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On the menu for Mars: Quiche, lemon dill salad and dark matter cupcakes

Researcher Angelo Vermeulen wears a mock spacesuit. Photo: Yajaira Sierra-Sastr\HI-SEAS

Researcher Angelo Vermeulen wears a mock spacesuit. Photo: Yajaira Sierra-Sastr\HI-SEAS


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 17, 2013, 10:06 AM -

Contrary to popular belief, it looks like it's possible astronaut food can be not only nutritious, but also delicious.

We're talking space quiche, Moroccan stew, chocolate cake and other delectable treats future Martian explorers will be able to make from the kind of ingredients that would survive the trip over.

Six scientists recently emerged from a four-month stint in the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat, where their mission was to compare two kinds of food systems -- crew-made and pre-prepared -- on long-duration Mars missions.

Researcher Andrew Vermeulen said the study wasn't just about taste and preparation, but also the effects of varied food and "menu fatigue" on astronauts' health and morale.

"Based on this study, we'll be able to offer a strategy that optimizes everything and is a good balance between, on the one hand, not wasting too much time preparing your food and wasting too many resources but, on the other hand, keeping your crew fit and healthy," he said. 

The researchers were sealed into the habitat at around 2,400 metres above sea level on the northern slope of the Hawai'ian volcano of Mauna Loa for the project, only allowed to venture outside in spacesuits to simulate total isolation from Earth with no chance of resupply.

Aside from their research, the scientists actually held a public recipe contest, based on a list of ingredients readily available in the habitat.

The winners are below -- and they all look tasty, even though many of them were probably made from freeze-dried ingredients.

First place breakfast: No-crust quiche muffins

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

First place soups and stews: Moroccan beef tagine

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

First place main dish: Spam fried rice

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

First place side dish: Lemon dill pasta salad

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

First place dessert: Dark matter cake

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Photo: Sian Proctor/HI-SEAS

Meanwhile, back on Earth, catch the most striking severe weather videos from around the world in our video gallery.

What's your favourite weather joke?

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