Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
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some seeing eye
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Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:48 pm

I'm an omnivore and not super food sensitive, though like many, I eat healthy. Whole foods and were packaged, straightforward ingredients.

For those who want to optimize food, here are many food threads. Some reference organic and some reference raw. But there is not a thread that is focused on healthy food experience and suggestions.

What's yours?
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:57 pm

Care to expand on the definition of "healthy?"

For example, my breakfasts and lunches are green beans, olives, and/or garbanzos out of a can, plus tuna packets, coconut water, salted nuts, and dried fruit. I'm sure many would take objection to the preservatives, sealants in the packaging, etc., but in other aspects it's certainly healthier than I imagine many Americans eat on a daily basis. I get fiber and protein and salt without a lot of sugar or processed food, plus I get veggies without having to deal with a lot of cooking, spoilage, or clean-up.
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:06 pm

That's healthy! And yes.

My definition of healthy is using the minimum of processed or synthetic ingredients.

My definition includes selecting food ingredients which are copacetic with each individual's genotype and intestinal makeup.
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby trilobyte » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:34 pm

I wouldn't say that I eat healthy on the playa (or anywhere else), so much as I eat well. For me, appetite on the playa can be a challenge (I don't often feel hungry, and I feel full after eating only a small amount), but I try to be mindful that my body needs fuel. What works for my girlfriend and I is to pre-cook things wherever possible (our goal is to be able to make anything in under 10-15 minutes). Pre-cooking also lets us eat better quality food, I think without that we'd resort to more canned/instant stuff instead of slow-cooked stuff with high quality ingredients. It's easier for us to eat more often, but in smaller amounts, so we usually keep portion sizes smaller than we would normally eat back in Defaultia.

Diets can be tricky, and I've seen campmates have issues with one dietary issue or another out there... my advice would be to not make any big changes to your diet on the playa. I think you hit the nail on the head with "copacetic with each individual's genotype and intestinal makeup" - nobody wants to spend a lot of time in the bathroom, and DEFINITELY not when the bathroom is a porta-potty in the desert. For those on a juice cleanse or some other serious diet (short or long term), make sure you give yourself days to adjust back to regular food (whatever you consider to be regular and will be eating out there).

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Lonesomebri » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:34 pm

On and off the playa, my healthy eating begins and ends with getting a mocha WITHOUT the whipped cream. Yeah, simply eating at the Burn is an ordeal sometimes. Either too worn out or on the go. With an RV, I'd imagine' alot would not change with a persons diet. With those of us living out of a cooler, with limited kitchen and space, it's a balance with convenience. That's the limit on healthy eating, if you are seeking to do that. I usually bring in one or two of those bagged salads, mix it in the bag and eat them the first day or so. Little waste, no clean-up. I start the day with a can of V8 in the morning along with some protein drink. With that, lots of fluids and kid myself I'm getting my veggies. Also there are little squeeze containers with applesauce, and all kinds of stuff, really. The same thing is used for infant food. I throw a bunch of those in the cooler and, man, are they good on a hot day. I bring tuna and salmon in pouches, nuts......the standards.

And I eat tons of chips and sodas and beers and Dinty Moore and Slim Jims and junk.
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby TheFastCat » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:48 am

Solo virgin this year -- I eat primal/gluten free (for the most part) and plan on bringing:

-Canned sardines in olive oil (compact, non refridgerated, delicious)
-Canned, smoked oysters
-habanero bread and butter Pickles (and plenty to share)
-vacuum-packed venison jerky
-nitrate-free salami (nothing left behind after eating)
-apples (nothing left behind after eating)
-Corn chips and salsa
-dehydrated soup mix (http://goo.gl/UrbC78) - will mix with water and leave in covered container in the sun to warm.
-canned tuna
-canned olive tapanade
-canned artichoke hearts (mix with tuna and olive tapenade)
-sea salt potato chips

I don't plan on bringing any "babies" to the playa -- as in food that needs to be nurtured, cared for, refrigerated or that will spoil. I eat two meals a day normally and along with what everyone says about the playa diet I think this will serve me well.

I am disappointed that I won't be gifting any Fish Stick Kitties this year: http://goo.gl/Sw9bhA Eveyone's loss I assure you.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby tatonka » Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:37 pm

dont forget your veggys

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby TT120 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:29 pm

Well, I just found out bacon is gluten free so yes, in a way, I'm eating healthy. (baby steps)
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby tatonka » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:48 pm

" Make me strong , not to be superiour to my brothers , to fight my greatest enemy ....... myself . " Chief Dan George .

