I’m doing a Summer Slim Down Challenge with a group at my local barre studio, Bella Barre. Part of the challenge is to “eat clean”, which basically means no processed foods. Under normal circumstances, this is hard enough. Add travel to that, specifically a camping trip, and it can seem impossible. I don’t know about you, but when I go car camping, I want to eat! And I want to eat certain foods that I might not let myself eat at home (SMORES!). So how do you balance enjoying a camping trip with what feels like a really limited diet? I’ve put together some ideas.
Prep at Home
This is my number one tip. Make some meals at home so that when you get to camp, you aren’t tempted to eat junk. Often times we camp in groups and most likely the other people you’re camping with are not going to be thinking about food in the same way you are. If your meals are all ready to go in your cooler, then you can heat them up as soon as you’re hungry and the chances of you chowing on your friend’s Chili Dogs are greatly reduced.
Here are some more specific ideas:
- How about freezing some homemade pasta sauce and serving it on top of this fantastic protein and fiber packed red lentil pasta?
- This Date and Chickpea Stew, but substitute quinoa for the couscous.
- A pot of soup is always satisfying, especially if you’re going somewhere that gets cool in the evenings. This Spicy Korean Lentil Soup is warming, healthy and filling.
- A salad can also be a great meal and if you choose one with a hearty base like kale, you can make it at home and eat it a day or two later. This Kale and Black Eyed Pea Salad is my favorite.
- For breakfast, all those recipes for overnight oats that you see everywhere on Pinterest are perfect camping food. Just pull a jar out of your cooler first thing in the morning and eat it cold, or heat it up on your camp stove.
Use the Campfire
Cooking on the campfire adds so much flavor, and I’m not just talking about burnt hot dogs. On top of that, it’s fun and interactive, especially if you have older kids who you might be able to recruit to help cook the meal.
Foil pouches (aka Hobo Packs) are great, and you can make a DIY setup by setting out veggies, lean meats or tofu, and seasonings next to pieces of foil. Then everyone can assemble their own packet of food and stick it in the fire to cook. Here are some basic assembly instructions for making your foil packets.
Here are some other recipe ideas:
- Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Aioli (instead of the aioli, you may want to make a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper)
- Blistered Shishito Peppers can easily be made in a cast iron skillet over the campfire. Substitute edamame if you can’t find shishito peppers
- Trout Tacos are the ultimate campfire health food if you happen to be fishing
- If you’re lucky enough to own a dutch oven, you can make these Dutch Oven Stuffed Peppers (sub lentils for the meat, brown rice for the white rice, omit cheese)
- Campfire Asparagus with Mustard Orange Vinaigrette
Bring Interesting Snacks
You might be able to resist chips and salsa on a regular day at home, but it’s much more difficult when the snacks come out at camp. Make sure you come prepared with plenty of healthy and interesting snacks.
Some of our favorites are:
- Spicy Lemon Herb Popcorn
- Butternut Squash Tahini Spread
- Spicy Peanut Dip
- To satisfy the littles or yourself on a hike, make up a batch of Blueberry Coconut Almond Bars at home.
Don’t Forget Dessert
Desserts are essential if you ask me, and not as hard as you might think to keep healthy:
- At this time of year and in the coming months, take advantage of all the great fruit that is available. Grill peaches, plums and pineapple on a grate over the campfire. If that’s not sweet enough, drizzle it with a touch of maple syrup.
- Bake up a batch of healthy cookies at home and pass them around by the campfire. I’ve been making these Banana Bread Muffin Tops weekly and they really hit the spot.
- Did you ever make Banana Boats on a campfire as a kid? You take a banana, split it lengthwise, and stuff it with things like chocolate chips, marshmallows, caramels, nuts and peanut butter. If you skip the overly sweet toppings and instead fill it with toasted pecans, dark chocolate, and a drizzle of date caramel that you make at home, you’ve got a healthy and delicious dessert.
Whether you’re drinking alcohol or not, you may want a drink that feels special while you’re camping. If you’re avoiding alcohol altogether, try making a mocktail with fresh herbs, a splash of juice and some sparkling water. If you do want some alcohol, make your drinks last longer in your glass by using sparkling water as a mixer. Whether it’s gin and soda with a big squeeze of lime or a white wine spritzer, this will slow down your alcohol intake, help you stay a little bit hydrated, and keep your drinks special.
Above all, have fun on your trip and don’t worry too much if you do indulge a little more than usual. Go out for a hike or a trail run and burn a few extra calories if you really don’t want to worry about it.