There have been a multitude of recent health food movements rise in popularity. Each has their own set of passionate followers and beliefs. Although veganism may seem to many like one of these passing health food movements, the lifestyle has been around for centuries.
Abstaining from animal products is interwoven within the thread of human history. Veganism is a lifestyle that study after study has proven beneficial for our health, our performance, and our planet.
Many are aware that being vegan means eliminating all animal products from our diet. So, what is a raw diet, and why are so many health food gurus seeming to transition towards a raw vegan lifestyle? A raw food diet is one that only consumes food in its natural, uncooked state.
The basic belief of the raw food diet is that once food reaches a temperature above 104-114°F, it is stripped of many essential nutrients.
A raw diet is plant-based, and completely avoids processed foods. There are several cooking methods involved in raw diets, such as sprouting, dehydrating, soaking, and blending.
So, what should you do when you want to bring your raw vegan diet on the trail with you?
Eating a raw vegan diet while backpacking is entirely plausible. However, it will require more extensive food prep ahead of time, in order to ensure a variety of nutrients and a significant amount of calories are being consumed.
Raw Vegan Backpacking Food Ideas
A raw vegan diet relies heavily on fresh produce. Backpacking food is notoriously devoid of raw produce, due to its water weight and bulkiness. Although this poses a challenge for raw vegans, it is a challenge that can be greeted with culinary innovation and creativity. The list below outlines different raw vegan backpacking food ideas worth trying!
Raw granola is a perfect snack to bring on any backpacking trip. The combination of dried fruit and nuts will give you wholesome energy and carbohydrates to fuel your endeavors. This recipe is made using a food processor. Stored in an airtight container, it will last up to two weeks.
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
15 – 17 pitted dates
1 heaping tablespoon hemp seeds
1 heaping tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I prefer desiccated)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon maca powder
1 pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
Place the dates in a food processor. Blend for 5 minutes, or until the dates have reached a sticky, caramel like consistency. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and process until the mixture is coarse. Add in the cacao nibs and stir to combine. Transfer to an airtight container.
*Go here to view the full inspiration recipe: minimalistbaker.com
Raw Bagel with Nut Butter
These raw bagels are an ideal addition to any backpacking trip. Bagels are one of the best backpacking foods. Calorically dense and versatile, they can be eaten for any meal, pack easily, taste delicious, and retain their shape even when inevitably squashed. Try eating these with a layer of your favorite raw nut butter for a fueling and hearty breakfast.
These bagels come together in a dehydrator, and last for up to two weeks.
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons psyllium powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz zucchini peeled
¼ cup cashews soaked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
Mix quinoa flour, oat flour, ground almond, psyllium powder, onion powder, garlic powder together in a large bowl. In a high speed blender, process the zucchini, cashews, olive oil, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar and water until smooth and creamy.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well to combine. The mixture will thicken up after about five minutes. Once thickened, form into a ball and then roll into bagels. Dehydrate on a nonstick dehydrator tray for 6 to 8 hours at 115 degrees F. Take them off the nonstick sheet and dehydrate for a further 30 minutes to dry the bottoms.
*Go here to view the full inspiration recipe: therawchef.com
Dehydrated Mango Dippers
Before you hit the trail, dehydrate a few mangoes to bring with you. Dehydrated mangoes are packed with nutrients, easy to eat on the trail, and are a sweet treat for any time. These are best made on the trail, as making them ahead of time and transporting can be quite messy.
10-12 Dehydrated mango strips
1/4 cup Raw nut butter (almond works best here)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
Dip the dehydrated mangoes into the raw nut butter. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Eat immediately.
Lunch – Papaya Salad
A traditional Thai dish, this recipe is also naturally raw. Made ahead of time, it can be easily stored in a plastic bag.
1 green papaya
2 bird’s eye chiles
1/4 cup lime juice
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 tablespoons cold-pressed coconut oil
2 teaspoons whole, unprocessed sea salt
1/4 cup raw peanuts (or sunflower seeds)
3 tablespoons cilantro
Directions: In a bowl, julienne papaya, carrot, and cucumber. In a separate bowl, whisk together chopped chilies, lime juice, garlic, coconut oil, and salt. Toss with vegetables. Top with peanuts and cilantro.
Flatbread with Nut Butter aka “Raw Pizza”
This flatbread recipe is another versatile carbohydrate to bring with you on the trail. It can be used in a variety of ways, whether dipped in nut butters, eaten plain as a snack, or folded into a flatbread taco. The options are endless.
1 small sweet white onion
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1 cup raw organic walnuts
2 dates, pitted
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon whole, unprocessed sea salt
1/4 cup ground golden flax
Coarsely chop the onion and transfer to a food processor. Add the olive oil, squash, walnuts, dates, and salt. Blend until well combined, pulse a few times if there are a still chunks.
