Tag Archives: Camping

Backcountry Camping: Food Ideas

Camping has always been an important part of my life. With my new food allergies, however, I thought that part of my life was over. It took a year for me to figure out simple sandwiches… but I started researching my own shelf-stable food, and it led me back to camping! I’ve been most inspired by reading books from my library like Cooking the One-Burner Way by Buck Tilton, and running across websites like www.wellpreserved.ca and https://www.thesodacanstove.com/alcohol-stove/how-to-build.html.

Cooking Options:

– Stoves: If you want to save money and weight, you might look at making a simple pop can alcohol stove. I am a huge fan of my Coleman emergency stove, as it uses a solid fuel, and is thus much safer to store it long-term in my car (where my emergency supplies live unless I’m camping!).

– Buddy Burner: We used to use these all the time in Guides! http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping/buddy-burner-scouts-first-stove

– Milk Carton Stove: These are basically mini portable barbeques. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlkv6n7x47s

– Baking while camping is possible, either within the coals of your campfire, in a dutch oven (if you want to carry it…), or bringing a solar oven with you.

Breakfast:

– Pancakes and Crepes: Have you found a basic pancake recipe you can use with your allergies? If not, try the crepes at the bottom of this post- http://foodallergycanada.ca/2016/12/holiday-guide-tips-resources/ Pancakes while camping are a lot of fun. PRO TIP: To prevent sticking, be sure to grease your pan well (butter/marg/oil/whatever!), and wait until your pan is up to temperature before you start cooking. Never, ever, use old non-stick pans over a fire… Teflon pancakes are gross. Don’t ask me how I know that.

– Overnight Oatmeal: If you have a thermos, put oatmeal, hot water, and any number of toppings into it the night before. Seal the thermos very well before putting it into your sleeping bag. Breakfast in bed! Or… if you’re concerned about wildlife joining in your breakfast, you can just stash the thermos inside your bear-proofed pack. Warm breakfast without needing to make a fire in the AM for the win!

– Granola: Making your own granola in the oven ahead of time is actually pretty straightforward, and then you can bring powdered milk. PRO TIP: If you’re used to 2%, don’t expect to like instant skim powdered milk. Go for whole milk instead. You can get whole powdered milk from Bulk Barn (but remember to watch out for cross-contamination and ask a manager if you can have some non-opened product from the supply shelf), or from Medallion Milk, and should rehydrate it the night before if possible for the most normal consistency.

– Fried Granola: Over a stove/fire, carefully fry some butter & brown sugar. Then add your oatmeal, and whatever toppings you like. You could try coconut, dried fruit, candied fruit, seeds… the options are limited only by your allergies and your imagination.

– French Bread: If you can have eggs, you can apparently dehydrate your own to make powdered eggs… If, like me, you can’t… use fruit instead! I haven’t tried it yet with rehydrated fruit, but so far both banana and kiwi have worked fabulously to make something very close to French bread. And because they’re not perishable, the only advantage to powdering them would be the reduction in weight.

Lunches:

– Sandwiches! If you can have seeds, beans, or nuts, each can be blended in order to make a great sandwich filling. You can also use meat jerky, or bring some waxed cheese. You could even grill them! I’ve been known to add sprouts to my sandwiches, and since you can eat sprout seeds while you’re on the move, they might be a great way to bring greens into the backcountry. Check out www.sprouting.com for some ideas.

– Pemmican: One of the oldest camping foods in existence, pemmican might take some extra thought and effort to make, but it’s worthwhile. JAS Townsend & Sons has a recipe, and since most 18th century cooking is done over a fire, it’s a useful channel in general for camping recipe ideas. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxr2d4As312LulcajAkKJYw

– Hard Tack: This is what sailors used to make and bring on long journeys. It’s essentially a hard biscuit or cracker made from flour, water, and salt.

Suppers:

– Tin foil packets- These are best on the first day if they involve meat, but cooking inside a tin foil packet over hot coals is pretty amazing.

– Freeze Dried: Freeze dried meals are pretty awesome if you can find some pre-made without your allergens, but they aren’t cheap! There are some DIY methods out there, but I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet.

– Dehydrated Meals: There are a lot of resources out there about drying food and making dehydrated meals. PRO TIPS: Measure your food before you dehydrate, as the difference is how much water you’ll need to re-hydrate it. Use an insulated bag while rehydrating, when in doubt add extra water, and start rehydrating your meal long before you’re ready to eat.

– Canned Foods: Whether you buy canned food, can your own, or get mylar bags for a lighter option, there are tons of options for being able to use canned food when refrigeration isn’t possible. The National Centre for Home Food Preservation is a great American resource for how to do this safely: http://nchfp.uga.edu/

Dessert:

– You already know how to make a s’more… but have you tried roasted fruit? Golden kiwi is my personal favourite. Keep the skin on, and roast like you would a marshmallow. It’s a cool experience, as the juices in the kiwi start to boil, making the roasting stick vibrate! Eat carefully. Or you can try it as a banana boat- cut a lengthwise slit in an unpeeled banana, fill with marshmallows and chocolate, then wrap it all in tin foil.

