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Gluten-free backpacking meals

Gluten-free backpacking meals

Dr. Erika Krumbeck

Harmony House foods

As I discovered this summer, gluten-free dehydrated meals are extremely hard to find and very expensive (unless you want to live on jerky and spongy freeze-dried scrambled eggs).  But good food doesn’t need to be expensive or unhealthy – here are some of my favorite recipes that I tried out this summer.  I bought most of the dehydrated ingredients on Amazon.com, where you can get good deals if you’re prepared to buy in bulk.  Harmony House Foods now has a backpacking kit filled with dehydrated veggies (though we just bought the ingredients separately). Since the food lasts nearly indefinitely I didn’t mind the fact that I ended up with way more food than I needed.

All of these meals are non-gluten-free husband endorsed (he swore we ate better on our trip than we did at home).   Many are dairy-free, soy-free and vegan as well.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
– 1/2 c Gluten free oats (Bob’s Red Mill has certified GF oats), whirled in blender until 1/3 of original size.
– 2 tbs dried carrot, also whirled in a blender until it approximates shredded carrot.  (I used Harmony House Foods for my dried vegetables.) 
– 2 tbs raisins or other dried fruit
– 1 tbs Coconut Milk Powder (a wonderful find on Amazon!)
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– salt to taste (1/8 tsp)

In campground: add boiling water to cover, stir well, let sit tightly for 5 minutes.  Reheat if necessary. Serves 1-2.

Blueberry Almond Quinoa
– 1/3 cup instant Quinoa Flakes (found at PCC)
– 2 tbs dried blueberries
– 2 tbs slivered almonds
– 1 tbs Coconut Milk Powder
– 1 tsp sugar, or to taste (1 tsp is mildly sweet)

In campground: add boiling water to cover, stir well, let sit tightly for 2-5 minutes.  Reheat if necessary. Serves 1-2.

Blueberry Mango Oatmeal
– 1/3 c GF oats, whirled in blender until 1/3 size.
– 1 tbs dried blueberries
– 1 tbs dried mangoes, chopped
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp brown sugar
– 1/8 tsp salt

In campground: add boiling water to cover, stir well, let sit tightly for 5 minutes.  Reheat if necessary. For a calorie-dense breakfast in the backcountry add 1-2 teaspoons of oil (light olive oil or other cooking oil). Serves 1-2.

Lunch & Dinner
Cashew Chicken
– 1 cup instant rice
– 1 7-oz pouch of canned chicken (a little hard to find, but I got mine at QFC)
– 1/3 cup Dried bell peppers (also Harmony House)
– 1/2 cup Dried mushrooms
– 1 cup unsalted cashews
– 2 tsp garlic powder
– 2 tsp ginger powder
– 1 tsp crushed red pepper
-1/2 tsp cumin
-3 tbs cooking oil.

At home:
In one plastic baggie mix cashews and spices, mix rice and veggies in another bag.  Keep oil chicken in the pouch until at the campground.

In campground: “saute” cashews and spices in 1-2 tbs oil (careful! it burns quickly!).  Add chicken pouch and 2 cups of water – bring to a boil and add rice/veggie mix.  Cook until water is absorbed.  Delicious!  Serves 2-3.

Mashed potatoes & jerky (husband’s favorite recipe)
– 1 2 oz package instant mashed potatoes (I used Edward & Sons Organic Mashed Potatoes)
– 2 tbs shelf-stable parmesan cheese
– 1 tsp parsley flakes
– 1 tsp dried sage
– 3-5 strips gluten-free beef or elk jerky, torn into small pieces

In campground: combine with ~ 2 cups boiling water (until covered), stir well and enjoy.  Also extremely tasty.  Add black pepper to season if desired.

Sun dried tomato pasta
– 1/2 cup GF spaghetti (I like the corn spaghetti the best), packaged separately from sauce ingredients.
– 4 tbs dried tomato powder (Harmony House again)
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
– 2 tsp basil (preferably freshly dried and fragrant)
– 1/2 tsp oregano
– 1/2 tsp thyme
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– Parmesan cheese to taste

In campground: cook GF spaghetti according to manufacturer’s directions.  For sauce: add boiling water to tomato mixture to rehydrate, add to spaghetti and mix well.  I noticed this turns out to be more of a pesto-like texture rather than a sauce, but still quite delicious.  Serves 1-2.

Chicken chow mein
– 1 cup rice noodles, broken in 1/3’s (use thin noodles for fast cooking)
– 1 7-oz pouch canned chicken
– 3 tbs dried shiitake mushrooms
– 2 tbs dried mixed vegetables
– 1 tsp GF chicken of vegetable bouillon (this can be tricky to find, I ended up using a vegan bouillon).
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp ginger powder
– crushed red pepper to taste, OR sliced dried hot pepper (like you find in Mexican markets).

In camp: bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil, add noodles and vegetables, simmer until noodles are cooked.  Add chicken and heat through before serving.  Serves 2.

Well folks – tell me what you think!


  • Anonymous
    July 8, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Thank you! sounds yummy and just what I was looking to find for an upcoming camping trip!

  • Kathleen Jameson
    May 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Great idea to put oats in the blender to get a quicker cooking consistency. Thanks for those recipes. Carrot cake oatmeal is definitely to be included on my next hike.

  • Ilana
    May 16, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Wow! Sounds delicious!! I’m going to make that cashew chicken recipe for dinner tonight! I can’t wait for my next camping trip to try these out 😉 Thank you for posting this!

  • Maddy
    September 1, 2013 at 3:54 am

    My bf and I cooked up the Blueberry Quinoa for our hiking trip in the Eastern Sierras last summer. I’m back on your site for the recipe to backpack the redwoods at Butano State Park near Santa Cruz. That recipe is to die for! I went heavy on the coconut cream and sugar because the fat and sugar tastes so good when you’re hiking 🙂 and you need the calories so who cares?! Thanks for making happy tent mornings!

  • Robin
    July 16, 2014 at 10:35 am

    THANK YOU! Our family is allergic to dairy and sensitive to gluten, soy, and corn. My daughter is also allergic to red meat. My son and I recently went on a Boy Scout backpacking trip to South Manitou Island, MI. I brought along your Carrot Cake Oatmeal, Blueberry Mango Oatmeat, Cashew Chicken, and Chicken Chow Mein. All were delicious and easy to make at camp. My son especially loved the Chicken Chow Mein. He asked me to make it at home! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  • Katie
    September 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Fantastic. Thank you for sharing. I am GF and SF so this is most helpful for a backpacking camping girl like me. You’re a gem.

  • Linda
    April 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    You are a lifesaver! I am going on my first wilderness adventure where we will need to bring dehydrated food for 8-9 days. We’ll be canoeing the Upper Missouri. I am the only person of 14 on the trip that is gluten/dairy/soy and fish/shellfish free. I have been trying to explain how we can do this an so far people have been saying “Show us some tasty recipes and we’ll consider it”… now I have some ideas! Thank you!

  • Catherine
    May 15, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Fabulous info! I’m actually using it when I go to Europe, esp while in countries where I don’t speak the language. Or don’t want to risk being ill while I’d rather be traveling!

  • Jon
    May 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I’m a newbie at backpack camping, so I have a question.
    Your recipes sound good, but I was wondering if you store them in Ziploc bags, or vacuum seal them.

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