On our way up to Julian last week, Karissa and I stopped for a pre hike power lunch. This was a quick, last minute lentil soup thrown together that morning. It only takes 15 minutes to make, and it is a really filling and warm lunch. I just cooked a whole pot, left two portions in the pot, and cooled it in the fridge. We brought a little propane stove to heat it up when we got there. Super easy and fun picnic.
We enjoyed our lunch with some green tea, and we were ready and fueled up for our hike in the snow. This soup fills you up quick, but also provides long lasting energy.
If you want to summit, you gotta eat your lentil soup.
Here is the recipe for this lentil soup with an Asian twist:
- 1 cup lentils
- 2 carrots
- 1 handful chopped bok choi or chard
- 3 green onions
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 tablespoons of miso paste
- 1 tablespoon chicken bullion
- 1 tablespoon black bean sauce or oyster sauce
- soy sauce to taste
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce (good and spicy)
- Add lentils to boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes.
- Finely dice carrots, celery, bock choi, and onions and pan fry for 5 minutes
- Drain lentil water and add 5 cups of fresh water. Add vegetable mixture. Bring to boil again and turn to low.
- Add miso paste, chicken bullion, black bean sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes more until the lentils are cooked. Done.
I love creating simple recipes to be packed and eaten in the outdoors. My perspective on cooking is that recipes should be simple, minimally processed, and full of flavor. Simplicity allows you to taste the quality ingredients by balancing few complimentary ingredients. This salad is as simple as it gets, and the quality of the ingredients is what makes it. For this reason, I think it is very important to cook the garbanzo beans from dried beans. I won’t make any guarantees if you use canned beans.
The process of cooking garbanzo beans is as simple as it gets. It’s not rocket science. Yes it takes a slight amount of planning, but if you can walk and chew gum at the same time, you’ll be able to do it. Just try it.
Here’s the 2 step process for making garbanzo beans from scratch:
- Soak garbanzo beans for 8-12 hours in a pot. You can do any amount you want. Just remember that they’ll double in size.
- Drain and rinse. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then turn to medium low for 30-40 minutes. Stop freaking out. It’s not hard.
- 2 chicken breasts cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic
- palm full of fresh thyme
- Cut chicken breasts into cubes
- Finely chop garlic and thyme
- Marinate in white balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme
- Add JUST THE CHICKEN without the marinade to the biggest pan you have on medium high. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn heat down to brown it a bit and evaporate the juices. Then add the rest of the marinade and cook for 5 more minutes and stir every 2 minutes.
- Refrigerate to cool down.
- 2 cups garbanzo beans
- 1 Romain heart
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Add lime juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil in a small mason jar and shake to combine.
- Finely chop Romain lettuce.
- Slightly mash garbanzo beans with a fork. The dressing will get picked up better in the bean this way.
- Combine garbanzo beans, lettuce, and dressing.
If you are going to eat this out on a picnic, or if you taking it to work don’t combine dressing with the salad. Just keep it in the jar and add it to the salad when you get there. This will ensure the lettuce it is fresh and crispy.
Late summer in the high Sierras is one of my favorite times to go backpacking. Thunder storms are rolling in, the cool of fall is starting to show, and mosquitoes are almost all dead. We had rain, then hail, then thunder and lightning, which all gave way to perfectly blue skies at the summit of the divide at 11,700 feet.
The grueling climb burnt some serious calories, so we needed some epic food to refuel for the next day of chilling and fishing in the back-country. I thought a pre-made mixture of dehydrated veg and quinoa would be perfect. It’s super lightweight, quinoa is packed full of protein, its cheaper than dehydrated meals, and its relatively quick to cook. Here’s how I did it.
I like to rinse my quinoa before cooking it, but since that would be a pain in the back-country, I just rinsed it at home and dried it out on a towel. It didn’t take much time at all. I used a mandolin slicer to finely slice carrots and celery for the dehydrator. I then dehydrated them below 110 degrees so nutrients aren’t lost. The tray on the right in the photo above is the same amount of hydrated veg as the tray in the middle. Dehydrators are cheap and worth the investment. I even did some sun dried tomatoes for the hike up. Perfect snack. I bought dehydrated shitake mushrooms and dehydrated onions.
Recipe for 4 large servings:
- 2 1/2 cups quinoa
- 4 carrots dehydrated
- 4 celery stalks dehydrated
- 1 cup dehydrated shitake mushrooms
- 1 cup dehydrated onions
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 stick lemongrass
- Salt and pepper
- Rinse and dry quinoa at home
- Dehydrate vegetables or buy dehydrated vegetables at home
- Cut lemongrass into large sticks that will fit in your pot. You will remove them along with the bay leaves after cooking.
- Put all in one bag and preseason with salt and pepper.
- When on the trail, double the volume with water in a pot, bring to boil and turn to low to simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked. The outside temp and altitude will affect how long it takes to cook. If it is running dry, add some more water. You’ll know its done when you can’t see the white in the center of the quinoa kernels.
- Remember to remove bay leave and lemongrass. Eating these would suck. Don’t do it.
Here is a super fun way to cook an easy dinner at the beach. Simple kabobs with some flat bread. You can prep the kabobs ahead of time and then just throw them on the grill when you get there. I prefer putting all the meat on separate skewers because then you can control the cooking time for your vegetables and meat. It seems like every time I taste kabobs with both veg and meat, something is completely overcooked or burnt.
