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Wellness for the Family: Healthy Eats for Your Camping Retreats

Registered dietitian for and contributor with , gives us a few ideas on how to amp up the flavor and nutrition for our camping eats.

For more wellness tips and tricks, and recipe ideas, .

Camping and days of exploring are exciting but can be exhausting – making the need for healthy and energy-boosting foods a must. Unfortunately, many go-to camping meals are highly processed and offer little nutrients, such as hot dogs and burgers along with salty condiments. Fueling foods should contain complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy and protein to keep you full. Here are some excellent foods to bring or prepare ahead of time:

Sandwiches. Peanut/almond butter and banana on whole wheat sandwiches are convenient, shelf-stable and healthy.

Veggies in foil. Cut zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, onions and peppers ahead of time and wrap in aluminum foil. It’s best to avoid acidic veggies like tomatoes and lemons as these react with the foil. Grill the foil wrap over the campfire and top with an Italian vinaigrette. 

Overnight oats. This excellent breakfast made with chia seeds, milk, nut butter, fruit and oats packs in all the nutrients needed for a day of adventure. Make it at the campsite or ahead of time as it keeps well for 1-2 days in a cooler.

Bars. Granola or protein bars containing <6 grams of added sugar are great choices. Look for nuts and whole grains at the top of the ingredient list.

Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seed along with dried fruit are shelf-stable and easy to store.

Easy-to-store fruit. Bring along fruit that requires minimal preparation and aren’t subject to easy bruising including bananas, apples, pears, kiwis and oranges.

Salad in a jar. The goal is to avoid mixing veggies with high water content like lettuce with dressing. Prepare a mason jar with hard veggies such as peppers and onions at the bottom and cover with a dressing of choice. Next, add protein such as beans or grilled chicken, then watery veggies such as cucumber, and cheese and nuts. Finally, fill the jar with lettuce and store in a cooler for a fresh meal that just needs a good shake for your first full day of camping. 

Banana s’mores. If you ask me, it’s not a proper camping trip if s’mores aren’t involved. Substitute the marshmallow for a 1-inch thick banana slice and the milk chocolate for dark. Avoid 80 percent dark or more as it may have trouble melting – 60 percent is ideal.