Food Review – Outdoor Herbivore Backpacking Foods
Since my last two posts on Appalachian Trials have been about food I figured I’d keep it going by reviewing my favorite brand of backpacking food – Outdoor Herbivore. While their food is vegan or vegetarian, I find that even meat eaters can enjoy these delicious meals with flavors you don’t see a lot on trail. Add to this the fact that they offer meals that can be eaten hot or cold and you have a ton of variety to chose from. For this review I’ll be telling you about three of their most popular flavors: Blackened Quinoa, Lemongrass Thai Curry, and Coconut Chia Peel.
Lemongrass Thai Curry:
After a chilly snowshoeing trip, NoKey and I fired up our Pocket Rocket stove and were dying for a hot meal. The fact that this one would be both hot and ready in 10 minutes and you’ve got two happy snowshoers! We only needed to boil a cup of hot water, directions clearly stated on the package. All you do is add the pack, bring to a boil, cover and shut it off. That’s it! In about 8 minutes (in temps hovering in the low 20’s no less), we had a hot Thai meal. The thing that struck us first about this meal was that it was actually really, REALLY good. It tasted like lemongrass, coconut, and had a hint of spiciness. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten any kind of backpacking food and said “WOW! I can really taste the ginger!” We wolfed this meal down while it was still steaming and were both amazed at the lack of salty flavor and salty aftertaste you normally get when eating a backpacking meal. NoKey would have preferred to add more water and have a more soupy consistency, but I preferred the drier consistency of the meal.
Coconut Chia Peel:
If you’ve never eaten chia seed before, I recommend you skip this one as you probably won’t enjoy the texture. Chia seed (yes, the same stuff we grew “pets” out of in the 80s) is a superfood that is making it’s way mainstream right now and has great nutrition. If you haven’t had a chia pudding before, you should know that adding water to chia seed makes it a gel-like consistency so, again, the texture can be off-putting to people who haven’t tried it before. The great thing about this meal was that it can be a dessert or a cold lunch or snack since you don’t have to cook it. All that is required of this meal is adding about a cup of cold water, stirring, and letting it set up for 5-10 minutes, until the consistency is thick. Sweetened with dates, coconut, and ginger this chia pudding was sweet and flavorful with several different textures. I had it as a snack and was only able to eat about half of it as it was so filling – with 9 grams of protein per 1.5 cups!
I tried to stay away from quinoa while I was hiking due to the long cooking time – usually 18-20 minutes of fuel were required each time. This meal uses dehydrated quinoa, so it’s quick-cooking and uses less water and fuel than regular quinoa does. This meal also contains corn and black beans so I was skeptical of the short rehydrating time but was proven wrong – after adding the quinoa to cold water, bringing to a boil, and letting it sit for about 7-10 minutes this meal was cooked and didn’t contain any crunchy or partially hydrated pieces at all! The flavors in this meal were strong and savory without being salty at all. The meal includes a small pack of salt, small pack of pepper, and a single serving of olive oil to finish off the meal, but I found I didn’t need the salt or pepper at all. I easily devoured the entire meal and was wishing for more – not more because I was still hungry but more because the flavors were so delicious!
Whether you eat cold meals or prefer a cooked meal, Outdoor Herbivore has a great variety to chose from. While they’re all vegetarian or vegan, you’ll find the protein content of these meals won’t really make you miss the meats at all. They offer a variety of ethnic dishes and approximately 80% of their foods are organic as well. All of their meals are also made, prepped, and shipped from the USwith no chemical processing or highly processed ingredients. While their meals are priced competitively with other mainstream backpacking foods, the nutrition and flavors, in my opinion, are so much better. Designed by long-distance vegetarian backpackers, you can be sure you’ll be getting nutrition and easy-to-prepare meals. Check them out on their website at outdooorherbivore.com.
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