If you can make a fire, use good tasting wood that burns clean. My favorite is oak, but you can use any fruit tree, alder, mesquite, etc. Cooking over open flame and coal is key in my opinion. It will make the flavor 10 times better.
Simple marinade for the meat:
- 3 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts cut into chunks
- 4 tablespoons Bragg amino acids (or soy sauce)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- thumbs size piece of ginger
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- cut chicken into equal size chunks.
- Use garlic press for garlic and finely mince ginger.
- Combine marinade, mix into chicken, and allow to marinade for a few hours
- Put on skewers
Since the beaches are so crowded these days, I have to go to greater lengths to find an uncrowded spot for dinner. This is where my secret spot at an unnamed lagoon comes in handy. Just a quick standup paddle away, and we can have a beach all to ourselves. Since you can put a ton of weight on a paddle board, I don’t have to pack light.
Here’s a simple recipe for a fresh chicken salad. All whole ingredients.
- 6-10 chicken tenderloins
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 handful cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic
- Olive oil
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Marinate chicken in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, and minced garlic for about an hour
- Add to pan on medium heat and color the meat but don’t burn. You want to hear a sizzle, but turn it down if it starts to color too much. When they are almost finished cooking, add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan to get the sticky colored parts loose. This will add moisture to the chicken.
- Let chicken cool and put in fridge.
- When cool, cut into fine chunks and add mayo, Dijon mustard, tomatoes, and a splash of olive oil. Mix and serve on good bread.
You can pair it with a simple side salad. Featured is an easy beet salad. Just chunk up cooked beats, add a handful of feta cheese, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar with some good olive oil. Simple. Don’t complicate it more than it needs to be.
I love eating outdoors and hiking, and I’ve been testing some interesting ways of packing in lunch on a small day hike. This is an cool example of an easy lunch you can prep ahead of time and hike in with any backpack. I don’t mind extra weight because it helps you train for when you actually have some weight on your back.
This is a simple lunch of bell pepper tapenade, good quality bread, any hard cheese, and any fruits that travel well. Parmesan or pecorino are always great - just wrap them in cheese cloth or napkin. I packed cherries because it was just a few mile hike on a cool day. You can use dried fruits on hotter hikes and put the tapenade in a small cool bag.
This tapenade recipe could have easily been enough to feed 4 people a light lunch.
- 1/2 bell pepper
- 1/2 red onion
- 1 tomato
- 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 small cloves of garlic
- salt, pepper, and olive oil
- Finely dice onion, bell pepper, and tomato
- Add oil to pan on medium heat and add minced garlic
- Add diced onion, bell pepper, and tomato and simmer on med-low for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and the onions are translucent. Do not overly brown.
- Add vinegar half way through the cooking time
- Add salt and pepper to taste with a bit more olive oil
- Put in jar and cool in fridge
When I go camping good food is a priority. In preparation and testing for a cool outdoor cookbook, my friend Shonna and I collaborated on a cool outdoor meal. We went to a sweet campsite outside of Joshua Tree, setup camp, and started cooking. The menu that night was veggie stuffed turkey breast with roasted tomatoes and quinoa.
First you have to butterfly out the turkey breast so you can stuff it. This is really easy once you get the hang of it and use a sharp knife. I’ll post a video later on how to do it, or just youtube it. You basically cut in half or in thirds lengthwise and pound it down to flatten it. This also shortens the cooktime.
Now spread some dijon mustard, add your garlic, asparagus, lemon, jalapenos, herbs and any other veg you want. Roll it up, spear it with a rosemary stem or bamboo skewer, and put it on the grill.
For the quinoa, simply cook per instructions, which is one cup of water to one cup of quinoa. Once it is cooked after about 15 min, add raisins, crushed walnuts, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. Roast the tomatoes for a very very very long time so they get nice and sweet, but don’t burn them.
Here is the list of ingredients for 4 people:
- 4 turkey or chicken breasts
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup crushed walnuts
- 1 bundle of asparagus
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 lemon (DO NOT skip this - It is very delicious in the recipe)
- As much garlic as you desire
- Dijon mustard
- Any collection of herbs you like
- Coconut oil (if you want to use in place of olive oil)
- Olive oil, salt, and pepper
Spring is almost here, its warming up, and the beaches are still uncrowded, so its the perfect time to enjoy it before the tourists murder the beaches. Even if the nights are a bit colder – kick up a beach fire and cook some food. Here is a super fun and easy way to cook on an open fire. Everything is healthy and simple. Shonna Steppe had this idea and she called it the hobo casserole; check out her website at shonnasteppe.carbonmade.com .
This concept is really simple, so what makes it good is the ingredients you choose to put in. Just get a variety of high quality vegetables you like and chop them up based on the cooking time they require. This means cut the potatoes really thin. Broccoli can be left in big pieces. Mushrooms can be halved or quartered. Peppers are perfect thinly sliced. Add any other veggie you like or what’s in season. Finely chop some garlic and ginger, add some Bragg amino acids (or soy sauce), some coconut oil, lemon, and then double wrap everything tightly in aluminum foil. Throw it on the fire for 20 minutes and turn it every once in a while. You can accompany it with some grilled fish or chicken. These handheld grills are perfect for cooking over open flames, and they are super cheap. You can flip it easily and it is impossible to lose your food.