August is a prime month for vacations. Camping and backpacking are popular, inexpensive ways to vacation in the great outdoors.
For those on a gluten-free diet eating gluten-free while camping or backpacking requires some preparation but it can be done.
The defining factor is whether you will have access to a car because there are a great assortment of canned soups, stews, and chilis that are gluten-free. Lugging a can of gluten-free stew around isn’t difficult if you have a car but it can greatly add to your weight load if you are backpacking or canoe camping.
If you have a car:
Even if you don’t have a cooler with ice you can eat these common camping foods that require no refrigeration and are gluten-free or have no gluten-containing ingredients. Just remember to pack your can opener!
Hormel Foods which carries the Dinty Moore and Mary Kitchen Hash brands has a number of canned meals that are gluten-free or made without gluten-containing ingredients.
Hormel Beef Chili with Beans
(Please note that the vegetarian, turkey, and “homestyle” varieties may NOT be gluten-free.)
This chili is my “go-to camping meal” because it’s filling and you can buy it in “individual meal” 15-ounce cans, 38-ounce “share with a friend” cans, and giant 108-ounce cans which is more than enough to share with all your non-gluten-free camping buddies.
It’s mild enough for those who don’t like their chili hot. If you like a little more heat in your chili pack a snack-sized plastic zipper-seal bag filled with some gluten-free chili powder and add it while you’re cooking the chili.
Click on the image of the chili can to see Hormel's current list of chilis that are made with no gluten-containing ingredients.
Hormel Dinty Moore Beef Stew
A big steaming bowl of Dinty Moore Beef Stew is my second favorite camping food. It comes in individual serving and “share with a friend” sized cans. At the time of this writing Dinty Moore beef stew is certified gluten-free by the Hormel company. Click the image of the beef stew can to go to Hormel’s current listing of gluten-free products.
Hormel Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash
(but NOT the "Roast Beef" Hash which contains wheat protein).
If you have access to a cooler with ice you can bring eggs for your camping breakfasts. And for me, there’s nothing better for a camping breakfast than a hearty skillet of crispy corned beef hash with fried eggs to top the hash. I like to crisp the hash well, push it to the side of the fry pan, and fry the eggs while the hash stays warm.
Hormel SPAM “Classic” canned pork product
SPAM “Classic” which is the unflavored variety is gluten-free. SPAM is great for a breakfast of SPAM and eggs or fried as an entrée meat for lunches and dinners. I dice the SPAM into cubes and fry it before adding eggs for a tasty scrambled egg breakfast. If you don’t like scrambled eggs you can slice the SPAM in slabs, fry it, and move it to the side of the pan to keep warm while you fry your eggs or some potatoes.
Click the image of the SPAM can to go to Hormel’s current listing of their gluten-free products. Page down to the SPAM section to check which flavored varieties of SPAM are also gluten-free.
ConAgra Foods Jiffy Pop Butter Popcorn
Many of remember as kids gathering around the campfire at night while mom or dad popped up a big batch of Jiffy Pop popcorn over the hot coals. The foil tent blossoming with hot popcorn mesmerized us as we impatiently waited to hear the sound of the last kernels popping before we greedily dug in for our share of the hot, buttery popcorn.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up that experience if you’re gluten-free.
At the time of this writing ConAgra Food’s Jiffy Pop “Butter” flavor popcorn does not use gluten-containing ingredients. If you are allergic to soy or milk be aware that it does contain soy oil and some product labels have listed milk as an allergen.
ConAgra Foods Swiss Miss “Milk Chocolate” Cocoa
As the campfire dies down and the embers glow hot its almost time to bed down in your sleeping bag. But before you do be sure to enjoy a gluten-free mug of hot cocoa. ConAgra Foods Swiss Miss “Milk Chocolate” variety is marked gluten-free on the package so you can enjoy without worry.
If you are backpacking or canoe camping you may not be able to carry canned foods. Freeze dried foods weigh much less and can be rehydrated prior to cooking with water available at your campsite.
In the past it was difficult to find gluten-free freeze dried prepared meals because so many of the seasonings contained wheat products. Fortunately, in the last few years there are many companies that have begun to offer freeze dried gluten-free meals suitable for backpacking and canoe camping.
Backpacker’s Pantry has a comprehensive line of freeze dried meals that are gluten-free. Click their logo to see their gluten-free products.
REI offers additional manufacturers of gluten-free freeze-dried foods. Click their logo to view their current gluten-free offerings.