Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tips for Getting Your Protein on Hiking, Backpacking, and Paddling Expeditions Using Inexpensive Grocery Store Foods

Protein is important on long distance hiking and paddling trips. Without adequate protein we fatigue, our muscles repair more slowly, and our immune systems weaken. Meats, dairy, beans, and nuts provide protein. Fresh meat and milk, heavy and perishable, don't work for back country adventures. Compact, lightweight, nonperishable foods fit the bill.

In addition to weight and shelf stability, wilderness areas often have restrictions on packaging such as metal cans and glass containers to consider. Ready to eat foods and foods prepared by adding water work best for backpacking. Given these constraints, I've listed tips for easy, inexpensive, protein-containing grocery store foods and beverages for back country adventures.

Ready to eat protein snacks. One of the best dry, light weight, ready to eat sources of protein is trail mix containing a variety of nuts. Nut variety as opposed to a single nut type increases the number of amino acids provided. Protein bars provide another convenient trail snack. Jerky provides a meaty source of ready to eat protein.

Protein snacks Serving Size Protein Calories Fat Sugars
Beef Jerky (Jack Link's) 1 pkg (35 g) 18 g 100 1 g 4 g
Protein Bars (Cool Mint Chocolate Clif) 1 bar (68 g) 10 g 250 5 g 22 g
Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch 1 bar (35 g) 6 g 190 13 g  6 g
Mixed Nuts (Eillien's) 1/4 cup (37 g) 7 g 220 19 g 1 g

Ready to eat protein - when the weight of moist protein is tolerable in the pack. Some processed deli meats such as sausage sticks and pepperoni don't require refrigeration until opened. Hard cheeses can also be packed, as can foil packages of tuna and chicken. Peanut butter is another excellent ready to eat, high calorie protein sources. Once opened, moist meats should be consumed (not stored for future use) for food safety reasons.

Ready to eat protein Serving Size Protein Calories Fat Sugars
Sausage 1 cup diced 25.7 g 681 62 g 0 g
Pepperoni (Patrick Cudahy) 16 slices (30 g) 6 g 140 13 g 0 g
Peanut Butter (Skippy SuperChunk) 2 Tbsp (32 g) 7 g 190 16 g 3 g
Parmesan Cheese 20 g 8 g  100 6 g  0 g
Tuna  1/4 cup (56 g) 11 g 50 0.5 g 0 g
Chicken 1/4 cup (56 g) 10 g 70 3 g 0 g

Protein cooked in camp. Powdered milk can be added to cooked camp dishes to increase protein and calcium. Mix it with oatmeal for breakfast, or creamy pasta dishes for dinner. Falafil veggie burger mix is another dry grocery store food. Just add water and cook in a bit of oil. Dry bean dishes such as beans and rice may also be cooked in camp to provide vegetable protein. Precooked bacon is a breakfast decadence after days in the back country, and it's not heavy like regular bacon because much of the fat has already been cooked away.

Protein cooked in camp Serving Size Protein Calories Fat Sugars
Dry Powdered Milk (SACO fat free) 1/3 cup (23 g) 8 g 80 0 g 12 g
Oatmeal 1/2 cup (40 g) 5 g 150 2.5 g <1 g
Falafil Mix (Ziyad) 2 patties (6 g) 6 g 110 2.5 g <1 g
Black Beans and Rice (Vigo) 1 cup prep  7 g 190 1 g 1 g
Precooked Bacon 18 g 7 g 80 6 g 0 g

Protein prepared and dehydrated at home, then cooked in camp. One way to get protein in the pack is to prepare meat and bean dishes at home and dehydrate them. It takes more planning and effort to prepare these dishes at home, then hydrate and cook them in camp. However, this method provides the comfort and warm appeal of home-cooked meals. My homemade dehydrated favorites include spaghetti with meat sauce, beef stroganoff, and chili.

Want to read more about backpacking food? Check out my tips for low cost, light weight mainstream grocery store  items for backpacking and paddling expeditions.

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