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Eric » Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:16 am

tatonka wrote:a warning on olive oil

http://cdn.eatlocalgrown.com/10-fake-olive-oil.html


I read the book "Extra Virginity" about olive oil and the olive oil industry years ago, and it completely changed how we buy and use it. We're lucky to be in CA where a large amount of really good olive oil is produced, but there are places to get "the good stuff" everywhere. The difference in taste, and variety of tastes, is amazing. We keep 2-3 different bottles at home for different applications (hell, just dipping good bread in good olive oil is heaven)

This site is maintained by the author of the book, and is an invaluable resource: http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Elderberry » Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:30 am

I think Olive Oil tastings in parts of CA are about as popular as wine tastings.
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby digital » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:19 am

Eric wrote:We keep 2-3 different bottles at home for different applications (hell, just dipping good bread in good olive oil is heaven)

Throw in some fine aged balsamic vinegar and you have the makings of my desired last meal.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby FlyingMonkey » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:05 am

Last year I bought a food saver (vacuum sealer) & in the weeks leading up to the Burn would make large meals & seal/freeze the leftovers. I used the 2 cooler method, one for dry ice & frozen 2 liter jugs, & the other for food (swapping frozen jugs as needed). I typically still have ice on Friday. In the morning I would take out one or more frozen meals & let them thaw & reheat them in a pot of water later. This worked really well

I like to make my own meals so I know exactly what is in them & tend to follow the Mediterranean diet recipes. It was so nice having quinoa salad mid week, wasn't too heavy & gave me the energy I needed for the rest of the day. Other days I had pork tenderloin, BBQ ribs, & brats. It actually made me want to eat on the Playa which is something I have had trouble with in the past. The other thing I did which worked out really well was to hard boil eggs ahead of time rather than make them there. They mad a quick snack & I was very careful not to moop the shells about.
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Savannah » Wed Mar 04, 2015 5:35 pm

TheFastCat wrote:Solo virgin this year -- I eat primal/gluten free (for the most part) and plan on bringing:

-Canned sardines in olive oil (compact, non refridgerated, delicious)
-Canned, smoked oysters
-habanero bread and butter Pickles (and plenty to share)
-vacuum-packed venison jerky
-nitrate-free salami (nothing left behind after eating)
-apples (nothing left behind after eating)
-Corn chips and salsa
-dehydrated soup mix (http://goo.gl/UrbC78) - will mix with water and leave in covered container in the sun to warm.
-canned tuna
-canned olive tapanade
-canned artichoke hearts (mix with tuna and olive tapenade)
-sea salt potato chips

I don't plan on bringing any "babies" to the playa -- as in food that needs to be nurtured, cared for, refrigerated or that will spoil. I eat two meals a day normally and along with what everyone says about the playa diet I think this will serve me well.

I am disappointed that I won't be gifting any Fish Stick Kitties this year: http://goo.gl/Sw9bhA Eveyone's loss I assure you.


. . . Here is my trick for keeping bread nice on the playa. (Please note that it works with bread that normally lasts 5-7 days in the default world, and would not work for specialty bakery bread that completely lacks preservatives, and is designed for eating the same day it's baked.)

Here is the trick I use to keep bread edible for 5-6 days: buy it on the way--a few hours before entering BRC. I don't chill it, because I feel there is too much risk of it getting it wet--your mileage may vary. Open it at least once a day, and let it breath for a while (20-30 minutes, whatever) to get the moisture out. This goes against my real-world habits in a really big way & can feel pretty strange--it would normally be a great way to get immediately stale bread. However, it has worked for me every time, no less than 5 days of good bread, sometimes more. Still, however, I make sure to consume a lot of bread in the first few days especially, so that if it goes bad it's no big deal.

(This year I will also try tortillas, and also air them out.)
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby maladroit » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:21 pm

One hot, nutritious meal a day really helps keep your energy level up. My first year I survived on adrenaline, Clif bars, and Red Bull, and vodka. When I got back home I essentially collapsed and was useless for two weeks. The second year I planned out some meals and picked up default life with barely a hitch in my stride afterwards.

I don't eat too much Indian food normally, but...that stuff is really fucking good out there. Either get some Tasty Bites prepack stuff or make/buy/steal some fresh Indian food and freeze it in bags. Heat it up in a pan while toasting some naan on your camp stove...tear the naan into a few pieces and scoop up some piping hot tikka masala or jaipur vegetables, you're in heaven.

One thing I did last year was get about 10 different types of snacks from the bulk aisle at Winco. Dried fruit, sesame sticks, nuts, and some candy for energy. Every day before going out, I'd make a little snack mix bag to take with me, varied according to taste and craving (some days were mostly salty, some were all fruit, etc). That was pretty ideal and will be doing that this year, way better than a premade trail mix.

