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'Fast Food' Indian Nation

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For energy and sustenance, the Cree in Canada used to eat pemmican, a jerky made by working animal fats back into preserved meat. The most commonly used meats were buffalo, venison (including elk, deer and moose) or small game like rabbit or squirrel.

The dried meat of choice was laid on a flat surface, and then fat, nuts and berries of various sorts were pounded into it. The mixture was molded into solid chunks, shredded or made as fine as sawdust.

For long trips today, fast food may seem like the easiest hunger fix, but it’s not the healthiest option, and your energy is bound to spike and drop. Consider trail mix, dried fruits, nuts, jerky, pemmican or energy bars. I like the Tanka Bar, which combines organic buffalo meat and cranberries—healthy American Indian “fast food.”

If you can plan ahead for a full meal, package a salad with tuna, chicken or walnuts. A jicama or bean salad can also be transported in a plastic container. The tried and true sandwich on whole grain or pita bread is a nutritious and filling option. I recommend smoked turkey with spread mango chutney. Among these to-go food suggestions, I saved the most savory recipe for last:

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Buffalo Wraps

1 pound of thin-sliced, almost shaved cooked buffalo roast
4 large, burrito-size flour tortillas
(try flavored tortillas)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup shredded carrot
Green leaf lettuce

Arrange lettuce on the tortilla and layer with meat, cheese and carrot. Roll up tightly and refrigerate for at least half an hour. When ready to go, cut in half or quarters, and wrap in foil. Optional: spread salad dressing or low-fat cream cheese on the tortilla before layering.

Dale Carson (Abenaki) is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking, and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with them and her husband in Madison, Connecticut.