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  1. #1
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    Default Question from an autistic backpacker.

    This may seem strange to most folks but many of us on the autism spectrum are very picky eaters. I eat very bland foods and don't tolerate mixed foods like stews, mixed vegetables, onions, garlic & most peppers, don't like sauces much. Therefore things like Mountain House meals are out of the question for me. Heck I don't even eat out much because the cooks get tired of me telling them how I want my food prepared.

    I am planning an extended hike this summer and have dehydrated some specialty items but most foods don't dehydrate well. I can't survive off of Mac n Cheese although I do like it LOL. I've tried some of the romen noodle dishes and can't stomach them.

    So here are some of the things I have been searching for don't know if these products even exist. 1. Freeze dried white rice...I am assuming boiling regular rice would burn a lot of fuel, am I correct in thinking freeze dried would use less fuel. 2. Maybe some freeze dried beans. 3. Freeze dried meats. 4. Eggs unseasoned. Keep in mind I can tolerate a little salt & pepper but no major spices.

    Thanks for any information,
    Mike

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walking man & Spider View Post
    This may seem strange to most folks but many of us on the autism spectrum are very picky eaters. I eat very bland foods and don't tolerate mixed foods like stews, mixed vegetables, onions, garlic & most peppers, don't like sauces much. Therefore things like Mountain House meals are out of the question for me. Heck I don't even eat out much because the cooks get tired of me telling them how I want my food prepared.

    I am planning an extended hike this summer and have dehydrated some specialty items but most foods don't dehydrate well. I can't survive off of Mac n Cheese although I do like it LOL. I've tried some of the romen noodle dishes and can't stomach them.

    So here are some of the things I have been searching for don't know if these products even exist. 1. Freeze dried white rice...I am assuming boiling regular rice would burn a lot of fuel, am I correct in thinking freeze dried would use less fuel. 2. Maybe some freeze dried beans. 3. Freeze dried meats. 4. Eggs unseasoned. Keep in mind I can tolerate a little salt & pepper but no major spices.

    Thanks for any information,
    Mike
    Most of what you're asking about in regard to freeze-dried stuff I think you'll find if you just poke around on the various companies' websites. Regarding white rice, plain old instant Minute Rice would meet your requirements and it's a LOT cheaper than whatever freeze-dried alternative may exist. Also at lease some of the Knorr Pasta Sides might be plain enough for you, you could check them out.

    EDIT: Oh, don't forget the Idahoan instant potatoes, they are really good, and actually faster than freeze-dried. Add boiling water, stir, eat.
    Last edited by Paleolith54; 03-10-2020 at 20:56. Reason: more

  3. #3
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    I too am a very picky eater.
    For rice, I simply use Minute rice. You need only bill the water then let it sit for 5 minutes. If you want something with as many calories that is similar but packs a little smaller is couscous. To me it's about like tiny rice. Give it a try.
    One thing that is great from Mountain House is the can of freeze dried chicken. It's perhaps as good or better than canned chicken, and is great mixed with rice or couscous. For a JMT trip, I got a can of this chicken so I could pack foods to the serving size I wanted. Used a kitchen vacuum sealer with oxygen sciences for extended life.
    There is also a dried beef packed in a jar. Repack it in the vacuum sealer and mix it with something, it's pretty good. For breakfast, I've gotten to like an almond butter filled biscuit from nature valley. I haven't looked most energy bars, but found brownie flavor Cliff bars to be ok. You can also buy hard of freezer dried corn. Something else that's great is a steakhouse potato soup. There is a plain variety and doesn't take much food and packs in the calories.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, the minute rice I'll do, hadn't thought of that. There is a brand of instant brown gravy that my wife buys that I put on roast beef. I was thinking rice & gravy as a good choice for me. The instant mashed potato's I had already planned on. I haven't found an energy bar I like yet.

    I'm pretty high functioning as autistics go (not Rainman) but the scene in the movie Rainman where he freaks out in the casino over all the lights & whistles is the best way for me to explain my taste situation. It is called sensory overload and I am sensitive to tastes. If something doesn't have the same taste and texture my brain expects I throw it right back up, wish I could handle more foods but I simply can't.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walking man & Spider View Post
    Thanks, the minute rice I'll do, hadn't thought of that. There is a brand of instant brown gravy that my wife buys that I put on roast beef. I was thinking rice & gravy as a good choice for me. The instant mashed potato's I had already planned on. I haven't found an energy bar I like yet.

