The word “gourmet” is relative. Especially when it comes to long distance backpacking. As a foodie and a long distance backpacker, I struggle to find a compromise. Here is a sampling of one of my recipes that takes a little extra time to make, but the reward is worth it!
Cafe Yumm Bowl
Cafe Yumm is an Oregon-based fast food restaurant that has delicious and nutritious ingredients. Their signature dish is the “Yumm Bowl”, which is a layered bowl of brown rice, organic black beans, their savory (vegan) Yumm sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh salsa, and deluxe toppings such as olives, avocados, tomatoes, and cliantro. It is very popular! I recently sat down and developed a trail version of the Yumm bowl that had my “tester” gobbling it down at home.
- 1/4 c. brown or white rice, instant (or cooked and dried)
- 1/4 c. black beans, dried
- 2 T. Yumm sauce
- 3 T. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, dried
- 2 T. pico de gallo salsa, dried
- 1 T. sliced black olives, dried
Serves 1. 650 calories. Cost per serving about $2.89+ (depending whether you dry your own or buy each ingredient already prepared).
Rice: I bought Goya instant brown rice because it advertised a 5 minute preparation time. Uncle Ben’s and Minute also make an instant brown rice. You can also cook your own rice and dehydrate it. Store in a snack size ziplock or vacuum seal it.
Black beans: Prepare black beans however you normally like them, seasonings and all. Then, dry in a food dehydrator at a medium temperature (~110F) for about 4-6 hours until dried through. I used the canned variety for convenience.
Yumm sauce: Some people love this stuff and think this recipe wouldn’t be complete without it. If you live in Oregon, Washington, or Northern California, you can buy it at many natural markets, such as Whole Foods. However, there are recipes for it online, too. Package one serving in a FoodSaver or double bag it in snack size ziplocks. Technically, this should be refrigerated, but it will keep for a few days.
Cheese: This doesn’t have to be dried, but it will keep a little better. I just buy finely shredded sharp cheddar and place it in my dehydrator on the lowest setting (95F or less or else it will melt into a blob) for about 8-10 hours. Blot the excess oil off of it with a towel before you store it in a snack size ziplock.
Pico de Gallo salsa: You could buy a tub of fresh salsa at your local market. Dry it in a dehydrator on medium heat for about 6-8 hours. I made one from scratch so that it would have lots of cilantro and jalapeno! There are quite a few recipes available online, but I recommend the ones that use lime juice instead of vinegar. It gives it a nice flavor and keeps the tomatoes nice and red while they dry.
Olives: Slice up your favorite olives and dry them on medium heat for about 4-6 hours in your dehydrator. Store the black beans, pico, and olives in one pint-size ziplock.
Don’t have a dehydrator? No problem! You can also buy the rice, beans, cheese, pico, and olives in bulk—all freeze dried for you—at Packit Gourmet (because they are freeze dried, their bulk items reconstitute very quickly and evenly).
Simmer the rice in 1 cup of water for about 5-6 minutes. Then, add the beans, pico, and olives and simmer another minute. Remove from heat. Add the cheese and push it under remaining hot water.Let it all sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Get rid of excess moisture and add sauce.
Avocado would be the topper on this already tasty recipe. You could carry out a small avocado, or carry a small tub of guacamole, found in the deli section of major grocery stores. (+100 calories)
I think this could be even better as a wrap! Mix all dry ingredients together and FoodSaver or package in a pint size ziplock bag. On the trail, add just enough water to cover the dry ingredients in your cook pot. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, let sit for 10-15 minutes. Spoon into a flour tortilla. Add Yumm sauce and maybe some sriracha or hot sauce like Cholula. (+250 calories per tortilla)
If you liked this idea, watch for other “Gourmet Trail Recipes” coming soon. No way you would put this much work into trail food? Watch for upcoming articles entitled “Favorite Easy Trail Recipes”.