Gluten, dairy-free camp cooking
July 31, 2014 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm going camping for a few days, yay! We're splitting cooking duties with another couple going, but they're celiac and lactose intolerant. How do we feed them? Added challenge: we don't have access to a cooler (that's not likely to change). I appreciate any ideas you have, MeFites!
posted by Someone Else's Story to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Step 1. Make a nice crock pot stew - some onions, carrots, potato, beef chunks.
Step 2. Spread it out on your dehydrator trays, breaking it up so none of the chunks are > 1/2 inch or so.
Step 3. Dehydrate for 12-20 hours depending on your local humidity.

It'll keep for several months like that in a ziploc. Then to rehydrate it, either soak them in ziplocs or a covered bowl. You can make a little cozy if you want.

Alternatively, if you want an easier and faster rehydrate, take the dehydrated strew and put it in the blender to make a nice powder. This will now rehydrate in a cup or bowl easily (think cup-o-soup) with a wonderful, creamy, texture.

posted by H. Roark at 12:41 PM on July 31, 2014

The most-beloved thing I EVER cooked while camping just happens to be gluten and dairy free! I wrapped sliced bananas up with butter (you can sub coconut oil OR just plain oil), brown sugar, vanilla, a little rum, salt, and walnuts (optional) up in foil, then "baked" them over the fire for a while. They were outstandingly delicious.

Pretty much ANY fruit or veggie, sliced up and tossed in foil with some delicious fatty/savory/sweet seasonings, then grilled up over a nice wood fire, cannot HELP but taste delish, and also satisfy MANY dietary constraints.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Are you car camping or are you backpacking? Coconut milk powder plus freeze-dried veggies plus spices and rice makes a passable curry/soup. If you are car camping, canned coconut milk with actual veggies would be even better.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like spaghetti alla puttanesca for camping, since most of the ingredients come in cans. (Sub GF pasta of course.)
posted by ottereroticist at 12:57 PM on July 31, 2014

* A nice bean-and-tomato based chili
* Polenta or quinoa with veggies and canned chicken
* do they do hard cheese? that will make the polenta/quinoa extra yummy

What kind of cooking facilities do you have - campfire, tiny camp stove, big coleman stove? Can you bring a dutch oven or are you backpacking with small pans?
posted by mskyle at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2014

When I go camping, I always bring some Taste of Thai boxed noodles. They are rice noodles and vegetarian, so, I would assume they don't have gluten or dairy. They are super lightweight and can be easily made over something like a Jet Boil. They pack a ton of flavor and, if you are car camping, dump a bunch of prechopped veg into it as it cooks and it becomes a very fancy option. The box they come packaged in is the intended cooking vessel. Figure out how much water you need by measuring against something you are taking with you and ditch the box, takes up too much room. Also, take more than you would expect, camping makes you hangry, and make sure you eat some protein with it to keep you satisfied.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:59 PM on July 31, 2014

Are you car camping, in a boat, or do you have to carry all your gear? That will effect things. Most of my experience has been canoe or kayak camping, so I'm usually coolerless but have a little more space and am less concerned about weight than someone who's backpacking.

Some ideas:

- gluten-free wraps are decent (I think I've tried corn based ones, they were different from corn tortillas though), and you can make burrito filling (meaty or vegetarian), freeze it, and reheat it the first night. Tuna salad wraps (made from foil pack or canned tuna, olive oil, spices) are also good
- best camping meal = boil in the bag curries (I know Trader Joe's makes good ones but have not tried them myself). Easy to make, vegetarian, delicious. Get instant rice, easier to cook on a camp stove.
- You can get freeze-dried black bean soup and even hummus (although the latter is hard to find)
- fruits and vegetables that survive a few days being bumped around a bag: apples, oranges, carrots, cucumber, avocado (the last two surprised me but they were great)
- quinoa + canned chickpeas + canned tomato (or sundried tomatoes if you're worried about weight) + cumin + coriander + turmeric = delicious shelf-stable vegetarian stew
- some brands of canned chicken are better than others, but they can go into spaghetti sauce
- oatmeal (check for GFness) and dried cherries = breakfast of champions.
- on that note, starbucks via + hot chocolate mix is my preferred morning beverage when I can't carry milk. I dunno if you can find dairy-free hot chocolate mix though.
posted by quaking fajita at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2014

We do the foil packet on the fire thing with fish and potatoes and carrots, with olive oil and lots of rosemary. Yum.

