On Nutrition: Food for horse camping

Anne in St. Louis writes: “Hi Barbara, I read with great interest (in a previous column) that you were horse camping in Texas. I am a newbie horse camper! I’m still trying to figure out what is nutritious to bring that needs no refrigeration (aside from a cooler) and no way to heat it up/cook it. Do you have recipes for a portable snack (besides PB&J) or a recipe site you could recommend? — Signed, Your fellow horsey gal

My cowgirl hat is off to you, Anne. I haven’t roughed it with just a cooler since the kids were young and we actually thought a week in a tent was fun. Now that we’re “mature” and have time for more extended trips, I really appreciate the little refrigerator in our live-in horse trailer.

We did just recently, however, invest (as in, HOW MUCH??) in a cooler that keeps food cold for several days. That’s a plus if you can’t run to the store for ice every day. If this is your only device for items that must be kept cool, most of your food will indeed have to be safe with no refrigeration.

Here are some ideas from our experience as well as some borrowed from others. Make a list according to food groups. That way, you’ll have the makings of a balanced diet.

Fruit that requires no refrigeration includes bananas, oranges, assorted dried fruit and individual canned fruit. Whole fresh watermelon, cantaloupe or pineapple also do well if kept out of direct sun.

Vegetables: Cherry tomatoes are handy and actually taste better when they aren’t refrigerated. Carrots, cucumbers, red, yellow and orange peppers, onions and celery provide the array of colors we need for balanced nutrition.

You’ll need protein as well, like the peanut butter you mentioned. Nuts and dried fruit mixes provide valuable fiber as well as protein. If we’re trying to get out for an early morning ride, we’ll gulp down a high protein beverage before we go. (Look for those with 20 to 30 grams of protein plus vitamins and minerals). We also pack beef jerky and protein bars in our saddle bags for those days when a two-hour ride turns into a four-hour ordeal. Canned or individual packets of tuna make quick sandwiches on bread or crackers. Or how about canned bean dip or mashed avocados with corn chips? (Look for the whole grain kind).

I’m a milk drinker so I absolutely love the individual 8-ounce milk cartons that do not need to be refrigerated until opened. Save some space in your cooler for a few of these if you prefer cold milk on cereal. Save cooler space for individually wrapped cheese as well.

Save single serving mayo and mustard packets from sandwich shops to use on sandwiches. Most importantly, take plenty of bottled water. And if you can camp without having a way to make hot coffee in the morning, you’re a better horsey gal than me.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill 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 [email protected].