Saturday, April 10, 2010

Inexpensive Camping or Office Food


by Larisa Sparrowhawk

Although fresh from scratch foods are always best, sometimes light weight, packable and inexpensive foods are useful, such as for camping or for "emergency food" at the office. When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with those little packets of flavored oatmeal, which were then new on the market. I'd frequently eat three packs, sometimes only opening the third to try to get all the goodies (flavored sugar, raisins) out of it while leaving the oats behind. Today a box of ten one ounce packs is about $4.00, so my breakfast would today cost over a dollar, contain 464 calories and would send me into a sugar coma. My version, about a cup of "cooked" oatmeal with only one teaspoon of evaporated cane juice (raw sugar) and spices, contains only 161 calories.

Here's the basic recipe for one serving: 1/3 cup dry instant oatmeal (59-67 cents per pound in bulk), 1/4 tsp. each ginger and psyllium powders, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. evaporated cane juice. Simply pour boiling water over, stir thoroughly and let stand a couple minutes. The psyllium not only adds extra fiber, but also improves the texture and helps to lower cholesterol. True cinnamon, if you can find it, really helps regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon cassia, which is more commonly found in stores, is less effective, but still tastes good. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. To take this on the road, place 1-1 1/2 tsp. of the mix in a plastic bag or tupperware along with 1/3 c. quick oats. If you like your oatmeal richer, those tiny tubs of half and half from coffee shops are perfect and do not need refrigeration.

To make a handy mix for twelve servings, use 1 tbsp. each ginger and psyllium, 2 tbsp. cinnamon, and 4 tbsp. sugar (or more if you find my recipe not sweet enough).

Despite the instructions on the box, instant potatoes do not really require cooking. For 1/2 cup, add 1/4 tsp. each nutritional (brewers) yeast, psyllium powder and Herbamare or salt. Sprinkle on curry, paprika, or pepper according to your taste. Add boiling water, stir and let sit a couple minutes. The nutritional yeast serves as a healthy, high vitamin replacement for broth concentrate. Again, those half and half tubs are convenient.

Next week: assorted instant soups!

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