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Sharp Health News

What do dietitians eat when camping?

July 11, 2018

What do dietitians eat when camping?

While some think of camping as an extreme wilderness experience, others see it as the perfect way to get outdoors, connect with nature and spend quality time with family and friends.

Either way you view it, camping is all about preparation. Before you head to the great outdoors, follow these tips from three Sharp HealthCare dietitians about how to pack your cooler with healthy foods to keep you energized on your adventures.

Barbara Bauer, program manager of clinical nutrition at Sharp Coronado Hospital

Eating healthy when camping only takes a bit of preplanning.


Meal prep
In the weeks before your camping trip, cook double batches of meals — eat one then and freeze one to take with you. Also, four-bean salad in a jar and Italian giardiniera (pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil) will provide extra vegetables and flavor to food items, as well as work as side dishes.

When choosing fruits and vegetables, be sure to pick items that are slightly underripe . Due to the temperatures and limited storage while camping, they can ripen too quickly and attract bugs. The safer choice for snacks would be homemade trail mix or dried fruit (with no added sugar), due to their long shelf life without refrigeration.

Corn on the cob with herbed butter
Herbed butter or margarine is easy to make ahead. Use 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine and stir in 1/4 cup of your favorite fresh herbs, such as basil, rosemary or parsley. Spread the mixture on wax paper, roll into a cylinder, cover and freeze. When you are ready to use it, just cut off a piece.

Jamie Downs, registered dietitian at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group

I make sure to incorporate healthy fats, such as hummus or avocado, to my snacks and meals to keep me full longer and fuel me for the activity that comes along with camping.


Online inspiration
Look on Pinterest or Google for low-calorie or healthy grilling recipe ideas. Make a shopping list and prep food before you go to enjoy more fun time while you're away.

Most importantly, be sure to bring more water than you think you will need, or a water filter, so you can stay hydrated. This extra water may also come in handy to wash dishes, wash hands and for pets to drink.

Breakfast oats
When camping, I love starting my day off strong with old-fashioned oats. For flavor, you can change it up daily and put them in separate bags or make one big container that you can scoop out 1 cup dried mix daily per person. I'll usually add some chopped walnuts, dried fruit and peanut butter powder to the mix.

Kendra Busalacchi, registered dietitian at Sharp Grossmont Hospital

I love to try new forms of physical activity while camping, like hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga in the mountains and nature walks. Not only do these activities provide physical activity, but they also allow you to explore the area and enjoy nature while doing so. For stress release and to practice mindfulness, try meditating on a mountaintop or by the water.


Healthy snacks
Bringing healthy snacks is always important when camping. Planning ahead and washing and cutting fruits and vegetables to take with you is a good way to be guaranteed a quick and healthy snack full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Pairing the vegetables with a hummus dip and the fruit with a yogurt dip is a nice way to add even more flavor and nutrition.

Food safety tips

"A cooler will provide a safe way to bring uncooked meats, but remember to bring them frozen and cook the meat early in your camping trip before the cooler loses it cool," says Bauer. "While packing coolers with ice packs and large ice, make sure you put raw food in one cooler and cooked food and beverages into another."


"I always try to put foods that I'll be using later in the trip at the bottom and foods I'll be using in the beginning at the top to minimize digging around in the cooler," says Downs. "I also keep any beverages in a different cooler because that usually gets opened more frequently."

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