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She’s the backpacking queen,

Young and sweet, only…

… well, not quite seventeen. Let’s get real. But the rest absolutely holds – I figured out a way to make low FODMAP dehydrated meals, which means that multi-day backpacking trips are on! Oh, so on.

Right. Let’s dial down the enthusiasm (and ABBA), and get to the explanation. Most of you will agree that when we start the low FODMAP diet, one of the biggest problems we face is how to deal with travel. I’m not even talking about enjoying local cuisines, which used to be a vital element of country-hopping; simply finding enough safe food can be tough. Myself, I will never forget the weekend in Boston when I lived exclusively off rice cakes with peanut butter and Cliff bars… do you have any stories? Comment and share please!

Thankfully, not all is lost; recently, I figured out how to bring back the thing I love most – backpacking! So, if you also cannot live without mountains, wind in your hair and sleeping under stars and tall trees… read on.

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First thing you’ll need is a dehydrator. As most other kitchen-related things, I bought mine on Amazon. There’s plenty of choice there, from $30 little tykes, to big tray dehydrators which can set you back a few hundred bucks. Mine is the Nesco Harvest model with modifiable temperature setting; I also got a few extra trays and fruit roll sheets. After a few months of use, I’d say that’s all you really need to make backpacking meals for 3-4 people and perhaps build a little stash of dehydrated low FODMAP goodies for your pantry. The extra trays are self-explanatory – dehydrating more food with the same amount of electricity; the fruit roll sheets are amazing for mashed potato, fruit lather and pasta sauce, and generally for making sure that tiny bits do not fall through the trays. All in all, this thing is brilliant!

The dehydrator will come with detailed instructions on how to use it, or you can find them on the web, so I’ll skip them for now. If you want to be able to rehydrate food quickly, steam or otherwise cook everything prior to dehydrating. One crucial tip: make your food pieces as small as possible, or else you’ll be crouching over your camping stove somewhere in the woods, boiling your food for 30 minutes, starving and watching your fuel supply dwindle at an alarming pace! Not that it happened to me, of course. I’d never have chopped my green beans and seitan into 2 inch pieces just to enjoy the texture. Erm… anyway. Make them small, folks!

At this point, sky is the limit. So far, I successfully dehydrated carrots, zucchini, collard greens, mashed potatoes with turnips, green peas, red peppers, green beans, seitan pieces, cooked millet, spring onions, plantains and melon. I have also made beef and salmon jerky in the past, but those recipes will be posted separately. For now, here are two meals I really enjoyed; the listed quantities are for food that’s already dehydrated, and will feed one hungry backpacker.

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Herbed Seitan in Creamy Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons mashed potatoes
  • 1 tablespoons green beans
  • 2 tablespoons zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon red peppers
  • 3 tablespoons seitan (substitute for dehydrated meat if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon spring onions
  • 1 pinch each of salt, pepper and paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 2 tablespoons mature cheese or yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the veggies and seitan, cut everything into tiny pieces and spread on the dehydrator trays. For mashed potatoes, prepare them as you normally would but skip the butter; fatty foods do not dehydrate well. Then, spread the mash on fruit sheets, about 1/4 inches thick. Set the temperature recommended by your dehydrator and dry the food until it’s just short of crispy. Mix everything other than cheese and olive oil in a resealable bag (if using nutritional yeast, it’s OK to add them at this point). Go backpacking, get tired and happy. When ready to eat, put the contents of the bag into your pot, pour in 2 cups of cold water and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Put the pot on your stove, cover, bring to boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently and making sure it doesn’t boil over, topple your stove and start a fire. Take the pot off the flame, add the cheese and olive oil and let it stand for another 10 minutes. Then, dig in! The vegetables will have sharp edges, so the meal-in-a-bag method of rehydration probably won’t work (i.e. the bag will leak). Yes, I learned all that through trial and error… after losing a good portion of my first meal somewhere in the redwoods of Yosemite, and after my alcohol stove went up in flames (it was inside a fire pit so don’t worry, everything was under control).

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You’ll have to forgive me for the quality of this image – I wanted to include proof that the rehydration method really works, but the photo was taken in the backcountry, at dusk and with a very shaky hand… plus, my camping pot is not exactly classy, I use the Trangia system. Please don’t judge.

