There is an unofficial condition coined “orthorexia” in which a person is excessively preoccupied with eating healthy food. I’m pretty sure my three amigas and I did not suffer from that on our recent horseback adventure.
First stop when they arrived in Denver before heading to the wild blue yonder: Trader Joe’s. Four chattering women throwing food into one basket got the attention of at least one shopper.
“Are you ladies going to a party?” he asked.
“Horseback riding for three days,” I said as we tossed everything from nuts and cheese to bottled water and wine into our cart.
“Looks like you’re going to have fun,” he smiled.
We sure did. After loading horses, saddles, hay and suitcases into the trailer, we made our way to Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska — 22,000 acres of old west history and the same horse stalls used by the calvary in the late 1800s.
What made this trip work — besides that fact that we wanted to spend more time in the saddle than we did in the kitchen — were our similar food preferences. Breakfast was coffee with — take your pick — spinach-scrambled eggs and toast or blueberries, yogurt and granola. Lunch was ready-to-make salad mix and homemade cabbage rolls and our first night dinner was a simply delicious potpourri of cheeses, crackers, raw vegetables and hummus dips. Bottled water for the trail and wine for our evening talks on the prairie and we were happy cowgirls.
One highlight of this trip (or at least I thought so) was a 21-mile drive (14 of them on a desolate dirt road) from our cabin to a tiny frontier town called the High Plains Homestead and its adjoining restaurant called the “Cookshack.” I had called a few days earlier to make a reservation for dinner.
“We don’t have the menu for Tuesday planned yet,” a woman’s voice told me. “But just a minute,” she paused. “He (I later found out “he” was her husband, the chef) said he can make Hillbilly Philly steak sandwiches.”
Hillbilly Philly steak sandwiches, I repeated. That would be just fine. And they were, complete with our choice of beans, coleslaw, three-bean, or cucumber salads. And since we were the last customers of the night, the four of us split the last piece of homemade coconut cream pie while an old picture of Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter squinted at us from the rustic wall.
A few days later, we ended our journey at my daughter and son-in-law’s ranch with a home-grown steak dinner followed by one or two cautious sips of homemade moonshine in Tom’s man-cave aka “the bunkhouse.” And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
We won’t soon forget our days of horseback riding through grassy meadows to the top of pine-covered ridges. Our shared meals and long rides nourished each of us in special ways. Thanks for the memory, dear cowgirls.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.