Camping with Food Allergies…It Can Be Done (because it has to be done)

All righty, folks, it’s Sunday afternoon and it’s about 1500F outside. I know it’s summer in Portland when all the neighborhood Asian ladies are walking around outside with umbrellas.

So I’m sitting here in the dining “area” (can’t really be called a room) with the fan trained on my sweaty self, transferring the 161 photos from my camping trip onto my laptop and realizing just how behind I am on blog topics. Agh! Clearly, I need to give up my job so that I can keep my blog up-to-date with my life.

In lieu of actual blog posts, here’s a little preview of all the food-related things on my mind lately, and which I want, need, and must write about very soon:

  • Asian fruits in season (can you say rambutan?)
  • Okie fudge (a little ongoing recipe development project here at AFFFG)
  • Fresh chickpeas in the markets now
  • Mole-making
  • Gluten-free and vegan graham crackers for making s’mores
  • Allergy-free work lunches

Do you see? Do you see how behind I am and how I’ll never catch up?!

So without further ado, here’s what I did on my first summer vacation of 2008…

The Man Looking at Birds

…looked at birds in the Klamath Basin area of Oregon, home to not one, not two, but FIVE national wildlife refuges! I believe we hit four of them. We saw fifteen new birds and over 75 species total. It was a record-breaking birding trip. Some favorites included the Wilson’s Phalarope (with chicks!) and the American Avocet. Also, seeing white pelicans flying around–with wingspans of 110″ (that’s 9 feet, folks!)–is pretty spectacular. If you ever get into birdwatching, I would highly recommend a trip to the Lower Klamath NWR, with a special mention for the Klamath Marsh NWR if you like marshes, like I do. Here’s one of my favorite shots of the Marsh:

Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

But before this turns into a blog about birding, or before you start asking if I’m a duck hunter (no), let’s talk about camp food, specifically, how to camp with food allergies.

Here are my basic strategies for car travel and/or camping:

  • Before the trip, I do some research and of course, some thinking, about what I am going to eat. I try to find out if there’s going to be a natural grocery in the area. If so, I know I can at least pack a wee bit lighter. Fortunately, for this camping trip, there was a cute little store in Klamath Falls where we were able to get critical supplies such as toilet paper and gluten-free vegan pumpkin spice cookies.
  • The freezer is my friend. On several occasions I have made Indian food ahead, freezing it in quart-sized containers (a great use for old yogurt containers). Then, the day of the trip, I put 2-3 of these items directly into the ice chest. They serve as both my dinner and ice blocks for the other food. On this trip, I made a very simple butternut squash soup (caramelized onions, chicken stock, and a can of butternut squash pulverized with a boat motor) and froze it before the trip. I also made some mole and froze it. By doing this, we are able to eat well, which for me, after about four days in-country and without a shower, is important. It’s probably even more important for The Man because he wants to travel with someone kind and pleasant.
  • Plan a treat. This trip I was bound and determined to make s’mores. I had been feeling pathetic and suicidal because I mistakenly thought that marshmallows were made with eggs. Silly me! In this day and age the store-bought kind are made with cornstarch. I’ve never been so grateful! Jet-Puff are GF. The next challenge of course was finding graham crackers both GF, egg-free, and dairy-free. Here’s a fantastic recipe. Next time I make these, I’m dipping them in chocolate for chocolate-covered grahams. Even The Man loved these. Shoot for the “chewy” timing in this recipe because the “crispy” versions weren’t as good.

Gluten-free vegan s\'mores

So those are my basic strategies. This time around, I also looked around online for camping recipes, but didn’t find much I was interested in. I was curious about doing the potatoes-in-foil-overnight-in-the-campfire thing, and I tried it. I wasn’t so impressed with the results:

Spuds and Mini-sausages in a camp skillet

While the spuds were cooked through, we still had to reheat them in the skillet the next morning, so what was the point? I did, however, have great success with Beeler’s hot dogs and mini-sausages. Yummy! For car trips, their little ham, though spendy, is very convenient for eating on the road.

Last but not least, I bring my meds. Dr. C would be so proud. Here’s my Chinese “tea” cooking on the camp stove. Mmmm!

Chinese Tea on Camp Stove


Filed under camping food, Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan

2 responses to “Camping with Food Allergies…It Can Be Done (because it has to be done)

  1. you are totally my hero right now. I am heading out camping this weekend for a week, and I have been trying to pick my brain about what to take to eat. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Especially for the s’more recipe.

  2. mjennings26

    Well, I am so happy to hear that it’s helped someone. Let me know how your s’mores-making goes. I made the cookies the night before and then packed them in foil, but I think you could make them several days ahead of time and they would be just fine. Have fun!

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