If there’s one thing I like as much as mountains, it’s eating. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m carsick or about to have a migraine (try it, it works). I ate my way through my first teaching practicum and most of my university essays. Frankly, it’s a miracle I don’t qualify for the Biggest Loser (which, I’m ashamed to admit, I used to binge watch while eating snacks. Lots and lots of snacks).
But there are two barriers standing between me and all-the-food-ever like an ancient family feud. The first is the fact that I hate cooking. I hate it. I hate chopping things, and deciding what to make, and waiting for the stove to heat up. I have no patience for “seasoning to taste”. I only recently discovered table salt, and to be honest, half the time I can’t even be bothered with that.
The other barrier, working in tandem with my hatred of cooking, is my desire to eat well. As in, organic kale and ancient grains and free-run chicken. Not only does healthy eating make my body happy (which makes mountain stuff possible), it really helps with my mental health. (Anyone who’s had a caffeine-induced anxiety attack will understand why I mostly stick with herbal tea.)
That’s not to say I’m a dietary saint. (Remember: extreme culinary laziness + emotional eating habit. It turns out the middle ground between a quinoa salad and a Big Mac is a frozen chicken lasagna from Safeway.) But it does mean that when I find delicious food that’s also healthy and easy to make, I rejoice. And then I eat only that thing for months, until I hate it. RIP prosciutto-lined crustless mini quiches.
And finding tasty, healthy, easy TRAIL food? Let’s just say I’ve been living the Lipton Sidekicks and giant salami life for too long.
Enter Nomad Nutrition. I wrote some web copy for them earlier this year, and was delighted when they not only paid me for my work but gave me one of their meals to boot: the Irish Shepherd’s Pie.
On top of (refreshingly) only containing ingredients I recognize, the Irish Shepherd’s Pie is somehow both high protein (24 grams per bag) and vegan. There are about a million calories in there, but that’s exactly what you want in trail food. (Remember the giant salami?)
On a rainy day in February (which, coincidentally, is the last time I updated this blog), I packed my Irish Shepherd’s pie, a camp stove and some water, and embarked on a snowshoe trip that ended up being a hiking trip where we carried our snowshoes on our backs.
I figured it would be a nice way to have a picnic in February, and I didn’t want to wait until my next overnight trip (which still hasn’t happened -more on that next time) to take advantage of a meal I didn’t have to cook.
After getting a leisurely start to the day, my hiking buddy and I found a nice spot on the flank of one of the North Shore mountains, and prepared our meal.
“Preparation” is a strong word, since this is one of the family of backpacking meals where you just add boiling water. So, I set up my stove and boiled some water, then added it to the bag. Word of advice: add the recommended amount. Don’t eyeball it like I did, or you might end up with soup instead of the more traditional mashed potato texture.
But it was delicious soup. Well-seasoned. Filling. Healthy. And best of all, I didn’t have to cook anything. Regrettably, I had to share with my hiking buddy — I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.
In the parlance of this dog rating Facebook group I only recently discovered: 10/10 would eat again.