will also be constrained by other factors:
- Sourcing food: Do we have regular access to resupply, and if so, how often and how will it be accessed?
- How will the food be transported: Are we travelling by car, boat, on foot, by animal…?
- Food storage and temperatures: Are we travelling in cold, hot, or humid environments?
For now, given it’s late summer, we will minimise the use of meat of fish, due to the issues of temperature control.
Another key issue with food in the outdoors, is, all too often we leave buying supplies until the last minute.
When this happens, we either buy too much food, not enough variety, or buy food filled with lots of preservatives. Far better to plan as many of your meals and snacks in advance.
This way, you:
- Eat healthier – use fresh, and hopefully local/seasonal ingredients where possible
- Spend less money – as you can buy smarter
- Use less plastic packaging
Here are some simple tips about eating for outdoor adventures.
1. Fueling before
For optimal performance, you should eat between 2 and 4 hours before activity, which leaves enough time for your body to top up glycogen stores.
- Whole grain rice with chicken or beans and salad; Porridge with milk, berries and seeds;
- Sweet potato with peppers, spinach and salmon
Then it’s advisable to top up reserves slightly (if possible), 60-90 minutes before activity:
- Isotonic drink, homemade green smoothie, homemade chocolate oat shake, dried fruit…
2. Fueling during
For most activities lasting less than 1 hour, consuming anything other than water is unnecessary, providing you have adequately topped up your glycogen stores.
However, if you are exercising for more than 1 hour, based on studies from the University of Texas, consuming 20-60g carbohydrate per hour during activity helps delay fatigue, and improve endurance.
Choose moderate to high GI carbohydrate sources which convert to blood sugar rapidly:
- Baked potato cakes
- White bread sandwich
- Energy gel
- Sport drink
- Fruit roll-ups
NB: For high intensity activity e.g trail running, it’s advisable to use high GI food sources with low fibre, as high dietary fibre in the food may, in turn, necessitate the need to poop on the side of the trail!
3. Refuelling post activity
The best time to refuel is as soon as a possible after exercise. In the first two hours, glycogen replenishment is at its most rapid, typically 130-150% of the normal rate. For the next 4 hours, the rate is still elevated, but at a lower level. Refuelling early is critical for those who will be physically active multiple times in a day.
Recovery food note:
Combining protein with carbohydrate has been shown in multiple studies to be more effective in promoting muscle glycogen recovery and muscle tissue growth compared with carbohydrate alone.
Post activity snacks:
- Homemade flapjack
- Wholewheat roll with lean protein and leafy greens
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Yoghurt drink.
And now you’re ready to go!
Find our delicious, easy and outdoorsy recipes from Kieran here.