As long as you have variety in one thing, you don't need to go crazy with your food options. Variety and surprise is in overabundance on the playa, so I'd likely be totally happy eating the exact same breakfast and dinner every day, with some variation in snacks and drinks. One or two luxury items like smoked salmon, max.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby RosieTahoe » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:44 pm

I dehydrate lots of tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions before we go and then make egg scrambles with them every morning. If you don't own a dehydrator you can dehydrate on the lowest setting on your oven with the oven door cracked open. At the burn, I throw the veggies in a bowl with some water for about 10 minutes then put them in a pan with some olive oil - yes the good stuff as mentioned above! Let them cook for a few minutes then add egg beaters (I get the healthiest version of this I can find), scramble it all up and add cheese or not. We then usually eat those in tortillas, which are more than fine all week long, and add some salsa or hot sauce. They are the only veggies we eat all week but it makes me feel really good and replenished from the often way-too-late-night before. We keep the egg beaters and cheese in a large cooler half filled with frozen water jugs.

As others mentioned, eating can sometimes be a struggle out there between lack of hunger and lack of energy to cook a full meal and making this big morning/afternoon meal works really well for me and my camp as you guarantee yourself one nutritious and hot meal a day.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby DoctorIknow » Thu Mar 05, 2015 5:32 pm

The thread has drifted from "healthy" to "sufficient for survival."

I've done both, the determination of which was due to being solo (survival) or with a camp where meals are a big deal (healthy).

The "survival" plan is based on my belief that for 7 or 10 days, if one has been "eating healthy" for a long time, if one has been taking loads of vitamins/minerals in the weeks before the burn, if one has been drinking a gallon of water a day for a few days before departing for the playa, then one need not worry about food other that that which has, in no particular order, taste, ease of prep, calories.

I've been really happy and lots of energy (I'm 66) for about 10 burns with only these items:
Tasty Bites (the Bombay Potatoes and Madras Lentils just knock it out of the park for taste and calories)
Rice Cakes (good to dip in the Lentils, or for almond butter)
Almond Butter (in the one serve packs)
Roasted Tamari Almonds (lots of them fried up in a wok just before departure)
Apples, in cooler the whole week. LOTS of them!
Bananas (they last much longer than you'd think if kept in the cooler)
Nori sheets (when you just gotta feel good instantly)
Museli
Some puffed rice or something to mix with the museli
Almond/Rice milk
Prunes, never been constipated out there, but I love prunes anyway

And a big shout out to Trader Joes, where I meet more burners than anywhere else!

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby maladroit » Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:05 pm

Yeah, possibly some thread drift...but dietary needs change depending on your environment and activity. The thing about this environment is that, if you haven't been eating appropriately for your needs (one definition of healthy) then you'll KNOW that pretty soon. It'll be really apparent, especially when you finally do eat something you need and feel 100x better. So I'd say that the tried-and-true playa foods recommended by others on this forum, even though they might not all be considered healthy in the default world, are a good start. Playa meals are generally NOT party snacks, because you'll crash and burn if you try to go a week eating hot dogs and doritos.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:14 am

What I've done for eating healthy on playa in the past:

Bought organic raw almonds, sprouted them and then dehydrated before tossing them into home-made trail mix.

Sprouts. On playa works amazing if you can remember to keep them moist. Bring a jar, a mesh lid and seeds.

I cure and smoke my own bacon from happy healthy pigs, about one hundred times healthier than any of the crap you buy at the store.

A cooler full of fruit. Apples and oranges usually make it through the week. Pineapples get eaten early on.

Cabbage. Seriously, cabbage is the perfect vegetable for playa. It stays fresh in a cooler all week long, no bag or anything, just living in the cooler on top of the ice. Crunchy greens for all your sandwich and salad needs.

Speaking of cabbage, I'll make a bunch of kimchi beforehand and bring a jar in the cooler, it's not like its gonna go bad if you keep it cool, and a handful in the morning does wonders for hangovers. Not to mention the probiotics...

Last year we cooked all of our meals in advance and froze them in foil pans. We brought an oven and all the food in by deep freezer. Each day we'd pull out some pans and toss em in the oven for a hot dinner every night. Mac and cheez, enchiladas, curry, BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes... When I can do my own shopping for all the ingredients the end result is much healthier than buying preprepared food in packets.

A lot of my healthy eating in default life just carries over to playa life, quality ingredients, organic, non gmo, home made and on and on...

