This guest post is by Natalie Schoeppler, a passionate camper, yoga & meditation teacher, and health foodie.
One of the most enjoyable places to have fun and get creative with vegan cooking is on a camping trip.
Sure, when we think of camping, the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” don’t exactly come to mind. But I love to go camping just about every weekend of the summer and I’m not about to leave my beloved vegan cooking at home. So, trust me, the two go together just deliciously.
The trick is really to be prepared with a few simple tools, and some ideas for what works. I have a camping “kitchen” that’s really just a small pack with all the essentials I need to make anything taste delicious on the road or in the woods. In it are: a small bottle of olive oil; salt & pepper; some spices such as garlic powder, cumin, and whatever else I’m digging at that moment; plastic camping bowls; some basic cutlery and a sharp knife; and some aluminum foil. With those few tools and a campfire, you can make amazing, healthy, vegan food for yourself and your friends.
Okay, so let’s get cooking. The easiest and most impressive meal I have made requires only 3 ingredients: an eggplant, salt, and olive oil. Once you’ve built up your fire, rearrange it with a long stick or some tongs to get a small section of glowing, but not burning, coals. Then put the whole eggplant right on the coals. Seriously. No foil, nothing, just place it on the coals, and after about 10 minutes, gently flip it over and leave on the coals for another 10 or so minutes. You’ll know when it’s ready when it’s soft to the “poke” and the skin is black and blistered. Take it out of the fire and set it down. Peel off the blistered skin, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and enjoy the soft, delicious, smoky flesh!
Cooked veggies are delicious, but since I don’t like to travel with a cooler, I’ve also had to come up with a creative way to make salads to get some fresh vitamins while out in the woods. Enter avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and lemons. These foods do very well without refrigeration and make a delicious salad once mixed together with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. You can even add a can of garbanzo beans and roll it all up in a tortilla for a filling, healthy meal. Bonus: find dehydrated hummus at your local health food store! All you need to do is add water and olive oil, and the results are fabulous and satisfying.
But my very favorite thing to make are simple “hobo pockets,” which sound funny, but taste delicious!
These clever meals require no more than what is already in your gear and some veggies that don’t wilt at the first sight of sun. Here’s what you’ll need for 4 people:
Chop up the veggies into bite-sized pieces (an extra piece of aluminum foil works well as a clean cutting surface in a pinch), and add them in small equal piles on each of the squares of tinfoil. Add a generous helping of olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite spices (you might even find some rosemary growing nearby). Give it a bit of a mix, and top with a good amount of nutritional yeast and another drizzle of olive oil. (The Nutritional yeast is optional, but I found out once that adding it makes it look and taste a bit like a yummy omelet). Fold up the sides of the foil, creating a long and slim shape, and then fold them down to securely close the top (imagine rolling up a brown paper lunch bag).
Then, fold up each of the shorter ends to secure. Stick them straight into the fire, preferably on some hot coals to minimize burning, and then sit back, relax and wait for your pouches to be done (about 15- 30 minutes). Once they call your name, take them out of the fire open them up, and enjoy straight off the foil. Enjoy!
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