Backpacking, Biking, Briefcase & Travel Foods


If you have suggestions for changes or additions, please contact me at and I will save them and incorporate them in future versions of this list.


This is the May 1997 update of our list of highly portable and durable travel foods. It includes more entries, more information on taste and fat content, more resource phone numbers, and a new section on nutrition bars (which are not the same as energy bars). If you saved an earlier version, you can replace it with this update.

Thank you to all our friends on the Internet's Celiac Discussion List (celiac@LISTSERV.ICORS.ORG) who continue to provide information about these foods, which are lightweight (avoiding cans or liquids), compact and durable (no refrigeration needed and not likely to crumble, melt, burst or spill in a pack; not too smelly if properly wrapped).

First I have listed snack foods in general, followed by a more detailed list of granola or energy bars. Following that are menus for camping breakfasts and dinners when backpacking, where weight is crucial.

NOTE ABOUT SNACK FOODS: We do not have space here to list all commonly available GF snacks. For lists of GF packaged snackfoods and other common products, contact Celiac Sprue Association/USA (CSA), PO Box 3170, Omaha, NE 68131, 402-558-0600 (their list costs $8; an updated version is expected about July 1997); or the Tri-County Celiac Sprue Support Group, 34638 Beechwood Street, Farmington Hills, Michigan 48335 (their list costs $10).

DISCLAIMER: These are the opinions of some subscribers to this List. Although people have told me that these foods are gluten-free (or were at the time somebody checked), we make no guarantees. There is always the possibility of error, cross-contamination and changes in ingredients, so you should check them out yourselves and make your own decisions.


* Nuts. One Lister suggests roasting your own shelled almonds at 325 degrees but watch carefully so they don't burn.

* Dates, figs and dried fruits, especially raisins. Bananas are great for energy but don't store well in a pack unless they are dried.

* Gluten-free granola, granola bars and energy bars. My favorite granola comes from G!Foods; my favorite energy bar is Omega. See detail below.**

* Gluten-free pretzels, made by Drei Pauly or Glutano. Available in North America from De-Ro-Ma (800/363-3438) and Dietary Specialties (800/544-0099).

* Beef or venison jerky.

* Fruit leather, fruit tongues, fruit roll-ups, available in most supermarkets.

* Bulky, crumbly snack foods that are OK if you're not concerned about a "light and tight" pack: GF Popcorn, rice cakes, corn chips, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, Ener-G Foods' 2-slice vacuum-packets of GF bread or English muffins, Health Valley rice bran crackers (see below), GF cookies. If you're not concerned about the fat content nor worried about the smell attracting wildlife, you can bring peanut butter in a fill-it-yourself tube (empty tubes sold at outdoors stores) and squirt it on a Hain mini-rice-cake. With a plastic knife and an individual jelly packet (lightweight plastic ones that you see in restaurants, or fill a tube with jam you know to be gluten-free), you can make your own "PB&J."

* Chocolate, if you're not worried about melting or about fat content: chips, M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls (773-838-3400 for long list of GF candies including Junior Mints, Cella's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherries and Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries); or GF chocolate bars such as Butterfinger, PayDay, Butternut, Reeses Pieces or peanut butter bars (I got this information from Scott Adams at; or York Peppermint Patty (beware of its lactose if you can't tolerate that). A Lister raved about Cloud Nine bars, especially the Oregon Red Raspberry Dark Chocolate found in health food stores: contact Cloud Nine, Inc., Hoboken, N.J. 07030.

* Hard candy such as Lifesavers, JellyBellys (800-522-3267), Jolly Ranchers (Leaf Inc., Lake Forest IL 60045), or Starburst (Mars Inc., Hackettstown NJ 07840-1503). See CSA list mentioned above.

* Honey packets or sticks (available at recreational equipment stores) but pack carefully.

* Bean paste

* Perishable, heavy foods for cooler temperatures: cheese (in warm weather very aged Dutch Gouda holds up best; it costs $12 per pound at fine cheese shops and tastes fantastic), carrots, apples, other fresh fruit, dry salad.

* Home-made pemmican (from dried & powdered beef + rendered animal fat). Don Wiss forwarded a recipe for making this ancient low-carb, low-fiber, highly concentrated survival food that lasts nearly forever. Making pemmican is more work than I'm willing to do, but if you want a copy of the recipe, E-Mail me directly.

* Cans, if you don't mind the weight: small can of tuna, chicken, sardines or anchovies. Swanson's (800-232-6736) says its pop-top 3-pack of 3-ounce Premium White Chicken in water is GF.


Many supermarkets sell GF trailmix, including Dole California Style and Hawaiian Style. Eden and Hoody's also make some GF trailmix; see gluten-free food lists mentioned above.

