Spaghetti Squash: Cooking, Preparing, and Dehydrating

Americans are the superheroes of mindless eating. So it's no surprise that Supermarkets spend millions of dollars on marketing stratagems to help consumers part ways with hard-earned dollars. I am a fairly educated consumer, BUT, I am a self-admitted sucker for grocery store marketing gimmicks. 

For instance, you know that elevator music playing in the store?  The tempo is designed to lull you senseless; making you feel relaxed and spend more time in the store, thus spending about 29% more than planned. 

Soft, focused lighting and handwritten signs in the produce section also sells more - about 30% more!  The first thing consumers see is a dazzling array of colors. Fresh food that says "eat me!"  And I hear what that food is saying, and I buy everything in sight. 

I can't even imagine how much money I have spent over the years on produce, only to throw it later in the compost pile rotten because I never got around to doing anything with the stuff!  Fortunately, one vegetable "experiment" that I learned to use successfully is spaghetti squash. 

Spaghetti Squash
While I am currently a devout omnivore, I was a vegetarian off and on for several years, and vegan during my pregnancy with my youngest child.   Pasta is a vegan food, but not what I consider very "healthy" due to processing.  A better substitute for pasta, IMHO, is spaghetti squash.  When first dehydrated and then rehydrated, the squash has a chewy texture closer to pasta noodles.  Additionally, the rehydrated squash absorbs some flavor from the sauce.  Yum!!

Spaghetti squash can easily be added to any recipe requiring pasta or a similar base - check out my other posts about building DIY meals using a simple five step formula to get the idea.  Use dehydrated spaghetti squash instead of ramen  noodles, rice, or potatoes!

Not sure how to cook or prepare spaghetti squash?  Never fear: I have a video for this!  Watch my Youtube video below.



Please feel free to leave your comments, including any ideas you have for spaghetti squash in recipes!

Mexi-Cali Beef & Bean Quinoa : Instant Backpacking / Survival Food FBC

Something I love about "ethnic" foods on the trail is that the spices and herbs that make up the flavor profile allow the food to taste the same on the trail as it does at home.  On a winter backpacking trip last week I tucked into this comfort food with finesse.  Spork-licking good stuff.

Keep in mind that you don't have to follow the ingredients exactly.  Mix and match your favorite ingredients to your taste.  Don't feel like drying tomato sauce and chilis? Just dry some salsa or add packets of salsa available from McDonalds or Taco Bell.  Don't have freeze-dried corn?  No sweat: just skip it.

Watching your carbs?  Simply reduce the amount of quinoa and add extra meat!

Dried Beef, Beans, and Quinoa with Veggies and Spices. Yum!



Mexi-Cali Beef and Bean Quinoa Recipe


Makes ~4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey (cooking directions below)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (low sodium)
  • 1 can pinto beans, mashed and dehydrated
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked and dehydrated

For Each Meal:

  • 1/4 c. Taco Meat dehydrated
  • 2 T Beans, dehydrated
  • 1 T freeze dried corn
  • 1 T dried green chili
  • 2 T dried tomato sauce or dried salsa
  • 1/4 t lime powder or  packet TrueLime
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt
Optional Ingredients: 

  • Packet Trader Joe's Chicken Broth (low-sodium)
  • Cheese (not optional in my opinion!) Freeze Dried is best

Preparations at home:

Cook ground beef or turkey at home and drain, cut up larger pieces.  Add taco seasoning and water according to seasoning packet instructions.  Dehydrate at 145°F until dry and crumbly. (Read my article on drying meat for further instruction).

Place ingredients into quart-sized ziploc freezer bags and label.


At Camp:

Rehydrate by adding boiling water to not quite cover the ingredients; you want a casserole, not a soup.  Allow to sit in cozy for 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

DIY Trail Survival Backpacking meals freezer bag Cooking
Beef and Bean Quinoa Sprinkled with Cheddar Cheese


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 298 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
500
Calories from Fat
102
% Daily Value*
Total Fat      1 1.3g
17%
Saturated Fat  2.9g
15%
Trans Fat         0.0g
Cholesterol   81mg
27%
Sodium        346mg
14%
Potassium   1414mg
40%
Total Carbohydrates 60.7g
20%
Dietary Fiber  11.7g
47%
Sugars 3.0g
Protein 39.5g
Vitamin A 16%Vitamin C 32%
Calcium 9%Iron 83%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

Which Ground Meat is the Best Deal for Dehydrated Dinners?

