Spice Up Your Camping Menu

July 8, 2024 at 2:35 p.m.
Just because you're 'roughing it' on a camping trip doesn't mean you can't eat well. Try this camping pad thai.
Just because you're 'roughing it' on a camping trip doesn't mean you can't eat well. Try this camping pad thai.

...by Katy G. Wilkens

The wonderful thing about camp cooking is that food simply tastes better outdoors. It’s true! After a long day of paddling around the San Juan Islands, there’s nothing like the taste of a hot, hearty meal cooked over the campfire.

However, even though everything tastes better in a gorgeous outdoor setting, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get creative and spice up the menu. Below are some of my favorite, low-sodium ingredients to take camping, plus a recipe for tasty Pad Thai.  

  • Corn tortillas: At about 5 milligrams each, you can’t beat them as a low-salt, easy-to-carry alternative to bread.
  • Couscous: A great way to save cooking fuel, just add to boiling water, turn off the heat and toss with a fork after five minutes. Add nuts and dried fruit for a great breakfast or chopped apple and curry spices for an exotic dinner.
  • Tubes of polenta or grits: Most are low sodium and you can pan fry them for a great addition to any meal. Serve with tomato sauce and a chopped zucchini.
  • DIY syrup: Simply combine maple extract (real or artificial) with water and sugar. No sticky mess until you’re ready to eat.
  • Flatbreads: Make these on your camp stove. Try injera (sourdough flatbread from Ethiopia), gorditas (homemade tortillas) or even crumpets. All add texture and flavor to your outdoor meals.
  • Cheese: Try cream cheese in tubes, blocks of hard cheddar and mini Babybel cheeses in red wax rounds. For a great dinner, sprinkle Parmesan or Mizithra onto pasta, couscous or rice cooked with garlic, fresh herbs and butter.
  • Asian rice wraps: Low sodium and easy to soften in hot water, these can hold bean thread noodles, slices of green pepper and zucchini, and fresh mint.
  • Asian rice noodles and bean threads (vermicelli): These are usually low sodium and just need to be soaked in hot water. Try the recipe for camping Pad Thai below and you will eat like you’re at your favorite restaurant.

San Juan Pad Thai 

Recipe will feed 4 to 5 hungry people. Try this at home first to get a good idea of serving size and then adjust it based on your group’s appetite. 

1 package of rice stick noodles

1-2 tablespoons oil or butter

1 fresh jalapeno pepper

¼ cup sweet hot sauce (look for low-sodium brand), or substitute ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 zucchini, cut into quarters in camp

1-2 carrots, grated in camp

½ purple onion, finely chopped in camp

3 cloves garlic, minced in camp

¼ cup tamarind concentrate

Juice and zest of one lime or dried lime peel

½ cup water

½ cup chopped peanuts

Heat water. Soak noodles while you chop the other ingredients. Drain noodles. Sauté veggies with tamarind, water and other seasonings. Add noodles back in, cook until just tender and a bit gummy. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the top before serving.

Calories: 413, Carbohydrates: 69 grams, Protein: 8 grams, Sodium: 157 milligrams

[Contributor Katy G. Wilkens recently retired as registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards for excellence in education and for significant contributions in renal nutrition. She has also been awarded the Medal of Excellence in kidney nutrition from the American Association of Kidney Patients.]

Eating Well, Living Well classes

Studies show that working with a registered dietitian can delay kidney failure and postpone dialysis for longer than two years. FREE nutrition classes taught by Katy’s former team of registered dietitians are available at convenient times and locations around Puget Sound.

Eating Well, Living Well classes teach people how to eat healthier to slow the progress of kidney disease and postpone dialysis. Learn more at www.nwkidney.org/classes.

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