Quinn on Nutrition: Camping basics

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We made this pact after returning from our two-night camping trip. Next time, stay at least three days. It takes at least that much time to relax after getting ourselves — plus horses and dogs — ready for the trip.

While my husband checked to make sure our horse trailer/camper was fully prepared for our adventure, I packed the food for us and our creatures.

Dogs are pretty easy. Dry food and water bowls and these are happy pups. Note too, they only get to go with us because they follow voice commands and they don’t bark. Other campers appreciate that.

Horses are a bit more challenging to a change in scenery. Ours prefer the green pasture grass of home to the dry hay we bring on trips. They are also not thrilled with being confined to socially isolated stalls at our destination. And by the time they decide the water at this strange place is OK to drink, it’s time to head back home.

Still, the spectacular scenery and riding trails at this state park made the preparation all worthwhile. And now that we are older and hopefully a bit wiser, our own eating routine remains fairly stable when we rough it.

Never mind that our camp trailer is equipped with a refrigerator, stove and microwave. And as much as we love food cooked over an open fire, our George Foreman grill comes in mighty handy when we are lucky enough to have electricity.

Hubby decided to be creative one morning. Instead of making a fire to cook our eggs, he set his grill on the picnic table and plugged it in.

One small detail. The ribbed surface of this grill is made for solid foods like meat, fish and vegetables. And it has a hole in the middle to drain away fat…or in this case, scrambled egg liquid. Never mind. My handy man found a way to cook the eggs and keep them from slipping down the drip hole. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, I warmed whole grain Naan (flatbread) in my handy dandy microwave. We then packed it with our cooked eggs, bagged fresh spinach, crisp bacon and our favorite New Mexican salsa.Voila! A breakfast taco that got us through several inspiring hours of horseback riding.

Looking back, we could have cooked that same meal over an open fire. Point is, our methods may change but the basics of eating in any situation remain: stock good sources of protein, versatile veggies, whole grains and add to as needed.

Back home, the horses were happy to get out of the trailer and roll before they trotted off to enjoy their fresh pasture again. The dogs are still eating their regular food. And we’re planning for our next (three day) adventure.

Send me your favorite outdoor cooking ideas and I’ll include them in another column this summer. Happy camping!


(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.)


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