Off Grid Gourmet
3 Recipes Nutritionally Designed For Outdoor Trips
Is cooking a gourmet meal directly connected with your experience of the outdoors? Do you find joy in savoring your first bite after a long day in the backcountry? If you answered yes to the questions above, this article is for you. (If you're unsure of your cooking style, check out our new cooking guide on The Clinic).
John & Leslie of Outbound Kitchen are two professional chefs who double as avid adventurers. Together, they have hiked, climbed, cooked, swam, biked, or skied on five of the seven continents. They follow the food philosophy that all off grid meals can and should be gourmet and today, they’re sharing some of their favorite summer recipes with us.
It’s probably because we’re chefs, but the way that we choose what to eat outdoors is not too different than how we choose what to eat in everyday life. Firstly, the food must be delicious, and secondly, it should be good for us.
In the outdoors, though, there is the added consideration of portability. How portable the meal needs to be, and for how long will ultimately determine the type of meal one can pack, but as with any other aspect of outdoorsmanship, a little extra planning and preparation will go a long way to having a much more enjoyable experience. After all, we like to savor our meals as much as our vistas.
With that in mind, here are three summer recipes that we love to bring on the trail because they are tasty and nutritionally designed to replenish us after an outdoor activity.
Our kidney bean hummus, easily made at home, is a constant in our packs for day hikes or overnight trips. When we have a base camp planned we make extra, because it has a great shelf life in a cooler. With some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pita, zata’ar, and our kofta, you can have a seriously delicious spread that refuels your muscles any time you plan to log some serious miles, or gain some strong elevation. Our cauliflower and sweet potato korma is a great first night meal on a hike of any length and unless you are embarking on an undertaking where you are counting grams, we find it quite weight efficient. We especially love it in the summer when we know we will be spending a night at high elevation, where it will be chilly, but we still want to have a meal that feels light in our bodies the next day.
We often crave a hearty, meaty dish after hiking miles and miles, and nothing is more satisfying than a burger...or is there? Try this grown-up, refreshing, and nutritious variation instead.
Like any good recipe, this one is mindfully crafted with the concept of balance in mind—nutritionally and in flavor. Obviously, the beef is packed with protein and to counteract the richness of the meat, we’ve paired cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and mint (all of which promote digestion and help regulate metabolism).
- 12 oz Fresh Ground Grass-fed Beef
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 1/4 tsp Allspice
- 2/3 tsp Dry mint
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Coriander
- 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Healthy pinches kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
At Home Preparation: We like to premix our spices for the Kofta and other dishes in larger batches at home then pack up just what we need. To mix the Kofta, put all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir. If hand washing isn’t convenient, you can put everything in a ziplock bag, and just massage the contents around until everything is well mixed.
With the ingredients still in the bag, shape the meat into twinkie-shaped logs inside the bag with the short end facing the opening. Push (2) skewers into the end of the kofta and squeeze firmly then pull them out of the bag. If handwashing is available, you can handle it with your bare hands and squeeze it into the right shape around the skewer.
Off-Grid Preparation: Grill the Kofta on your Portable Grill with the CampStove 2’s burn chamber about half full of pellets, and the fan on medium, until the outside is nicely browned, and the Kofta itself is somewhat firm to the touch.
We love this recipe along with our Kidney Bean Hummus as part of a bountiful camp dinner with some fresh tomatoes, marinated cucumbers, sliced red onion, freshly grilled pita, and yogurt.
Smashed Kidney Bean Hummus
Add this to the list of things that are actually much tastier than they sound.
We substitute the kidney beans for chickpeas for their special nutritive properties, which can be a total lifesaver when you’re in the midst of a hiking, biking, climbing, or other kind of outdoors cramp-inducing fest. Two key electrolytes that help maintain healthy muscles and prevent cramping are potassium and magnesium, both of which are in generous supply in the humble red kidney bean. A medium 100g banana contains about 362 mg of potassium. The same weight in kidney beans contains about 1405 mg—nearly 4 times more! They’re also excellent sources of protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B1 (folate), manganese, phosphorus, and iron.
You could pair it with our savory, spiced beef kofta, fresh marinated vegetables in a pita, or as a dip with crunchy carrots or other sliced vegetables.
- 1 1/2 cup Kidney beans, cooked and drained
- 3 Medium cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp Tahini
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 cup Olive oil (and additional for finishing)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Water
- 1/2 tsp Sriracha
- Za'atar to Finish
At Home Preparation: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor, and blend thoroughly. Then blend it for 15 seconds more, for added creaminess. We make this the night before our trips and keep in a cooler or small cold pack though it is fine unrefrigerated for a full day.
Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Korma
Usually when we think of detoxifying foods, we think of brightly colored foods full of antioxidants, but it may surprise you to learn that cauliflower is full of a couple of unique phytonutrients which assist the body in cleaning out toxins. Cauliflower and sweet potatoes are great sources of dietary fiber, and together, provide a super dose of Vitamins C, A, and ẞ-Carotene.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients! It’s actually more simple than it looks. We like to organize this at home, grouping several ingredients together in small sandwich bags to make packing and cooking uncomplicated. You can also use tomato paste instead of tomato puree to give this recipe longer pack-life.
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup Onion, minced
- 1 1/4 Tbsp Ginger, minced
- 3/4 Tbsp Garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 Garam masala (you can find this in most grocery stores near the creamed coconut)
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 1 tsp Ground coriander
- 1 tsp Tumeric
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 cup Tomato puree
- 2 cups Water
- 1 medium Cauliflower, cut into 1'' pieces
- 1 small sweet potato, sliced 1/4'' thick
- 2 Tbsp Unsweetened creamed coconut
- Juice of 1 Lime
- Optional garnish: Chili flakes and cilantro
At Home Preparation: Mix spices and pack in tight fitting container or bag. Mince ginger, garlic, and combine. Note: you can also purchase ginger-garlic paste at most grocers. Combine with minced onions. Trim cauliflower into florets, pack.
Off Grid Preparation: Using your KettlePot and CampStove 2 keeping the fan speed between low and medium, and add oil to the hot pot. Saute the onion, ginger, and garlic, stirring frequently until the paste becomes very fragrant. Add the spices, and stir well until the spices evenly coat the onion mixture, and the spices are somewhat toasted. You may have to lift the pot off the flame intermittently to keep the spices from burning.
Add the tomato puree (or paste) and water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the cauliflower and sweet potatoes, and bring it all back to a boil. Simmer everything together for about 7-10 minutes.
When the cauliflower and sweet potatoes are nearly soft, add the coconut cream and lime juice. Save your spent lime, and put it in your water bottle for refreshing lime-infused water. Finish cooking the vegetables until they are tender and and stew is slightly thickened.
We hope you enjoy each of the recipes above and if you are ever looking for more recipe tips or have questions about the recipes included in this article feel free to message John & Leslie on Instagram at @outboundkitchen.