We need our exercise, and many of us find that hiking in the woods or mountains to be the most enjoyable way to get it. But we still need to balance that exercise with wholesome food.
It’s been 64 years since I started hiking in the mountains and 13 years since a doctor diagnosed my diabetes. In that time I have ever so gradually learned what works best to provide the energy that I need for my hikes without reverting to the unhealthy choices that the marketplace offers to hikers and others alike.
Outdoor stores, like my favorite, REI, offer a huge selection of what they consider to be adequate trail food. Almost without exception I don’t consider their choices to be anywhere near satisfactory.
My choices so far are geared to day hikes of no more than eight hours. In that time we do need a meal or two. For the past few years I haven’t been backpacking on overnight hikes, although I just invested in a new backpack, tent, and sleeping bag. So I may have additional recommendations based on what’s coming for me.
Meanwhile, however, I have found more than enough excellent trail foods. The mainstay of my diet on the trail as well as for breakfast on the drive to the trailhead (since I want to get there as early as possible to avoid afternoon thunderstorms), has been the obvious one. Energy bars.
But not just any energy bar, many of which don’t draw a clear line separating them from nothing more than repackaged and relabeled candy bars. What makes a good energy bar?
I rely on organic quinoa bars and granola bars from Fiona’s Natural Foods in Boulder, Colorado, where I just happen to live. Of the five such bars my favorite is the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter bar.
Fiona Simon, the founder and CEO of Fiona’s Natural Foods, tells me that this bar is most people’s favorite too. The difference between her energy bars and the rest, Fiona tells me, is that hers release their nutrients slowly, not in a spike or a rush.
That’s just the same concept of low-glycemic carbohydrates, which for years I have written about in my first book, in magazines, and on my website. The main sweetener that she uses is organic agave nectar, which is very low-glycemic.
A staple of the outdoor world for years has been beef jerky. But it’s far too salty for my taste or my health. Recently I discovered Tofurky Jurky from Turtle Island Foods in Hood River, Oregon. Both the original and peppered are delicious, vacuum-sealed organic tofu – mostly protein – a low in sodium.
Another product that I rely on is individual servings of peanut or almond butter from Justin’s Nut Butter in Boulder. For years I abstained from peanut or almond butter, even though they are very low glycemic. I love peanut and almond butter so much that I couldn’t control myself. Now, however, I can stop after eating a single packet of Justin’s dry roasted peanut or almond butter with 190 calories per package.