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Camping, but make it nutrition

  • Granola, yogurt and fresh fruit with a hot steamy cup of coffee in the morning is about as fast and easy as they get. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The Monterey County Herald
Published: 6/23/2019 9:55:47 PM
Modified: 6/23/2019 9:55:45 PM

It’s always nice when things fall together. Especially on vacation. Our recent trip to a state park with dogs and horses in tow was a good example. After a few minor delays I won’t go into, we set out to ride and relax.

Food? The same rules for nutrition (let’s call them guidelines ... this was a special occasion, after all) apply away from home: adequate protein, nutrient and fiber-rich fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. And plenty of fluids. And we still need to enjoy ourselves, right? Here’s a few tips:

Keep it simple.

This proved true on the first night when we pulled into camp later than anticipated. After critters were fed and watered, we were in the mood for anything but a gourmet meal. OK, so the cold leftovers pulled out of the ice chest did not exactly meet all the nutritional guidelines. It happens.

Bring along high fiber foods.

Horses need hay. We need foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts to complement our meals and snacks. Why? Dietary fiber — the indigestible part of plant foods — not only keeps us regular, it helps control blood sugars, cholesterol and appetites. Fiber also feeds our gut microbiome — a fancy word for the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. Healthy gut “flora” has been shown to protect against everything from inflammatory bowel disease to cancer.

Make the most of fast food.

Convenience does not have to mean junk. Granola, yogurt and fresh fruit with a hot steamy cup of coffee in the morning is about as fast and easy as they get. And it provides protein, ample nutrients and dietary fiber from three of the five major nutrient groups.

Plan ahead.

Out on the trail, our anticipated three-hour ride turned into a four-and-a-half-hour adventure. No worries. When we stopped to water the horses, trusted hubby pulled a giant bottle of water and a bag of nuts out of his saddlebags. Perfect.

Use what you’ve got.

That evening as the sun set and the cool air set in, we commented that a fire would be nice ... if we had remembered to bring wood for the outdoor grill. A quick check of the two empty campsites next to us yielded dry kindling and logs. Score! (Note: Don’t forget matches or lighters.) Over our gentle fire, we heated leftover meat from home, tossed a quick salad with bagged pre-washed spinach, a chopped tomato and herb dressing and — along with a glass of wine — savored a meal fit for camping royalty.

Of course I still packed my emergency stash of M&M’s. What tasted even better, however, after a long ride were the sliced apricots with cheese and crackers. (And another glass of wine.)

Funny how fresh air and relaxation make good food taste even better.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

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