Nutrition Review: Paleo Meals to Go

January 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

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A while back I posted a few meal comparisons in the Backcountry Meal Shootouts. There are a few pretty well known names in the outdoor meal industry (Mountain House, AlpineAire, Backpacker’s Pantry) and a few not so well known (Heather’s Choice). Well I recently came across a company that makes dehydrated meals for a very specific diet and I was very impressed by the nutrition potential so I decided to look into it further.

Paleo Meals to Go is a line of meals that have been developed with the Paleo diet in mind. Don’t worry: you don’t have to be on a paleo diet to eat these meals. In fact, I am not on paleo but after trying them, I will be using these meals exclusively when I am hiking and hunting because they were very good and very nutritious (more about that later though).

What is Paleo?

“Paleo” literally means old or ancient. The paleo diet (also known as the “caveman diet”) seeks to return people to eating foods as they naturally occur and as they would have been available centuries ago. This means that processed foods, food substitutes, refined grains and sugars, and the like are all out of the question. What you are left with is fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, and fresh meats (no hormones; grass-fed). Doesn’t sound too bad, right? In fact, that sounds like a better option than many of the alternatives out there.

Paleo Meals to Go incorporates these same dietary guidelines into their meals. The result: Quality, nutritious, natural ingredients.

After testing out some of their products recently, I thought I would share my experience and my thoughts regarding their products.

Canyon Chicken Chili

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The Canyon Chicken Chili was my choice of entrée. I have found that when you re trying out a new line of foods, it is best to go with something similar to what other companies make so that you have a decent baseline with which to compare. I have been pretty impressed by the Mountain House Chicken Chili from the Backpacking Meal Shootout so I wanted to compare this meal to the Mountain House variety.

This meal was very flavorful without being over the top on the spices. It also was not nearly as salty as the Mountain House meal (or any of the others, for that matter). I had a good balance of flavor without being too strong in one particular flavor over the others. It was not perfect as it was a little bland for my liking, but good grief… It isn’t a 4-star meal, it is a dehydrated meal for backpacking. If you are like me and want a bit more flavor or spice, Paleo Meals to Go sends a packet of salts and spices along with your meals so you can get that perfect balance if you so choose.

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I mentioned above that the ingredients are quality and are not processed or refined. Take a look at the ingredients list (above)… Very straight forward and you can pronounce every ingredient on that list. That is a great example of what makes these meals such a great option for those who are conscious of the ingredients of their food.

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The Chicken Chili is very high in protein with 40g per serving. This will promote good rebuilding of muscle fibers after a long day in the field. I was disappointed to see how low the fat content was though. Fat is important for preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue when you are engaged in extended strenuous activity because once you run out of fat stores to burn, you body goes into a catabolic state and starts using muscle as fuel. If you were to eat this meal for lunch and then go off hiking for 4-5 hours, you might be running on empty by dinner time. A meal-replacement bar would be a good afternoon snack in that scenario. However, the high carbohydrate levels with a decent amount of fiber should help stave off hunger between meals.

This would be a fantastic meal to eat for dinner after all of the hiking was done for the day. The high protein would help rebuild muscles while the fiber and carbohydrates would promote proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.

Cliffside Coconut Berry

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The Cliffside Coconut Berry is a breakfast meal that is intended to start your day off right. Now, as a disclaimer, I have tried some horrendous breakfast meals and was very gun-shy about trying this one. After reading the ingredient list, I thought it couldn’t be too bad so I gave it a try. The first thing I noticed was that the people who put this meal together were not stingy with the coconut; it was definitely in there. However, that told me a lot about this company in that one taste: they do not skimp on the expensive ingredients. Coconut is not cheap and to use it liberally in a meal communicates the fact that Paleo Meals to Go values nutrition over cost.

My second thought was that I was pleasantly surprised by the robust flavor and satisfying feeling of finishing off the package. This meal was a great breakfast option that was enjoyable from first bite to last (and also really filling).

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When you look at the list of ingredients (above), quality is once again the main theme, but also… yum! Anything with those ingredients has a welcome place in my pack.

Additionally, coconut is the first ingredient which means it is the most prevalent ingredient in the meal! With coconut being so nutritious, this speaks volumes to the quality of this meal.

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When you consider the nutritional value of the Cliffside Coconut Berry meal, it can be a little staggering if you don’t understand what you are looking at. 50g of fat…? That is a lot of fat! However, remember that coconut has a high fat content and so do nuts and seeds. Additionally, nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious as they supply the crucial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are so good for you. Also, fat is essential  to proper digestion and nutrient absorption so fat is not necessarily a bad thing.

The first 5 ingredients are coconut, nuts, and seeds. That is why the fat content is so high. They are all good fats that will set you up for a day of nutrient-rich, high fueled hiking. Additionally, the high fiber content will promote slow digestion which will pretty much ensure that you will have everything you need to make it to lunch without needing to stop for a snack. This is a very well-rounded, nutritious meal.

Final Verdict

I could not be happier with my choice to use Paleo Meals to Go for my backpacking meals. They are tasty, nutritious, and well thought out. The biggest decision now is what flavors to go with. The Cliffside Coconut berry is going to be a staple in my pack as I cannot say enough good things about it. Now I just need to figure out what to have for lunch and dinner.

Paleo Meals to Go also offers meal-replacement bars. I will be writing a review of those in the coming days.

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