    I'm pretty high functioning as autistics go (not Rainman) but the scene in the movie Rainman where he freaks out in the casino over all the lights & whistles is the best way for me to explain my taste situation. It is called sensory overload and I am sensitive to tastes. If something doesn't have the same taste and texture my brain expects I throw it right back up, wish I could handle more foods but I simply can't.
    Instant grits might work too. I like the Quaker " original " instant grits.

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    Well if ya like rice and chicken and bland , you'll love the mountain house chicken and rice. Bland with a capital B.... maybe put some that there instant gravy on it. Eggs I like the ova easy freeze dried not dehydrated.
    Last edited by JNI64; 03-10-2020 at 23:32.

  7. #7

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    Hi Mike-Any bouillons work for you? Have you tried quinoa? It's got a slight flavor and some texture. Also, I think there is instant brown rice now too for a little variety but not too much. Maybe try also textured vegetable protein. It's suggested to be light on flavor with perhaps a cheesy taste. There are a lot of different varieties of protein powders out there too although that could be an expensive experiment.

    Canned beans dehydrate really easy. There are some different meats in pouches these days, tuna and chicken I think.

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  8. #8

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    minute rice, put in meats of your choice, can of chicken, dried sausage, jerky ect. you can add some cheddar cheese if you like it. in warmer weather you can put the meat & cheese in a freezerbag cozy.

  9. #9
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    I use some extra water for the mashed potatoes and pour the gravy mix in as well. My son is very picky and he will eat most of it. I get the scraps.

  10. #10

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    I've been experimenting with making my own meals. Here is a little of what I've come up with.

    From the grocery store:
    1. Almost anything in the grocery store with 'instant' or 'quick' in the name should rehydrate readily. So far I've tried instant barley, instant rice (including instant brown rice), instant mashed potatoes with success.
    2. The smaller size couscous rehydrates readily. The larger, pellet sized couscous, sometimes called pearled couscous, does not rehydrate as well.
    3. I've rehydrates pasta with mixed results. In general, white pasta rehydrates better than whole wheat pasta.

    Ordered online:
    4. Freeze dried vegetable. Not dehydrated, but freeze dried. Freeze dried vegetables rehydrate much better than dehydrated. I like mixed vegetables for color variety but maybe you'd prefer single vegetables.
    5. Santa Fe Bean Co Culinary Refried Beans. I don't know if these are dehydrated or freeze dried but they work great. For beans, keep in mind dried is not the same as dehydrated or freeze dried.

    Here is a sample recipe I enjoy.
    To a 1 quart freezer bag add:
    1/2 cup of one of these: instant barley, instant brown rice, instant mashed potatoes, couscous.
    1/2 of freeze dried vegetable
    1/2 cup of dehydrated/freeze dried beans
    I also add spices but perhaps you'd prefer not to.

    When ready to eat, add 1.5 cups boiling water. Wait 20-30 minutes.
    Optional: add olive oil and/or grated cheese. I usually add these after the 20-30 minute wait.


    I haven't yet tried instant oats or grits but I'm optimistic.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Well if ya like rice and chicken and bland , you'll love the mountain house chicken and rice. Bland with a capital B.... maybe put some that there instant gravy on it. Eggs I like the ova easy freeze dried not dehydrated.
    To help with the blandness of chicken and rice, I've found that I like Knorr Chicken Flavor bouillon powder.

  12. #12
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    Minute Rice, plain instant mashed potatoes, plain couscous for starters. Harmony House has dehydrated beans that reconstitute very quickly (I mix mine in with rice/potato/couscous). Pouches or cans of plain white chicken are available, as are big #10 cans of freeze-dried chicken.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walking man & Spider View Post
    This may seem strange to most folks but many of us on the autism spectrum are very picky eaters. I eat very bland foods and don't tolerate mixed foods like stews, mixed vegetables, onions, garlic & most peppers, don't like sauces much. Therefore things like Mountain House meals are out of the question for me. Heck I don't even eat out much because the cooks get tired of me telling them how I want my food prepared.

