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A Trail Lunch with Energy

Thursday, April 12, 2012
What should I pack for a day on the trail? Here are five tips for packing lunches that will leave you feeling alive!

Let me give it to you straight -- there's no greater buzzkill on a hike than feeling so alive, then eating dead (dull, lifeless, processed) food. Nix food-like substances which are easily identified by ingredients that are unpronounceable and contain preservatives.

When you are outside, enjoying the oxygen-filled air and radiant sunlight, the best tasting food is fresh and alive.

Here are a few ideas to power up your lunch with both fuel and flavor.

1. Fresh fruit
An apple, orange or seasonal fruit is a perfect choice for an on-the-go snack with environmentally-friendly wrapping. Wash it before you hike so you don't waste any of your precious drinking water rinsing it clean. Buying organic is always recommended, especially for produce with skin that you ingest (conventional peaches, for example, are more toxic than a banana).

2. Nuts
There's a reason they call it "Trail Mix"! Nuts are nutrient and calorie dense, meaning you get a big bang for your buck. In trail terms, that means keeping your daypack light as you only need a few ounces. The key is to chew them slowly and only eat a handful at a time. They contain healthy fats but if thoughtlessly consumed can add up too quickly and leave you dragging a few steps behind your happiest pace.

Try making your own mix with your favorite dried fruit and nuts skipping pre-packed mixes that contain added sugar. I like raw almonds and cashews with goji berries.

3. Market Mix
My best advice is to go to the Greenmarket a day or two before your hike. Start with a few fresh vegetables that look tasty and build your meal from there. Because the food at the market is local and seasonal, you will automatically be fueling yourself with foods that are beneficial for the climate and temperature that surrounds you.

On the last hike I did with Discover Outdoors, I took a couple of blue corn tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen, 3/4 cup mix of cooked brown rice, black beans, hot sauce made from New York State peppers, and fresh romaine lettuce. For athletic fuel, it's always good to have a combination of complex carbohydrates and proteins. This lunch left me feeling satisfied but light enough to hit the trail.

4. Go Green
Consume leafy greens because they are nutritional powerhouses (rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K) leaving you with energy to spare. Pack your food in reusable containers which keeps trash to a minimum. Avoid plastic silverware and eat with your hands or bring a real fork. I like to save mini glass jam jars when I fly and use them to take along spices, condiments, or salad dressings. Let both your food and actions be green!

5. Be Sweet
After an arduous day on the trail, it's always nice to reward yourself. Whether you take a hot bath, enjoy a piece of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao will boost your antioxidant intake), or swap foot massages with your hiking buddy, do something sweet to thank your body for its efforts.

Kelly Buwalda of Kelly Buwalda Nutrition and Wellness is a Certified Health Coach based in Brooklyn, New York, where she combines her passion for nutrition, wellness, and adventure to inspire her clients towards personal transformation. She is also an athlete (dancer, yogi, runner, biker, rock climber) and relishes being outdoors. She loves teaching and learning equally, and when she is not conducting a nutrition or dance class you can find her inquiring about new foods at the Farmer's Market or honing her knife skills.

Categories: Recipes