– Citrus Muffins: If you eat out the inside of a citrus fruit, leaving only the hollowed out peel (with a lid), you can fill it with your pancake batter and bake it! Keep in mind you’ll need much less liquid for a muffin than you would a pancake.

– Pie Filling Surprise: My Girl Guide unit loved making these when I was a kid. Take two oatmeal cookies, put pie filling or jam between, wrap in tin foil, and throw into the coals for 10~15 mins. They’re pretty epic, and you can really use any cookies or jams.

Snacks:

– Cookies, Crackers- If you vacuum seal these into smaller packets they’ll last longer.

– Popcorn: Check out http://thecookful.com/campfire-cooking-pop-corn-open-fire/ for some ideas.

– Make your own trail mix! Enjoy life has some pre-made with dried fruit and seeds, but I prefer to make my own with cereal, seeds, dried fruit, candied fruit, and occasionally chocolate chips (though that can get messy!)

Happy Camping!

-Janice

 

The Dangers of Complacency with a Food Allergy: The Black Bear Tale

This past spring, two friends and I went interior camping near Gravenhurst. We found a really cool map online of an unmaintained provincial park that is essentially a big playground waiting to be explored by camping geeks like us. We prepared for weeks, slowly purchasing new gear, mapping out potential routes, acquiring additional auto-injectors, and discussing all the great trails waiting for us. As the big day grew closer, we began planning out our menu. This is where things can get tricky. I am at-risk for anaphylaxis for peanuts and tree nuts and my other friend, let’s call him Ted, is at-risk for anaphylaxis for peanuts, tree nuts, raw fruits and vegetables, and salmon. Luckily some of our allergens cross-over so we went with some of our staple foods that were easy to carry: Noodles, rice, oatmeal, chips, etc. Before long, we had our menu completed, our food purchased, and our bags packed. We didn’t think twice about the food since we ate them all the time and felt confident that what we had was safe to eat.

Entering the park was quite the experience. The road in starts as pavement, then turns to gravel, then abruptly turns into pot-holed, uneven dirt for several kilometers. Once we parked our car and took off down a trail, we soon realized we had missed the trail we wanted and had to double back. Whenever we stopped moving, the black fly army would swarm us and leave itchy reminders that this was their land. Clearly, we were off to a great start… The actual trail we wanted started as hardly more than a half foot of compact grass but regardless, we were finally on the trail and making up ground.

DSCN1407The scenery was beautiful! The trails meandered up and down, left and right, and popped us out on some really nice ridges overlooking forest and marsh below. This park was like a dream come true for us! We couldn’t believe we hadn’t discovered it earlier.

Anyway, that night we found a great little campsite beside a lake and stayed there for the night. The next day, we made some oatmeal and Ted had a packet of noodles and off we went down the trail to continue our exploration.

DSCN1410Flash forward about an hour later. We had been hiking through a dense forest that took us over a little stream and up a steep ridge. At the top of this ridge, we took a break to take in the incredible view of a marsh below and drink some water. Andy, the second friend, points down to the marsh and says, “Whoa! Look! A bear!” Lo and behold, there was a massive black bear trudging along the marsh in a line away from us where we had been hiking not even twenty minutes prior! We marvelled at catching this sight and probably got a little too loud because the bear turned and looked up the ridge towards us.

Bear in the morning on the loop in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.

We all paused, not knowing what to do next.

The bear seemed uninterested in climbing the steep ridge and continued to the other side of the marsh while we picked up our bags and continued to hike the ridge, still excited that we saw a bear!

About ten minutes later, Ted started to breathe heavily. He took out his puffer and took a couple puffs thinking it was just his asthma that sometimes flares up.

We continued our hike.

A few minutes later, Ted took a few more puffs which raised a few red flags in my head. We took another break near a split in the trail and he told us that his chest felt very heavy and his breathing felt oddly similar to one of his past anaphylactic reactions. Now all red flags were up!

We quickly looked at the map. Luckily there was a fork in the trail right beside us that led a kilometer straight back to our car. There was a river to the left and the marsh to the right. There was only one way to go.

Oh, I forgot to mention…the bear was last seen at the end of that trail. So now we had quite the scenario. Ted needed to get to the hospital and the only way to get there was down a trail blocked by a bear! …Are you kidding me?!

There was really no choice. We took out some pots, I had my hatchet, and we made as much noise as possible while we walked down the trail. The bush was so thick that we had no idea where the bear might be hiding so we kept our eyes peeled and kept moving.

No sign of the bear.

The car was now in sight and Ted’s breathing had gotten worse, so he took his auto-injector.

We loaded the car as fast as we could and I sped down the pot-hole road. I had only one thing on my mind: Drive Fast! The hospital was 45 minutes away and I wasn’t going to be the reason Ted didn’t make it there.

After he took the auto-injector, Ted’s symptoms didn’t get better but they weren’t worse either which was a good sign. After 35 minutes of winding roads, we made it to the hospital and everything turned out great. Ted was fine and we ended up going to a friend’s cottage nearby instead of braving the trails again.

