Be nice to yourself – Eat well

Healthy food can be incredibly boring, especially as a vegetarian. I get it. I also know that as a hobo I rely heavily on my body to keep me warm at night, fix itself when I walk blisters onto my feet, and keep me alert when I maneuver through a sketchy neighborhood.

While I am in no way an expert on nutrition, I´ve spent quite some time figuring out how and what to eat to keep myself healthy. Here is what I´ve come up with. Notice that most pictures show snacks and small meals; however, the same general rules apply for regular meals.

Prepare your meals for the day. Think about what you are going to eat, where you´ll be able to heat up some food, and what nutrients you need. It´s better than impulsively grabbing something from the store or buying fast food.

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Tomatoes are filled with plenty vitamin C, while cereal typically contains up to 1/3 of your daily nutrients (most breakfast cereal is fortified). Apple sauce is a high energy food that also includes fiber and some vitamin C.

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Need vitamin C? Eat peppers. They are also filled with vitamin A and vitamin B6. Pretzels contain lots of carbs and sodium. The yellow powder is dried hummus (just add water), which is a high energy food that contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use meal containers. Environmentally friendly, easy to transport, keeps your food from getting smushed, and makes you more likely to diversify your meals. You don´t need to get a 100 degrees of fancy with yours; cheap ones will do.

Make it colorful. Half a loaf of bread or an entire cucumber sounds just about as boring as it tastes. Mix it up! If you are just not a fan of fruits and vegetables, then add a small variety of them. Just one kiwi can provide you with an entire day worth of vitamin C.

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Crackers are rich in carbs and sodium. This salad contains boatloads of vitamin A and is low in calories. The olives add some iron and healthy fats.

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The peanut butter sandwich contains lots of energy mainly consisting of protein and carbs. Kiwis are filled to the rim with vitamin c and also contain potassium. Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin c and additionally are full of fiber. Gummy bears are food for the soul. That´s my story and I am sticking with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crispy bread contains minimal carbs, while being rich in fiber. This particular cereal has protein powder added to it. Besides protein, protein powder often contains high quantities of essential nutrients.

 

Balance. Nobody said you can´t have candy, pizza, and mac and cheese. It´s all about balance. Personally, I will eat healthy as a rule and treat myself with less healthy food. Remember, if you live outside you may need somewhat more calories than housed people. Find your balance.

Read the nutritional labels. You should have seen my face when I realized how much sodium (salt) is in a package of ramen noodles. You don´t need a calculator for this; just keep and eye on some key nutrients.

 

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Living without a Fridge

img_20161030_1736031During the summer months, food can go bad in no time. Whether you store your groceries in your vehicle, your backpack, behind a bush, or inside a storage container, the heat will spoil many items rather quickly. Don´t think that changes during winter; although many food items will stay fresh longer, quite a few, including vegetables, don´t do so well in freezing cold temperatures.

No fridge – no Problem

Certain foods keep just fine without refrigeration, while others simply need to be consumed a little quicker. Make sure to check your food thoroughly before consuming it; this includes the inside of fruits and vegetables. Unopened food items last longer than opened ones.

As a rule of thumb, anything canned can safely be stored outside. However, that doesn´t mean that your food won´t change. In summer and winter alike, anything solid will slowly but surely transform into a liquid with each major temperature change. I´ve experiences this with potato soup before; by the time I was ready to eat it, there were barely any chunks of potato left. I`ve had canned emergency soups in the back of my car for months without any problems. Have you tried the canned version of your favorite fruits and veggies? My favorites are canned pineapple, baby corn, and mixed vegetables.

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Fresh fruits and vegetables can be stored without refrigeration for about a week depending on the temperature and kind of food. In my experience, kiwis, bananas, avocados, carrots, grapes, and cucumbers last the longest, while bell peppers and tomatoes go bad rather quickly. Berries of any kind, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, go bad within a couple of days. Vegetables that completely freeze tend to turn to mush upon defrosting.

