For me and That Nice Boy I Married, Memorial Day often kicks off Camping Season. And we’re not the only ones! The campgrounds at state and national parks are jammed for the holiday weekend. So, I’m betting that some of you are planning a Memorial Day camping trip.
In some ways, camping is great for us! Lots of outdoor physical fun – hiking, canoeing/kayaking/peddle-boating, playing a little Frisbee, heck, just walking back and forth to the washhouse! Plus, plenty of grilling, which means steaks, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, you name it, all perfect for us.
But there are pitfalls.
For many of us, hot dogs and hamburgers come on buns, especially when sitting around a picnic table. These are generally accompanied by chips.
Camping websites often recommend granola, oatmeal, and pancake mix as the ideal breakfast foods to bring along. Lunches are often sandwiches and chips. Canned baked beans make a sugary, starchy appearance. Soda and beer are common beverages, along with hot chocolate in the morning or around the campfire on a chilly evening.
Most of these are easy to skirt. If you’re not gluten-free, low-carb hot dog and hamburger buns, and plenty of low-carb breads, are in the stores; so are low-carb tortillas. If you are gluten-free – I am – EggLife Egg Wraps are great for making wrap sandwiches. Or you could be truly revolutionary, and eat your burgers and dogs with a fork.
Skip the canned baked beans; personally, I never cared for them anyway. You can bring diet soda and light beer, of course. If you want a super-low-carb, gluten-free beer, Corona Premier is just the thing – 2.5 grams per bottle and gluten-free. Corona Light is only 5 grams per bottle and is gluten-free because it falls under the legal definition of gluten-free; it has 20 ppm or fewer per bottle.I would bring instant tea to ice and plenty of sparkling water.
Some Low-Carb Camping Snack IdeasLet the carbivores bring chips and pretzels while you bring pork rinds, mixed nuts, low- or no-sugar jerky, mini-dill pickles, and other blood-sugar-friendly snacks. For some reason, I find peanuts in the shell especially pleasing when camping, and while you shouldn’t leave your shells for the next group, you needn’t worry about the little bits of schmutz that peanuts in the shell always spread.
But then come the marshmallowsWorse, S’mores! Yikes. Not only are they undeniably yummy, fun to make, and loaded with childhood memories. Not only are they likely to be expected, nay, demanded, by the other campers. That’s not bad enough! No, those other campers are going to “helpfully” urge you to have “just one.” “It’s a tradition!” they’ll cry. “It’s a holiday! You deserve a treat!”
That first argument is easily disposed of: Whoever has “just one” of something actually named “S’mores”?! The other arguments? Your body doesn’t know it’s a holiday; your blood sugar will go wonky just the same. And only you know whether you’re a serious carb addict. Would you stop after the camping trip, or would you go into a several-month carb-driven tailspin?
I will have you know that I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out a reduced-carb S’more. Sugar-free marshmallows are available for sale; Amazon has several brands. Were I buying them, I’d shop by ingredients. La Nouba marshmallows get great ratings but are full of maltitol. Since we absorb about half of maltitol, we need to count half of it, too. They also contain isomalt and lactitol. Between 10-14% of isomalt is absorbed, while lactitol is barely absorbed at all. The problem is that, while these are listed among the ingredients, we have no way of knowing the percentage breakdown.
Max Mallow brand, also with great ratings, comes in several varieties, including one that is both sugar-free and vegan, useful if you have a mixed group of dietary restrictions, since standard marshmallows, containing gelatin, are not vegetarian. These are made with xylitol, which, like maltitol, is about 50% absorbed (and toxic to dogs; if you’re bringing the pooches along, be very careful with xylitol). They also use monkfruit and erythritol. ChocZero marshmallows use resistant dextrin and fructooligosaccharides, sweet fibers, for their sweeteners. I leave the choice up to you.
Sugar-Free Marshmallow Recipes
I also found two recipes for making low-carb, sugar-free marshmallows; you can find them here and here. I have not tried these recipes but have no reason to doubt them. My one concern would be that without the customary dusting of cornstarch these might be quite sticky to handle.
Regardless, I am quite certain that in kindness to those sharing a tent or camper with you, you should go easy on the sugar alcohols and extra fiber. Sadly, what happens in the sleeping bag does not always stay in the sleeping bag.
Sugar-free chocolate is now ubiquitous, of course. Grab your favorite. Milk chocolate is the classic for S’mores but use what you wish.
What About Low-Carb Graham Crackers?But what about graham crackers, without which no S’more can be handled, much less be complete? I searched in vain for commercially produced low-carb graham crackers. Happily, Low Carb Yum has a recipe for graham crackers, too! (So do I, in 500 More! Low-Carb Recipes, but being from early in my career it is not gluten-free.) Maya calls for Besti Brown Monk Fruit Sweetener. I have not tried this but intend to. Meanwhile, if you have Swerve brown sugar style in the house, I suspect it would work, too, though I emphasize that I have not tried the recipe.
Memorial Day Staple – Sugar-free Cocoa Mix
Sugar-free cocoa mix is widely available, probably even at your local grocery store. If you’re buying Swiss Miss brand, be aware that their “Reduced Calorie” version is actually lower in carbs than their “Sugar-Free” version. But there are some specifically “keto” hot chocolate mixes on the market, although not having tried them, I cannot vouch for them.
To go with that morning cocoa, how about hot cereal?
Dana Carpender’s Low-Carb Toasted Almond and Coconut “Cereal” Recipe
More Low Carb Recipes & Articles by Dana Carpender.