I was nervous to go on vacation right after my successes in weight loss during the 42-hour Fasting Challenge, but I also was excited to tackle a new challenge – going camping while doing Keto. At first, every camping meal I could remember doing in the past had some type of carb/starch involved – potatoes, bread, oatmeal, rice. This was going to be interesting. I was going to have to hack my camping recipes.
Essential Cooking Tools for Camping on Keto: Cast iron pan (and a scraper for cleaning). Fireplace leather gloves (to grab the pan from the fire). Spatula. Extra long metal skewers or marshmallow roasting sticks. Heavy duty aluminum foil. Coconut oil.
Breakfasts. I love cooking on an open flame so my first choice of cooking tools is my cast iron pan. The easiest breakfast would be bacon and eggs. I cook the bacon in the pan first so that way it will season the pan and have good oils in there to fry the eggs. You can also put bacon on skewers in a ribbon formation and cook your bacon that way as well. I also did a skillet breakfast by slicing up leftover sausages from the night before and cooked it with scrambled eggs and cheese.
Another breakfast hit were my foil packets. Option one – “Hash” and Eggs: Rub coconut oil on a large piece of heavy duty foil. Add the meat first. I used pre-cooked crumbled sausage. Then pile on some raw riced cauliflower. Season with pink salt and McCormick’s Bruschetta Seasoning. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite shredded cheese. Whisk 2 eggs and pour on top. Fold the foil into a pocket (directions here). Make sure your seams are sealed tight so that it won’t leak. Cook over the campfire until done. You will want to turn over your packets throughout cooking so that it won’t burn. Fireplace leather gloves are very helpful for this part. I’ve used tongs before and they tend to poke holes in your foil. Option two – Kitchen Sink Pockets: I did this at the end of the trip. We had leftover pulled pork and carnitas so I added that first. Then I sliced up the rest of the bell peppers and onions. I topped it with the rest of the cheese, added some seasoning, and poured a couple of whisked eggs on top. After cooking, we added some leftover salsa (and another person topped with the rest of the sugar free barbecue sauce).
Lunches. This was a bit more tricky. Typically while camping, lunchtime is spent away from camp either hiking, biking, swimming, etc. I used to make sandwiches for sack lunches. So without bread… Tuna Salad: Canned tuna is really easy to bring and doesn’t require the cooler. I made each of us our own small container of tuna salad. Ingredients included: canned tuna, chopped red onion, sliced celery, mayo, sugar free sweet relish (you can find some decent ones that don’t have too much artificial sweetener at a store like Whole Foods), and some shredded cheese if you would like. Cabbage-wrapped Burgers: Right after breakfast, I cooked up some burgers for lunch. My husband and I had salmon burgers and the kids had regular beef burgers. I used cabbage as the buns (cabbage doesn’t wilt as easily as lettuce). Added some cheese, mustard, mayo, leftover bacon from breakfast, and a couple of people added some of the sugar free barbecue sauce (recipe below). Leftovers: To save space in the cooler, having leftovers is a great strategy. One day, we had leftover pulled pork.
Dinners. We picked dinners that were easy to put together and didn’t require too much prep time. No one wants to spend a whole bunch of time in the “kitchen” while camping. Anything that could be prepped ahead of time or frozen ahead of time is helpful. Pulled Pork “Sandwiches”: We got pulled pork and carnitas from Costco. They come pre-cooked and in vacuum-sealed packages making it easy to freeze and easy to prepare. Put the packet in a pot of boiling water to heat. Dump the meat into a container and top with cheese and barbeque sauce. Use cabbage leaves as a “bun” or just shred on top on the plate. Mexican Night: My sister prepped ground beef with seasonings before the trip and stored in a zip lock bag. All she had to do is warm up the meat in a pan. We had shredded lettuce/cabbage, sliced olives, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced green onions, and guacamole. Some had some tortillas, but my husband and I just piled it up on the plate. Delish! Sausages: We had campfire sausages on the last night. We got some chicken sausages and some Bourbon Bacon sausages that I froze before the trip. By the fourth night they had defrosted and were ready to cook. Everyone had a campfire skewer and cooked their own sausage. We added cheese, sauerkraut, and mustard. My sister sauteed up some onions, bell peppers, and zucchini in her cast iron skillet. We cooked up the rest of the sausages and saved those for breakfast the next morning to do a skillet scramble.
Sides and Snacks. Snacks are easy. We did the same thing as we usually do when at home. We had nuts, Whisps, pork rinds, bell pepper strips, olives, and pickles. The snacks also served as sides at time. We used salsa and guacamole as dips on some days. Grilled/sauteed vegetables served well as sides. We tried to stay away from salads because it is difficult to have lettuce keep in a cooler.
Beverages. Water. And for a treat, my husband would pick up some Ice beverages from the store. In the morning we had coffee. My brother-in-law uses a French press for his coffee. My husband and I just used the Starbucks Via packs. I made sure to bring enough coconut oil for us to each have one tablespoon every morning with our coffee.
Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce: Prep this before you leave for your trip. Mix the following ingredients to taste. I don’t have any amounts in this recipe because I added seasonings while tasting it to get the flavor I desired. For instance, I don’t like too much liquid hickory smoke and I don’t like my barbecue sauce to be too sweet.
- Unsweetened ketchup (I found this at Nob Hill and Whole Foods) – get enough to serve all your family members – I needed two jars.
- Liquid hickory smoke (about 1 tablespoon or less)
- Swerve Confectioners Sugar substitute (I use this because it mixes smoother than granular)
- Worchestire sauce (about 1-2 tablespoons)
- Onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder
- Freeze your meat and other items (like prepared Organic Wholly Guacamole) before the trip. It can act as ice packs in your cooler.
- Fill gallon jugs with water and freeze to also act as ice packs. Larger blocks of ice stay solid longer than ice cubes.
- Purchase firewood near where you are camping so to avoid bringing organic material (such as insects) into an area they don’t belong (this is a U.S. National Forestry camp rule).
- Generously rub your cast iron pan with coconut oil before cooking to make cleaning easier.
- After cleaning your cast iron pan, rub some oil on it and then place back on heating source to completely dry the pan from water to avoid rusting.
- While eating, boil water on the campfire to use in your dishwashing station. Hot water helps cut down the oil on your dishes.
Weight Loss? I didn’t lose any weight, but I also did not do any fasting days this week. I probably could have, but I wanted to take a bit of a break. I gained about four pounds, but I did lose 1 inch off my hips. Why and how? Well, although I wasn’t fasting, we did do a lot of activities each day. The first day we went rafting and I did most of the paddling in one of the boats. On the second day, my husband and I went kayaking out on Lake Tahoe. On the third day, we hiked for a mile to get to another lake in the mountains. The weight gain must be from gaining muscle since I still lost an inch off my hips. I figured I either fast or get active.
We will be finishing up my vacation time with a mini trip this next week, just my husband and me. We plan on doing a lot of walking through the town of Solvang, CA and through a tour at Hearst Castle. We do want to visit a couple of bakeries in Solvang including enjoying an aebleskiver. I am a little scared because I haven’t done a “cheat” since starting this in December, but I’m going to treat it as a “carb-up” meal. In order to prep and control this event, I plan on fasting for 42 hours prior to the carb-up meal and then walk a lot afterwards. My plan for lunch and dinner is to make sure I get plenty of good fats and some protein. I am interested in seeing what my weight, ketones, and blood sugar do after the vacay. Then I will be back at work – literally and figuratively.