Curried Millet and Vegetable Stew

  • 4 tablespoons millet
  • 2 tablespoons carrots
  • 2 tablespoons zucchini
  • 1/2 tablespoon green peas (only if you can handle them)
  • 1 tablespoon collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons plantains
  • 3 tablespoons seitan
  • 1 pinch each of salt and chilli
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cumin, fenugreek, paprika, mustard and turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons cheese or yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

The directions are identical as above. This dish comes out more runny, somewhere between a soup and a stew – very comforting after a long hike!

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The photo above shows a ready-packed meal, the version with potatoes. So much nicer than the commercially available bags of guess-what-I-am!

For breakfast, I had oatmeal, it’s something of a backpacking tradition. Here’s my take on it:

Low FODMAP Backpacker’s Oatmeal:

  • 3 tablespoons instant oats (unflavoured)
  • 1 tablespoon oat bran
  • 2 heaped tablespoons protein powder (I used vanilla-flavoured hemp protein powder)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds (especially important for IBS-C)
  • 1 tablespoon salted peanuts or sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • optional: pinch of cinnamon or cardamom

Finally, as a snack, I prepared something outrageously naughty, but which reminded me of traditional trail mix – the crunch of nuts, chewiness of the dried fruit and the unique mix of flavours…

Naughty Low FODMAP Trail Mix

(proportions – as you wish!)

  • crushed rice cakes
  • Jelly Bellies, your favourite flavours (mine were root beer, chilli-mango, vanilla and cappuccino… say nothing, please)
  • pumpkin seeds
  • salted sunflower seeds

All of these meals are very simple, healthy (well, apart from the trail mix) and tasty. More will come soon, I’m planning a long backpacking trip to the Rae Lakes and will need some variety. In a pinch, these could also be used as emergency travel food – most hotel rooms have a kettle or a coffee maker, or a microwave oven… what do you think?

9 Comments »

  1. Gigi says:

    This is eye-opening for me. I’m long past backpacking age, but I will use this to make my other travels easier and more pleasant.

    Thank you so much for your resilient and ingenious ideas for adapting to low Fodmap requirements.

  2. Lorene says:

    Thanks very interesting blog!

  3. Dustin says:

    Thanks! I went out to the mountains on 2 separate occasions and had high fodmap foods for 14 days. I’ll be putting this through the test with my new diet :)

    • odrowaz says:

      Hey Dustin – hope things work out for you! Just remember to pre-soak and cook for a few minutes longer than what you’d do with ready made meals. Some other things that keep me alive when backpacking are Nature Valley Crunchy Bars, beef jerky (Oberto original and peppered are low FODMAP), basic quick oats with protein powder, sugar and spices, and mature cheese. I do get symptoms – it’s just too much carbs for me, but definitely a lot better than when I hiked with trail mix and powdered milk. Have fun in the mountains!

  4. MD says:

    I just became a low FODMAP follower recently and I am THRILLED to see that you have listed some FODMAP friendly backpacker meals. I am an avid camper and vegetarian who was not sure that I would be able to do backpacking trips anymore. THANK YOU a million times :D I would love to see more recipes in the future!

    • odrowaz says:

      Hey – thanks for the lovely words! I’m now starting to plan a two week camp-and-surf trip, and in June will likely go backpacking for 3-4 weeks; will definitely write some posts about how I managed. Feel free to share your own tricks! :)

  5. Kay says:

    My hubby and I are planning our 2cd Honeymoon on Isle Royal Michigan. This year it is our 40th! Old hippies that we are we chose to backpack and be close to nature and each other.
    I am grateful for the fodmap diet and my medical team at University of Michigan Hospital for all their wonderful help and the fodmap diet. Now we can do our dreams again. One of the reasons my Bob asked me to marry him is that I was an “Earth Mother”. After getting my life back, we decided to get a 9 drawer Excalibur. We are serious about our love of the great outdoors and each other. We will have an awesome itinerary and dining, with out worry about being dependent on commercial food and vendors.
    Happiness IS homemade. Any menu and dehydrating ideas for us to lovebirds I’d welcome. I will keep y’all posted on our journey this summer to our dream honeymoon.
    PS. We will both be 62 years young when we do this. :)

    • odrowaz says:

      Happy honeymooning and big congrats on your big anniversary! Really glad you make the diet work for you and definitely keep us posted on the journey! :)

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When your love for onion rings, whipped cream latté and apple pie has to surrender in the face of a gastrointestinal war... when the world becomes a bleak place, full of chicken soup and carrots... do not despair! There's more than one sweet fish in the sea, and your culinary adventures have only just begun. I hereby present you Squashablanca, the land of plenty for people following a low-sugar version of the low FODMAP diet. Enjoy your food!

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