Beverages, such as ice tea and orange juice, last just fine during the winter, although you may encounter solidly frozen liquids instead of your favorite drink. During the summer, you don´t want to keep opened juice bottles for longer than a week.

Anything dried, such as cereal, crackers, and oats, will last as long as it takes you to eat it. No worries here. This leads to an amazing conclusion: If you can find a dried version of you favorite food, you can store it much longer. For example, I am really excited about dried milk. It lasts forever (figuratively speaking) and, depending on the brand, tastes just like regular milk. Just add water! Similiarily, I´ve discovered dried hummus, soups, instant meals, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, and more; all of which you don´t have to worry about spoiling.

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Bread seems to last as long outside as it does inside. Jelly may spoil within a couple weeks, while honey may crystallize, but doesn´t go bad. Peanut butter seems to last forever, probably due to its high fat content.

DO NOT consume fresh animal-based products that have been left without refrigeration. This includes, but is not limited to, fresh meat, milk, eggs, sea food, yogurt, and cheese. Don´t risk it. Best case scenario, you´ll be worshiping the porcelain god for a couple days. Worst case scenario, you find yourself at the hospital with some unpronounceable illness.

Keeping food fresh longer

Personally, I´ve always kept my groceries in a “food box”. This can be any box really, however, a thick-walled plastic container with lid works best. Makes sure to insulate your box as much as possible; covering your box with a blanket helps a lot. If you keep your food inside your vehicle during the summer, try to park in the shade and use window shades to keep the inside cool.

Nature´s Pantry: Acorns

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My first reaction to “Acorns are poisonous” was “Well, that´s bullshit”. I spent my childhood stealing them from the neighborhood squirrels and enjoyed them as a healthy snack for years. After consulting with the interwebs, I found out that in large quantities acorns can cause an upset stomach. Not quite the same as poisonous, yet good to know!

Acorns are rich in protein, vitamin B6, and fat and thus make the perfect wilderness snack. Although you can pick them green, you should wait for them to turn brown before eating them. Make sure that the acorn is free of any imperfections as this may indicate the presence of insects. Also, don´t literally steal a squirrel´s acorns. Instead of plugging empty an entire tree, take a few acorns here and there.

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Depending on the type of oak tree you gather from, Acorns are more or less bitter in taste and thus you may wish to further process this nut as illustrated on this website. Personally, I enjoy them raw, but there a ways of making acorn flour, spread, and even coffee! Additionally, by boiling acorns in a particular way, one can even take bitterness out of them.

Enjoy!

What´s for Dinner?

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Living outside comes with a variety of challenges, one of which is nutrition. Unless you own a camper, you will most likely not have access to a well- equipped kitchen. This guide is aimed towards individuals who have access to a non climate controlled environment for food storage (i.e. a vehicle).

The most important aspect to consider regarding eating well are storage, preparation of food, and a varied diet. For many without means to support themselves, obtaining food is the biggest problem. The issue of where to get food from to begin with, will be addressed in a separate post.

Storage

Depending on the season and your home base you will have to use different methods for storing your food. As a rule of thumb, if your food looks, smells, and/or tastes weird, don’t eat it. Trust your gut feeling!

– During the summer, vehicles and storage containers will heat up and greatly affect perishable food items. In order to keep the temperature down, try to park in the shade as much as possible and utilize sunshades. For my Ford Explorer I use one large foldy sunshade for the windshield and bought a set of oval sunshades for my back window. In addition, I try to crack a couple windows as often as possible. A crack the size of your key (flat side) is sufficient for letting out some of the hot air. Please consider your and your vehicles safety before cracking the windows for more than a few minutes or if you are planning on leaving the vehicle unattended.

– Store your food in a Tupperware or similar container. Don´t ask me how it works, but even on a hot day (90´s), you´ll be able to keep your food at room temperature (Yes, regular room temperature). Since my container has a see-through lid, I also cover it with a heavy wool blanket. This seems to help keep the food cool as well, plus prevents nosy passerbys from seeing what´s inside.

