Backcountry Alfresco

Photo by Caterina Franzese

Alfresco – adjective or adverb: Dining in the open air.

Camping and backpacking season is upon us and I couldn’t be happier to announce that this year I will be offering truly down to earth gourmet backcountry meals that are lightweight, delicious, nourishing, and easy to cook. If you can boil water, than you can indulge in some seriously decadent camping meals. Trail mix, jerky, and ramen just won’t cut it. If you want satisfying and filling meals that will give you the energy to hike a fourteener, climb a boulder or two, tackle some rapids, or just mosey down a winding river without compromising good food along the way, consider having Down to Earth Gourmet put together your meals for you.

As a Colorado girl, I love backpacking and camping. Despite carrying a heavy load for many miles, I treasure the liberating feeling of having everything I need on my back. My most memorable trip was two years ago to Coyote Gulch in Utah’s breathtaking Navajo sandstone Escalante Canyon. Geared up with four incredible women, one of which being backpacking expert and yoga teacher, Caterina Franzese, we spent four days deep in the canyon soaking up the sun, soft sand streams, and sparkling waterfalls. We camped beneath the stars among magnificent arches and experienced the magic that is the desert.

Because of this trip and others like it, I understand the importance of comforting, healthful, delicious, and easy meals while camping. My culinary background inspires the flavors, my nutrition background understands the demand for high protein and complex-carbs, and my recreational experiences knows the importance of low-maintenace and lightweight meals. Perhaps this is my calling.

In addition to meal planning, Caterina is offering trip-planning services in collaboration with Down to Earth Gourmet, where she will work with you to plan the ultimate trip no matter where you want to go. From packing lists, permits, trail maps, and survival tips – Caterina will set you up. She is truly a pro. You can read more about her experiences and peep some of her incredible nature photography on her website

Now, all you have to do is strap on your pack and go.

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Coyote Gulch Yoga Retreat Menu

Day 1: 

Breakfast: Blueberry hazelnut oatmeal with cinnamon and coconut chips

Lunch: Hummus with whole grain seed crackers and carrots

Dinner: Coconut curry chicken with couscous and mixed vegetables

Day 2:

Breakfast: Almond butter & cherry tortilla with power seeds (chia, hemp, sesame, buckwheat)

Lunch: Soppressata, cheddar cheese, whole grain seed crackers, cornichons

 Dinner: Vegetarian chili with cornbread crackers

Day 3:

Breakfast: Strawberry honey almond oatmeal

Lunch: Green chili black bean tacos with cheese and hot sauce. Dried fruit.

Dinner: Salmon with herbed mashed potatoes and peas

Day 4:

Breakfast: Almond butter & apricot tortillas with seeds (chia, hemp, sesame, buckwheat)

Lunch: Eat up snacks!

Dinner: Tikka masala vegetables and chickpeas with brown rice

Additional Items: Teriyaki jerky, dried fruit chips, mexican hot chocolate, savory nut mixes, granola bars, date-cacao-coconut-cashew butter energy bites, coconut chips.

How does it work?

You will select from the menu I send you, and then before your trip I will provide you with packaged meals with easy preparation instructions. Easy.

How much does it cost?

Approximately $25/person/day depending on menu selection and portions.


“I love planning backpacking trips and bringing friends out into the wilderness, but when it comes to food for the trail, I lack creativity completely. It’s the same oats and coffee for breakfast, trail mix and jerky during the day, and couscous with bouillon for dinner – nothing too exciting.  So when it was time to plan my first backpacking and yoga retreat in the canyons of Utah, I knew Araminta would be the perfect person to ask for help. She went above and beyond anything I could have imagined; making lightweight, delicious, and wholesome meals that were all perfectly packaged and labeled with cooking directions and ingredients right on the bag. She made it so easy for us to stay nourished in the backcountry and everything was bursting with flavor.  I would recommend Araminta’s brilliant creations to anyone, for any occasion, and am happy to know I never have to worry about eating well on future wilderness adventures.” – Caterina Franzese, Wilderness Yogi

Photo by Caterina Franzese
Photo by Caterina Franzese

Coyote Gulch Black Bean Dip

Serves 4


  • 2 cans refried black beans (without fat/lard)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Juice and zest of of 1 lime


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Spread mixture in a thin layer on parchment paper or dehydrator sheets on dehydrator trays.
  3. Dehydrate at 115ºF for 8-12 hours or until completely dry.
  4. Crumble and seal in a Ziplock bag.
  5. To rehydrate, stir with equal parts boiling water and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread on tortillas with cheese and hot sauce. Enjoy!
Photo by Caterina Franzese
Photo by Caterina Franzese


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