Back-Country Mac n' Cheese
Getting out into the back-country is such an amazing experience. Not only are the scenic views breathtaking, but it allows you to move your body and tune out of your daily to-do lists. What better way to get present...
However, back-country dining has the reputation of leaving something to be desired. Campers frequently day-dream about their first meal back in civilization. Let's change that! With a bit of creativity and advanced preparation, back-country dining can be mouth-watering and convenient. Try my new favourite camp meal - Mac n' Cheese with veggies and tuna.
THE HOW TO:
Pre-camp prep: Before you leave on your adventure recycle the mac n' cheese box and just bring the noodles/sauce (who wants to carry the extra weight and deal with recycling in the back-country?). Chop the broccoli into bite-size pieces and pack in an air-tight bag. If you are only going for a few nights, there is no need to dehydrate the broccoli for food safety. However, dehydrating can remove the extra water-weight if you are really tight on pack weight. To dehydrate, you can either use a fancy dehydrator or your oven (read a blog about that here). Don't forget to pack the tuna (you can dehydrate that too if you want).
In the back-country: Dip your pot in the nearest stream or lake, set it on the stove, and bring it to a boil for 1-3 minutes (now it's food safe!). Add your pasta and broccoli and cook until desired tenderness. Drain water (into a grey water pit if available) and stir in tuna and cheese sauce. Bon appétit!
THE BACK-COUNTRY DIETITIAN REVIEW:
The back-country dietitian needs to consider a few things in her review...namely, convenience, food-safety, pack weight, and concentrated nutrition. This Mac n' Cheese pulls out alllllll the stops.
By the time you arrive at your destination and set up camp, you've expended quite a bit of energy and are likely tired of your on-the-go snacks. You are also probably gearing up for a big day hike in the next 10 hours or so...hence, recovery nutrition is key.
Enter Back-Country Mac n' Cheese...
- ~74g of available carbohydrates to replenish muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrate) stores
- ~18g of protein to build/repair muscle (4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio)
- antioxidants + micronutrients to support immune function
All you need now is to rehydrate. Filter/treat some extra stream or lake water to enjoy with your meal. You can bring along some electrolyte tabs too if you are sweating a lot because of hot temperatures and/or high intensity activity lasting longer than 2 hours.