Seasonal Produce for Spring: Camping Meals
Better for your body, local farmers, and Mother Earth.
Thanks to the global economy, we can pretty much get any fruits and vegetables we want, no matter where we are or what time of the year it is. It’s as simple and easy and popping into the grocery store. Our relative ease of access here in the United States to fresh produce is a luxury many of us might not ever think about. But what about that pesky truth that stone fruits like peaches seem to always be fuller and juicier during the summer? Or that the corn you grabbed from the farmer’s market just has more flavor than anything you can get at the store? It’s likely because the produce that’s seasonal or locally grown in your area is going to be fresher and more packed with the flavors you want and the nutrients your body needs.
The Benefits of Seasonal Eating
When we first heard of the benefits of eating seasonal and local produce, we thought it sounded kind of like an internet myth. But some research revealed plenty of studies from hospitals and universities (like this one from the University of Maryland School of Medicine) that explain how good eating local and seasonal produce is for you!
According to that article, “Seasonal eating is simply eating the food that was recently harvested by the farmers. By rotating your diet to eat the vegetables and fruits in season throughout the year, you gain variety in both taste and nutrition.” Think about it: until pretty recently in history, the only foods people could eat were the ones that could be grown around them.
Think Globally, Act Locally
It’s easy to eat seasonally if you shop locally. That makes sense, right? The produce you’ll find at the farmer’s market is almost always going to be in season because it had to grow in whatever weather you’ve been having, as opposed to what you might find in the grocery store that’s grown all around the world. Plus, local produce almost always fresh and rarely frozen, too.
We know it’s not always possible to have access to a farmer’s market, but even visiting one when you can is great. For example, it’s pretty easy for the SoCal-based half of the TREAD team to find a farmer’s market any time of the year. On the other hand, the East Coast members of our team can usually only find one during the warmer months. Once you start finding local and seasonal produce, you’ll really start to notice a difference.
If a farmer’s market isn’t an option where you live, there are also lots of handy guides out there online that will tell you what foods are in season for your area at any time during the year. This one is our favorite – just put in your geographic location and the time of year, and it will tell you what fruits and veggies are going to be the freshest.
Recipes with Spring Vegetables
Breakfast: Fruit + Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a tried and true camping breakfast for a reason. Adding fresh fruit to your oatmeal is a great way to boost the flavor of the most basic breakfast while adding in fuel and nutrients, too. Give a pot of water a quick boil to prepare your oatmeal however you like it, and add the fresh fruit to the top for the fastest option. You could also make-ahead an oatmeal topping at home, like an apple pie filling-style topping, and add it once you’re ready to eat. Nuts make a great texture addition and give you some extra protein as well.
Adapted from The Creative Vegetable Gardner
Lunch: Veggie Wraps
This is another standby trail lunch, so it might lose points for creativity, but it never fails on flavor. The flexibility it offers is its best asset, though; anything in season or anything that looks yummy belongs in a wrap. Springtime is an ideal season for greens, like spinach, arugula, collards, chard, kale, lettuces, and basically all the herbs, too. The wrap gives you carbs, the greens vitamins and fiber, and everything else fills it in! Add rice for extra calories, other veggies for crunch and flavor, your choice of protein, and your favorite dip or spread to round it out.
Adapted from The Creative Vegetable Gardner
Dinner: Cast Iron Chicken Thighs + Spring Veg
A one-pot dinner is our favorite thing to have ready to go when we head out for the weekend. It’s easy to pre-chop your veg and just dump it all in your dutch oven. This meal practically cooks itself, and you can change it to include whatever vegetables look good that week. Plus, it calls for a few glugs of wine, so the rest of the bottle is all yours… that’s the best kind of recipe, in our opinion. Just add in your chopped veggies (this recipe calls for snow peas, carrots, baby potatoes, onion, and garlic), your chicken, any seasonings, and the wine and stock and throw the lid on. You’re good to go a quick half an hour later.
Adapted from Southern Living
Dessert: Campfire Strawberries
We did say that eating seasonal and local produce is good for you; we never said you had to prepare it in a healthy way. The freshest, most delicious berries of the spring and summer are only going to be better after you cover them in marshmallow fluff and toast them over the fire. Just give the berries a dip in the fluff and give them a turn over your campfire or grill.