We went on our first camping trip of the summer over Memorial Day weekend, and it was glorious! We camped at Rocky Neck Point State Park in Connecticut and enjoyed a spacious campsite, a fun nature center and one of the most kid-friendly beaches I have ever been to. We roasted veggie dogs and marshmallows over a roaring fire. A good time was had by all. Of course, one of the best (but also potentially most stressful) parts of camping is the food, especially when you are vegan, but only remember the meat-based camping of your childhood. So, here are some tips for making a camping trip both fun and delicious!
1) Use the campfire! It’s fun and simple!
We have one single-burner camp-stove that the G-man used in his backpacking days. It heats up fast, but it doesn’t adjust easily. We used it to cook our food on our first trip, but it ended up being a pain for lots of reasons. So, this time around, we used the campfire for cooking and just used the camp-stove to boil water for instant cereal, tea, and coffee in the morning. In my searches for vegan camping food to cook on the fire, I found lots of recipes for “hobo packets.” Basically, you throw a bunch of delicious ingredients in a foil packet, and then cook it over a campfire. So, I made a mix of chickpeas, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, copious amounts of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander, and then made foil packets filled with this mix right at the campsite. They were delicious, and clean-up was a breeze! I will definitely be making hobo packets again next time we go camping, possibly for two nights in a row! The other night we had tried-and-true camping fare: veggie dogs cooked over the fire and then served up with buns and ketchup.
2) Tortillas and pre-made bean salad makes an easy lunch:
For lunches I pre-made a quinoa and black bean salad. We also brought several ripe avocados, some Tofutti cream cheese and tortillas and made roll-ups with those. Tortillas make the perfect camping “bread” because they require no slicing and roll up into perfect little wraps to take on a hike (or to the beach in our case). My sister was also kind enough to bring some chips and salsa, as well as hummus, for snacking. Between all of this lunch time (and post lunch-time snacking) was great.
3) Suck it up and buy instant cereal
For breakfast I learned my lesson from last time – don’t bother cooking oatmeal on the camp stove! Without good temperature control it quickly turned into a gloppy mess or burned. Instead we went ahead and brought instant cereal. We bought instant cream of wheat (which I remember from when my family used to camp) and I made some instant oatmeal by grinding up rolled oats in our food processor. Along with some raisins we were good to go!
And, most importantly . . .
4) Vegan S’mores are a must!!!!
What would camping be without treats? My sister’s friend who camped with us brought some delicious vegan peanut butter cookies. I also made these amazing five ingredient granola bars from the Minimalist Bakers. But, most importantly, we had S’MORES! Hands down, my favorite part of camping is making s’mores. There is something magical about toasting a marshmallow to a perfect carmel complexion over a fire, and then taking the next one and drowning it in flames so that you have a flaming torch of marshmallow inferno at the end of your skewer. Add in some yummy chocolate and graham crackers and you are all set! Vegan s’mores ended up being deceptively easy. First of all, for those who avoid honey Nabisco Original Graham Crackers are vegan. They have loads of stuff in them that aren’t good for you but they are vegan, and perfect for this most important camping treat. Follow that up with some chocolate. I brought some Whole Foods dark chocolate bar, but my sister brought some rice milk chocolate bars. We found that the rice milk bar melted a bit better. Finally, the most important part: the marshmallow! You can’t beat Sweet and Sara marshmallows. They are a bit pricy, but worth it for a special camping trip. Camping has turned out to be on of our favorite family vacations.
We can’t wait to go again and enjoy the hiking, the swimming, and, most importantly, the s’mores!!