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Survival, Wellness / August 7, 2016

Camp food goes gourmet

Written by: Renee Howard

We ask a lot from our camp meals. We expect them to pack light, taste good, cook quickly, and provide us with the nutrition for peak performance. Unfortunately, they’ve always come up short in at least one of these areas.

Until Heather’s Choice meals came along, that is. Made with high-quality ingredients by a nutrition expert, the meals have brought camp food to a whole new level.

Traditional freeze dried food is a sodium and preservative nightmare for your intestines. “Premium” products like Mountain House are a novelty initially, but for extended trips they are merely highly processed meals to be endured for survival. They are the slightly better tasting offspring of their ulcer-inducing predecessor: the MRE.

Heather Kelly knows this. A sports nutritionist, raft guide, and two-time NCAA crew champion, the Alaska resident has spent most of her lifetime learning to fuel adventure. She developed her own brand of meals after studying Eating Psychology and working with Crossfit athletes.

Kelly watched her athlete friends choke down salty preservative slop out of freeze-dried food bags. She watched them get goop all over their sleeves and hands in bear country. She saw that the whole thing was a terrible mess, and took it upon herself to make something better.

It started with her now semi-famous Coconut Packaroons (pictured below). She gave them to friends and family who encouraged her to make more. She experimented with dehydrating Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder, which invited more rave reviews.

Heather decided to invest in her first commercial dehydrator two years ago. From there, she spread her Heather’s Choice meals across Alaska. Her business grew steadily over time, and is now international.

The meals are especially appealing to hunters. That demographic is more acquainted with freeze-dried food than almost any other, and can appreciate an alternative that includes proteins like venison, quail, sockeye salmon, and 100% grass-fed bison.

Heather’s recipes are all handmade—they’re no different from the meals she serves guests at the home. Except they’re dehydrated, of course.

My personal experience with the Smoked Sockeye Chowder, Dark Chocolate Chili, and the Blueberry Buckwheat Breakfast is that the meals are easy to pack, prepare and clean up. Entrees take a little time—20 minutes soaking in hot water. I think it’s worth it;they taste better than anything I could make myself.

Heather’s Choice meals run around $15 for a dinner and $8 for a breakfast if purchased individually. If you buy bulk, or the Sampler Box you get a much better deal.

The meals can be ordered online at www.heatherschoice.com. Within Alaska they can be purchased at the Hoarding Marmot, Barney’s Sports Chalet, and Summit Spice and Tea.

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about the author

Renee Howard

Renee is a photographer and writer based out of South-central Alaska. Her interest in bridging gaps between all manner of outdoor sports, philosophy, folk culture and backwoods artistry is a significant motivation for her work.

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