The Great Outdoors
A trek through the woods begins with some planning and shopping.
Whether or not the first day of school is almost here, we have a family tradition to uphold: Our yearly camping trip. So, we are taking our very last opportunity to pack up and set up camp in the final week before the school bell rings.
Around the fire, we can roast our allergen-free marshmallows, sing songs and be silly. Kids can be kids and adults can sit back in a folding chair as they do so. It's a special treat to be in the great outdoors and doing so on a special diet takes some preparation. After all, there's no running to the grocery store when we're under the canopy of trees miles from civilization.
So, I've been spending some extra time shopping and mapping out our meals and snacks while we are enjoying the beauty of the Michigan wilderness during our short end-of-summer camping trip. It's good that we live in a great place to stock up.
Here's the menu:
We will arrive at the campground about 3 p.m., so I'm packing ham rolls and gluten-free pretzels for the car. After we get all settled in and the tents are up, I plan an easy and filling dinner. I pre-cut veggies and got all the fixin's for taco salad. I also pre-made the beef with Penzey's Taco Seasoning (gluten-free, but not dairy-free). I plan to re-heat the beef either over the fire or on the camping stove. For dessert, we have Kraft marshmallows to roast, of course!
Ferndale's Natural Food Patch has vegan and gluten-free cheese and cream cheese options for taco salad toppings, as well as some chocolate bars and gluten-free Graham crackers for those s'mores. Western Market, also in Ferndale, offers natural, grass-fed beef for taco salad, or try crumbled tofu and black beans seasoned with taco mix.
Here is a recipe for taco mix if you prefer to make your own:
Taco Mix (makes 1 oz.)
- 1 tbspn. chili powder
- 1/4 tspn. garlic powder
- 1/4 tspn. onion powder
- 1/4 tspn. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tspn. paprika
- 2 tspns. ground cumin
- 1 tspn. sea salt
- 1 tspn. black pepper
For breakfast, I premixed some pancake batter. I like Bob's Red Mill, and I just add water and applesauce to desired thickness. I packed some pure maple syrup, which should taste even better out in the woods. For lunch, we've got Boar's Head lunch meats from Westborn Market in Berkley, fruits and veggies and lots of snacks (see below). For dinner, I'm going to grill chicken, which I packed in the marinade (Kraft Italian dressing). I also pre-made a package of Lundberg risotto and cut a half a dozen carrots on an angle. I plan to roast the carrots over the fire in a grill basket. We also premade some Unstuffed Pepper Soup to slurp on during lunch, dinner or snacktime.
Holding a warm bowl of soup near the cool breeze of the lake will be a nice way to savor the setting. And guess what? Peppers are in season, so stock up at the Clawson Farmers Market. The final day for marketing is Sunday, so here's your chance to grab some gluten-free goodies. When I was there, I quite enjoyed the Motor City Foods salsa and the Sharker Farm offerings. Any of these things would be great to pick up for after-school or travel snacks.
Unstuffed Pepper Soup
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 box (32 ounces) beef broth (such as Kitchen Basics)
- 1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups long grain rice, cooked
- 2 cups chopped green peppers
- 2 tbspns. cup packed brown sugar
- Salt, pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender. Makes about eight servings.
It will be a quick breakfast of yogurt, fruit and perhaps a few treats from Sugar Kisses Bakery in Berkley.
I popped some popcorn in canola oil and lightly salted it, then packed it in a freezer bag. Also in my snack bag are Rice Krispies Treats, Boar's Head bologna, Rice Chex, homemade trail mix, apples, bananas and Glutino pretzels.
Here's a recipe for a little outdoor energy:
- 1 cup gluten-free pretzels
- 1 cup nuts (or soy nuts) of choice
- 1 cup gf chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice
Mix and store in travel container.