Transfer to a bowl, stir in the ground flax seeds, and set aside to thicken, about five minutes.
Spread the mixture onto Teflex sheets, about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, then cut into desired shapes and dehydrate for 12 to 24 hours. You may want to turn them after 8 hours.
*Go here to view the full inspiration recipe: rawfoodrecipes.com
Sprouted Grains “Bowl”
Any whole grain can be sprouted. It is a different method of preparation as opposed to the traditional boiling method, and helps the grain retain the highest possible nutrient profile. Sprouted grains are also easier for the body to digest. Since they take multiple days, sprouted grains should be prepared ahead of time.
However, they store easily in plastic bags. Taking a bag or two of sprouted grains with you on the trail is great for quick lunches. Eat them plain, roll them in nori, or top them with anything from seeds to fruit to mushrooms found on your hike.
1/2 cup any whole grain (wheat berries, quinoa, millet, rice, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, farro, etc.)
Soak grains overnight. In the morning, rinse and drain, and place moist grains into a container twice their size for 1-5 days, or until little sprouted tails appear.
Dinner – Veggie Sushi
A classic raw vegan meal, veggie sushi can be prepared ahead of time. If you would rather make it on the trail, try and eat it the first night, since the ingredients are rather bulky and would weigh down a backpack.
4 sheets raw nori seaweed
1 julienned carrot
1 julienned cucumber
Lay avocado, carrot, and cucumber on Nori sheet. Roll tightly. Eat as a sushi burrito, or cut into slices for more traditional sushi.
Zucchini Noodle Hemp Spaghetti
If spiralized ahead of time, zucchini noodles can be kept for up to three days. Keep these noodles in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag, and pasta night on the trail is easy as ever.
2 zucchini, spiralized
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 teaspoon raw, unprocessed sea salt
*optional toppings: raw marinara, tomatoes, or sunflower seeds
Before hitting the trail, prepare zucchini noodles by spiraling two large zucchinis and storing in an airtight bag. Once on the trail, top with hemp seeds and salt for a simple yet satisfying dinner.
Snacks – Dehydrated Chickpeas
Dehydrated chickpeas are one of the best raw vegan snacks. Especially important is their protein and fiber content, which are necessary for any backpacker.
3 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon raw, unprocessed sea salt
Soak the chickpeas overnight. In the morning, drain and place into a sprouting jar. Let sit for 2 days until the sprouts have popped out from the chickpea. Remove from the jars and transfer to a dehydrator. Dehydrate for 12 hours, or until the chickpeas are crunchy. Combine with spices, and transfer to an airtight container to enjoy while on the trail.
DIY Trail Mix
Nuts are a raw vegan backpacker’s best friend. For the recipe, simply combine any assortment of raw nuts with dehydrated fruit and cacao nibs. Some possible combinations include hazelnuts with cherries, cashews with raisins, or almonds and macadamia nuts with dried mango and papaya.
Dessert – Chocolate Fudge Brownies
Craving something sweet on the trail? These chocolate fudge brownies are sure to satisfy your cravings.
11 Medjool dates, pitted (3/4 cup, packed)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted, natural raw creamy almond butter
1/2 cup unsalted, raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon raw organic vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until a sticky, sough like consistency forms. Spread onto a cookie sheet and chill until the dough firms, about 20 minutes. Slice into squares and place into an airtight container or plastic bag.
*Go here to view the full inspiration recipe: beamingbaker.com
The Challenges of Eating a Raw Vegan Diet While Backpacking
While maintaining a raw vegan diet on the trail is entirely possible, it does pose a series of unique challenges. One of the major challenges of eating raw and vegan while backpacking is managing your pack weight. While fresh fruits and vegetables constitute the bulk of a raw vegan diet, these foods are not practical to carry on the trail.
This can be addressed with proper preparation ahead of time. Spiralizing your noodles, dehydrating your fruits, and sprouting your grains before you leave your home is essential to helping you maintain a proper diet without logging down your entire backpack with produce.
Long-distance backpackers might face additional challenges as well. Resupplying can be difficult, since you will not be eating as many shelf-stable foods.
Located a dehydrator in resupply towns can also be difficult, not to mention the fact that dehydrating and sprouting takes multiple days, which may be too long of a time to spend off the trail. In this situation, utilize recipes and foods that don’t require dehydration, or consider shipping yourself plenty of dehydrated fruits along the way.
Though it poses certain challenges, being a raw vegan while backpacking ensures that you fuel your body with the cleanest foods for maximum performance.
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