An introduction to cooking on the road
Investing in your health long-term through diet on the road is as crucial as dispensing premium gas in the tank or procuring the highest grade engine oil one can afford. After all, you are what you eat and sometimes, it’s a challenge to achieve that through foreign lands. Particularly when budget-led or convenience options can be loaded with trans- and saturated-fats, high-fructose corn syrup, salt and preservatives. And let’s face it, E-numbers that sound akin to the components of a chemistry set.
In meat-heavy cultures such as the ones encountered in remote regions of Alaska and Iceland, as well as Argentina – getting hold of fresh fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. Practically every cut of the cow, absolutely no problema, but whole foods are not always readily available to achieve a healthy balance of nutrition. On top, it’s a myth that a person can survive on pot noodles, white rice and small cans of tuna alone for months on end.
Plant-based to flexitarian
In case you were wondering, a plant-based regimen consists mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits. It comprises few or no animal products, plant-based diet is not necessarily vegetarian.
With a daily need to nourish our bodies after five years on the road, here are a few ways in which we chow our way through an on-the-road menu. While my partner tends to be plant-based, I’m somewhat more opportunistic and err on the flexitarian side. If nothing else, I hope our culinary offerings inspire some food for thought.
Dehydrated meals: Convenience without compromising
Decent dehydrated options are calorie-dense – something that’s needed after a long or energy-intensive day on the road, completing a big hike to a backcountry campsite for example. When compared to meals offered by similar companies, Good To-Go ones tend to have a higher calorie count per ounce of food. The portions are made with real food, where each meal is hand-made from scratch in small batches. Real cooks, not food scientists, prepare them. The resultant outcome is a dinner that’s more flavorful and better for you, than the traditional “space food in a bag”.
For those who live frugally like us, dehydrated meals work well when supplemented with a small bag of frozen vegetables and a handful of anything cruciferous (dark green veggies). This means we can sometimes get away with only using one packet, which is cheaper and elongates our provisions before having to resupply. When consumed on their own, lunchtimes on the road are wonderfully civilized with one sachet each – incurring no dirty dishes, two spoons licked clean and the minimal of waste. Ultimately, the packets work well as long as you can add boiling water, wait for 20-minutes, and you’re all set! Each bag even comes marked with the water fill line. How thoughtful.
Is there any nutritional value in de-hy foods?
Having devoured our way through the entire vegan and vegetarian menus, Good To-Go achieves a gold standard in taste and texture, and platinum in the composition and depth of flavor. Moreover, the sachets are packed with nutrition: dietary fibre, protein, vitamins A and C, and minerals such as calcium and iron. Calorie-dense means that they satisfy more than other dehydrated offerings previously sampled, which congealed into something pretty unpalatable by comparison. It’s true, I’m a total Good To-Go convert, especially when the weather’s awful or we’re on a big hike carrying our world on our backs.
Gratefully, there are more Good To-Go vegan and vegetarian options than pescatarian or meat ones. All are gluten-free, low sodium with a long expiration date. Varying cuisines are available from Mexican, Korean, Thai, Indian and Italian.
When there’s no space and weight issue: recipe ideas
Below are a few of our favorite dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tackling all three from a 4WD Toyota Hilux is easier than you might think. This is because it’s fitted with an RSi SmartCanopy built-in kitchen and Dometic CFX50 electric cooler, which is 46 litres of chilled magic. Gloriously, we don’t need to resupply for at least a week so can stay in remote spots for days on end. Cooking is facilitated through a Kampa two-hob gas stove, RidgeMonkey Connect stove and MSR Windburner, depending on weather and where we are. Pots and pans comprise a RidgeMonkey Connect Combi and Steamer Set, which is aluminum fluoropolymer nonstick, the MSR Quick 2 System pan set, and a PFOA-free, anodized alloy pan to steam, boil, shallow fry and sauté our vegetables. Et voila, I’m all set.
Essentials I always carry
It’s amazing how easy it is to create different profiles of flavor with the right combination of a dash of this and a sprinkle of that. These are mine:
- Condiments: Tamari sauce (fermented soybeans), Dijon mustard, wholegrain, vegan mayonnaise, almond butter and set honey.
- Oil: Avocado oil or rapeseed oil (both have high smoking points)
- Dried herbs: Oregano, parsley, mint, thyme, rosemary and basil
- Spices: Ginger, turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg
- Cracked black pepper and sea salt
- Garlic: Dried, fresh, paste or in a jar - there’s no such thing as too garlicky!
Good To-Go Oatmeal or Granola with a twist
- Jumbo raisins
- Finely chopped or shredded red apple
- Sliced ripened banana
- Unsweetened organic soya milk
- Heaped tablespoon of milled flaxseed (linseed)
Heap desired spoonfuls of each ingredient in a bowl and devour mindfully with your Good To-Go Oatmeal or Granola at a relaxed pace.
I love going to the bulk bin aisle in a supermarket and loading up on big handfuls of unsalted nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, and pecans. Sprinkle in your favorite seeds: I like toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. It’s optional but I often add in broken bits of dark chocolate (70% cocoa) and if I’m feeling particularly decadent, mingle in some organic dried apricots, blueberries and cherries (all free of sulphur-dioxide). It’s a mouthwatering trail mix for when you’re on the go and craving some sustenance.
Any Good To-Go entree
- Chopped red pepper
- Finely diced red onion
- ½ cup dried and fresh mushrooms (adds meatiness)
- 1 cup rehydrated or fresh soy chunks
- Wholegrain or brown rice
- Serve with warm Peshwari naan bread (or any other leavened flatbread)
- Milk (any kind) - optional
Cook the Good To-Go as per the instructions. Meanwhile, sauté the onion until soft in a dash of water or oil with a high smoking point (e.g. avocado or rapeseed oil) in a nonstick pan. Add and do the same with the red pepper (the sweetest over green, orange and yellow ones) and then the mushrooms. Add the rehydrated soya chunks, and stir in the rehydrated Good To-Go. Add coconut milk, regular milk or soya milk to make it more creamy. Simmer on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Season with sea salt to taste. Gently warm the naan bread and serve immediately. Nom!
Final food for thought
Whatever culinary marriages you create on the road, we hope we’ve added something to help you to cook up a storm. Foremost, make it a taste-sensation loaded with nutrition. Every. Single. Time.
By Four Wheeled Nomad: Words by Lisa Morris, visuals by Jason Spafford
Watch our short video showcasing life with us at Four Wheeled Nomad, including cooking from White Rhino, our expedition truck!