At last, quality ingredients and freeze dried convenience combine to create delicious, healthy, and paleo-friendly backpacking meals. For quite some time now I’ve wondered how long it would be before paleo diet eating options would hit the outdoor industry. Well now they’re here and thanks to Paleo Meals To Go I couldn’t be happier.
Eating Paleo for three years and counting
I’ve been eating a paleo diet (and doing Crossfit) for close to three years now and it works for me. If you don’t know what the paleo diet is all about and the benefits it provides I’m not about to explain it here. In a nutshell the paleo diet is “a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, and excluding dairy or grain products and processed food.” Check out Robb Wolf’s site if you want to read more about the paleo diet.
The key thing to understand here is that it’s clean eating. Real food, real ingredients, and as unprocessed as possible. Like I said, it works for me and I’m happy with it – YMMV as they say.
Paleo on the trail
Eating clean (paleo diet) on the trail has always been a bit of a challenge though. I wouldn’t consider any of the off-the-shelf freeze dried packaged foods options to be clean eating, at least not until very recently. Heck some of them list ingredients I can barely pronounce or they have insanely high amounts of sodium. So why put that junk in my body when I’m hiking if I wouldn’t eat that at home? Oh and don’t tell me it’s okay because it’s all about calories. I’m not eating handfuls of Fritos just because they’re calorically high for their weight.
To address the lack of clean eating options I’ve taken to dehydrating all my own ingredients and packaging my own meals, I know that’s nothing new to many of you. The real challenge has been finding recipe ideas that dehydrate well and rehydrate in a reasonable time and still taste good. Common meal fillers like pasta and rice aren’t an option when you’re eating paleo. For the most part I’ve been pretty successful with chicken and vegetables, but I’ve resorted to a non-cook diet for many trips just so that I didn’t have to deal with this.
Developed by a Crossfit athlete
A relatively new company based out of Denver, Colorado called Paleo Meals to Go has launched a line of dehydrated dinners, lunches, and breakfast options that are completely paleo. They were developed by a Crossfit athlete that struggled with clean eating when outdoors and so decided to create their own. Gott love that.
The prices may seem a little high to some of you, $13 a packet, but you get what you pay for when it comes to food. Pay now or pay the doctor later as they say. Or just skip a Starbucks coffee one day a week.
Quick preparation times
I recently took a packet of the Paleo Meals to Go Savory Chicken & Vegetables with me on a routine practice hike with my kids. Side note: they don’t eat paleo despite my attempts to encourage them to do so. The Savory Chicken is categorized as a “lunch” meal and that’s exactly what we used it for.
I fired up my Jetboil Sol Ti stove and brought 2 cups of water to rolling boil. The packet only requires 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups of water to be rehydrated, but I always make a little extra just in case I need it. Better to have some. I opened the packet, removed the small oxygen absorber pack and followed the directions.
One of the benefits of not having any pasta or rice as part of the meal is that the rehydration time is significantly faster. The Savory Chicken only requires 4-6 minutes to be ready. Got to love that. As it turned out I must not have been very accurate when I poured the boiling water into the pouch because I had quite a lot of water left after the time was up. Not a problem, I just partly closed the ziploc style top and used it to drain out the unwanted liquid. My dog loved that!
The taste test
Once the ingredients were rehydrated and ready to eat I looked inside to see chunks of chicken and vegetables, all easily recognizable. The directions suggest that your stir thoroughly (again) and then eat, which I did. However I noticed that the end result was a little less presentable than before I stirred it. Much of the chicken had broken up (think of canned tuna) and mixed into the vegetables.
That didn’t stop it from tasting delicious though. My kids both tried some of the Savory Chicken & Vegetables and gave it a thumbs up. That’s pretty amazing for many reasons and I attribute it to the smell and look of the food. Nom nom nom…
Despite the extra cost I’m excited to have some quality, clean eating options for my hiking trips. I love making my own, but these taste far superior to anything I’ve made yet and are super convenient. I’m going to snap up a bunch of these for my Crossfit hiking buddies and see what they think. Do you eat a paleo diet or have you tried it?