Thursday, 20 March 2014

food find - 9bar

I’ve been packing these on day walks and trips since Autumn last year, and been using them as a lunchtime snack even when I’m not out and about.

The bars come in boxes of four, each bar weighs 40g and for that you get approx. 11g of carbohydrate, 7g of protein, and 924KJ of energy per bar. The bars are made from a seed mix with a carob topping. Currently on offer in Sainsbury’s at £3.00 for two boxes (usual price £1.89).

That’s the facts bit out of the way but you will already have noticed from my first paragraph that they’ve become a staple in my diet. There are several reasons for this; I like the taste and texture, the carbohydrate load is about right for me as a mid-morning blood sugar lifter, and the bars don’t contain oats. This later point is important. I’m allowed to eat oats but have to keep an eye on the amount I eat on a daily basis, so I can happily eat a couple of these a day without worry.

The only downside I can see is the stability of the carob topping in warmer weather, even at this time of year the topping has stuck to the wrapper a couple of times.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

trekmates travel towel

 TrekMates TravelTowel

My approach to personal hygiene on the trail is akin to that of a young boy’s aversion to soap and water. With a few exceptions; I brush my teeth, wash my hands before preparing food, and after going to the loo. I may even splash water on my face if the occasion calls for it, which isn’t often. On some trips I’ll have a wet wipe sleeping bag bath. With all these there is no need for a towel and if needs be I can dry myself with either my buff or bandana. And there’s the fickle nature of the campsite shower; on some sites the showers are free, on others there’s a charge, occasionally no shower at all, and as for the temperature of the water… let’s not get started on that one.

However on longer trips, and especially on those in hotter climes, I’ll pack a towel. Microfibre towels like the TrekMates TravelTowel are a stock item; soft to the touch, absorbent and quick to dry. The towel has a handy loop so that I can hang it off my rucksack or tree, fence… you get the idea.

Mine came from Silverfox Travel and Outdoors and is currently on offer at £6.99.

julia's lentil and cheese slices

Lunch is served

 It’s often a good thing to get a fresh pair of eyes on things. The subject of food is very close to my heart, and now with a companion who has an interest in the same subject, it was inevitable that we’d end up discussing what edible items to pack in our rucksacks.

The basis of my lunch is oatcakes along with pate or squeezy cheese, not exactly exciting fare but does the job especially when bolstered with the usual suspects such as dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit, chocolate or cereal bars. On rare occasions, I’ll bake a gluten free flat bread flavoured with cheese, garlic and rosemary.

After a couple of trips, the oatcakes and mushroom pate had lost their appeal, and I was out of gluten free bread mix for making flat bread, so Julia volunteered to make some lentil and cheese slices ‘for a change’. My first thought was, ‘What amount of carbohydrate (CHO) are these going to have?’ because although pulses are high in CHO not all of it can be digested. Her recipe, below, cunningly includes gluten free bread crumbs to increase the amount CHO. These will keep for a couple of days so make a great option for weekend trips. They don’t have to be an exclusive lunch item – I’d happily have a slice as part of breakfast or supper!

Lentil and cheese slices

225g split red lentils, rinsed
450ml water
1 onion
25g butter
100g strong cheddar
1 tsp mixed herbs
2 slices of gluten free bread
1 free range egg


Cook the lentils in the measured water until soft and all the liquid has been absorbed. Chop the onion, then melt the butter in the saucepan and fry the onion until transparent. Combine all the ingredients together and press into an oiled 23cm swissroll tin. Bake in the oven at 190c for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into wedges, wrap the wedges in foil, any that aren’t going into the rucksack can be frozen. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

frio cooling wallets

Double pen wallet in use, and wide wallet dry
Now that summer has finally arrived I dug my Frio wallets out of my gear box to keep my daily use insulin pens cool. Insulin degrades at heat so it is important to keep it at a temperature where this doesn’t happen, and this is exactly what these do.

They come in a range of sizes to suit, I use the double pen wallet and the wide wallet for storage of spare cartridges. The Frio is a very effective and simple device, you simply drop the inner into water, and the gel pellets swell up retaining the liquid. In the heat the water evaporates and cools the contents using the principle of latent heat of evaporation. Simply, to turn water from liquid to vapour requires energy and that is taken from the contents of the wallet, the insulin and pen, and cools it down. Clever, simple and effective.

 Double pen wallet

The wallets are made from a black breathable fabric; breathable to allow the process to work, and black optimises the process by absorbing heat. So it’s best to carry these in an outside pocket, a mesh one is obviously best, if you have them.

I’ve used these on my travels for over ten years now without a problem. The only downside I can think of is having my life sustaining drugs in an outside pocket which could make them vulnerable to breakage. However that is easily remedied by having a spare set carried by someone else, which is sensible at any time of the year – unless of course you’re going solo.

Available here