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Camping (Mis)Adventures, A Weekly Menu Plan and A Few Giveaway Winners

I must confess that I’m not much of a camper, it’s not something we did when I was growing up in a family of 4 females and one token male.  I’m really not sure why we didn’t go camping either.  Afterall, my parents met when they spent their college summers working at Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.  I suspect that the one time my dad took my middle sister and I camping in Wisconsin Dells could have had something to do with it.  I was 10 and Gretchen was 6 (my mom had stayed home with our newest little sister, Mandy, who wasn’t quite 1 yet).  We had a great time on that trip, well, up until it was time to sleep in the tent.  Gretchen was petrified of all the wild “beasts” that she was convinced would come and attack us and she had extreme difficulty falling asleep…until she finally asked my dad if he would sleep by the opening of the tent.  When my dad, no doubt delirious from estrogen exhaustion at that point, asked her why, she responded with, “If the bear eats you first, then he will be too full to eat me.” I had been totally fine up until that point, but now the idea of my dad getting eaten by a bear kept me (and as a consequence, my dad) up the rest of the night, LOL!

The next time I would go camping was when I was 15 and went with some friends to Alum Creek State Park, nearby where I grew up in Ohio.  Gluten must have already begun affecting my brain by this point because my adolescence with filled with moments of downright stupidity.  Case in point, have you ever heard of (or played) the game where you essentially make yourself hyperventilate then someone bear hugs you until you pass out?  Well, I found myself in a group of slightly older kids who were discussing this “game” and trying to goad some unsuspecting youngster into taking the bait.  Guess who bit?

As if the pass out game weren’t stupid enough, I found a way to make it even worse by failing to step off of the pavement and onto the grass before I chose to participate.  Just so ya know, pavement hurts.  I cracked my skull open when my head met the ground and got to take a not-so-lovely trip in an ambulance to the nearest hospital where they had to shave a big hole in my hair in order to stitch me up.

So catch up to 11 years later.  In an attempt to woo my future husband by catering to his sense of rugged male outdoorsmanship, I decided to go camping again.  Keep in mind, my husband is an Eagle Scout and his best friend Todd (who be along on this little adventure) was at the time a shotgun toting stand in for Grizzly Adams (I think he once killed a bear with a pocket knife).  As we arrived at the camp site it began to rain, so while they pitched the tents and started a fire, I waited in the car, safe and dry (I think this was their first “sign”).  When the rain stopped and we began to finish the camp, the dumbfounded look of disbelief on their faces as I unpacked my Aerobed, make-up, battery powered hair dryer, and foam pillow was palpable.  They chuckled in a way I was unfamiliar with, letting me know that we would be doing a different kind of camping.  It was at that moment that I realized I had crossed through a giant wormhole and landed in an alternate reality that I couldn’t quite understand, but would come to know all to well.

My future husband is lucky that I didn’t break up with him on that little camping adventure (or better yet, whack him over the head with my hairdryer).  And I’m sure Pastor Todd’s congregation would be very interested to know about his “devilish” side.  Little did I know, but those two had a few mischievous plans up their sleeve for me on that camping trip.

The week prior to going camping, the three of us had gone to see the movie, The Blair Witch Project, have you ever seen that movie?  If you haven’t, here’s a little piece of advice: do not watch it before going camping!

I love horror movies, at least those of the Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers type.  I can easily watch those and not have nightmares because really, how likely are they to happen (knock on wood)?  Movies like the Blair Witch Project (and Open Water) on the other hand, have an eerie essence of realism to them and those movies scared the bajeekers out of me!

