For many parents, camping is a time to take a complete vacation from feeding themselves and their children healthier foods and live off hot dogs, chips and soda by the campfire. Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between health or taste to make your kids happy campers. With a little planning, you can really have it all. Read on for some mouth-watering and healthy camp cuisine ideas that kids will love.
Invest in healthy camp cooking equipment
- You won’t need much to cook healthy foods but for cooking on open flame you will want to pack tinfoil and could benefit from investing in a grill sheet and grill basket which makes cooking meat, fish, poultry and veggies easy and tasty.
- Popcorn is a healthy and simple camping snack that goes over very well with kids. Consider investing in a popcorn basket which is a much healthier (and tasty) option than store bought camp packages full of strange ingredients your grandparents wouldn’t be able to recognize.
- Mountain pie irons offer lots of flexibility for making warm sandwiches for any meal of the day. Outside of the standard grilled cheese that children love, try spinach, feta and onions or Hawaiian pizza with tomato sauce, ham, pineapple and mozzarella.
- For food safety and freshness, a cooler with ice packs is essential. Consider a cooler that plugs into your vehicle for additional flexibility. Freeze juice boxes for kids and prepared bolognese sauce, chilli or soup which can double as ice packs and meals.
Prep and pack fruits and veggies that travel well
- Often fruits are neglected when camping so try packing dried fruits that you know your children will enjoy such as dates, figs, apricots, cranberries and raisins as snacks. Toss into snack mixes with dried cereal or whole grain crackers and nuts. Chop and add to breakfast fare such as oatmeal, pancakes or yogurt parfaits.
- Go for easy to pack (and easy to eat) fresh fruits such as grapes, apricots, plums, blueberries, melon, oranges and watermelon.
- Leave for your camping trip with bags or containers of pre-prepared veggies and dip or hummus. The pre-chopped veggies that travel best include carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, grape/cherry tomatoes and snap/snow peas.
- Pre-wrap potatoes, corn on the cob, peeled diced beets as well as sliced carrots and parsnips in tinfoil to easily toss on the grill or fire.
Balance heavier foods with lighter fare
- If your children love bacon for breakfast, build that into the menu but round out the meal with a large fresh fruit salad and whole grain pancakes.
- If you are planning on roasting chorizo sausages over the fire for dinner, balance the meal with whole grain buns and grilled asparagus with red pepper slices on the grill.
- Use fresh-prepared beef/bison burgers or ground poultry burgers instead of boxed frozen burgers and deep-fried chicken burgers.
- Instead of giving kids synthetic flavoured potato chips go with whole grain taco chips with salsa and guacamole.
Enjoy healthier snacks and desserts
- Grill slices of fresh pineapple with a pinch of brown sugar and cinnamon on your grill sheet (or skewer on a stick over the fire).
- Have your kids make their own healthy banana boats as a fun and creative camping activity. Leave the peel on a banana and make a deep cut on the long side of the banana without cutting all the way through. Have your children stuff the inside with chocolate chips, coconut and chopped nuts. Wrap the banana in foil and place on the grill for a few minutes until the inside is warm and delicious.
- Make popcorn in a popcorn shaker over open flame and drizzle a little butter mixed with fresh lime juice, chili powder and a pinch of salt.
- Get your children to help shell peanuts, pistachios and pumpkin seeds by the fire. This is a better option than pre-shelled versions to help slow down how quickly these are consumed.
- All kids love apples. Make a batch of baked cinnamon apples over the fire. Core and slice an apple so that you can still fold up to the apple shape. Transfer the apple to tinfoil and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Add a pat of butter (and granola if you like) to the center of the apple. Wrap the apple tightly with tinfoil and place on the grill, turning sides every few minutes.
- Enjoy my favourite grilled dessert this summer when peaches are in season. Slice peaches in half and take out the pit and place cut side down on a greased grill pan and cook a few minutes until grill lines appear. Fill with mascarpone cheese mixed with a drizzle of honey and pinch of cinnamon.