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Recipes and Tips for Allergic Hikers

Posted by Anna Roth at Jun 06, 2017 09:36 AM |

Got an allergy-prone little one? You'll want to read Sarah Kirkconnell's tips and recipes for keeping them healthy and happy on trail. 

Sarah Kirkconnell is a trail food blogger and author, and contributor to Washington Trails magazine. She became a pro at making delicious allergen-free snacks and meals when her youngest son's peanut allergy was discovered. Here she tells us how to pick safe snacks, find substitutes for common allergens, and make a couple of yummy trail-ready allergen-free recipes. 

By Sarah Kirkconnell

When our youngest son had anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to his first exposure of peanuts just past his first birthday, our lives changed sharply. Before that day, I planned our trail food based on good taste, plenty of calories and being lightweight. It was such a sudden change that for a long time I couldn't even take him hiking without worrying almost constantly.

boys hiking_sarah kirkconnell.jpg

As we took our first steps back on trail, we learned to take several things into consideration in order to ensure he stays safe and well-fueled on trail. We only bring trusted brands, and we never bring anything new. In fact, we don't try any new foods less than 24 hours before a trip. If we're going to be hiking with anyone else, we ask that they not bring anything that might set off a reaction. If this is tricky for folks, I offer to do the food for the trip. Thankfully, with a lot of help from his allergist doctor and team, and lots of testing, we now know what he can eat safely. At 5 years old, he is enjoying life, getting out on the trails with us, and eating well.

Key Tips

On trail, we always let anyone we're hiking with know about Alistaire's allergies, and where we keep the EpiPen. We show everyone how to use it, too. Before we eat, we wipe hands down with unscented baby wipes.

Alistaire's favorite allergy-friendly snacks vary widely. Some come in single serving packaging -- we rely on Amazon for the best selection. I always read labels, even when I'm buying an old standby, since companies do change ingredients. 

Sub it out

Substitute foods are key for allergy-prone people. Below are several ways you can replace energy sources like peanuts, protein, and dairy that are also common allergens.

Replace Peanut Butter with:

  • Wow Butter
  • Hulled Hemp Seeds
  • Roasted soy nuts
  • Sunflower seeds (but read labels VERY carefully)
  • Single serving olive oil and coconut oil packets (look on or at Trader Joes)

Replace protein and granola bars with: 

  • Organic jerky (read labels)
  • Epic Bars (read labels)
  • Tanka Bars (read labels)
  • Fruit bars made with chia seeds

Replace milk products with:

  • Coconut milk powder
  • Creamed coconut bars
  • Soy milk powder
  • Rice milk powder




Sunflower & Cherry No Bake Bars


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup sunflower or soy butter spread
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt



Preheat oven to 350°, spread oats and sunflower seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, till oats are toasted and turning golden. Let cool and mix with cherries in a large mixing bowl.


Meanwhile, add sunflower spread, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt to a small saucepan. Heat over medium for 10 minutes, until bubbling.


Take off heat, stir until smooth. Pour over oats, work in with a spatula. Spread oat mixture into an oiled 11 × 8 pan (I used a rimmed quarter size baking sheet), pressing down firmly.


Chill for at least 2 hours, then cut into bars, wrap tightly. Store tightly sealed in refrigerator till trail time.

IMG_20170529_190637_567 (1).jpgYummy fuel for hungry hikers. Photo courtesy Sarah Kirkconnell.

Rice and Bean Burritos


  • ½ cup instant rice
  • 1/3 cup instant refried beans (pinto or black)
  • 1 Tbsp dried onion or shallots
  • Salsa packets
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tortillas (flour, corn or gluten-free)


At home, place the rice, beans and onions to a quart freezer bag, or sandwich bag. Tuck in the salsa packets. Mark “Add 1 cup water” on bag. Package tortillas separately in a zip top bag (for warm weather, place a piece of new paper towel between each.

Freezer Bag Cooking Method

Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Place freezer bag in a cozy, add in water, stirring well. Seal bag tightly, let sit for 15 minutes. Stir well.

One Pot Method:


Bring 1 cup water to boil, add in dry ingredients. Turn off the stove, cover tightly, and let rest for 10 minutes. If at altitude, or colder temperatures, insulate pot. Stir well.


Lay out a piece of parchment paper or a paper towel, place tortillas on top. Divide filling between, top with salsa.


If desired, bring along a favorite cheese, non-dairy if needed, and top as desired.