Anyhoo, Beevis and Butthead (I’ll let you figure out who’s who) decided to have some fun at my expense and recreate The Blair Witch Project that weekend.  Mike went for a run in the woods at dusk looking for firewood (video camera in hand to capture his shenanigans in the night-vision mode) and came back 30 minutes later all “scared and winded.”  Meanwhile, Todd was collecting rocks and sticks to set up those little Blair Witch rock piles and stick figurines outside my tent, just waiting for me to have to pee in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, I’ve not been camping again since and the day I’ve been dreading for the past 12 years will soon be upon me.  I’m going camping again this weekend and I’m already afraid of what will happen this time!  But rather than dwell on my next guaranteed camping misadventure, I’m going to focus on gluten and allergen-free camp food this week.  I found a neat little cookbook called Fix It In Foil on Amazon and it’s full of ideas for simple (and for the most part, naturally gluten-free) foil meals, each recipe even includes instructions for cooking the meals either in the oven, on the grill or in a campfire.  If all goes well, I think I will start using the foil dinner approach at home too, just imagine the amount of time we could save by preparing a weeks worth of foil dinners on Sundays to just throw in the oven (or on the grill) throughout the week…and no cleanup! 😀

But first, let’s giveaway some cereal!

The 3 winners of the Freedom Foods Cereal Giveaway are:

#22: Michelle Key

#153: Pauline

#68: Alison St. Sure

Congratulations ladies!  I will email each of you for your shipping information. 😀

All the main entree recipes I’m trying this week are from the book “Fix It In Foil” and I’ll be tossing them in my backyard fire pit for a little authenticity…I’ll take a few photos along the way to share in an upcoming post, hopefully with a few ideas for incorporating foil dinners on a regular basis at home for those super busy weeknights.

 Weekly Menu Plan – Gluten Free Camping Food


Monday: Basic Beef Hobo Dinner and Fruit Salad

Tuesday: Cod Fillets and Herbed New Potatoes

Wednesday: Ham and Yams, Homemade Sugar-Free Applesauce

Thursday: Beef Stew

Friday: Hobo Chicken and Baked Cinnamon Apples

Saturday:  Camping (and you better believe I will be taking along some of Shirley’s Bourbon Banana Coladas, LOL!).

Sunday: Camping

For more gluten-free camping fun, check out Melissa’s post, Make Me A Happy Camper over at Gluten-Free For Good, she’s a bonafide camping extraordinare…a few summers ago, she and her son backpacked half the Colorado Trail – nearly 250 miles!

What are your gluten and allergen free campfire favorites?  And while your at it, have any camping misadventures of your own to share (so I feel like less of an idiot)?

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  1. Yippee! Can't wait to try the cereal! My daughters will be soooo happy.

  2. When I grew up, camping was "quality family bonding time". My dad, whose own father passed away when he was three years old, was really into camping. As a child, my dad's (eventual) stepfather would take him and one of his friends out camping in the hills of southern California with just backpacks and bedrolls. They slept on the ground, no tents. My dad made the mistake once of putting his bedroll on top of an ant hill (woke up the next morning covered in ants who were not happy to have a human on their habitation and let him know). The group of them went hunting for "Indian artifacts". I don't know that they actually found any though. But he loved the adventure of it. Later, he relished reliving those moments with my three older brothers via the Boy Scouts and with the family on our summer vacations in the mountains of southern Oregon.

    When we first started camping, we "roughed" it, with tents and sleeping bags. My dad built a portable "kitchen" from plans he got in a magazine. It had compartments for storing supplies, a spot for your camp stove, legs that could be removed for compact storage and sides that flipped down into work surfaces. The whole thing could be folded up into a box that we would strap to the roof of the car.

    Over the years my mother needed more and more of her house with her on camping trips until finally they ended up buying a motor home.

    We also had a canoe. It was made by the Boy Scouts and consisted of fiberglass with flotation devices in the ends. It was also slightly flattened in the center to increase stability. However, it could be tipped over by some determined teenagers. One afternoon I went out with two of my cousins, Cindy and her sister Linda. Cindy is the same age as I and we decided to purposely tip the canoe over with Linda in it. We paddled out onto the lake and then started rocking the boat back and forth all the while accusing Linda of being the one who was making the vessel unstable. Eventually we got the thing to flip over. Even full of water it still floated just below the water's surface.

