Gourmet Gluten-Free Wilderness Camping

The following is a guest post from Laurie Ann March, founder of Outdoor Adventure Canada and author of Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry(most recipes are gluten-free and are labeled accordingly).
Canoe on McGarvey Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park
Another Fork in the Trail
Being on a gluten-free nutrition plan is tough enough at home with so many products having hidden sources of gluten and it can be even more difficult when on a wilderness camping trip. The last thing you want is to feel ill when you have to hike or paddle into camp.

Many of the commercially available freeze-dried and dehydrated backpacking foods have gluten so it is important to read the labels carefully. The best way to avoid gluten in your diet is to make your own dried meals using a food dehydrator.

Food dehydrators for home use can run between fifty and one-hundred dollars and they use minimal hydro. Dehydrating your own backcountry food often works out less expensive than buying pre-packaged foods from your local outdoors store.

When you purchase a dehydrator, be sure to look for one with a top or side fan and a temperature control. I recommend a model that is 500 watts or more from Nesco or, if you don’t mind spending a little more, the Excalibur models are very good.

If you aren’t the one planning the menu make sure you are very clear that your food needs to be gluten-free or consider handling your own food in case a mistake is inadvertently made.

Here is a recipe from Another Fork in the Trail, to get you started.

Unstuffed Peppers with Quinoa

Dehydration Time: 6-10 hours
Makes 4–6 servings

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed (measure after squeezing out the excess liquid)
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved
1/4 reserved tomato liquid
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilies
1 cup black beans
1 cup carrots, coarsely grated
1 3/4–2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium sweet peppers, coarsely chopped
2–3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or a small block of vegetarian or regular mozzarella

At Home
Place the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse for at least 3 minutes to remove the bitter coating. Drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and celery until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach, tomatoes, and reserved tomato liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the basil, oregano, dried crushed red chilies, quinoa, black beans, carrots, and 1 3/4 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Check partway through cooking and if necessary add a bit more stock.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the peppers in a single layer in a baking dish. Top with the quinoa and vegetable mixture, cover with foil, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Let cool.

Measure the unstuffed pepper mixture and write this measurement on a sticky note. Dry the mixture on lined dehydrator trays for 6 to 10 hours. Put the pepper mixture and the sticky note in a ziplock freezer bag. If you are using nutritional yeast, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the bag with the pepper mixture. If you are using cheese, wrap the cheese before you leave for your trip.

At Camp
Add enough boiling water to the dried mixture to equal the measurement on your sticky note. Be sure to account for and add your dried ingredients to the rehydration container prior to adding the water. You can always add more water if you need to. Once the unstuffed peppers have rehydrated, you might have to reheat the mixture. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve.
If you are using cheese, put the hot pepper mixture into your backpacking pot, stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese, and then top it with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover it and let sit until the cheese melts.

If you want to make these for dinner at home merely cut the peppers in half vertically and stuff as shown in the picture. Bake as the instructions state but skip the dehydration instructions. Leftover filling can also be frozen to be used at a later date if you end up making too much filling.


Now you don’t always need a food dehydrator to make great trail food, although many of the recipes in my book rely on its use. Here is a no-cook, gluten-free recipe for energy bars that are great for day hikes and wilderness trips.

Date, Pecan, Blueberry and Ginger Bars

Makes 8 to 10 bars

The first time I made date bars was when I was a young girl taking a 4-H outdoor living course. As an adult, I wanted to add a little something to the recipe and I've always loved candied ginger. It gives these a nice bite, which livens the tastebuds.

1 cup dates such as medjool or honey dates
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/8 cup candied ginger, chopped

Pulse the dates in a food processor until you have a thick paste. Toast the pecans, if desired, in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat just until they start to become fragrant. Be careful that you do not burn them. Add to the dates and pulse to chop the nuts. Remove the container from the food processor and take out the blade. Stir in the dried blueberries and candied ginger. Line a square baking pan with plastic wrap and press the mixture firmly into the pan. Refrigerate for an hour and then turn out onto a cutting board. Remove the wrap and cut into 8 to 10 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and reshape by pressing each side on a flat surface if desired.

Tip: Wipe your knife with a hot water soaked paper towel between cuts to prevent it from sticking. You can reuse the piece of wrap you lined the pan with to wrap your bars.

It is also possible to bake on a wilderness trip using a single burner backpacking stove and a gadget called an Outback Oven. Everything from gluten-free biscuits and muffins to decadent black bean flour based brownies is possible.

