Eating healthy while living the camping life can be a challenge. We have been working on developing a collection of tried and true recipes that we could easily put together in the small space kitchen of our camper. In compiling this collection, we are taking into consideration cost and the mechanics of packing and keeping staples that we would need to stick to a healthy menu and not be tempted by roadside or fast food alternatives.
We are primarily vegetarian, so fruits and veggies figure heavily in our menu planning. When on the road, we stop frequently for local produce using the website http://www.localharvest.org to track available sources close to our location. If there are no farms, farmers markets or other local sources within reasonable driving distance from our route, we just ask a “local” to be directed to some hidden gem. It is fall harvest season here in Virgina and local produce has been abundant. The small towns around us take turns holding their farmers markets so you could visit a different one each day. Also, the large Southwest Virginai regional Farmers Market is close by and a great source of all that is fresh. It’s been fun to try some veggies and fruits that we are not able to easily procure in Florida. Local hone, much of which is dark and full of nutrients, has been outstanding too. It’s also been a treat to find that there are many church bake sales where we can get breads.
A delightful benefit of visiting the farmers markets is the abundance of craftsmen and artisans who sell some very fine work. We stumbled upon a really interesting booth where a woman was selling puppets. Puppets that are operated on sticks and strings are very popular traditional children’s toys in this region. She was selling some that were made from fur and came in all colors. They looked a lot like Sesame Street characters. The sign said, “Mountain Boogers” $15.00. Of course, I was intrigued and just had to go over and ask her, “What’s a Mountain Booger?” Her answer was, “$15.00.” I meant what is this thing you call a Mountain Booger, not what it cost, but she misunderstood me. Doesn’t everyone know what a Mountain Booger is? We chuckled and she explained further. There are noises in the mountains that sometimes don’t have a good explanation, so her family always told the children that it was the “Mountain Boogers”. They made toys out of the concept and about 35 years ago named them after the legendary Boogers. The hysterical part is that one of them is a doppelgänger for our Japanese Chin, Hana. Trust those of us who know and love her, she’s a Booger too.
We start each day with a smoothie to be sure we are getting a nutritional start. Although our kitchen is teenie tiny, we are willing to give up space to the versatile Margareta Machine. The great green machine can blend frozen fruit, shave ice, or puree butternut squash for a tasty curried soup.
Two for Two Smoothies ( makes two smoothies for two people)
In the blender, combine 2 cups of any favorite fresh or frozen fruit, 2 bananas, 2 cups spinach or baby kale, 2 large scoops yogurt, 2 cups almond milk, 2 tablespoons chia or flax seeds. Two scoops of medium tofu adds some protein. We keep a microwaved sweet potato on hand at all times and add 2 heaping tablespoons for sweetness.
Lunch is often a bean salad. We make a big batch and keep it chilled so that we can just dish out enough to make a quick, easy lunch that takes no preparation.
This is the recipe for the bean salad that we use (with frequent adaptations to include what we can get fresh)
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 dash hot pepper sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- In a large bowl, combine beans, bell peppers, frozen corn, and red onion.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and black pepper. Season to taste with hot sauce and chili powder.
- Pour olive oil dressing over vegetables; mix well. Chill thoroughly, and serve cold.
Using whatever fresh veggies we can get locally, we have been combining them for fresh veggie plates. Pasta and veggies is also a favorite. I use an old electric Faberware frying pan that was my Grandmothers. It cannot be beat as it cleans up so easily. We just simmer saute onions, peppers and garlic, add fresh tomatoes and simmer until tender. No need for a pot to boil pasta, we just boil the spaghetti right in the electric skillet also, making clean up simple. Salad rounds out many dinners for us and we especially enjoy daughter-in-laws arugula salad topped with onion, tomato and pine nuts.
As we drive about or hike, we’ve been enjoying fresh apples since it is orchard season now here and homemade trail mix that we put together and vacuum sealed before leaving home. Arnie’s is plain, but I added espresso beans to mine for a chocolate fix.
Since freezer space is very limited, we make frozen strawberries do double duty. A glass of water, a half a squeezed lemon, a shot of honey over frozen strawberries makes a really refreshing homemade strawberry lemonade. I also take fresh rosemary from the garden and freeze it and drop in a sprig of that for more flavor.
In the camper, we use a French Press for coffee so that there is no plug-in required. Most of our outlets are busy charging the phone, iPad and Chromebook, so plug-in space is precious. It is fun to taste test local brews when we come across them. And speaking of local brews, we keep an eye out for local beer breweries and wineries that offer tours and tastings.