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healthiest backpacking breakfast?
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jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/10/2012 22:22:19 MDT Print View

O.K. here's my breakfast--not because I think that it's so great, but because I'd like to upgrade if possible.

Two packets of whole grain instant oatmeal added to boiling water. At altitude, I let this mixture boil for about 10 seconds. Then I turn off the flame. Then I add two heaping spoonfuls of Kretschmer wheat germ, followed by a handful of dried bananas or dried cranberries. Then I cover this and let sit for several minutes. That's it, except for instant coffee.

I use the instant whole grain oatmeal in packets because I'm lazy and it packs so well inside of a bear canister; also, there's no fuel loss as the cook time is, well, instant. All of the heartier oatmeals seem to require a pretty long boiling time, and I want to save fuel. My compromise has been to add the wheat germ. After all, Dr. Frankenstein brought his monster back to life; so too my delicious Kretschmer, I hope, revitalizes my packaged oatmeal.

But, seriously, can I trust the "whole grain" part of my instant oatmeal; or has processing turned all of the nutrients to mush, so to speak? this last is my biggest concern.

Please critique, advise and add suggestions!

Edited by book on 04/10/2012 22:24:27 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/11/2012 00:03:20 MDT Print View

Fully cooked oatmeal is pretty healthy, at least in the cholesterol-fighting category. According to my physician, the more fully-cooked and less instant the oatmeal is, the better it works in this regard. However, many backpackers just want some hot calories.

Oatmeal gets pretty boring to me, so I goose it up with something different each day. Typically that would be tiny chips of f.d. peach or mango or cherry.


Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/11/2012 00:44:42 MDT Print View

Pretty much any oatmeal is "whole grain" and I don't see anything to suggest you have to worry about losing nutrients from the processing. However, processing can be expected to increase the glycemic load of the oatmeal (due to loss of fiber). Some brands of instant oatmeal try addressing this by adding fiber (e.g. flax). Alternatively, the link below suggests adding proteins (milk) or fat (nuts).

Your other health concerns would be added sugars or other ingredients, and I'm assuming you've looked already checked the ingredients for that.


Larry Hamilton
(forbes55) - F

Locale: Western Australian Desert
Think of your dryer on 04/11/2012 03:58:44 MDT Print View

I enjoy my porridge on a winter morning and have found that by cooking it at home and drying it, I can reconstitute it easily in a ziploc bag. That way you can get the benefits you want of convenience and nutrition.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/11/2012 04:51:41 MDT Print View

Instant oats are just steam-cooked and dried, which is pretty much the procedure for much backpacking food. The comment from Bob's doctor is interesting. As Jeremy's link says the difference is in glycemic index, and how quickly the oatmeal is broken down.

I've been known to knock back dry instant oats, I'm not sure what that's doing to me.

Edited by JohnJ on 04/11/2012 04:53:58 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/11/2012 09:04:45 MDT Print View

Commercially made instant oatmeal is just ground finer!!! The issue is that it often has sodium, flavorings and sugar added,
There is NO difference between steel cut and old-fashioned oats in how your body sees the fiber load/ Eat what you prefer. You can make your own by grinding down the old-fashioned oats down a bit! It is easy.
Anyhow, to boost the calories/fat/protein add in dry milk (any type), dry flavorings (powdered vanilla, cinnamon), finely ground nuts or hemp seeds.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/11/2012 09:19:35 MDT Print View

"There is NO difference between steel cut and old-fashioned oats in how your body sees the fiber load"

I agree that nutritionally the two are almost identical, but there is a difference in how our bodies digest the fiber. Not a very big difference, true, but Steel cut take a little longer to break down. Studies say that the glycemic index is very close between the two. What you eat after the oatmeal, fruit or meat for example, can sit there a little longer behind the steel cut , which can cause gas. Another small difference is the amount of mucilage that you get if you cook the Steel Cut longer, to make it as soft as the rolled oats.
For what it's worth, I like both of them and eat one or the other daily.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"healthiest backpacking breakfast?" on 04/11/2012 09:58:47 MDT Print View

Wow, great news about the instant oatmeal! Ray Jardine is pretty scathing about the stuff; but I've hoped that today's whole grain instant is a better quality than what he was eating in the years before he wrote his book. Also, he can be a tad particular about food. Anyway, I'm happy with my system and only wanted to change if people could convince me that non-instant whole grain was significantly better than the instant. My trips tend to be only 5-10 days long, so I have a bit of leeway.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 04/11/2012 10:17:02 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/12/2015 01:10:57 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: "healthiest backpacking breakfast?" on 04/11/2012 11:21:31 MDT Print View

We eat oats in some way nearly every day. Oatmeal done right can be very tasty! I grew up with a dad who liked oats/water and salt - yuuuuucccckkkkkkkk.
I'll admit I prefer old-fashioned oats over steel cut - I just like the texture more. Btw, I buy Bob's Red Mill. They are miles better than Quaker!! The color, the taste......and are cheaper when bought in bulk ( I buy 25 lb bags, we really go through them).
If anyone wants oatmeal recipes check out my personal blog at!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Revvng up your instant oats on 04/11/2012 23:48:11 MDT Print View

Add some granola to your oats or add Craisins, raisins and nuts. Do it every other morning for variety.