I am thrilled to see that views on this blog just surpassed the 7,000 mark!!  I can't believe there are so many people on the blogosphere that enjoy reading about foraging, dehydrating foods, and eating healthier on the trail! Sharing my enthusiasm for the trail and eating well is my hobby and passion, and this is my creative outlet; pathetic, yes, but I can't sew or knit to save my life....

To celebrate,  I decide to have a little dehydrating fun, so off to the grocery store I go.


Which Meat do I buy to Dehydrate? 
Or For that Matter, the Best Bargain for Any Meal?

DIY Trail Food: Eating Healthier and Homemade for Backpacking, Survival, and Travel

Do you want to eat healthier on the trail without breaking your budget?  Have a hankering for beefing up your Bug Out Bag (BOB) but can't stand the thought of MRE's?  How about having a taste of home when on the road in hotel rooms?  If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, but don't know where to start, then this post is for you!

Freeze Dried Backpacking food
Craig with his dinner
When backpacking with a group, dinner time around the fire is like show and tell for grown ups.

Frequently heard at meals: "What are you having?" usually followed by "do you want to try some?"

Also heard: "Yours looks better than mine?" or  "how much salt is in there, anyway?"

Much more rarely heard: "Yuk, this is nasty!" Because everyone knows that any meal on the trail is:

  1. Flavored by hunger so everything tastes better than at home.
  2. This stuff is expensive and you carried it, so you might as well eat it.
  3. You don't have anything else to eat because you planned out each meal before leaving home, so you either eat it or starve.


After setting up camp and gathering fire wood, everyone sits around the fire and pulls out their food bags.  The requisite blue foil of Mountain House, the tan paper of Mary Jane Farms, the clear plastic of Packit Gourmet.  Except me.  I am one of those who beat to a different drum. Living on the fringes of society. Walking the line of sanity.  What can I say, I am a hammock hanger :)

DIY Trail Food: Building a better backpacking meal, Step One - Base

My first post in this "DIY" series on how to make your own trail meals introduced how making trail meals at home can be a cheaper and more nutritious alternative to store bought trail foods, and discussed why outdoorsmen or preppers should make our own dinners. This article begins the actual "how" to put your meals together, and is the second in a  series of how-to articles...

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_robynmac'>robynmac / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Start Your DIY Meal With the Right Base

DIY Trail Food: Building a Better Backpacking Meal, Step Two - Meat (or Meat Substitute)


Like I mentioned in my little ramen rant from Step One, some people rely too heavily on simple carbohydrates and junky food for calories on the trail, and forego nutrition for taste.  Step One  provides the simple carbohydrates for your meal.  This post is the second in the series, focusing on how to add adequate protein to your DIY trail meals.

Adding Protein to Trail Meals is Easy and Delicious


Read more by clicking the "Read More" link below!

DIY Trail Food: Building a Better Backpacking Meal, Step Three - Veggies

Now that you have your base and protein picked out, we will add some color, flavor, and nutrition with veggies!  Backpackers and survivalists are not interested in counting calories to lose weight.  Just the opposite is true: backpackers count calorie per gram of food in order to get the highest calorie content from the lightest amount of food.  Packing nutrient dense food in your BOB or backpack will give you the most calories but with a pack that weighs less, which is helpful whether you are hiking up a mountain or running away from zombies :)

Fruit and vegetables are often sorely lacking from trail food bags for several reasons; fresh, they are heavy (most fruit is ~80% water weight), they bruise and spoil easily, and they provide few calories per gram of weight.  This article focuses on:

  •  why we should include veggies in our trail meals,
  •  ideas on easy ways to add them to our meals, and
  •  tips for home dehydrating  
Fruits will be touched on, but I will cover fruits more in depth in future articles about breakfasts and snacks.