Decades ago, when I started solo multi-day walking, putting cinnamon and dried apple in my porridge rations was gourmet. Everything came off the supermarket shelf. Specialist vegetarian camp meals cost too much even back then and still taste like cardboard.
Over the years my walking rations have changed as much as available variety and quality has improved.
Now there is a huge variety of food suitable as nonperishable rations and staples for all dietary needs. Compared to only a few years ago it has improved dramatically.
Oddly enough, with the growth of options I have returned to basic organic blends.
I’m not a calorie, nutrition or carb counter. I let my body tell me what it needs and listen to what nutritional warnings my cravings are sending. During the years I walked through the outback I needed to take a lot of supplements as my body burnt more than the food I could carry between towns and roadhouses.
Now I am walking through the most densely populated parts of Australia I have regular access to fresh fruits and salad vegetables. I feel very spoilt.
There are still many parts of the remaining 2,900kms where I will be days between towns and doing a lot of bush camping (as per normal). Most days I will be using dry rations and fresh fruit which travels well in the heat in the backpack.
Until this year I haven’t bothered carrying a camp stove for various reasons like carrying only strictly rationed drinking water, raw being sufficient and energy efficient, the long 50-60km days of pushing my barrow beside the road were too tiring to bother cooking and it added weight.
This year I am switching to a lightweight backpack and walking much shorter distances each day so I will have the time, energy, water availability and pack space to start each day with my special spiced porridge and end with dahl. I’m looking forward to returning to my old bushwalking routines.
My Special Spiced Porridge is loaded with all the right stuff for a strong start to the day.
100% powdered coconut milk (no casein)
A pinch of Himalayan pink salt
half a cup cooked in 1 cup of water (double if I’m starting to fatigue)
It doesn’t look pretty but it tastes amazing, cooks quickly, is a slow release energy food and doesn’t sit heavy like oats.
My dahl blend is simply a colourful mix of texture and mild flavours with various snap dried Tassie veggies from Campers Pantry.
Black beluga lentils
French du Puy green lentils
Cauliflower, carrot, peas, broccoli and/or mushrooms
half a cup of dahl cooked in 1 cup of water (presoaking during the day makes cooking much faster and fuel efficient) add veggies and extra water until soft.
Add herb or curry seasoning
During the day I graze on seeds, nuts, dried and fresh fruit. Sometimes I forage for wild plant foods like berries, rosehips, dandelion greens and flowers, lemon sorrel, prickly pear, pigface, saltbush, quandong, wild violets, bullrush, figs, lillypilly, wattle, nastnastertiums, native cherries… Don’t try anything unless you are 100% sure of the plants identification and preparation for safe eating. I stick to what can be eaten raw and regularly refresh my knowledge because mistakes can be lethal.
When I stay in town or with hosts I indulge in salads and hot chips. I binge on mountains of salad and fruits I can’t carry in the backpack. I crave salad.
You probably noticed I am a herbivore, plant powered, vegan. There are advantages to this like cleaner foods, higher levels of nutrition uptake, less toxins, stronger bones, cleaner arteries and less pungent body odour as well as many other compassionate and environmental reasons.
I used to love fresh sweet juicy apples but while walking across the Nullarbor I was given so many they made me sick and I have trouble just looking at them now.
One of my most favourite snacks are whole dried organic bananas. When I can afford them I keep reminding myself not to eat more of them than I would eat whole fresh bananas, taking care not to do the same as apples.
Supporting local businesses is also part of my eating habits. I can buy snacks and vitamins from locally owned health food stores, fresh produce from farmers markets and green grocers, soy lattes or kombucha and treat myself to a vegan meal from many of the fun little healthy vegetarian/vegan cafes popping up on the east coast.
Not so much needs to be ordered online, nothing needs posting to roadhouses and community general stores. Only 6 times I had to go on half and quarter rations walking through the outback because Australia Post lost my supply packs. If it happens on the east coast I can stock up in the towns I pass through several times a week.
Trail food for longterm treks needs to be nutritious, high energy, light weight, easy to prepare and tasty. The secret to stave off food boredom and binging in the tent or hammock at night is to keep it simple, take a daily treat and mix up the variety for each new section. Unless you’re on emergency rations don’t deprive yourself of small indulgences.
Never feel guilty about that carb-loaded cafe, roadhouse or pub meal because you deserve it after hard weeks or months walking between towns!
I love food, when you meet me you will notice I love it way too much 😄