Speaking of black bean flour, a food dehydrator is a very economical way to make things like white and black bean flour to use in baking. You can even make flours from nuts, seeds, squash or pumpkin meat. You will need a mill or really good coffee bean grinder to process the squash and pumpkin flours.
Dehydrated Hummus
It takes a little planning and effort to have gluten-free gourmet food in the backcountry but the extra time is well worth it when you are sitting on the shore of your favorite lake enjoying a yummy meal at the end of a long day.
Indian Carrot Salad
What is your favourite outdoor adventure 

and why?  
(Hiking, camping, kayaking, backpacking, etc)
  • Post your entry in a comment below before 11:59 EST on Sunday, January 29, 2012 and you will be entered to win a copy of Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry!
  • Please include your name (as it appears on Facebook) or your Twitter handle in your comment so I am able to contact you when/if you win!  If you do not have Facebook or Twitter, please ensure I have a way to contact you.
  • If you enter more than once (please don't) only your first comment will be considered.
This contest is open to Ontario residents only! (This is Gluten-Free Ontario, after all) The winner will be chosen by Laurie Ann March and I will post the winner's name by Wednesday, February 1, 2012 on Facebook, Twitter and on this page.

Comments on this blog require approval - please only post once and I will approve them at a later time.


  1. Currently I love RVing. You get to stay in the great outdoors, see all kinds of places and have the comfort of a bed and a bathroom with you all the time. :)

    Lisa Cossey

  2. My favourite outdoor adventure is hiking. Nothing beats the scenery and it's a great way to burn those calories.

  3. We go camping as a family, and my daughter is now a Girl Guide and will be camping more and might even go away this summer. On top of needing to be gluten-free and dairy-free(my son) corn-free(my daughter) they are picky eaters. I am learning that the more I have my daughter help me in the kitchen the more she is willing to eat. You can never have too many cookbooks...right?

    Tracy McIntyre

  4. Hi Jax

    My favorite outdoor activity would have to be hiking. I would love a copy of Laurie Ann's cookbook. The posted recipes look yummy!!

    Donna Southcott

  5. I go camping every summer, and it's usually the highlight of the season (except for when a tree fell on my tent, but that's a different story). I LOVE kayaking and canoeing, so we usually look for places that offer rental services. I would love to try portaging but I've always been a bit weary of it, primarily for food reasons (what if I eat something that makes me sick and we're stuck in the middle of nowhere?!).

  6. My favourite outdoor adventure is camping because nothing beats canoeing at dawn, hiking in the woods all day, fishing for that night's meal and cooking it over a roaring fire. We love seeing wildlife, looking at the stars and getting out there.

    Tracy Ward

  7. Love hiking and backcountry camping in the summer, and cross-country skiing in the winter. Love the nature and keeping myself in good shape. Best of all, I met my wonderful husband at one of the hiking trips :)

    Josephine Lee (caprijo@hotmail.com)

  8. My favourite outdoor adventure was spending two weeks travelling on a river in the N.W.T. last summer with my teenage son to help him find some direction in his life and having it work! Good GF food, good friends and memories for life...

    Beth Grant

  9. I love snowshoeiing. Now that my husband and I have bought a house that backs onto the forest, we are thinking of purchasing some new snowshoes to be able head out there on nice days. :)

  10. I love camping with the family!
    The simplicity of hanging around the campsite, enjoying the beauty of nature and the company of my kids is so wonderful - I wish I could do it more often!

    This book looks fantastic for food planning!


  11. Wow, this book looks awesome! I think these recipes would also be helpful for traveling. I've got a long flight coming up, so I may have to make some of these! Tip: you can often eat "backpacker" style dehydrated food on planes, just ask for hot water!

    My favourite outdoor activity would have to be hiking. I love being in the outdoors!

  12. We love camping and hiking! Nothing like the great outdoors in Canada! :)
    ~Karen Vanderwier-Verhoef (facebook)

  13. oooh! This would be great!
    Carolynn R Wiens (facebook)

  14. Cherie (Facebook)January 23, 2012 12:15 pm

    I can't go hiking due to my asthma. So my hubby & I find quiet scenic spots and go for short walks. We both love animals and trees/flowers so we enjoy the moments we get outside away from Toronto :)

  15. I love cooking over an open flame and the peacefulness of nature and star gazing and watching the sun set (or rise) over the lake and laughing as marshmallows catch fire while making s'mores and listening to the mournful cries of the loon echo across the lake and... so many more moments to enjoy while enjoying the great outdoors.
    Carolynn R Wiens (facebook)

  16. Every year my family goes camping in Magnetawan. We love it. :) We are new to food allergies. My daughter is gluten, dairy, eggs and I am eggs and yeast.

