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The Autumn Equinox, the official beginning of fall, just around the corner (Sunday, September 23) and the weather still so warm, your family – like mine – may be finding it hard to let summer go.  After all, there are lots of outdoor activities and plenty of time to enjoy nature before the cold really settles in – one of my family’s absolute favorites has always been camping

Whether you go with family, friends, or even by yourself, camping can be the perfect getaway to unwind, rejuvenate and unplug. 

As you get ready to pack up for an end-of-the-summer camping trip, you probably wonder how you can make delicious and healthy meals that help you stay committed to your wellness goals while in the great outdoors. Camping, especially tent camping (is there really any other kind?) can indeed present some challenges for preparing healthy, tasty meals, but here are some great ideas to make every camper in your family a happy one!

Foil packet meals over the fire

One delicious way to make a healthy meal while camping is to pre-pack foil meal packets at home before you leave that you can lay flat in your cooler. Be sure to use enough ice and that your cooler is shut tight to keep your food really cold. Just use your favorite healthy food items, then add your favorite seasonings and olive oil. Seal them up tight and then throw them over the hot coals in the fire when you’re ready. Be very careful when opening them because of the escaping steam as it can present a burn hazard.  Need a recipe or two?  Here you go:

Chicken and Mushrooms – Makes 4 meal packets

  • 1 pound, skinless boneless chicken – cubed to bite size pieces
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz. pkg. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 small red potatoes, washed and cubed to bite size pieces (no need to peel!)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped

Method:

  1. In large bowl or a half gallon size zip top bag, combine all the ingredients; toss to mix well.
  2. Evenly divide the mixture between 4 large sheets of aluminum foil. Top each with a second sheet of foil and fold over all sides tightly.  Securely wrap this foil packet in foil again, giving each packet two layers of foil.
  3. Lay packets, using extra-long tongs directly onto hot coals of a campfire and cook about 40 minutes, until chicken is opaque and potatoes are tender.
  4. Use extreme caution when opening the packets, as the steam can easy burn your hands or arms.

Going fishing while you’re camping?  Be sure to pack foil and take the rest pre-pared ingredients in zip top freezer bags in your cooler and assemble your packets for supper after you’ve cleaned those fish you caught in the morning:

Lemon Butter Fish ‘n Veggies – Makes 4 foil pack meals

  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4 small red potatoes, scrubbed and very thinly sliced (no need to peel; must be very thin slices to cook through)
  • 4 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 4 fish fillets – since these are your catch of the day – you decide on whether this will be a whole fish or a half!
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • White wine, if desired

Method

  1. Prepare veggies and lemon at home and store each in zip top freezer bags. Add water to the potatoes bag to keep them from turning color – or take whole potatoes and slice at campsite.
  2. Lay 4 large pieces of foil out on flat surface. Top each with slices of zucchini and potato. Sprinkle minced garlic on top. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Top veggies with some lemon slices.
  4. Add your fish, topped with sprigs of thyme and parsley. Drizzle  1 tablespoon olive on top of each fillet and splash with white wine, if desired.
  5. Top with a second piece of foil and fold all sides in a couple of layers to seal packet. Repeat foil wrap to give each packet two layers of foil.
  6. Place packets on coals and cook through about 15 minutes.
  7. Use extreme caution when opening the packets, as the steam can easy burn your hands or arms.

Pineapple chicken skewers

The prep is too easy on this one! Merely skewer chunks of chicken and pineapples together. Can also add mushrooms and bite size pieces of peppers. Stash skewers in half gallon size freezer zipper bags of teriyaki marinade. Take along lettuce for wrapping along with any other fun bits like crushed nuts to add a fun texture.

Chickpea sandwich spread

Mash an avocado with a can of drained chickpeas and you’ll have a healthy on-the-go spread for sandwiches that everyone will gobble up. Chickpeas are packed with protein and antioxidants too so they’ll help fuel your outdoor adventures! 

Chili

Chili is a hearty meal that’s easy to make in your slow cooker first and tote along for easy heat-up when camping.  Ground turkey or go vegetarian to lighten it up a bit or even make a meatless version of it. Check out a new product on the market called Beyond Meat – comes in patties or crumbles and is completely plant based with no soy!  Chili is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for any camping trip and can warm up any chilly night.  Tip:  Make cornbread at home the week before your trip, cool and cut into squares, and freeze in freezer bags before your trip!

Fajita fun

Who says you need to go to your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant to get sizzling fajitas? Just marinate chicken in a zipper bag with red and green peppers and onions and pack it away. These can be done as foil pack meals, too. Just don’t forget the tortillas, salsa, and guacamole so everyone can customize their fajitas their way. If you want to make it even healthier, you can use large leaves of Romaine lettuce for wrapping instead.

Campfire Desserts

Banana Boat S’mores

One tradition many campers have is to make s’mores. They’re not exactly a healthy dessert, but for some people, what’s a camping trip without them?  You can do them as a foil wrap instead of between graham crackers too – use a banana as your vessel for creating this iconic camping dessert!  Just split it lengthwise and fill it with a few dark chocolate chips and marshmallows. Then wrap it in foil and put it over the coals of your fire for about 7 minutes. It will get nice and gooey. You can include graham crackers to scoop out the deliciousness if you want or just hand out spoons.

With these tasty recipes in your arsenal, you’ll be able to make that camping adventure delicious, healthy and fun. 

Baked apples in foil wraps

  • 4 large solid cooking apples – Roma apples are perfect!
  • 4 tbsp grassfed organic butter, divided
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped and divided
  • 2 tbsp raisins, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

Method:

  1. Prepare each apple by cutting a “plug” out of the stem-end with a sharp paring knife (you can keep the stem in, if desired) –keep the plug to use later.  Then, carve out all of the core nearly to the bottom of the apple.
  2. Into each apple insert 1 tbsp butter, 1 chopped date, a few raisins, and ½ tsp cinnamon.
  3. Re-insert the apple “plug” and double wrap each apple with foil.
  4. Lay the apples on the coals and after 5 minutes, roll them over to the other side using tongs (don’t use a fork as puncturing the foil will allow all the butter and juices to leak). 
  5. Remove from the coals after 10 minutes and let sit to continue cooking for about 3-5 more minutes. Let cool a little more and carefully unwrap.

Can’t get away for a camping trip on the weekend?  Make it a date with your kids for a backyard camping trip. The packets above will do well on the coals of your grill too!

Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever camped?  Reply and let me know, I’m always looking for new places to explore.  Feel free to send a pic, too!

 

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