Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday goes camping! Eating well & tantalizing taste buds in the backcountry

Campfire

Camping season is here! Which delicious and healthy campfire meals will you try this year?

Camping season is here! With thousands of lakes in our own northern backyard, it’s a quick trek out to the wilderness to get away from the daily grind. Pack your tent, sleeping bags, bug spray, and … hot dogs? No way!

Meals like mac and cheese, hot dogs, or pork and beans are “classic” camping foods, but there are a ton of other tantalizing meals you can make in the backcountry using a camping stove, BBQ, or fire that will nourish you while you relax your body and mind in nature.

For most campers, camping activities typically revolve around food. For my husband and I, it’s important to make healthy choices throughout the trip but still enjoy nostalgic camping foods. Here is a typical camping day for us, filled with food that keeps us energized to enjoy the wilderness:

View of forest from a tent

What does your typical camping day look like?

  • Wake up bright and early to a hot cup of percolated coffee made by my husband. Then, off we go on the boat to fish for a few hours.
  • Come back to camp for a big breakfast complete with eggs, hash browns, my hubby’s homemade bacon, wholegrain toast, and fruit.
  • Head out for a hike or go back on the lake with some homemade trail mix, fruit, and veggie sticks.
  • Relax in the sunshine with a quick tuna sandwich and maybe a soup if it’s chilly.
  • Enjoy dinner, which is always the star of the show! One night is almost always a steak, grilled potato pouches, homemade fresh focaccia, and veggie skewers or grilled Caesar salad.
  • Wind down around the fire with a campfire dessert like bannock, banana boats, or everyone’s favourite: s’mores.

Because camping truly revolves around meals and snacks, one of my favourite parts about camping is meal planning and finding creative ways to enjoy vegetables so we can continue to eat well while away from home. I try to prep the meals as much as possible at home so cooking a meal in nature is still stress-free, so I always make sure to cut-up vegetables for skewers and snacking and make any sauces ahead of time.

Here is one of my favourite veggie sides that doesn’t require a knife and fork to eat – perfect for camping! I served it with spicy beer can chicken and roasted potatoes, which makes a great camping meal.

Grilled Caesar salad with chicken and potatoes on a plate.

After a few minutes to make the dressing at home, a grilled Caesar salad can be a great veggie side dish for your camping culinary adventures!

Grilled Caesar Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 romaine hearts, cut in half length-wise with the core intact
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 6-10 capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except lettuce until smooth. When camping, do this part at home and keep it in a small container in the cooler.
  2. On medium heat or on the campfire grill, place romaine hearts cut-side down onto the grill. Grill until there are char marks and the lettuce is slightly wilting.
  3. Brush the dressing onto the cut side of the grilled romaine heart and enjoy!

What’s your favourite camping meal or favourite way to make veggies for the outdoors?

Erin Branco

About Erin Branco

Erin is a dietitian with Northern Health's clinical nutrition team at UHNBC. Erin has a passion for growing and cooking food as well as teaching patients, clients and families about incorporating a balanced, wholesome diet into a healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, you can find her cooking up a storm, writing about food and nutrition, and growing vegetables at her community garden. During her dietetics internship, Erin explored the north from Fort St. John to Haida Gwaii, learning about clinical and public health dietetics with many adventures along the way.

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Mother Nature’s wonderful benefits

Woman with hunting rifle standing on ridge overlooking fall scenery.

For Laurel, there’s nothing better than disconnecting from the everyday world and heading out to hunt, fish, camp, or explore northern B.C.’s beautiful wilderness. There are so many health benefits!

Growing up in a family that camped, hunted and fished, the outdoor lifestyle has very much become a part of who I am. For me, I cannot think of anything more therapeutic than disconnecting from the everyday world and taking in the wonderful benefits that Mother Nature has to offer.

On any given weekend when I’m free, you will most likely find me in the bush hunting or on a river or lake fishing. There is nothing better than eating organic foods and it is even more satisfying when you harvest that food yourself! Spending the day in the bush not only has the potential to provide food for the freezer but has many health benefits that go along with it. It is not unusual to spend hours hiking or walking when you’re hunting (and that’s just the easy part! The real work doesn’t begin until you have shot your animal!). Not only am I doing something that I love, but I am getting exercise while doing it – it’s a win-win!

Woman holding fish in river.

Food doesn’t get much fresher or more local & organic than fish or game you’ve caught or hunted yourself!

There are so many benefits to spending your free time outdoors (in my case, hunting and fishing) and being active:

  • Fresh air. This is #1 for me!
  • Organic food. It doesn’t get much more organic than something you’ve hunted yourself!
  • Vitamin D. Soak up that sunshine!
  • Quality time with loved ones. To my little family, hunting is who we are, and as hunters, we often associate time in the bush with people we care about.
  • Better mental health. Goodbye, stress!
Lakes and fall colours

The photography opportunities in northern B.C. are endless, as Laurel’s beautiful shot of Butler Ridge Provincial Park near Hudson’s Hope demonstrates!

As a bonus, the photography opportunities are endless! Northern B.C. is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor scenery and wildlife in the province. With moose, deer, elk, bear and numerous other animals living at your doorstep, it’s not uncommon to see these spectacular animals while going about your everyday life. We “northerners” often take these amazing sights for granted.

I always try to be grateful for everything in life, but when I’m on the river, in the bush or at the top of a mountain, breathing in that fresh, outdoor air and having monster bull elk come towards me, it’s an extra reminder of how blessed I am to be a hunter!

Are you a hunter or an outdoor enthusiast? What outdoor activities do you take part in to help maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle?

Laurel Traue

About Laurel Traue

Laurel Traue is the Regional Administrative Support for Public Health. She was born and raised in the Cariboo and loves being able to call this beautiful part of B.C. home. Laurel's passion is her family, and she loves to connect with them while spending time in the great outdoors. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, spending time on the river, exploring new parts of the beautiful North and travelling!

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