  17. I used to love backpacking and rough camping. So far away from civilisation, and just relaxin' after a long hike in.

    -- Rebecca Weber

  18. I am a big swimmer so being at the lake is my favorite outdoor adventure. We swim, boat, splash and play in the waves. Mom and Dad have an RV so we set up our picnic area under the canopy and get our little campfire going. My daughter just learned how to toast marshmallows and loves chasing the seagulls. Here's hoping that summer is right around the corner....
    Kathryn Parsons Aldrich (facebook)

  19. I love taking cross-continent roadtrips and camping all the way, especially in state and provincial campgrounds because they are so awesome and you get to see and stumble upon so many great new places!

    Giselle Aiabens (facebook)

  20. Camping is my number one activity to do with our kids -especially now that my parents have an RV we can borrow! My son is GF so I am always on the lookout for new recipes -he is only 5 and has been GF with great success for the last 6 months. The world looks all new thru the eyes of a 5 and a 2 year old camping. We do lots of cross country snowmobiling as well. As for a funny camping story it would have to be the first time we took our children. My son was almost 3 and my daughter was 9 months old. Well Mommy found a great campground with lots of activities for the children but neglected to research that nudity was allowed. While it didn't bother myself or the kids I think my husband was slightly traumatized by the nudity! lol We still had a great time but I don't think my husband knew where to look all weekend!

    Beth Matthews (facebook or elgorham@hotmail.com)

  21. I have recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease (less than a month). At first I thought we would have to give up camping. We camp all across Ontario from end of May to end of Sept. We enjoy many Ontario Parks such as Algonquin, BonEcho, Killbear, Inverhuron, etc. As I settled into being GF, I am now looking forward to the new challenge of camping and being GF. Your book looks like it would be a great way to get started.
    April Brown-Proctor (facbook)

  22. I get to do two of my fav things at the same time when I MTN Bike race at Albin Hills park 24 Hours Summer Solstice. WE have a team of racers and go from Saturday at noon to Sunday at noon.
    But this year I will be camp cooking Gluten Free for the first time.
    Scott Burden.

  23. Hi Jax - I have to say I love camping and hiking. Hiking more though in recent years... I used to be morbidly obese, and had trouble walking from my car to the mall, but after losing 90 pounds, I LOVE to walk in nature - fall is the best time. The year I started to lose the weight, I did most of the weekend to end breast cancer... and realized I COULD walk farther. So a friend and I started in Hamilton, and over the course of a few weekends we hiked the Dundas Valley Rail Train all the way to Brantford - what a wonderful accomplishment! I look at that as quite an adventure!! Since then, in the winter, my son and I try to take snow shoeing vacations... so peaceful. I still want to tackle kayaking, I have a dream of kayaking Gros Morne, and I also want to do a dog sled weekend in Haliburton, All of this activity requires snacks, and it's a heck of a struggle to figure out GF ones that sustain you, so I'd LOVE to see the cookbook!

    I can be reached on Facebook as Sue Hilton (that's me!) Tahnks for running the contest!

  24. My favourite outdoor adventure is combining something simple such as a hike with a fun activity such as geocaching, a potluck picnic or birdwatching. It's so much fun to spice up a regular outing and make it something out of the ordinary:)
    My e-mail address is joanna_sylvia@ hotmail.com

  25. We have a camp that we spend summer weekends at but it has no electricity and cooking is mainly done on the BBQ. I have been GF for a long time but cooking a variety of GF meals at camp is still a challenge. This cookbook would be a great inspiration and help.
    Kerttu Ladouceur (facebook)

  26. I love hiking! Its exercise that is fun and good for you! There is nothing better than appreciating the outdoors than a nice 2-3 hour hike! I've never gone camping before and would love to experience it some day!! I also love to cook clean healthy vegetarian meals and would love to win this book...even if its an ebook! Thanks for this amazing contest!!

    Cheers ...here's to good, healthy eating!!

    Daisy Peterson Wong (Facebook)

  27. I love hiking! My partner and I worked at a provincial park in Parry Sound one summer, and spent our entire summer hiking the area. There's truly nothing more relaxing or inspiring than a walk in the woods.
    Carolyne Marie (Facebook)