For many readers, May marks the start of a new season for their favorite paddling sport. It also means that they will be looking for interesting and easy ways to get the most out of their camp meals or picnics. But manyof us feel rusty at the start of the season, when it comes to the outdoor pantry. So it might help to refresh our outdoors gourmet instincts by making a list of the most useful paddler-friendly ingredients: those that will keep fresh and safe with a minimum of cooling.
Canned, dry, vacuum-packed goodies
Certainly, canned meat and fish is a good option (ham, chicken, salmon, tuna, mussels, smoked oysters, mackerel, shrimps, crab) as long as one does not forget the can opener at home. All varieties of nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, hazelnuts), as well as peanuts or peanut butter are also excellent traveling companions, as are dry fruits (apples, cranberries, dates, mango slices, apricots). Vacuum-packed tofu, lentils (which don’t require soaking), canned legumes (chick peas, cannellini beans, black beans, red kidney beans) and vacuum packed salmon, milk or cheese are also excellent sources of protein that can travel safely for a long time. Dry meat and sausage is another interesting option, as long as you use them sparingly because they are often loaded with salt and fat.
All root vegetables travel extremely well for one to three weeks and add vitamins, antioxydants and variety to a paddler’s camp meal (carrots, parsnips, celeriac, turnips, beets, potatoes, onions). If you leave for one to three days, than go for celery, bell peppers, radishes, fennel, snap peas, asparagus, zucchini, baby eggplants. Don’t forget that avocados can be a very interesting option, as long as you pack them properly and choose the right ripeness level. But leave all leafy vegetables home, since they are too fragile. Don’t forget fancy condiment options, like dry tomatoes, good olive oil and vinegar, olives, capers, a tube of pesto, dry herbs, cocoa powder, in order to bring some culinary zest to your outdoor cooking.
Grains and those fabulous flour tortillas
Any paddler knows that good carbs are also extremely important to replenish your energy level and to keep stamina high. That’s why cereals like granola and granola bars, rice, couscous, bulgur, whole wheat pastas or rice noodles are extremely handy in that respect. But you also need a source of carbs that can be grabbed quickly and without any cooking. Like bread, for instance. Which is one of the trickiest ingredients to carry during a paddling trip because it loses its shape quite easily, it is sensitive to molds and, in the best case scenario, dries very fast. Whole wheat bagels or whole grains English muffins are a bit more resilient, but still, they need TLC. That’s why over the years, after many frustrating trials and errors in the bakery section I came up with one easy solution: flat bread like Azim or pita breads, or, even better, flour tortillas. Those are now my favorites because they are extremely versatile in all sorts of wrap version, from breakfast to dinner and even dessert. They travel well for at least 3-5 days without problem and they hold their shape pretty well.
Flour tortillas make delicious wrap sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and excellent pizza dough. They are perfect as appetizers with hummus, pâté or cheese. They can be used as a replacement for nachos with salsa, refried beans and guacamole and they also make a fine meal with a bowl of soup. Flour tortillas can be transformed into fabulous desserts with chocolate spread, fruits and/or marshmallows. They come in different flavors (pesto, sun dried tomatoes, olives, cheese, etc.). I usually chose the whole wheat plain version because they are loaded with filling fibers and have a nice nutty flavor. Here’s a few ways to enjoy them ‘round the clock.
Breakfast wraps (2 portions)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 green onions
- 1 stalk celery
- 4 tbsp chopped red bell peppers
- 2 tbsp Feta cheese
- Pinch of chili pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large whole wheat tortillas
In a bowl, whisk eggs with cheese. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil and sauté vegetables over medium heat a few minutes to soften. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat. Once cooked, pour the eggs on the tortillas, leaving two inches at the bottom to fold. Fold the bottom of the tortilla then roll tightly from one side. Serve immediately.
Crab and avocado picnic wraps (4 portions)
- 1 can of real crab, drained, thinly cut
- 1 ripe avocado, thinly diced
- 4 green onions thinly cut
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
- 1 dash lime juice
- 4 tbsp real mayonnaise
- Pinch of cumin
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 4 large whole wheat flour tortillas
In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. Spread evenly on four whole wheat tortilla, leaving two inches at the bottom to fold. Fold the bottom of the tortilla then roll tightly from one side. Don’t forget to carry these tortillas in a cooler with icepacks on top and beneath to make sure they remain at the right temperature to prevent bacteria proliferation.
Mediterranean vegetarian wraps (4 to 6 portions)
- 1 large onion cut in thin wedges
- 1 large red bell pepper cut in large stripes
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 small eggplant, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Mix of dry oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained
- 8 tbsp sesame butter
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 to 6 large whole wheat flour tortillas
In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the dry herbs and cook until tender and slightly brown. Remove from heat, add chickpeas, sesame butter, soy sauce and mix well. Divide onto the tortillas, leaving 2 inches at the bottom to fold. Fold the bottom then roll tightly from one end. Serve immediately.
Chocolate dessert wraps (4 portions)
- 1 small can of chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
- 1 small can of pears in their own juice (or raisin juice), drained
- 8 tbsp dried cherries
- 8 tbsp pistachios, crushed
- 4 large whole wheat flour tortillas
Divide chocolate-hazelnut spread evenly on tortillas, leaving 2 inches at the bottom to fold. Sprinkle each tortilla with 2 tbsp of crushed pistachios and 2 tbsp of dried cherries. Cut pears in slices and divide the wedges on the tortillas, leaving 2 inches at the bottom to fold. Fold the bottom then roll tightly from one end. Serve immediately.