Gluten-Free Camping Chronicles with Anna!
I grew up camping, my parents were big campers. I mean real campsite camping in a tent with too many coolers, red plaid table cloths, disorganized pantries, washing dishes in a tub, muddy feet 24-7, stealing picnic tables, collecting kindling and riding your bikes to the comfort stations until your pee almost falls out of you.
We used to go camping for a minimum of a week but sometimes two, or even just for two days. We would do anything to spend our summers outdoors and became nature-y freaks. My mom was the campfire queen and my dad was always the road trip master…. My mom would be chef of the campfire as well as those mini stove tops on the picnic tables, she would cook almost anything on that fire and loved to show us how to percolate coffee in a percolator, which at a young age I had no idea what was going on but trust me in my older age that percolating campfire coffee was to die for after late nights under the stars and too many ciders.
Our families go-to camping spot was the Pinery Provincial Park in northern Ontario, never more than 3 hours from home and it literally became our home away from home after the amount of time we spent there. It became our family tradition, our families spot for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until high school we stopped going as much as we all got busy and jobs, etc. I had grown up and spent most of my childhood summers at the Pinery but as a teen, we got too busy and it got away from us for a few years as a family.
It wasn’t until I turned 20 and my boyfriend Kevin and I turned to our two best friends if they’d like to go camping this summer that the Pinery came back to my head like a light bulb. We said hell yes, and hit the road back to my childhood home for the first time in years. Going back was like a flash from the past but also the most happy, nostalgic feeling you can feel as an adult. Everything was the same except the trees were taller and the bathrooms were cleaner… and this time I had to be the campfire chef, which I LOVED. I soon realized cooking on a campfire was one of my favourite hobbies, and every aspect of camping I quickly fell back in love with.
Long story short, we have gone back with friends or ourselves every year since and always have had a great time. This past month Kevin and I ventured to the Pinery as a couple just himself and I and we never really considered camping as a couples trip and normally associated as a friends/party type trip but we were wrong, camping is an absolute GREAT couples trip. I highly recommend it as it really give you the alone and relaxing time to do nothing together as a couple except maybe cook which ends up just being fun and it is great bonding time. We had the most amazing and relaxing time and we cannot wait to go again as a couple or with friends too as we fell even more in love with the Pinery than we already were! (We are heading back to the Pinery again this august with a big group and cannot wait to show them around!)
The Pinery is definitely our top camping spot as they have everything in more in the little town of grand bend and the park offers so much itself, we love to explore more parks across Ontario soon but it is definitely our favourite home away from home.
Ok, enough of the story Anna, what about the FOOD? The campfire food! Camping while GF does take some prep, you have to make sure you have separate/clean pots/pans/plates, etc. Which is why whether we are with friends or just us I kind of take charge of packing the kitchen/cooking ware. Make sure you have everything YOU need for your allergies first then worry about what everyone else needs. I am pretty good at making a grocery and menu list to ensure most of the food is GF and appropriate for all diets so that it is easier to cook for all. Luckily, Kevin is easy-going and will eat the GF food with me to make life easier!
Shoutout to Kev for being honorary celiac!
I absolutely love the challenge of cooking on a fire and using other ingredients to get creative! I even tried cooking campfire pasta, I am an expert at campfire nachos, we did GF grilled cheese, an apple crisp, the famous campfire veggie/potato foil packs and more… We always eat too much while camping but c’mon, it’s vaca – no regrets right?
I highly recommend planning out your camping menu before you leave then curating your grocery list to your menu while adding snack time in there too. I made a menu for 3 meals a day and 2 snacks a day plus drinks and a case of water/juice. We love to enjoy some drinks while camping so our LCBO trip is always a big haul of GF liquor and coolers but hey it’s all part of relaxing and enjoying vaca.
I always made sure it was a heavier breakfast to fuel us for a day of hiking/beaching/renting canoes, or all 3 in one day if you’re adventurous like us! Then a light and quick lunch while we are relaxing or exploring. And then a big dinner to enjoy by the campfire with S’mores or sweets to come afterwards while we would play cards or good game of Yahtzee. Of course add snacking into this as Kevin and I love chips & hot dogs too much and are big fans of just eating in general.
Everything on the menu I geared towards being gluten-free, the sandwiches and hot dogs I made sure I had my own set of GF buns and bread and Kevin had his separately. I would wrap all our cooking gear in foil while he did his gluten bread so that clean up was quick, easy and safe. Cooking ware for camping is normally cast-iron or steel so easy to wrap! Otherwise, nachos were made of corn, wraps with corn wraps, GF seasonings, GF noodles, GF Graham crackers or cookies for S’mores and you get the idea… If you take charge of the menu-making be considerate of those that would like gluten food but make sure to bring the right pots for you and wrap what you can in foil to help avoid cross-contamination.
I ended up having a really good time cooking and eating this trip and never felt sick once. Kevin was a great help to make sure everything was GF and safe and I am sure if you go camping your friends will be helpful too as everyone just wants everyone to enjoy themselves.
I made a few unique recipes like GF Pasta and a GF apple crisp…on a fire!! I recorded all of this and more and will be posting this on IGTV this month so keep an eye out on our instagram @livefreeca .
Camping celiac is dare I say it….easy? Especially once you get used to it and have done it more than once. Just plan accordingly and think every step out. Then when you arrive, all you have to worry about is cracking open your favourite cider and putting your feet up!
We cannot wait to go again this August but I’ll be honest I kind of have some weird obsession with camping organization, figuring it out like how to make it better/easier is so satisfying for me so I have totally rethought (which I seem to do every camping trip) our packing/kitchen ware method/tools for next month/future trips. I will definitely share this with you guys next month and let you know if it works better than my current just box up and throw everything in the car and rummage through it all week method. So next month, stay tuned for my how to pack for GF camping blog post!
Kevin and I really did have a great time, we went hiking, shopping and parasailing in the local town, canoeing down the Ausable channel and truly relaxed all weekend. We absolutely love that we are making this a new family tradition all over again.
Let me know if you guys have any camping questions for me or any recommendations!