We looked back at our food and meticulously read every ingredient twice. It turns out that the noodles that Ted insisted he ate daily may contain peanuts, tree nuts, AND fish. A triple threat for Ted!

The moral of the story is that it is easy to become complacent with food allergies. Reading the label can become so routine that we just trust that the ingredients of our favourite brands won’t change. Ted and I learned a very scary lesson that food ingredients should always be read multiple times no matter how often you buy a certain brand. Companies can change ingredients at any time. All it takes is you eating one package of “may contain” out of a thousand other times to trigger an anaphylactic reaction. It is never worth the risk. Do yourself a favour and always stay sharp with your food allergy. Be alert and stay safe.

– Dylan B.

Wine-ing about my Unusual Allergies – Lessons Learned from an Anaphylactic Reaction

Camping tent in the nice yellow dandelion field with mountains on background

My name is Fraser and I am a 26-year-old medical student. Last spring some friends and I planned to go camping in Gravenhurst, Ontario. While my friend Darryl and I were organizing our tents and sleeping bags, his mother offered us each a glass of wine. Our friend Pozz was picking us up so since we weren’t driving, we each indulged in a glass of wine.

I have life-threatening allergies to a long list of unusual allergens. I am allergic to all raw fruits, all raw vegetables, peanuts, tree nuts, raw salmon, and scallops. I grew into these allergies when I was about 18 or 19. I have had 10 anaphylactic reactions and each time, I have had to use my EpiPen®. I went to the hospital each time and on four occasions I needed another injection of epinephrine at the hospital. Thankfully, I have not stopped breathing during any of these reactions.

Darryl’s father handed us a small glass of white wine and we began pretending we were wine aficionados. I have enjoyed wine in the past, having a glass here and there. We swirled the wine around, spoke in British accents about the fruitful bouquet and the sparkling colours, pretending we knew the subtle differences between French and Italian wines. But, when I had a sip I could feel something wasn’t right. My throat was rapidly swelling up, I felt nauseous, and I began to feel dizzy. I had mistakenly left my EpiPen® in my car, so I ran out into the driveway, grabbed it, and administered it myself. Darryl came to the front door, saw what was happening, called for his father to dial 911, and came to help me. Within minutes, we had to administer another EpiPen® because the first had not yet provided effect. This was the first reaction that caused so much swelling in my throat that I was unable to breathe. The second EpiPen® took effect quickly. I was only unable to breathe for a few seconds. Soon, firemen and paramedics flooded the house and I was taken to the hospital.

I began breathing shortly after the second EpiPen® was administered, and my breathing stabilized in the ambulance. By the time I arrived to the hospital my symptoms were beginning to gradually recede. I was set up in a bed in the emergency department and was assessed by medical staff. My friend Darryl had accompanied me in the ambulance and my friend Pozz was on his way to meet us at the hospital. It was there that I began to feel something much different.

I felt guilty. I was going to be in the emergency department for a few hours to receive other medications and to ensure that I didn’t have a ‘bounce-back’ or “biphasic” allergic reaction. This is another reaction that can sometimes occur a few hours after the epinephrine wears off. By having to wait to make sure my symptoms were gone, I had delayed our camping trip. We were going to have to leave later in the evening, it was going to be dark by the time we arrived, we were going to have to set up our island camp site in the dark, my friends had to pay for parking at the hospital, my mother was called and she had to come down to the emergency department to see me, and I was taking up a valuable bed in the hospital. These were all thoughts going through my head. I don’t like being the centre of attention and having an anaphylactic reaction in the suburbs north of Toronto had brought several neighbours onto their porches to watch the commotion of firetrucks rushing with lights and sirens. I felt guilty that Darryl had to use his EpiPen® because mine hadn’t taken effect. I just felt guilty.

I spent four hours in the emergency room, and on the bright side, felt well enough to continue on the camping trip, and had a great weekend in Gravenhurst.

I think it’s very important for me to understand that having food allergies isn’t my fault. I don’t have food allergies because of poor lifestyle choices or because I didn’t study in school. I had enjoyed wine many times in the past and had no reason to believe that it would cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. Feeling guilty might cause people to shy away from help when they think they might be having an anaphylactic reaction. While studying medicine I was chatting with an emergency room physician who has a life-threatening allergy to walnuts. He had a reaction at a social dinner and instead of signalling for help, he ran down to the washroom. Thankfully, someone found him, administered his EpiPen®, and averted what could have been a terrible allergic reaction. I am not weak or defective because I have food allergies and this is important for me to realize. I am not bound by my food allergies and after this scary reaction, I did not let my food allergies define me. They are just one of the aspects of my life that make me unique. For readers who feel guilty about your food allergies and your reactions, I want to assure you that this is a totally normal way to feel. You might feel like a hassle when you and a partner are making a special dinner and they have to remove several ingredients from the meal because of your food allergies. Or, you may not be able to accompany your friends to a restaurant or pub where peanut shells cover the floors. It is normal to feel this way. But, overcoming these feelings is important, because if you don’t, you will experience much more distress than you need.

Thank you for letting me share.

– Fraser K.