Pistachio and Raisin Breakfast Couscous

It’s birthday month again. This year, there’s much more competition-I mean celebration-than usual. New roommates, new friends, old friends willing to travel for joint birthday parties, all within the last and next few weeks. Mai-yan and I normally celebrate ours together (and no one else’s), but this year she’s turning 30, and that’s way too big deal a number for Emily to compete with. I’ll be sharing mine with my friend Adam instead, and we gave Mai-yan her own whole trip backpacking in the Golden Trout Wilderness last weekend.

We were told the weather would be in the 70’s during the day and 30’s at night, so we packed accordingly, and weren’t afraid to bring a bunch of hardy fresh vegetables and 5 (yes 5) blocks of cheese with us. By the time we reached the trailhead the first day, however, we knew we’d been duped. It was at least 90 already. We embraced the surprise warmth, and I put on my cute sleeveless dress for the hike.

By lunchtime, the issues that would plague us for the entire four day weekend had begun. First (and worst)- mosquitoes! I moved from Florida specifically to get away from the monsters, and these were even worse than the east coasters. Worse even than the Everglades, since they were still capable of swarming us at 11,000 feet up. We each went through our own mini panic attacks all weekend, and couldn’t hike without a branch used like a horsetail. With my big heavy backpack, I felt more like a rhino than a horse, though. I couldn’t bring myself to put on my warm fleece in that weather for most of the time, so I endured an impressive number of bites. Nick, Kismat and I looked like we had a serious (and probably contagious) skin disease by the end of the trip.

The second issue was the food. We love to stress how possible it is to bring fresh ingredients with you backpacking, but this was the hottest weather for the longest duration we’ve dealt with in the last two years, and yes- fresh food does go bad quickly in hot weather. The first 24 hours were fine, and we filled our bellies with as many cucumbers and bell peppers as we could. By the second morning, though, there was a distinct “limy” taste to them, and we were forced to carry them with us the rest of the trip. Along with the corn for my shepherd’s-pie-turned-mashed-taters-and-gravy. Even the kale didn’t make it past the third day. But you know what we ate a lot of? Cheese! Slimy, yet satisfying. Luckily it was all of the hard variety (originally), and I can’t guarantee to you that it was the safest decision. But we were happy about it.

Making friendship bracelets

This time, we’re going to stick to posting a truly all-weather friendly backpacking recipe that impressed both Nick and I, who have been known for our bad attitudes towards couscous. It’s slightly sweet like an oatmeal, but much less sweet than the typical backpacking breakfast options, as well as quick, filling, and non-perishable. Hope you had a great start to our big birthday month and also that you’ll be celebrating with us throughout the rest of it- outside!

Pistachio and Raisin Breakfast Couscous


1 large serving

Prep Time / Cook Time


Activity Guide



  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dried milk
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoon salted shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • A pinch of cardamom


  • Mixing spoon
  • Stove


At Home:

Combine couscous, dried milk, raisins, pistachios, sugar, and cardamom in a zip-top bag.

At Camp:

  1. Boil the water.
  2. Stir the ingredients into the water well, remove from heat, and leave covered (without peaking) for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

10 thoughts on “Pistachio and Raisin Breakfast Couscous

  1. This sounds amazing, and so simple! I’m always looking for backpacking breakfasts to make besides oatmeal. But one ingredient threw me off: cardamom. I don’t know if it’s just me and I should have heard about it before, but I had no idea what it was until I looked it up. Is it at regular grocery stores? Do you think the recipe would be good without it?

  2. Cardamom is a delicious spice and usually available at any grocer. It has a unique flavor, but could easily be substituted in this recipe with cinnamon, ginger, clove… or a combo

  3. LOVE THIS! I’m a somewhat picky eater, and this had just the right amount of sweet goodness to it that I’ve made it several times off the trail too! Thanks!

  4. Just wanted to let you know that we made this during a cooking class with 16 boy scouts- they loved it! The boys have come up with many different types of toppings to add. This is an all new time favorite amoungst scouts and Scoutmasters! Loved it!

  5. Wonderful backpacking recipe. My husband and ultra picky kids love this and request it for every backpacking trip. I always note how many milliliters of water to add on the plastic bag so they can easily measure the water from their nalgene bottles.

  6. I have used this recipe for the last 6 years. It’s so good I sometimes make a mix up at home that can be scooped out of a container and eaten. I figured it was about time I mentioned it’s delicious. I came back to it to use for our camping trip over Labor Day weekend. Thank you for publishing this!

  7. Oh, and I usually do 3/4 cup mix to 1c water at the end for 1 filling serving. When quadrupling the recipe I use1/2 teaspoon cardamom for extra tastiness.

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