For most, hitting the trail is not only great exercise but good for the soul. For others, it’s an endurance backpacking trip that can take you miles before your next big juicy burger. I’m sure you could probably hike more than 100 miles without food, if you had to. But hiking is supposed to be a fun adventure, not a race. Keeping your body fueled up with tasty, nutritious snacks while out on the trail for the day makes it much more enjoyable and easy.
The key thing to remember is to take something you like to eat. If you don’t eat a ton of GORP at home, you may not be thrilled to eat it on the trail. But there are certain foods that are better trail foods than others. Some actually will give you some extra energy. Here are a few choices for simple, convenient trail food that does a body good.
- Healthy Trail Mix – Trail Mix is a great recourse for a day hiker or backpacker because you can custom make it to your likes. Depending on your likes, you can either add more fruit and nuts, or more chocolate. Etymology expert Barry Popik coined the phrase GORP which is an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts.” According to www.livestrong.com “Trail mix can be full of protein and vitamins and full of calories from fat, too. Nutrients break down differently. If trail mix is your choice to fuel a day’s strenuous hike, quickly metabolized carbohydrates are appropriate.” However, if you are hitting the trail on a long distance hike, make sure you wait a few days before gorging on GORP. It works best, when you are really burning some calories. Even on a day hike, eat moderately
- Pumpkin Seeds – If you’re in the mood for a chewy snack that doubles as a phenomenal health food, look no further than pumpkin seeds. With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package. Having trouble sleeping on the trail? Well, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep. Good night!
- Celery Sticks – Recent research has greatly enhanced knowledge about celery’s anti-inflammatory health benefits, including its protection against inflammation in the digestive tract itself. This is great news for us backpackers who tend to gorge on really bad food after a long backpacking trip. Sounds like eating celery sticks instead of desert might be better. The best part of some celery sticks is that they are high in electrolytes which are a huge benefit to stay hydrated.
- Peanut better & Jelly sandwich – One of my favorite snacks (or as a lunch) while on a long hike. By far, one of the most forgotten trail foods. However, a healthy P&J is all about the bread. High quality, whole grain bread is going to be the best. You can also replace regular peanut butter to a organic peanut butter. Even though jelly has sugar, the combination of peanut butter and bread provides protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc. Peanut butter is also a good choice for healthy unsaturated fats. AND there are certain fats that are good for you and give you energy on the trail. One P&J sandwich has 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E, 27 percent of folate and 42 percent of niacin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects vital lipids in the body from free radical damage.
- Mini Dill Pickles – While most hikers don’t think about taking mini dill pickles out on the trail, they should think again. Not that the pickle itself does much other than fill your belly. ITS THE JUICE. If you’re in the market for a low-sugar, all-natural electrolyte replacement, you should not let that juice go down the drain. Pickle juice could be your new go-to sports drink. Sodium helps the body retain fluids, which is essential for long endurance hikes, backpacking trips, or any other endurance activity; not having enough fluids in your muscles when you sweat intensely can result in serious dehydration, and cramping. “Pickle juice is packed with antioxidants, electrolytes, and is particularly high in vitamin C and calcium,” adds Dr. Ahuja, Fortis Hospital.
If you have some favorite hiking snacks, please share. We love getting ideas from our outdoor community.