Thursday, August 25, 2011

Backpacking cacao-spinach-chia pudding

Bad boy Misha investigates dinner and backpacking foods on counter.
Freezer bag backpacking meals
Backpacking or easy-travel cacao chia pudding
My husky puppy, Misha's latest trick is to stand on his hind legs to try to reach whatever food items are on the kitchen counter. What this means is never leave the kitchen unsupervised when food is out. The picture above was taken after I didn't follow this rule and left the kitchen to return to find "you know who" trying to reach our dinner. Of course, my husband had to encourage him to do it again so he could snap a picture.

At least, the masked-bandit Misha wasn't successful in making off with any of our food. It's hard to stay mad at him but I admit I could have if he had taken any of the backpacking foods I had labored over preparing for hours.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started preparing my own backpacking foods for a two trips, one for two days and the other for three days. It took forever and didn't help that husband simply grabbed some Mountain House entrees off the shelf at REI.

I spread the task over several days and ended up spending about four hours. All those freezer bags in the photos above contain all my meals, treats, snacks for the trips. Everything had to be pre-assembled in freezer bags and ready to simply add hot or cold water on the trail to rehydrate. Fortunately, I got some great ideas from a website called

I tested out some of my backpacking meals at home and found out how easy it is to rehydrate foods in freezer bags. The idea of pre-packaging foods in freezer bags can be used for taking lunch items to work or packing along foods for travel, biking trips, hiking. I'm sure there are more possibilities!

One of my favorite backpacking recipes is Backpacking Cacao-Spinach-Chia Pudding. If you are not a backpacker or hiker, it could easily be taken along anywhere or just kept on hand for easy preparation when you are in a hurry.

Ingredients for 1 serving:
  1. 2 T. freeze-dried spinach (can be purchased from
  2. 1 1/2 T. chia seeds
  3. 1 1/2 T. cacao powder
  4. Stevia to taste
  5. 2 T. seeds of your choice (I used half each pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
  6. 1 T. hemp seeds
  7. 1 T. rice protein powder
  8. 1-2 tsp. cacao nibs
  9. Optional: 1 T. unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 T. powdered soymilk (purchased from
  1. Place chia seeds, pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seeds in a coffee grinder and grind until a coarse meal.
  2. Place all ingredients in a pre-labeled pint or quart-sized freezer bag.
  3. To rehydrate, simply add 1/2 cup cold or warm water. Can be eaten immediately but best if you wait several hours.
Get more healthy, vegan recipe ideas at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Backpacking with candida and food allergies

Bailey, the new fur kid, on the kitchen counter again!

Bailey and Misha rampage in the living room.
Backpacking seed bars with other assorted freeze-dried foods
More than a decade ago, I considered myself an avid backpacker. It didn’t seem unusual for me to hike into a remote lake with all my gear and food loaded into a backpack. Stomach issues that turned out to be delayed food allergies curbed my enthusiasm for the activity.

Now, I am preparing for my first backpacking trip in 12 years. The last time I headed into the woods was when my daughter was still in high school. No, it’s not a mid-life crisis that’s prompting me to dust off my backpacking gear. My son has fond memories of backpacking with his parents and has invited us to go along with him on several short trips.

Regular car trips have posed problems for me because I have multiple food allergies. I have dealt with the problem by taking along lots of my own food and limiting eating out.

Locating “safe” foods for backpacking is a challenge on another level. Sure I am still taking along my own allergen-free items but whatever I pack must be lightweight which rules out regular food.

Backpackers usually pack easy-to-prepare meals that are pre-packaged and can be made ready by simply adding water to rehydrate the freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Unfortunately, the meals are loaded with many of the foods I need to avoid, such as dairy, gluten, legumes and eggs.

In my search to find suitable food, I found some companies that manufacture meals for backpackers have begun to take note of the fact that there are vegans and people with gluten sensitivity. There also are companies that produce organic meals.

I didn’t expect companies to prepare foods for individuals like myself with multiple food sensitivities. My plan was to purchase freeze-dried foods and assemble my own safe meals.

I found all kinds of freeze-dried vegetables, meats and fruits at and I purchased carrots, broccoli, asparagus, celery, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, dried soup mix, soy milk powder, brown rice and quinoa. I can make a variety of meals and snacks from these ingredients as well as some items I already have in my pantry.

Here’s a recipe for a packable backpacking seed bar that can be taken along on your next adventure whether it is backpacking, camping, biking, traveling. I used Ricki's coconut brittle as my inspiration.