    I am planning an extended hike this summer and have dehydrated some specialty items but most foods don't dehydrate well. I can't survive off of Mac n Cheese although I do like it LOL. I've tried some of the romen noodle dishes and can't stomach them.

    So here are some of the things I have been searching for don't know if these products even exist. 1. Freeze dried white rice...I am assuming boiling regular rice would burn a lot of fuel, am I correct in thinking freeze dried would use less fuel. 2. Maybe some freeze dried beans. 3. Freeze dried meats. 4. Eggs unseasoned. Keep in mind I can tolerate a little salt & pepper but no major spices.

    Thanks for any information,
    Mike
    1. Minute rice. The only thing is that it's not 100% like regular rice, so you might want to try it first.
    2. Don't know.
    3. Don't know.
    4. You can buy powdered eggs if you can tolerate scrambled eggs.
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  14. #14

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    I'd start eating like you are on the trail 2-3 weeks before you go. Finding out that something does not agree with you in the back country is not fun. I'm blessed in that I can eat anything, any time of day or night, lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsoloBootsSuk View Post
    I'd start eating like you are on the trail 2-3 weeks before you go. Finding out that something does not agree with you in the back country is not fun. I'm blessed in that I can eat anything, any time of day or night, lol
    I know it is probably hard for someone like you to understand but it is just me. My friends and family know my food gets cooked separately. Sometimes even if the juices from something I don't like mix with my food I can't swallow it. It's not by choice either it's like my brain tells my body, no you're not swallowing that and it comes back up. I guess the bright side is I'll never be an alcoholic because alcohol is one of the tastes I can't swallow. LOL

    Anyway you guys have been quite helpful.

  16. #16
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    I recommend eating a lot of good fats like nuts and meat. Fats give you a lot of energy, plus they're good for your brain

  17. #17

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    Thai Kitchen makes a rice noodle that comes in a package with the oil and seasonings packaged separately.You could forego the seasoning packet,use the oil or not,and reconstitute the rice noodles in plain water if you like.Takes about 3 or 4 minutes.Only 190 calories though so you might want to have something with it.Without the seasoning it will be totally bland if that's what you're looking for.

    If you like fruit like pineapple there's one called Mariani Tropical that's a dehydrated chunks bag that's pretty good.I add it to my Knoors rice products all the time.Be advised that it's Sweet though.

  18. #18
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    I don't know what kind of vegetables - if any - you can tolerate, but Harmony House has lots of dehydrated veggies that are packaged "all one kind" - so that it'll be all carrots, or all green beans, or whatever, and you'll know exactly what to expect. They're not seasoned, so you can do them to your own taste. They'll be cut very finely so that they'll dehydrate, so watch out if a finely minced texture will be a problem.

    Lentils can be cooked at home, and dehydrated on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in an oven that's just on WARM with the door ajar. They rehydrate very fast and go well with rice. (I happen to like to pair lentils and rice with an intense curry, but --- yeah, that wouldn't work for you.)

    I fortunately don't have taste sensitivities, but I'm high-functioning on the spectrum myself (never formally diagnosed, but I don't know _how_ many caregivers of autistic kids have said, "of _course_ you are!") So I get where you're coming from - sensory overload is _bad_.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    I fortunately don't have taste sensitivities, but I'm high-functioning on the spectrum myself (never formally diagnosed, but I don't know _how_ many caregivers of autistic kids have said, "of _course_ you are!")
    Yeah, you are Kelvin..... ....it's what makes you, you.
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  20. #20
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    it seems you have the opposite problem of many backpackers. it sounds like that once you find a meal you like, you can put it in a simple rotation and eat it repetitively for 5 months with little variation. most backpackers struggle to add more flavors, you simply need fewer flavors. you might look for things that are more dehydrated rather than freeze dried. the real key to making this work is to get in enough calories. you can't just have foods with simple flavors, you need high calorie foods with simple flavors.

    there is a backpacker named Andrew Skurka who has some recipes on his site. he likes to add spices, but you can make his recipes without spicing it up. he talks about taking expeditions with only 5 base recipes. you might find some of his recipes helpful.

    good luck on your planning!

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