G! Foods: Listers say the best tasting granola/breakfast bar comes from a small business called G! Foods, 3536 - 17th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 255-2139 or fax 415-863-3359 or see their products listing on their website at . I agree that their home-made taste is excellent and not too sweet, but the bars seem too moist and heavy for backpacking or even for storage without refrigeration (and they're not vacuum packed as are bars made by Ener-G, below). For travel I prefer G!Foods granola ($7.50 per pound), which is chunky and deliciously cinnamon-spicy but drier and thus more portable and durable than the breakfast bars. The granola and bars are made from brown rice flour, almonds, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice cereal, sunflower and sesame seeds, prunes, puffed rice, coconut, eggs, potato starch, tapioca flour, canola oil, (GF) vanilla extract, baking powder and soda, orange peel, xanthan gum, spices and salt. The granola gets a third of its calories from fat. A lower-fat item would be G! Foods biscotti (almond variety, $11 per pound, gets less than 17 percent of its calories from fat) . Just be careful to pack it so it doesn't crumble. G! Foods items can seem expensive if purchased in individual wrappings, so you may prefer to buy larger quantities and wrap them yourself. You can also freeze them.

Ener-G Foods: Other great-tasting granola bars come from our long-trusted supplier Ener-G Foods, Inc., PO Box 84487, Seattle WA 98124-5787, (800) 331-5222 . If you love filberts (hazelnuts) as much as I do, you'll adore the taste of these bars. My concern, thought is that they are much higher in fat than the equivalent G! Foods products mentioned above (because of all the delicious nuts). Ener-G's breakfast bars get more than 57 percent of their calories from fat, and their granola (which I haven't yet tasted) gets nearly 56 percent of its calories from fat. An unopened vacuum pack of 12 bars lasts 6 months.; once opened, they need to be refrigerated.

Health Valley : Two kinds of portable and durable bars that are fat-free are made by Health Valley (800-423-4846): Their individually wrapped Crisp Rice Bars come four to a box. They don't taste like much, but Listers prefer the Tropical Fruit and Orange Date flavors over the Apple Raisin. For an even more sugary snack try the Marshmallow Bars (Old Fashioned or Tropical Fruit flavors only; the Chocolate Chip flavor contains gluten). The "Old Fashioned" flavor tastes like the sweet marshmallow bars you might have made years ago from the recipe on the back of the Rice Krispies box (sweet and sticky and not much else). Much better tasting are Health Valley's Rice Bran Crackers, which crumble if not carefully packed but taste surprisingly good (like graham crackers sweetened with fruit). Sometimes I intentionally crumble them to make a "graham-cracker" pie crust. Unlike Health Valley's crisp-rice or marshmallow bars, the company's Rice Bran Crackers are not fat-free; they get about 23 percent of their calories from fat. If your supermarket doesn't carry these products, ask your local health food store to order them for you, or mail order them from Nature Mart in Los Angeles at 800-668-9363.

Omega: Listers highly recommend Omega-3 bars from a small and very friendly business called Omega Life Health Foods 800-328-3529 (1-800-EAT FLAX). These high-fiber 168-calorie energy bars contain 4.2 g of fat (the "healthy" Omega-3 & Omega-6 unsaturated fats) and 6.6 grams of flax fiber, so they get less than 23 percent of their calories from fat. Periodically the company runs out, so it is best to stock up. Do not expect them to taste like granola; they're mostly flaxseed and fruit (flax, brown rice syrup, peanut butter, apricots, raisins, dates, bananas, zinc, gluten-free and yeast-free vitamins B6, C and E). I wouldn't call them delicious, but the taste is better than I expected -- somewhat like PowerBars but with a softer and much more pleasant texture. Bars are $1.10 apiece plus $4 shipping, or $1 apiece if you buy 18. Or ask your health food store to order them for you.

Others: I tried a brand new product called Power Gel by the makers of PowerBar (which I used to love but which contain oat gluten). Power Gels are said by the company to be GF. They are a sticky and very sweet fat-free gel in a squeeze-out foil pack that burst in my knapsack and made a mess. They come in vanilla, lemon-lime and strawberry-banana-with-caffeine. I don't care for the sticky sweet taste or texture, but they'd be great in an athletic competition because they enter your bloodstream so quickly. They're sold in recreational equipment and bicycle stores, or contact Powerfood Inc., Berkeley, California 94710, 1-800-POWER, or

A British Lister recommended Wallaby Bars from Australia, available in England but not yet in the U.S. They sell a range of 40-gram bars including Macadamia Nut & Fruit, and Apricot & Nut. You can contact them in Australia at Energy Products, Lismore Road, Bangalow, New South Wales 2479, Tel: 61 66 87 2221 or at Energy Products QLD, 82 Abbotsford Rd, Bowens Hills 4006, Tel: (07) 252 3841. They are seeking a distributor for the U.S. &/or Canada and would welcome assistance in finding one.


NOTE: "Energy" bars are designed for athletics and are low in fat -- below 25 percent of their calories from fat, and some are below 10 percent calories from fat. In contrast, "nutrition" bars are designed to combat wasting (weight loss) and are much higher in their fat-calorie ratio (usually 33 percent). I find that contrary to what their TV ads imply, nutrition bars are not optimal for athletes nor for people struggling to stay slim, but we're listing them because they do travel well and make good emergency food (and they're lower in fat than some granola bars).

Our Canadian Listers like the taste of Boost chocolate fudge bars made by Mead-Johnson, which is owned by Bristol-Myers-Squibb, but I don't have information on the fat content or availability of their bars in the U.S. If you're calling from Canada, their toll-free number is 800-267-8782. In portions of the U.S. it's 800-247-7893. In the U.S., a Boost _drink_ contains 240 calories, 35 from fat (4 grams), which is about 15 percent, so perhaps the bars are similarly constituted. If so, they would be surprisingly low in fat for a nutrition bar.

Some Listers recommended Clintec nutrition bars (800-422-2752). Made by a division of Nestle, 125-calorie Clintec bars come in chocolate, berry and mocha flavors that are 33 percent fat (4.6 grams). Clintec also makes two soups (tomato, cream of chicken) in packets that are nutritionally similar to the bars. The company told me on 4/21/97 that all of these items are free of gluten and lactose. For delivery call their Homelink program at 800-776-5446. I have been told by listers that Clintec is now called Nu-Basics and is the same thing.

Listers seem to agree that all Ensure products are gluten-free, though their taste is reputed to be a bit medicinal.

PR Ironman nutrition bars don't list any obviously gluten-containing ingredient on the label, but be careful because the company (800-481-8881) doesn't understand about gluten and could not assure us of GF status. Their bars are 30% fat (8 g).


Drinks: Coffee, GF tea, hot chocolate packet or Alpine cider packet, Carnation Instant Breakfasts and Diet Breakfasts: French Vanilla, Strawberry Creme, Creamy Milk Chocolate, Cafe Mocha. Powdered milk.

Cereals & grains: rice crackers, granolas (see above; I plan to make my own from GF cereals plus brown sugar and dried fruit; Bette Hagman also has granola recipes in More From the Gluten-Free Gourmet); any GF breads that don't crumble (good luck).

Fruits: dried

Proteins & fats: powdered eggs (for GF status, contact AlpineAire Foods, P.O. Box 926, Nevada City, CA 95959, 1-800-322-6325 or fax 916-272-2624); also GF pancake mixes if you're very ambitious.

Bulk: Citrucel (though company does not guarantee GF status)


Soups: Lipton instant Cup-a-Soup (Broccoli & Cheese, Onion, Chicken Flavored Broth, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom, Hearty Harvest Vegetable, Tomato), & regular soup mixes (Onion, Onion-Mushroom, 7 Vegetable); OXO brand flavor packets but not cubes, Clintec soup packets (1-800-422-2752).

Main dish: 8-oz military-style gluten-free MREs in foil packets available for $4 apiece from My Own Meals Inc, P.O. Box 334, Deerfield, IL 60015 (847-948-1118 or fax 847-948-0468) (I've tried some of their flavors and think they taste OK -- much better than I expected, especially if heated -- but the 8-ounce servings aren't terribly filling. They also sell a 10-ounce serving, but it's in a plastic tub that is bulkier than foil). Other main dishes: cook polenta or instant rice with a small can of chicken (see reference to Swanson chicken above) and freeze dried peas or other vegetable (buy freezedried foods at recreational equipment store or AlpineAire Foods, P.O. Box 926, Nevada City, CA 95959, 1-800-322-6325 or fax 916-272-2624). Or try GF pasta or rice noodles & sauce (I love Gabriele red bell pepper & garlic polenta pasta, which I eat with just olive oil & parmesan: Gabriele Pasta, City of Industry, CA 91748, 818-964-2324. Their US national distributor is Mountain People's Warehouse in Denver 303-466-5574).

Side dish: Instant potatoes (try filling a tiny plastic bottle with olive oil instead of carrying butter), freezedried peas, mushrooms or applesauce (contact AlpineAire, above); Lipton says its Potato & Sauce side dishes (Au Gratin, Scalloped) are GF but I haven't seen or tried them.

VII. On Your Way Home...

On your way home, stop at Dairy Queen for the products they claim are GF: vanilla or chocolate soft-serve ice cream, Dairy Queen Misty products or Dairy Queen Plain M&M Blizzards without the chocolate sauce.

DISCLAIMER: These are the opinions of some subscribers to this List. Although people have told me that these foods are gluten-free (or were at the time somebody checked), we make no guarantees. There is always the possibility of error, cross-contamination and changes in ingredients, so you should check them out yourselves and make your own decisions.

| Return to the start of this document. | Return to the Basic Information page. | Return to the FAQ. |
| Return to the Celiac WWW page. |

Feedback to the Listowners.


This fact sheet has been designed to be a general information resource. However, it is not intended for use in diagnosis, treatment, or any other medical application. Questions should be directed to your personal physician. This information is not warranted and no liability is assumed by the author or any group for the recommendations, information, dietary suggestions, menus, and recipes promulgated. Based upon accepted practices in supplying the source documents, this fact sheet is accurate and complete. Products mentioned or omitted do not constitute endorsement.

| Return to the start of this document.| Return to the Celiac WWW page. |