EDIT> I have found Trader Joe's instant oatmeal to be much better than Quaker's instant oats and also about 30% more oatmeal per packet.

Edited by Danepacker on 05/25/2012 13:42:31 MDT.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Quick & Easy Steel Cut Oats on 04/13/2012 07:41:37 MDT Print View

If you're looking for steel cut and instant, McCann's makes a "Quick & Easy" steel cut oatmeal that preps in about six or seven minutes of cozy time (five if you keep it over direct heat). Per the label, it's got 3 grams of fiber (1 insoluble, 2 soluble) per serving (1/4 dry cup; about a cup prepared; 150 calories, less than 1 gram sugar).

Anyway, if you like your oatmeal the consistency of thick porridge (I do), this stuff is great for the trail. Add just a wee bit less than 3/4 cup water per serving, and it'll come out great.

Link to the Wallyworld page:

Edited by FLRider on 04/13/2012 07:43:15 MDT.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Steel Cut Oatmeal on the Trail on 04/13/2012 08:51:28 MDT Print View

I read this last year here on BPL and used it for 21 days straight last summer.

I would put my steel cut oatmeal in a pot, add water, and the lid and go to bed. That would give the oatmeal all night to soak and soften. In the morning I'd firing up my stove and bring it only to a boil. Ready to eat! It works great and takes very little time and fuel.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/18/2012 09:36:32 MDT Print View

I'd just go with oatmeal but if warmer, I bring packets of Grape-Nuts brand cereal repackaged in plastic bags. No bowl needed, just add some milk powder (I just eat them with water). Longer, I'll split between the 2.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/18/2012 10:28:50 MDT Print View

OP said, "I'd like to upgrade if possible"

Here's a different paradigm: Use the spiffiest whole-grain, organic, macro-biotic, dolphin-safe oats you want and. . . . bake oatmeal cookies. At home. Put in raisins/craisins if you want some fruit to, er, "keep you regular". Sweeten as much or as little as you like (honey, brown sugar, white, maple syrup, whatever). Add that wheat germ if you want. Nuts if you want for the higher calories/gram of their fats. And bake them longer at a lower heat than usual for crispy, dry cookies.

Savings: Fuel weight. Time spent cooking and pot cleaning. Body heat (yes, hot oatmeal in your belly helps a bit, but you lose much more in 20 minutes of making breakfast versus just getting up and hiking and nibbling cookies as you go). Potentially stove and pot weight/bulk if you go with cookless dinners as well.

And if you don't like to cook at home? Trader Joe's Oatmeal/Cranberry "Dunkers" are pretty darn tasty and 180 calories per 1.3 ounce serving (2 cookies). Double that for a light breakfast Quadruple it for a more substanial breakfast (720 calories, 5.2 ounces). Baking your own, you ought to be able to beat that with nuts and healthy oils.

I also like avoiding the big, heavy breakfast all at once. I'll nibble a few while breaking camp, stuff the reminder in my shirt pocket, and eat them over the first few miles of trail.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 04/18/2012 11:51:21 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/12/2015 01:03:34 MDT.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Re: Re: healthiest backpacking breakfast? on 04/18/2012 12:21:37 MDT Print View

Me too.

Not really a huge fan of breakfast first thing on the trail - I find it too hard to eat straight away in the morning for some reason.

I usually drink some powdered oat mix with palatinose then have a more solid (well quite mushy in fact) cereal-based something later on after I have a few miles done. Or I'll nibble bars as above.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"healthiest backpacking breakfast?" on 04/18/2012 13:32:29 MDT Print View

Good points, John and David. But in the Sierra I'm not going to leave oatmeal out overnight--bears, etc. Similarly, I wonder how those cookies will do in my bear canister. I'm mostly using a Bearikade Scout now--if possible--so things get pretty crammed. Again, here's the advantage of pre-packaged oatmeal; it packs small,flat, and is indestructible. Finally, I want my coffee in the morning! HOWEVER, so much is habit/routine; maybe it's time to try something new. I like the cookie idea and it might work!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: "healthiest backpacking breakfast?" on 04/18/2012 14:01:32 MDT Print View

Btw, on packaged cookies? You might check out Kashis line - they are quite durable and if they fall apart, no loss!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
healthiest backpacking breakfast on 04/18/2012 14:21:06 MDT Print View

Bacon for the win!