We all know the struggles of being vegan – finding food while you travel, eating out at restaurants (What’s in your salad dressing again??) and dealing with the questions and criticism of meat-eaters, just to name a few.
Another big challenge for me personally has been trying to find healthy snacks for hikes, traveling, and times when I can’t be home to prepare a fresh meal. As I write this, I’m preparing for a 12 hour hike tomorrow so here’s what I’m packing.
Basic Vegan Trail Rations
The foundation of any trail snack, in my opinion, is nuts and fruit!
Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and peanuts are all great nuts (okay, okay peanuts are legumes and not nuts but they’re still loaded with fat and protein and a nice crunchy kick). You can go with raw or roasted nuts, salted or unsalted.
I prefer roasted nuts for trail snacks that are just lightly salted, or even better I salt them myself with natural salt like a Himalay crystal salt or Celtic sea salt that are loaded with minerals. I usually buy the nuts separately in bulk and then mix them together in a bag. That way it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying trail mix, and, I must say, I make better trail mix than what you can find in the store!
That’s because I add…
Fruit is the key to making a great trail mix. Obviously, dried fruit is preferable for trail mix, but fresh fruit is perfect for the trail as well, just make sure to pack it separately and not get squished plum juice all over your backpack.
My favorite dried fruit and berries for trail mix include raisins, goji berries, cranberries, blueberries, apricot, peach, apple, banana, pineapple, and mango (I actually prefer mango by itself).
Now, when you’ve got your dried fruit and nut trail mix prepared and you’ve got some fresh fruit packed as well, it’s time for…
Veggies are perfect for the trail because they can help fill you up with fiber and satisfy you with that great fresh savory taste. Great veggies for the trail include celery stick, carrots, cucumbers, and snap peas. You can experiment with lots of others, but these are the most common and time-tested portable veggies to eat on the go.
Store Bought Snacks
There are some good vegan snacks you can get at the store, like chips, crackers, and other packaged foods. I usually try to limit processed foods as much as possible and just go with fresh food. It’s cheaper and a lot healthier too!
Dips and Fixin’s
The dip is what makes the difference between decent trail rations and some delicious outdoors dining! Here are some of my favorites for packing on the trail:
Hummus – Either make your own or buy it in the store. Hummus packs great and goes well with veggies and chips.
Nut Butter - My favorite is combining crunchy natural peanut butter and almond butter. It makes for a divine dip for celery stick, crackers, chips, fruit, or just eat it with your finger!
Salsa – Salsa is a perfect trail snack and that spicy kick can be just the thing to keep your energy levels up on a longer hike or trip.
Other Dips - Some other great dip ideas for you more adventurous folks include baba ghanoush, garlic dip, guacamole, bean dip, and a home-made creamy vegan dip.
What about drinks?
The best drink on a trail is obviously water. But it can also be nice to pack a little something extra…
I love fresh coconut water. It’s loaded with enzymes, electrolytes and other great nutrients. If you can’t find a fresh coconut, you can get a packaged coconut water at the store.
Other great drinks to pack along include kombucha, tea (especially herbal teas), or just some fresh mint or lemon to add to your water bottle.
This article written by Tom Corson-Knowles. Tom is the founder of Authentic Health Coaching, a nutrition consulting firm for vegans. Tom blogs regularly about nutrition, health and a vegan lifestyle at www.TomCorsonKnowles.com/blog
*trail mix photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maryamandathompson/5061501645/