    Over the years my dad rigged an outrigger to it, a sail and a small motor (in various combinations, sometimes all three). He and I use to go trolling for fish in it in the wee hours of the morning. He would paddle and I'd hold two fishing rods, one off each side of the canoe. With no motor noise, we didn't have to let the line out very far. In short order we'd catch our limit of rainbow trout.

    After gutting and scaling the trout, mom would dredge it in flour with salt and pepper and fry it in a pan. We kids made her leave the heads. Then we'd turn them into finger puppets after we'd eaten the fish. (Yes, my brothers and are a little twisted.) And of course you can't go camping without toasting marshmallows! I had the knack for getting them all nicely browned on the outside without being burnt and the centers nicely melted. Ooh! One trick it to use a forked instrument to attach your marshmallows to so they don't start "spinning" on your stick. A flaming marshmallow is, IMHO, a cooking failure. Then they get all charcoally on the outside. It is neither aesthetically pleasing nor tasty.

    One time I decided to take the canoe and the dog and paddle to the other side of the lake. Getting there was fine and the dog and I had a great walk in the pristine forest. There were no campgrounds on that side of the lake and the woods were silent except for the sounds of nature. Getting back was a bit harder. The wind had picked up and was blowing towards me. I was having such a hard time making any headway paddling that I finally jumped into the water and swam across the lake, towing the boat with an anxious dog leaning over the side. Fortunately I'm a very strong swimmer.

  3. Michelle Key says

    Thank You so much!!

  4. Camping


    from being a small child going camping w/ my mom and a friend. we would sleep in the back of the friend's truck before air mattresses on a pile of blankets in our sleeping bags. we would go out in the friend's small oared / motor boat and catch fish on the upper Susquehanna near tunkhannock pa (the area that just got flooded this past weekend 🙁 ) – it's were i caught my very first fish (a HUGE river carp).

    when i was a little older i went to summer camp in the woods in the Poconos. i learned to hunt with a bow and arrow, to shoot a BB gun and small caliber rifles (22 & 38 calibers). i learned to canoe, to kayak, and to wind surf (yes, you can wind surf on a lake on the top of a mountain in the Appalachians). I also learned how to build a proper camp fire and to light it w/o matches 😀 (it helps that i wear glasses but i can do it w/o the lens if it's a cloudy day too)

    as an adult i learned the joys of boat access camping (and being the responsible one by going camping with friends who have children)! She's the one who introduced to me to the joys of a good air mattress. (Her first trip she also took her hair dryer, makeup AND HER PEARLS). her husband introduced me to the importance of a good folding army entrenching tool (aka folding shovel) and they both taught me how to cook on a camp stove and introduced me to the french press for morning coffee (which i never drank until we went camping.)

    Camping is as fun as you let it be. Take extra books, games, sunscreen, bug repellent, and patience.

    Take paper everything you can in regards to supplies so you can burn them in the fire after using them vs. cleaning them.

    and take a few pranks of your own to get back at your husband 😀

  5. Michelle Olejar says

    Haha Heidi, I love your sense of humor! I have been camping my whole life and do enjoy it. Although, I hate it if it rains. I remember when the Blair Witch project came out. We actually watched in the woods, with a generator in the middle of no where. All the guys were freaked out, while the ladies did put a couple of little piles of rocks and some little stick figures. It was great fun! I am sure your camping trip will be great. I look forward to seeing some of the recipes that come out of this trip, or at least a couple funny stories!

  6. you forgot to say that on your camping trip with Mike that you had just purchased a THREE bedroom tent to take with you. Still not sure how you got it there witout toting it in a trailer.

  7. So, I'm not planning on talking to you anymore since I did not win the cereal.

    OK, I'm done pouting now. Just want to let you know that if Mike gives you any grief, remind him how you have nursed you family back to health. Just hang that guilt over his head. Always works.



  8. Get ready and start camping gluten free Heidi.  My wife enjoys camping so much because I do all the work and let her sit back and cook up yummy meals-she never does dishes or sets up camp.  We pamper her the entire time.