Monday, March 18, 2013

Food and Eating Tips

Cho Oyu (6th highest) - cooking
instant noodles in Camp1
Here’s to offer some tips on outdoor (and maybe indoor) cooking and eating...

1. In the mountains – EASY ON RICE and explore OTHER CARBS. Boiled Potato or sweet potato perhaps. For me, in the Philippine setting – rice is the most ‘inefficient’ food item that we bring in the mountains. Bringing a couple of kilograms of rice, and water to cook them (assuming limited water source) adds up to the pack weight, and what’s more – cooking time is long. Add a bad scenario mix of steel or titanium cook set and you may end-up with a not-so-tasty (and sometimes yellow-crunchy) half-cooked rice. Still add a rainy weather and a worthless tent without a vestibule (i.e. an ‘extension’ for storage but also used for semi in-tent cooking) to complete the picture and you’ll curse hell and its inhabitants on why dinner is taking so long to prepare! And white rice – although in our ‘culture and tradition’ – is not the best source of carbs out there. It also GREATLY contributes to global warming (methane release). Bringing cooked rice may be an option (for the first day) but obviously it has a short shelf life. Boiled potato lasts longer and is not bad for dishes like Adobo, fried meal, or generally non-soup dish. Of course, tinola or sinigang (soup meals) may force you to have rice on the side, unless you want to add large quantities of papaya and potatoes in those dishes to avoid rice.

2. Cook with OLIVE oil. You’ve heard this before and the simple linear math is that UNSATURATED fat (in food) contributes to High GOOD (blood) cholesterol (“HDL’), which then sort-of lowers your bad cholesterol (LDL). Olive oil is expensive, but MORE so is angioplasty or any heart/artery related fixes. For high heat and deep fry cooking, to save money I use Corn oil (not as good as Olive oil but less and acceptable amount of Saturated (bad) fats compared to a more popular Vegetable and palm oil. I stopped using Canola oil after learning that it’s extracted from Genetically-modified rapeseed.

3. Seafood for protein and less on farmed animals (if you’re a vegan, well - seeds and beans). Steaks – although yummy, or other farmed animal-based meat meals contributes more to global warming (like rice plantation it produces great amount of methane – think 1.5 billion cows farting methane everyday hahaha!).  Animal meat are also normally high on saturated (bad) fats compared to fish which are sometimes high in unsat fats. For sea-based food, of course let’s avoid keystone species (like sharks) or other predators (that control bad over-population of other species). The principle – the lower in the food chain, the better. If we can only eat planktons! Haha! So, Salmon being a large consumer of other fishes (although good source of omega and unsaturated fats) – is good for once-in-a-while serving only.

4. Bring home-preserved meat and avoid canned goods. Canned goods are relatively heavier and will introduce more trash to the environment (also consumes a large amount of energy during its packing process). And don’t think that Adobo is the only way to preserve or cook meal! Preserving meat is very simple – boil with vinegar (1-2tbspns) for every kilo, add salt. Cook with garlic, pepper or bay leaves to add flavour as needed. Drain it and pack. In the mountain, cook it ANY way you want – sinigang, fried, curry flavoured, caldereta, menudo, whatever really. At home – if you want ‘fast cooking’ or maybe you just run out of space in the freezer, you can use this preserving method and stock meat in the refrigerator (not freezer). May last for more than a week.

5. Eating Habit – most of us really just OVER EAT. EVERY single day. We don’t necessarily need to bring big amount or RDA-calorie compliant meals in the mountain. Nor eat the same quantity as we do in the city. In the mountain – an intake of less than normal is fine and maybe even good for ‘stomach rest’. In extreme high altitude, the good thing about thin air is that, it allows the body to ‘eat itself’ to produce energy (consuming/burning body protein for lean mass person like me, and fats for those with excess weight), which is good for trimming out unused body molecules – or at least to re-set body mass. I have many team mates who think they need to eat a lot so they have energy to climb – while it’s true, consider also that even if one go beyond 18,000ft – his/her body may start to ‘starve’ but STILL perform enough to climb a peak. After the climb, the body will quickly recover and will reset to actually be leaner and may be even fitter (power-to-weight). Now if you’re only climbing Apo or Kanlaon – don’t you think that 2 cups of rice and a bowlful of sinigang are too much? ;)

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