Summer is here! We marked the first official weekend of summer with a camping trip in the Grand Bend region of southern Ontario.
For someone as indoorsy as myself, you would think that I would positively loathe the prospect of sleeping outside with the bugs and having to hike to a bathroom. But, for some strange reason, I absolutely love camping. It is my most favourite summertime activity. Although, to be fair, what we do can barely be called camping - you certainly won't see me setting up a tent in an abandoned forest with no running water or cell phone signals. I like to be where someone can hear me scream and there is an actual real-life toilet at my dispense. So it may not be the most respectable form of camping, but sitting around a bonfire with your buddies on a summer night - what is better than that?
The one thing we always seem to do when we camp is overbuy food of the dinner variety: veggie dogs, burgers and the like, while completely ignoring breakfast. I'm generally not big on breakfast; when I'm at home I rarely have anything more than a bowl of cereal or the night before's leftovers before heading off to work. The thing with camping, though, is that you need to eat something somewhat substantial before spending the day in the sweltering heat.
This year I decided to make a batch of breakfast bars that I knew I couldn't turn down in the morning. I found the recipe on page 101 of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. The base of these guys is made of old-fashioned rolled oats and spelt flour and they do have the general feel of those prepackaged bar varieties without the extra sugar and junk loaded in.
They use brown rice syrup in lieu of sugar.
And now I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Great Sugar Debate of the 21st Century.
Syrups have generally been demonized thanks to their disgusting brother, high fructose corn syrup, but not all syrups are created equal. I did some research on BRS when I first thought about trying this recipe and the verdict is out. It is generally believed that it is better than both high fructose corn syrup (isn't everything?) and sugar, but there is still debate regarding its suitability for diabetics and others with blood sugar issues.
Basically, it probably won't kill you to eat it now and again, but I wouldn't be pouring it into my coffee every morning (nor would I be pouring sugar into my coffee. Nor would I be drinking coffee at all because ever since I was dared to eat a coffee bean in the fourth grade I cannot bring anything even remotely coffee-like to my lips without gagging).
That's the thing with sweeteners. They are cool now and again but we are way, way too reliant on them as a whole (did you know the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day?! 355 calories a day in sugar alone!). This is precisely why I don't bake unless I know someone else is going to help me eat what I make.
Me and sugar don't really get along, even on the best of days. I have had some pretty gnarly blood sugar issues in the past and more noticeably to those around me, I tend to turn into a raging biotch after just one cookie. As a result, I can't even imagine what would happen if I decided to consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. I'd probably be divorced and have no friends, for one thing.
Essentially, even after reading all sorts of websites I still have no idea what's going on with regard to sweeteners. I'm just going to place BRS in the "in moderation only" category for the time being in hopes that I don't keel over and die anytime soon.
This was a camping weekend. I needed something easily accessible for breakfast. These bars seemed to do the trick. They tasted pretty awesome too, with dried cranberries and strawberries; sesame, sunflower and flax seeds all strewn about nicely. After they were already in the oven I realized I forgot to put the canola oil in, but they turned out completely fine without it so hurrah for less fat, I guess.
It was a beautiful weekend and it didn't rain once while we were there, I can't believe it!
Me, Paul and pinto bean hot dogs around the fire.
Fun at the beach
A rousing soccer game in which Paul took his goaltending duties very seriously, to the point where he chipped a tooth after taking a ball to the face.
Saturday night's beautiful sunset
Great times with great friends (and my beloved camping socks)