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby tatonka » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:03 pm

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby kiss-o-matic » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:20 pm

Last year about half of my meals consisted of Tabouleh wraps from Trader Joe's. A bunch of my food spoiled at the hand of my own dumb assery, but to be honest I was addicted to that shit. Super light, but healthy. Got me through most of the days.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby [jim] » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:08 am

I do a lot of cooking from scratch on the playa. I bring a 12v refrigerator (small, 1.1 cf) to keep the veggies and stuff cool.

All my cooking equipment is back-packing style.

I've made bread, pizza(dough from scratch, just flour/yeast/salt/oliveoil), and baked cakes. biscuits are quick and easy in the morning.

I take the big 1-lb plastic-boxed mixed greens and spinach out of the boxes, put in ziplocs, and squeeze the air out so more can fit in the tiny fridge. Kale/parsley/cilantro get the same treatment. carrots/onions/garlic keep well. don't even need to keep the onions/garlic cooled. I've packed mirepoix in ziplocs as well. I pre-cook potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and ziploc them. I've found that all the easily-purchased ziploc style bags do not seal well, so will be using vacuum sealed bags in the future for things that expand (leafy greens) or leak (pre-made stock, soup, stew).

raw brown rice, quinoa, barley are all easy to store and cook. I also make oatmeal from steel cut oats for breakfast. Eggs take up space but I do bring them in cardboard containers, and slice off the empty spots as the eggs get used.

hummus and flatbread are easy to pack in the morning and are a yummy snack out on the playa.

this year we'll be (mostly) gluten-free vegan, so the menu will get a good change.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Oldguy » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:14 am

I have eaten the same thing for breakfast for many years; eggs, sausage, toast. I vary cooking methods and extra ingredients for variety. Always eat a good breakfast. Drink. Snacks and lunches are premade. 7 bags for seven days. I take a loaf sack of sliced bread and pull all the bread out. I make a variety of sandwiches and put them back into the bread sack. I mix their order to get a surprise every time. Drink. Dinners are canned pastas, chili beans, tuna, spam, soups, and assorted veggies. Canned potato slices eliminate peels, waste, and work. And of course, bacon to share. I use instant coffee powders, tang, and Kool-Aid to flavor water. Drink. I collect condiments throughout the year in fast food joints and cafes. It is only a week, you will not starve, but drink all you can whenever you can. Heatstroke can kill you. Drink some more water. Drink it!
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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby asr9754 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:00 pm

Agreed on the cabbage. I make a big cabbage salad and it stays fresh all week as long as it's in the cooler in a tight tupperware. Spinach or lettuce salad gets wilty but the cabbage lasts longer. Hard/dry veggies tend to do fine--carrots, snap peas, apples, cucumbers and oranges have done well for me.
Cannot recommend strongly enough to skip broccoli--it wilted fast and stank up the entire cooler so bad, I still have nightmares about it. Hard boil some eggs at home and you have easy protein. We call them Breakfast Shots. They'll last 3-4 days in the cooler if you do not peel them.
Keep your fresh veggies cold and they should be fine for most of the week. If you have a camp mate arriving later in the week, ask them to bring a veggie tray or some fresh fruit for reinforcements--it helps alot to get a dose of fresh produce later in the week.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby tatonka » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:16 pm

will this melt ?

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:30 pm

depends on how long you hold it and how warm your hands are...

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby lucky420 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:16 am

tatonka wrote:will this melt ?

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Pollylop83 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 pm

I keep reading folk recommending sushi... I bloody love Sushi but can't get my head around eating it in the desert on the playa. Something about dusty salmon scares me...

My first burn I got so I'll from not eating enough. Lived on tuna mixed with beans. *Shudder*

Coming from london and SO EXCITED

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby Jovankat » Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:01 am

Are you coming through San Francisco? It has great sushi. My husband once told me it was the best city for sushi. I patiently explained the concept of Japan to him ;)

There's even a place in downtown SF that makes giant burrito sized sushi rolls.

It is of course called Sushirrito.

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Re: Eating Healthy Food at Burning Man

Postby tamarakay » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:25 am

We bring the bagged salads
Pre cook some hamburger patties and have those individually packaged in the dry ice cooler. You can toss a couple in your day pack and they are generally thawed out in a couple hours and you have a snack on the go.
Cabbage as mentioned above. Quick, tasty.
Our grocery store in Texas (heb) has these really awesome cold soups. Keep those in the ice cooler and you can just drink em with a straw. Pure delight.
Summer sausage and cheese.
The stallion loves jerky and pretzels. Add clif bars and he would be happy. I make hiim eat the other stuff.
We have an assortment of fruit, pickle, and olive cups too.

Oh and apples, oranges. I will have to try some fresh pineapple this year.
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