After going through all the work to become fat-adapted for my sheep hunt, I couldn’t find premade backpacking meals that were high enough in fat and lower-carbs. made my own DIY High-Fat Dehydrated Backpacking Dinner.
Note: To make these meals truly “keto” you will need to leave out the potatoes in the Japanese Curry and the Beans in the Chili. I don’t really care if I am #keto. I wasn’t worried about some carbs because of the high amount of physical activity I was doing. My goal is never to be “KETO”, I just want to feel my best and decrease my pack weight.
4 Reasons to Make High-Fat Dehydrated Meals?
1. The Health benefits of low-carb while in the backcountry
A low-carb, Paleo-ish diet, has anti-inflammatory properties. Sheep hunting is extremely strenuous and hard on your body. Anything you can do to decrease this stress and help you recover faster is worth it. Plus, anyone who has eaten Mountain Houses for a week knows about the GI stress they can cause.
When your body is fat adapted, you can go longer between meals and if you must skip a meal, you don’t get that hard crash you do when burning carbs. Fat is also a cleaner burning fuel that everyone carries plenty in their bodies. This translates to better performance in the backcountry.
2. They Weigh Less
Fat has over 2 times the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein. This means you can either carry way more calories or your back can weigh less. Two pounds of food per day backpacking is considered pretty standard.
I was able to get around 3,000 Calories/day to weigh just over a pound/day. This meant my husband’s and mine pack were 10 lbs lighter each (on a 10-day sheep hunt)! That is huge! Especially when you are my size…. And female.
3. DIY High-Fat Dinners are Delicious
We looked forward to eating them each night, but when you are working that hard, food just tastes better too.
I did not experience the strong food cravings I typically do during a long hunt. I’m not sure if it was all the veggies and micronutrients, or just the taste, but I was craving a good cup of coffee instead of my usual hamburger or sweets.
4. You can control what goes in them
I love using real food ingredients, that I know my body performs well on. You can also make them suit your personal tastes. Say you don’t like carrots, just swap them out with another veggie you do like.
Want to stay in ketosis the whole time or ear strict paleo? Leave out the beans and peas and just add more fat. Personal I wasn’t too worried about my Marcos. My goal was to perform better not be in ketosis 100% of the time. Sheep hunting is so strenuous, I knew my body would appreciate the extra carbs and go back into ketosis quickly. But you are in control!
How to make DIY High-Fat Dehydrated Backpacking Dinners
I started out by downloading the Heather’s Choice Ebook. They are a great company that makes healthy, gluten-free backpacking foods. Honestly, if I hadn’t been set on Low-carb, I would have saved a ton of time and just bought all my food from them.
Full Disclosure. I am an affiliate with them. The worst affiliate ever. I have recommended their food and E-books countless times, and this is the first time I am using my link.
Anyways, the E-book has lots of good recipes and how-tos to make your own meals.
Start by dicing all your veggies up. Smaller pieces dry and rehydrate faster.
In a large skillet brown meat and onions with 2 about teaspoons salt (depending on the recipe). I used caribou and ground turkey.
Meanwhile, bloom 1 teaspoon gelatin in about 1 tablespoon of cold water. This is optional but results in a pleasant sauce and gelatin (collagen), is a great source of protein and great for you. Ok, I’ll leave it there, but I really could talk about collagen for a while.
Once the meat is browned, add the spices. Keep stirring until you can smell them.
Stir in wet ingredients, veggies and gelatin.
Simmer until most of the excess liquid is gone.
Let the meat mixture cool until it is easier to handle.
Dehydrate on the highest setting on your dehydrator or lowest setting in your oven*.
Once all the food is completely dried, let cool to room temperature.
Packaging You DIY Dehydrated Meals
In 3 mylar bags, equally, divide all the ingredients.
If the recipe calls for coconut butter add it now if the recipe calls for butter or cheese, add those in the backcountry, just before you devour your dinner (remember to pack it).
Add a desiccant packet. I skipped this step, but for peace of mind, I won’t next time!
Seal bag with iron or hair straightener. Try to get all the air out you can. This was the first time I have used my straightener in a LONG time.
To play it safe, I stored my meals in the freezer just to make sure nothing would go bad. Technically you shouldn’t have to, but who wants to get sick in the middle of nowhere on some mountain?
In The Backcountry
To eat, simply add about 1 ½ cup boiling water and give a stir. Fold over the top (clip closed with the clip on your pocket knife), and let sit 20 minutes, if you can.2. Stir in butter or cheese if desired and Enjoy!
*dehydrating times will vary greatly depending on your oven or dehydrator. If you are using a convection oven, the fan will speed up the process. Unfortunately, you will just have to keep an eye on your food. Dehydrators take less supervision than ovens. Good news, these meals can be made in advance, so pick a day when you have plenty of time or break it up into batches. I dehydrated all my food one day and package the next, but there is no reason you couldn’t break it up even more.
Refrigerate until hard, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. These keep really well.
* personally I don't like stevia and prefer my fat bombs less sweet, but make your fat bombs the way you like! Also, you can add a tablespoon of coconut sugar which will add less than 1g carb per fat bomb, this is how my husband likes them and if you are hiking hard that little bit of carbs won't kick you out of ketosis.
To see more of my adventures, how I am getting ready for my next hunt, and Paleo-ish/ Mostly Low-carb food and what I am currently cooking, follow me on Instagram or Facebook!
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Gina Shively is a Personal Health Cook and American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified Health Coach located in Anchorage Alaska. Her background includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Physiology from the University of Wyoming. For the past six years, she has lived in Alaska, where she can’t get enough of the active Alaskan lifestyle that for her includes hunting, fishing, hiking, and the occasional weekend race. She loves to cook for people and enjoys the challenge of making healthy food taste delicious. Her family includes two young boys, two packgoats, and a rambunctious Weimaraner, as well as a very patient husband.