– During the winter, you may be confronted with solidly frozen food items and drinks. Again, insulation is the key! Store your items in a box and utilize blankets to cover said container. Water can be kept from freezing by storing it close you (e.g. in your sleeping back) during the night. Do not attempt to thaw already frozen water with your body heat. In most cases, the few drops of water you may gain are not worth you getting sick or freezing to death.

– Obviously you won´t be able to store just any food in your vehicle. Items such as fresh vegetables and fruits will go bad very quickly. I wouldn´t suggest storing them for more than a couple days during the summer season. Personally, I prefer buying these things shortly before I eat them. Canned food is one of the most ideal choices and offers a variety of nutritious options. I´ve left canned goods in my car for up to several months and other than a change in texture in some products (yeah, that broccoli-cheese soup looked very unappetizing), I haven’t noticed any difference whatsoever. My personal favorites are canned fruit (pineapple, pears, lichee, mango, etc.) and soups. Dried food such as instant oat meal, quick meals, and mashed potatoes will do just fine as well. Military MRE (Meal Ready-to-eat) work as well, but cost a little more. Still, it’s a good idea to have a few handy.

Keeping Healthy

In order to keep yourself healthy, I advice against eating fast food more than once a week. There are other ways of getting your daily meal without joining millions of overweight Americans.

– First of all, there is absolutely no need to eat a warm meal every single day. Most of us are getting more calories per day than we need to begin with. This phenomenon is fueled by the media telling us we need sausage burgers for breakfast and spam our televisions with soda products that have absolutely no nutritional value. How about a cheese sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce, a yogurt, some pineapple chunks, and a couple cookies for dessert? Not used to regular food from mother earth anymore? You better get used to it or the hobo lifestyle will wear you and your body down very quickly.

– Be sure you get your important Vitamins and eat enough of each food group. This website has a variety of useful information regarding nutrition and food. Personally, I prefer a vegetarian diet. This requires a bit more planning but is absolutely doable. If you´d like to know more about it, leave a comment or email me!

– Here are a few items that you can store in your vehicle longer and that will help keep you healthy. V8 vegetable juice (the fruit juice tastes good, but is in no way a healthy alternative to actual fruit), canned fruit (careful, canned fruit tends to have a lot of calories), canned veggies (watch out for sodium content), Pumpernickel (type of bread, very healthy, not for everyone though), raisins, mixed nuts (lots of protein, but also lots of calories), granola bars (again, calories), soups (tomato, potato, vegetable, noddle, etc.), apple sauce, etc.

Preparing a meal

– Preparing a warm meal can be a challenge. Backpack stoves such as this one are inexpensive, lightweight and work great to heat up canned soups and prepare small meals. Use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature! If your vehicle or storage container reaches temperatures over 120°F (48°C), your stove tank may combust. Gas leaks are also something to worry about. My vehicle´s inside temperature has not exceeded 90°F thus far.

– Personally, I prefer cooking over a camp fire. Obviously, you can´t light up a nice fire just anywhere, but if you are lucky enough to have a decent natural forest close by, a warm meal is within reach. Now, I always wanted to learn how to make a fire from scratch, but just haven´t gotten around to it. However, I´ve gotten good enough to light a fire in pretty much any type of weather. I´d suggest keeping a newspaper handy at all times (fits nicely into a backpack and can be educational depending on the newspaper). Here is a great link on how to build a decent fire. As always, drown your camp fires!

– If you happen to be employed and are lucky enough to have access to a break room equipped with a microwave, you´ll be able to feed yourself well whenever you are at work. Again, canned soups and just-add-water meals work great. You can also reheat leftovers that you may have grilled over a fire the day before. In addition, you can purchase frozen meals before work, and keep them in the freezer. Just make sure you don´t leave a mess!

– Sometimes there is just no way to get a warm meal. If it isn´t fast-food day, and you´ve already spend too many days without a ´real meal´, I´d suggest locating the nearest homeless shelter or church. Often times these organizations provide warm meals at least a few times per week. Next time you get a chance, donate a few bucks or some cans of food for their service (if you can).