Backpacking Seed Bars

  1. 2 cups raw or toasted seeds of your choice ( I used 1/2 cup each of hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower, and 1/4 cup each of sesame and amaranth)
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  3. 2 T. raw cacao nibs
  4. 2 T. chia seeds
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  6. 2 T. tahini
  7. 2 T. olive oil
  8. 2 T. water
  9. 3 T. yacon or agave nectar
  10. powdered stevia to taste
  11. Pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray.
  2. Grind all seeds and cacao nibs in a coffee grinder. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the applesauce, oil, tahini, water, yacon, stevia and sea salt in a food processor. Add the coconut and ground seeds and nibs and process until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough.
  4. Spread the dough in a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick on the sprayed cookie sheet.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. If the top is dry, cut the rectangle into 16 pieces and separate the pieces to leave space between them.
  6. Continue baking for up to another hour until the bars are crispy.
  7. Allow to cool and store in ziploc baggies in the freezer for your next adventure.

Don't forget to check out more vegan recipe ideas at:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cold avocado-spinach soup

Bailey's version of Where's Waldo?
Cold avocado-spinach soup

Can you find camocat, A.K.A. Bailey, in the photo above? He likes to play his version of Where's Waldo? On numerous occasions, I have searched high and low for Bailey only to finally find him playing camocat with Kona. The two are nearly a match colorwise. Sometimes you have to look several times to spot him nestled in the crook of Kona's body.

I remember when I was a kid growing up in sunny Southern California. We had an avocado tree in our yard and a backyard chicken, named Henny Penny, who always perched in the tree. Henny Penny had the opposite problem of Bailey. She was white and always easy to spot up in her avocado tree.

These days, the price of avocadoes has me wishing I had an avocado tree in my backyard. Avocado is one of the top twelve supermarket remedies to inhibit candida. It contains antifungal fatty acids and is low glycemic. Best of all, avocadoes are delicious!

Recently, I saw a recipe called Avocado Soup. It looked refreshing and yummy but needed some modifications for my diet. Here is my version.

Cold Avocado-Spinach Soup
(serves 2)

  1. 2 ripe avocadoes (reserve 1/2 of a whole avocado for garnish)
  2. 1 cup unsweetened hemp milk (or other alternative dairy beverage of your choice)
  3. 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds + 1 T. for garnish
  4. 1/4 cup chopped red onion + 1 T. for garnish
  5. 3 cups fresh spinach leaves
  6. salt to taste
  7. juice of 1 lemon
  8. 1 cup water

  1. Cut the avocadoes in half. Reserve 1/2 for garnish. Scoop out the meat of 1 1/2 avocadoes.
  2. Place the avocado and other ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve in bowls garnished with extra red onion, pumpkin seeds and diced avocado.
  5. Use any extra "soup" as a sauce or topping for tacos, pasta. It also makes a delicious salad dressing.

Get more healthy, delicious recipes at Weekend Wellness at I know I have benefitted from all the great ideas/recipes shared here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sunbuttery zucchini noodles

Misha "helps" me in the vegetable garden.
Sunbuttery zucchini noodles
Whenever my husky puppy, Misha, gets really quiet I know, if he is not asleep, that he is up to no good. The picture above shows one of those occasions. I took him out to the garden expecting him to do some exploring while I did some weeding. Silly me.

He decided to "help" me while I was pulling weeds. When I turned around, there he was digging a huge trench where I had just planted seeds. Lucky for him, he is so cute. Otherwise he'd be in the "doghouse" every day.

Despite Misha's digging in the garden, I am experiencing a bumper crop of zucchini and cucumbers. I used them to make a yummy meal of raw veggies topped with my version of Thai peanut sauce that substitutes sunbutter for peanut butter.

Sunbuttery Zucchini Noodles
(serves 2-4)

Ingredients for the Sauce
  1. 1/3 cup sunbutter (unsweetened)
  2. 1/4+ cup water
  3. 1 T. sesame oil
  4. 2 T. aminos
  5. 1 T. lime juice
  6. salt and pepper
  7. Optional: pinch of stevia and 1 clove of garlic
  1. Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add additional water if mixture is too thick.
  2. Serve over zucchini ribbons piled with other veggies, cut into matchstick pieces. Use carrots, cucumber, jicama, radishes. Top with toasted sunflower seeds and sliced green onions. Optional: Serve sliced grilled chicken breast.
This recipe and other healthy ones are linked to: