Easy Low Carb Meals for Campfire Cooking & Photos from Inks Lake State Park

Sunet over Inks Lake State Park

Well, we’ve just returned from yet another camping weekend, our 4th since the hubby convinced me I might not actually hate the great outdoors a few years back. This time, we ventured to Inks Lake State Park, just about an hour outside of Austin.

And while I’ve talked about my “glamping” mindset in the past, you might like to know that also extends to the meals I make over our campfire. You won’t ever see me packing generic hot dogs and s’mores for our camping trips. I like to treat the outdoor setting, lack of gadgets, and campfire cooktop as a real-life Top Chef challenge of sorts, and this time we added in an additional bit of difficulty: we wanted to stay relatively low-carb.

So, I dug deep into my own recipe stash and Pinterest boards, and came up with a meal plan that really worked well. (Note – if you don’t care about food stuff, just scroll to the bottom for more camping pics!)

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Night One: Link Sausage, Elotes, and Tomato Salad

For this meal, we upgraded from a basic hotdog with a nice pork and venison sausage link that just went directly onto the grill grate over our fire. I then paired it with my absolute favorite grilling side-dish: elotes, aka Mexican-style street corn.

To cook elotes, you shuck the corn and rub it with butter + salt + pepper, before wrapping it in foil, and sticking it in the coals of your fire for about 5-6 minutes to warm.  I then removed the corn and brushed each side with mayonnaise, then transferred it to a large-size ziploc bag that I had pre-packed with crumbled cojita cheese, chili powder, paprika, and cilantro.  Shake the cheese/spice mixture until well coated, then squeeze a bit of lime on and enjoy!

Finally, we also paired dinner with a nice, fresh tomato salad. I simply picked the ripest tomato from my garden, chopped it into bite sized pieces on-site, topped it with some chopped green onion, and a Greek-salad style vinaigrette. Yum!

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Breakfast Day Two: “Breakfast Charcuterie” — Salmon Toasts, Cheese, and Dried Fruit

A lot of time camping at a busy campground means a pretty early wake-up call, thanks to lots of sunlight, loud children at nearby campsites, and/or the engines of the fishermen that wake up super-early to catch the biggest fish. Because of this, sometimes just an easy breakfast that doesn’t even require the use of your campfire is ideal, so that’s what we went for.

Granted, this was sort of a splurge on the carb front b/c we each had a slice of bread, however the bread we picked (Pepperidge Farm Pumpernickel) also had 3g of protein, and 2g of fiber, so we allowed ourself this little indulgence, since we were going to be doing a rather long hike shortly after breakfast.

For the toasts, we just did another light dab of mayonnaise (left over from the elotes) and then topped with smoked salmon and a sprinkling of dill. The cheeses were a delicious rosemary asiago that we’re fond of, and a smoked gouda. The fruits (in limited quantities b/c of carbs, but again, we were trying to power up for hiking) were dried apricots and dried cranberries (not Craisins, though, which have a ton of added sugar!)

Lunch Day Two: Snacks from the Cooler

Alright, no fancy photo of lunch. But I had made a batch of my curried chicken salad, and we paired that with almonds, beef jerky, and some of the leftover dried fruit from breakfast.

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Dinner Day Two: Foil Packets with Chicken, Artichoke, Mushrooms, Tomato & Pesto

OMG, guys, this meal was so good it’s going into the regular rotation — not just for camping meals, but also for our everyday eating. And it was incredibly simple: before we left, I cut up raw chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and then combined with jarred and rinsed artichoke hearts, sliced tomato, and sliced mushrooms. A couple dollops of homemade pesto provided the “sauce”, and we folded them up into foil and were ready to go.

If you’ve never made foil packets before, the key is to keep them relatively flat; you don’t want things stacked on top of each other, but more like in one single layer, so that it all cooks evenly. We cooked our packets about 10 minutes on each side, which was perfect to get the chicken bits nice and crispy, while also letting the veggies steam in the sauce.

Breakfast Day Three: Breakfast Scramble with sausage, green onions & mushrooms

For our final campfire meal, I pulled out the trusty cast-iron skillet. If you’re planning on cooking over anything that requires a skillet over an open flame, you’re going to want to invest in some good quality cast iron, because fire will totally destroy your everyday cookware.

I forgot to get a photo of this one because we were too busy packing out all our gear, but it was just a basic scramble…eggs, breakfast sausage, and the leftover chopped onions and sliced mushrooms I’d used in some of the other recipes. I topped mine with a bit more cilantro that was left from the elotes. Simple and delicious!

So there you have it.  That’s how we managed to stay low-carb even while camping this weekend, and it all managed to fit into a single cooler to boot. And never fear, more low-carb recipes from my current recipe series are coming later this week!

In the meantime, how about a few more photos from our camping trip?

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The scenic view from our Saturday hike. We did various trails that combined to be about 4 miles round trip on the West side of the campgrounds.

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Our noisy neighbors! We also spied several cranes, turtles, and even a rogue crawfish.

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Campsite 236, with our tent set up. This was a drive-in spot that came with a water and electricity hookup.  Being right on the water was fantastic. 

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We took a class on “Fishing with a Ranger” that was free through the park itself.  The hubby caught a bluegill during the class, and then several other little guys over the next few days! 

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And later on in the weekend, I followed suit.  Here’s me with a green sunfish – my first catch ever! A great thing about the Texas State Parks – no fishing license is required as long as you’re fishing from the shore.

There were plenty of other fun things to do at this park as well; you could rent kayaks or walk down to a popular swimming hole nearby, and the view of the night sky was fantastic as well. We had a great time! What’s your favorite camping locale?

Whitney