When you sit down and think about, it’s weird that everyone doesn’t love hiking. It’s what we, people, have done by nature since the dawn of time. Your Ford Fiesta, believe it or not, wasn’t around during the advent of copper tools. We’d like to believe that there’s something in everyone, no matter how deep down it is, that yearns to get out under the trees, in the dirt, and on the mountain, hiking until he or she can hike no more.
When we toss our dog in the car, put on some Good Old War, and head out to the trails, we like to ensure that we fuel properly. Not only do we want to provide our bodies with enough protein and carbohydrates to keep sustained energy throughout the duration of our hike but we also know that hydration is of paramount importance. Some foods and beverages are much easier to throw in your bag than others and, further, it can’t be denied that many food brands stand out from the crowd in terms of being cooler and trendier.
If you ever want to feel incredibly overwhelmed by hip, healthy, environmentally friendly food options, we suggest heading to Natural Products Expo West next year. There, an unbelievable selection of natural, organic, and nutritious foods are on display. You’ll feel like there’s not enough time in the world to consume them all. Luckily for you, though, a close friend of The Daily Meal was at Expo West this year. She sent us over some details on the top healthy products that she saw, and we’ve compiled this list of hike-friendly, health-promoting, hip-as-can-be foods and beverages for you to pack in your pack (did we say pack yet?) the next time you listen to your instincts and get lost in the outdoors.
Ounce for ounce, chia seeds offer more omega-3s than salmon, more protein than an egg, and more fiber than flaxseed. We don’t expect you to pack a baggy full of seeds along on your hike — seeds on the go sounds like an imminent spill to us. There are, however, amazing, less spill-likely, chia-based alternatives.
Health Warrior’s Chia Bars are the first and, as far as we know, the only nutrition bar to list chia seeds as the first ingredient. Each bar packs a 100-calorie punch of energy. They also make Chia Protein Bars which have nine to 11 grams of plant-based protein each. Oh, and if you really want to dance with eating handfuls of seeds while walking up and down boulders and over exposed roots, they make plain old seeds too.
Chocolate can be so, so healthy for you if you consume the right kind. If you’re looking for something a bit more decadent to snack on in the shade near a mountain stream this weekend, consider packing along some rich dark chocolate. It provides a not-too-sweet, energizing boost of antioxidants as well as healthy fats to fuel the next leg of your trek.
If you seek a brand of healthier chocolate treats that are easy to toss into your pack, look no further than barkTHINS Snacking Chocolate. These portable and shareable dark chocolate snacks are the perfect companion for a hike of any length. With sweet and salty flavor combos such as Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Coconut with Almonds, and Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt, there’s a flavor to satisfy every mid-hike craving.
“Similar to yerba mate, guayusa is an all-natural energy supplement derived from a plant,” says The Daily Meal special contributor Fabiana Santana. “Indigenous cultures in Ecuador and Colombia traditionally drank guayusa from a gourd as part of an early morning ritual. Guayusa has as much caffeine as coffee, but it is also rich in antioxidants and chlorogenic acids, which benefit the heart.”
Looking for a great boost of clean energy from guayusa? Try one of Runa’s Clean Energy Drinks. With no sugar added, low-calorie and lightly sweetened, and zero calorie options, Runa produces a healthy, alternative caffeine source for everyone.
The alkaline diet seems to be increasing in popularity. This diet, based around balancing the pH level of your body, is one that many people can benefit from. An easy, backpack-friendly, hip way to start dabbling in the world of keeping your body at its natural pH level (we’ll call it 7.4 but it’s actually more like 7.365) is to consume an ultra-purified, electrolyte- and mineral-rich water. Waters like this, such as CORE Hydration, are crisp, ultimately hydrating, and have a perfect pH of 7.4. Don’t be afraid to pack a CORE Hydration with you on your next hike and drop some scientific knowledge on anyone you can make eye contact with. We can hear you now: "Most people round it to 7.4 but it's actually 7.365. Yeah, it's science."
If you want your stomach to feel, well, like nothing (i.e. normal and happy), consuming probiotics regularly is a great way to make it happen. And, before you ask, no: Your probiotics don’t need to come in tiny capsules filled with millions of active bacterial cultures. We have 5 Probiotic-Packed Healthy Recipes for you, but there’s a more trail-friendly way to consume your probiotics while hiking. Suja makes a line of Pressed Probiotic Waters that will not only keep your tummy happy as it turns back and forth ascending switchbacks, but they’ll also help you stay refreshed and hydrated along the way.
We went to our favorite brand of maple water, DRINKmaple, for the skinny on what this delicious sounding beverage is (spoiler alert: it’s not a fancy name for less viscous, more drinkable maple syrup).
“DRINKmaple is the pure, refreshing water collected from Vermont maple trees in the spring. It is naturally hydrating, with just a hint of maple, and exploding with nutrients.”
If you’re looking for a more flavorful way to hydrate that all of your trail buddies will be curious about and envious of, we consider sipping on a low-sugar, manganese-packed maple water.
Have you ever considered eating food that’s alive? Raw or sprouted seeds, one of the newest and most nutritious healthy eating trends, are quite literally still living and packed with enzymes that can help clear your mind, increase your energy, and even promote weight-loss. They can help put your mind and body in the best possible place for even the most technical of trails.
Companies like Go Raw sell amazing tasting, incredibly energizing bags of sprouted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, and seed mixes. If you want something with a bit more substance than seeds, try Go Raw’s new line of Sprouted Bites. The new flavors include Chewy Apricot, Banana Bread, and Raisin Crunch, and, like all Go Raw products, these enzyme-packed snacks are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, sprouted, and raw.
We hope that you’ve got a hatchet, your slingshot, and an eight-foot spear with you on your hike, because that's the most effective way to capture and consume a wide variety of wild game prey. Wait, this just in: Companies are starting to harness wild game and package them in easily portable, simply nutritious, bar form. Don’t sharpen your spear just yet.
EPIC Provisions offers Bites and Bars of the meaty variety — specifically, meat that is always grass-fed, pasture-raised, and cage-free. EPIC’s jerky bites, trail mixes, and bars are a high-protein, low-sugar, and gluten-free way to snack smartly while out on the trail. If you’re looking to feel closer to the nature you’re exploring, keep your eyes peeled for their new wild boar, salmon, and venison bars. We know we will.