5 Strange (And Very Nutritious) Foods for a Thru-Hike
Life is full of strange and wonderful adventures, including the Appalachian Trail. Why not take some of these strange, but extremely nutritious super-foods with you? I’ll be taking all of these oddities with me on the trail because they are all LOADED with nutrients. When compared to other foods, these babies blow them out of the water nutritionally speaking. If I want to hike the Appalachian Trail in tip-top shape, I suggest you bring these along! Enjoy.
The Strangest (and most Nutritious) Foods on the Appalachian Trail:
- Dried Anchovies – These little buddies are loaded with omega 3
fatty acids, protein, B-vitamins, calcium, selenium and other minerals. If you didn’t already know omega 3 fatty acids are important in your body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes. In fact, too much Omega 6 (common in nuts, conventionally raised meat, seed oils etc), will actually cause inflammation. How does this impact you on the trail? If you are surviving off of peanut butter and tortilla sandwiches, you may likely begin to feel quite slow, swollen and have a hard time recovering after your hikes. You could take a pill form of Omega 3, in the form of fish oil, but just know that those usually go rancid (very harmful for the body) during the processing of the oil. When eating the sardines, you are getting the most natural form of Omega 3, and each bite is like eating a little vitamin/anti-inflammatory pill. These are SUPER light and easy to pack with you on the trail. I’m planning on putting one package into each of my resupply boxes, and slowly eating about a package a week. I get mine from Radiant Life because they also check their seafood for radiation.
- Organ Meats – Say what?!?!? Yes, you heard me right. I am aiming
to eat some sort of organ meat, meaning liver, heart, kidneys etc, every other day. Personally, I have a hard time stomaching the thought of organ meats, simply because I grew up in a culture where for some strange reason where for some strange reason they have become taboo. The truth is that organ meats, especially liver, are PACKED with protein, B vitamins (most importantly, massive amounts of B12, the “energy” vitamin), folate and minerals… and are one of the most nutrient dense foods you could possibly eat. Afraid that liver is bad for you because it filters out toxins? Read this. Not convinced? Read this. I’ll be sourcing my organ meats from On the Go Paleo. They have an incredible beef and organ snack stick that will blow your socks off. Their beef is completely
grass-fed and from the best of beef sources. I’ll also be taking along Epic Bar’s Beef Liver Bar. Again, they source their liver from grass-fed cows. These bars give me so much energy (I swear by it), that I feel like I just consumed a redbull or something. Seriously. Feeling tired and fatigued on the trail? Eat some liver. Can’t stomach eating liver? Mix a little bit of this into your breakfast. Traditional Foods Market makes an Essential Multi-Glandular product that only uses organs from pastured animals. I’ll be taking this along with me on the trail as well!
- Coconut oil Fat is crucial for long term energy production, blood sugar stabilization and for nutrient absorption. Both of these fats are shelf stable and loaded with a variety of crucial properties. Coconut oil is naturally anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral and whatever other positive anti’s you can probably think of. This means that if you are getting some sort of infection, coconut oil is going to help you out. Besides for eating it, I also use a dab as deodorant and it reduces odor-causing bacteria. Coconut also is loaded with medium chain fatty acids, which means your body can quickly and efficiently use it for fuel (so you don’t have to eat so many candy bars for energy). If I’m feeling like I’m lacking energy, but do not want to eat something big because I don’t have time to stop and digest my food, I’m going to eat a spoonful of coconut oil. I eat it regularly if I’m hungry before cross-fit workouts, or starting to get hungry before bed.
- Lard– Now, lard may seem very strange to you, but here is the
truth lard is loaded with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for our immune health, bone health (have a problem with bone fractures?) and detox processes. One tablespoon of lard from a pastured pig (very different from a factory farm pig), has about 1000 IUs of vitamin D. Compare this with the 12 IUs in a mushroom. I’m aware that because I will literally be outside all day for 4.5 months, I should not worry so much about vitamin D. But the truth is, we need a lot of biological processes to be running smoothly in order to effectively make and store vitamin D. Due to the physical stress of walking 20 miles a day, I can’t guarantee that I will be getting enough and
would rather eat my lard than have to take a few rest days to recuperate from a cold. I get my lard from Tendergrass farms. It comes from pasture-raised pigs (meaning they eat grass and get lots of sunlight), and is shelf stable. It’s also important to make sure you are eating fat with your protein sources in order to digest your protein properly. Eating lean dried meat all day without adding some fat is a quick way to getting sick. The native americans knew this and often gave the leanest meats to the dogs and saved the fatty cuts and organ meats for themselves. They also dried the lean parts to use while traveling, but added tallow, lard or another source of fat to it right before consuming.
- Duck, Elk, Bison, Buffalo, Alligator Dehydrated Meats- Mountain America Jerky makes a whole bunch of exotic meat jerkies. For the sake of not getting bored with beef jerky and turkey jerky, I will be taking along some exotic meats with me. Different animals
have different amino acids profiles, thus providing a variety of nutrition. For instance, Elk is higher in zinc, B12 and tryptophan than beef. Banking on taking just vegetable proteins? You should know that they are extremely low in the essential amino acid, tryptophan, and could cause you a whole load of problems down the road… Without digressing too much, I would like to encourage you all to vary protein and jerky sources!
I also want to thank all the companies I’ve mentioned in this post. When planning my thru hike, I reached out to them and asked if they could donate product to help me be successful in my hike. All of these companies happily donated product to me for my hike. They are all incredible companies and I encourage you to support them!
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Good call on the anchovies. I carried butter when the temps cooperated, much easier to find than coconut oil at small trail resupplies, but still very versatile and satisfying.