Sunday, August 21, 2016

Using Dehydrated Food for Travel

I've used this in a number of ways:  1) for backpacking 2) when visiting friends celebrating a graduation where I didn't have control of the food, didn't have a car, and didn't want to be a bother--it was so much better eating my food than trying to make their food work for me, 3) to visit my family in a similar situation--though there I could have gone to the grocery store and used their kitchen but this was still easier.  In all cases, the dehydrated food was perfect:  I made my meals easily and I ate them while others ate their food, whether on the trail, at their homes or in restaurants.  Here's how I do it:

I order a bunch of food from Harmony House.  I'm sure there are other places too, this is just the first place I found.  I started with their Backpacking kit, and then over time learned which foods I like better than others.   Here is what my current supply looks like.   My starches:

These are peas, butternut squash, sweet potato, and sweet corn.  The corn is somewhat crunchy even after rehydration.  Note I don't have potatoes here.  I don't find the dehydrated potatoes to be very tasty, though I suppose I could give it another try.


Here I have pinto, black, lentils, kidney, split peas, northern and garbanzos.

Broccoli, cabbage, onion, spinach, celery, and "vegetable soup" which is a mixture of carrots, bell peppers, onion, and other stuff like that, all veggies.

I combine them into a big bowl with 4 parts (by weight or measuring cup, doesn't matter) starches, 2 parts beans, 2 parts veggies.  (This is what I did when I originally posted this.  However, the more I listen to Dr. McDougal and Chef AJ, the more I realize I don't HAVE to eat beans all the time, so you could just do starches and veggies if you want!   I bet that tastes great!).  I just pick at random what I want from the 3 categories, or add some of all in.   It doesn't matter much really, just make sure yo have enough sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  Those are essential because they make it taste really good and that's the goal.

Now, how much is a serving?  For backpacking I wanted to make sure I'm getting enough calories, so I looked at the nutritional information for all these different dehydrated items.  It turns out it's very similar for all of them, from starches to beans to veggies.  Why?  because all the water is gone.  Veggies are mostly water and that's why they are low calorie.  When you take out the water, they have a similar calorie density to dehydrated beans.  Interesting, huh?  So it turns out they are all about 3-4 calories/gram.  150 grams then gives about 525 calories.  That's about 5 oz or 1.5 cups.  For backpacking I added about 150 grams to each "sandwich" size ziplock bag.  [Edited later:  lesson learned from the backpacking trip:  To generate less garbage, just bring a big bag of food and a 1/2 cup measuring cup and dole out 1-1.5 cups per meal].   

For my backpacking trip, I put the small ziplock bags into a large gallon-size bag for more complete sealing.  About 6 small bags fit in the bigger bag.

To rehydrate, add about 3 times as much water.  You can use heat or not.  If you use heat, bring it to a boil it and it will be ready in 10-15 minutes (I'd let it sit another 15 minutes after that).  If you don't use heat, you can let it soak for 1-24 hours.   It's very forgiving.  This is a very filling meal and it tastes surprisingly good--the reason is that the squash and sweet potatoes make it taste sweet.  So these are key ingredients you don't want to leave out.  And of course you can change the ratio of veggies to starch to beans to whatever you want.  Maybe try 1/2 starches, 1/4 veggies, 1/4 beans--then it will be even sweeter!  You can of course supplement your meal with any fresh fruit or veggies you can get your hands on.