Our favourite summer activity is camping and hiking in the mountains. Every year, I can hardly wait for the snow to melt off the Rockies and the campgrounds to open. As soon as the weather was good enough to sleep outside without turning to ice (we are tenters), we packed the car and took off for a 4-day camping trip. We chose to go to Waterton Lakes National Park, as this year Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and entrance to all national parks is free. On top of that, Waterton is known for the rainbow of wildflowers that blanket its meadows in June, as well as guaranteed sightings of bears and other wild animals. True to form, Waterton didn’t disappoint.
But since this is a food blog, my intention is to write about food and give some vegan-friendly camping meal ideas. Here is a summary of the food that we enjoyed during this particular trip.
Our typical camping day started with making fire, and boiling water for coffee and tea. Occasionally, I use this opportunity to make toasted peanut butter and jam bagels with the help of the camp cooker. All that’s required is to simply cut the bagel open, spread some vegan butter on the outside of the two halves, load the inside with peanut butter and jam, close the bagel, and place into the camp cooker. After rotating over the fire for about 5-7 minutes, your bagel is ready. Super tasty!
Alternatively, our breakfast consists of granola, fruit, hemp hearts, and almond milk. Equally tasty, but not as much fun because there’s no fire cooking required.
Then there is lunch. As we tend to leave the campsite after breakfast and return in time for dinner, we made sure to pack a lunch with us that we can enjoy on the shores of a high alpine lake, or on top of whatever summit we tackled that day. Most often we make Smoked Tofu and Hummus Sandwiches.
After returning to our campground - usually exhausted - comes one of the best parts of camping: dinner. While Ryan is chopping wood and making the fire, I take care of the food prep.
The first evening we had BBQ Sausages with a salad. Rather than bringing store bought vegan sausages, we made a batch of our Spicy Seitan Sausages before we left. I used these sausages before in many different dishes but I never tried barbecuing them, so I didn’t know how it would turn out. I must say that I was more than pleasantly surprised as these sausages behaved like they were made for BBQ. The smoke from the fire added another level of flavour that I didn’t even know was possible, making them even tastier than when we eat them on a pizza or a pasta dish. I highly recommend trying this next time you are out camping.
The salad on the side was simple. We just tossed some fresh salad greens, chickpeas and veggies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
On the second evening, we had burgers. I must admit, this was my lazy meal as the burgers were store bought and we simply cooked them on the grill over the open flame, topped with vegan cheese slices and tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, and Sriracha. As a side, I made roasted veggies in aluminum foil. I cut up some potatoes, carrots, red onion, and mushrooms into bite sized pieces, then seasoned with minced garlic, salt, pepper and Sriracha (but other seasonings work just as well). After that I just added 1 tbsp of vegan butter and wrapped in a double layer of aluminum foil. This foil package is then placed on the grill and cooked for about 40 minutes, turning and flipping often. Yum!
On our last evening, we had another treat: Thai red curry. Granted, this is not your typical camping meal, but it worked out great. The rice was made in a pot, and a cast iron pan was used for cooking veggies in the curry sauce. The recipe is quite simple: open a can of coconut milk, scoop out the thicker creamy part on top of the can, and place it in the hot pan. Add 3 tbsp of vegan red curry paste, and mix well. Cook for 1 minute. Add cubed tempeh, and cook for another minute. Add veggies (we used red onion, broccolini, red pepper and mushrooms) and the rest of the coconut milk, and cook until the peppers and broccolini aren’t tough anymore. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp brown or coconut sugar. Cook for a couple more minutes and you’re done. We also added some Thai basil to the dish in the last 2 minutes of cooking, but if you don’t have it it’s definitely not mandatory, just highly recommended :). Serve over rice, and enjoy the Thai goodness next to your campfire.
As a late-night snack, we either roasted some vegan marshmallows, or dipped tortilla chips into our favourite Fiery Garlic Hummus.
As I am writing this blog post, Ryan is planning our next camping adventure. Stay tuned for more vegan camping food ideas, and hopefully more bear pictures as well.
What are your favourite plant-based camping foods?