Oh wait but no cooler. Maybe beans in lieu of the fish then.
posted by gerstle at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2014

These are all great ideas that I may use when I go camping! Just wanted to add that I hope you talk to your celiac buddies before buying anything. For example, if you buy freeze-dried black bean soup, I would warn you not to buy it from any bulk bins because there is such a risk of cross-contamination from other bins and people going wild with the scoops. Things like that! (You may already be well-versed in this stuff but it pays to double-check IME.)
posted by purple_bird at 1:24 PM on July 31, 2014

Ask them if they can have ghee (clarified butter). Clarifying butter removes the lactose and makes it perfectly acceptable for some lactose intolerant people. Ghee also keeps unrefrigerated for a month or two. It is liquid so you can store it in a plastic squirt bottle.

I would look up bean and rice dishes and also potato-based dishes. I love potatoes anyway and they keep just fine for a while without refrigeration. You can nearly live on potatoes, in terms of nutrition. Not much needs to be added to keep you hail and hardy. Potatoes cooked in ghee with a few spices thrown in would go a long way towards filling people up. I would also bring some other veggies that keep well like carrots.

I would bring some Babybel cheese rounds for me personally to add to hot food after the fact so it isn't a problem for them. Babybel cheese is packaged in wax and keeps just fine without refrigeration as long as the wax remains unbroken.

I think you could also take tofu. It can be bought in a package that does not need to be refrigerated until it is open. Just make sure you use up the entire package when you cook. Spiced, fried tofu is a good egg substitute and will go a long way towards meeting your protein needs without risk of food poisoning. Eggs, many cheeses, and most meats cannot be taken along unrefrigerated (except jerky, some canned stuff and that kind of thing -- but I mean fresh meat is a no go, basically).
posted by Michele in California at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2014

Thank you everyone for your thoughts so far - there are some great ideas here!

We're nominally car camping, but there's a possibility of overnight hikes and the like, so I'm planning for portability as much as possible. I also hope to do some longer multi-day hikes in future, so I might as well have some ideas in this area that suit.

My usual camping staples - biscuits (crackers) and tuna, sandwiches, many soup mixes/boxes, oatmeal and powdered milk - are all out for one reason or the other, so I'm thrilled by the new ideas I'm getting here. And I keep forgetting chicken comes in cans in the US - that's not something I grew up with!

The dehydrator thought is interesting. I don't have one, but this is the first time I've wondered whether I should change that.

Please, keep 'em coming if you can!
posted by Someone Else's Story at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2014

For crackers, substitute corn tortilla chips (make sure they're actually GF, there's always cross contamination at the factory to worry about). Frito-Lay is good about labeling their products. There are good GF crackers out there too, but they're way more expensive. And the easiest way to avoid any cross-contamination of foods among friends is to make the whole trip GF.

Can of beans + jar of salsa + avocado + chips with a side of fresh fruit/veg (use up the entire jar of salsa)
Tuna packets + chips with a side of fresh fruit/veg (celery sticks/cucumber would be tasty with that)

Your friends may have a hot cereal mix they like or they might be down with Glutenfreeda oatmeal packets. (Not all celiacs can tolerate oats.)

These ready-made GF meals might give you more ideas. And product names!
posted by purple_bird at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2014

Minute rice and canned chicken can be used as the basis of a number of backwoods meals. I've made Arroz con Pollo (add canned salsa) and Paella (add dried peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and a ziplock of premixed spices).
posted by zombiedance at 4:37 PM on July 31, 2014

I am GF and the other half is vegan, and I delight in planning and executing camping trips without the benefit of gluten or dairy. A couple of ideas...

Corn tortillas pack well, are inexpensive, and can be a foil for a wider variety of foods than you might think. Fill them with canned/packet chicken and salsa, or avocados and hot sauce, or peanut butter (not gonna lie, I love PB-hot sauce tortillas for breakfast). But at any rate, a taco-type meal is totally doable on backpacking foods, and is customizable for a variety of dietary needs and preferences. Backpacking partner who hates beans? Vegans? Kids? No prob.

We almost always have chili from a mix when on camping trips. I bought it on a whim once and liked it quite a bit, so now I usually bring a box. I use water instead of beer for reconstitution.

On a few larger expeditions I've been on without the convenience of a cooler, a curry-type stew was a popular method: cut up a bunch of veggies (making sure to include a few potatoes), add beans for protein and heartiness, and sauce it up with coconut milk and lots o spices. Serve with a big pot of rice.

Dehydrated spaghetti sauce and GF pasta (I like the Bionaturae brand for pasta).

Ok, I have to run out the door. Have fun out there!
posted by vortex genie 2 at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2014

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