March 15, 2006

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Low Carb Products Update

A few issues back, I addressed the Sad Death of Ketatoes, a low carb product I had found useful enough to incorporate into several recipes. But there are other products that have either gone off the market, or become harder to find, and I get questions about them.

Indeed, when I was halfway through writing this article, I got this email:

Hi Dana,

I'm new to your website for forgive me if my question was answered some time ago.

First off I bought all your books and as far as I'm concerned you certainly know your low carb business. I've tried all the plans out there regarding low-carb and none work except atkins or a modified version of his. I love you comments, observations and commonsense approach and not to mention fantastic recipes and ideas. Thank you and keep it coming.

No for my question, after reading through back archives of your newsletter you mentioned some low carb products, After going to the store and looking up on some of the web sites you mention to purchase these I was told they were out of business. For example everyone raved about Keto tortilla chips, (out of business) The bakery back in Illinois where they sell low carb bread at 3 grams a slice (I went to the web site and I could not find a link to purchase their low carb bread).

If you could be so kind and mention in a future newsletter an updated consensus of what is still out there as far as superior low carb products particularly bread and tortilla chips. I feel

Mission makes a great low carb tortilla at 5 net grams for the small size and 7 net grams for the large size. Seeing these three items are pretty much all you need. And yes I'm putting my two cents in about Dreamfield Pasta - yes once or twice a week is great as long as you eat a good portion of protein and some fat along with it (not hard to do with a sauce) I have a

great recipe I'll share later on that one.

Again thanks for all your hard work and research for not being a doctor you sure no what the heck your talking about.

Mary Sawyer

Las Vegas, NV

So here you go, Mary! And the rest of you, too, of course:

* Carb Countdown Reduced Carb Dairy Beverage: Carb Countdown "milk" is still being made, though the juices and yogurt have been discontinued. Here in Bloomington, Indiana, Marsh grocery stores still carry it (or at least they do here on the east side.) If you can't get Carb Countdown, it's because your local grocery stores have stopped carrying it. Your best bet is to ask Hood Dairies if anyone in your region carries the stuff:

* Juice products: As mentioned, Carb Countdown juices are gone, which is a shame; I really liked them. (And my sister is seriously mourning the loss of their Pink Grapefruit variety.) Minute Maid has a line of "light" no sugar juice beverages; they run about 4 grams a serving. I haven't tried them, but they're widely distributed.

* No-sugar-added ketchup: For a while there I had three brands of no-sugar-added ketchup in the house, but two of them have gone off the market. I can only buy Heinz One-Carb Ketchup anymore. Doesn't worry me; I made my own ketchup for years, I can do it again - and will, since the Heinz One-Carb is a little pricey for me.

* No-sugar-added barbecue sauce: I can't find this in my grocery store anymore. I can make really good low carb barbecue sauce at home, though, so I don't sweat it. If you want to buy a bottled sauce - they're handy -- Stubb's brand has some sugar, but is much lower carb than most of the commercial sauces - 5 grams per 2 tablespoon serving, as opposed to 12 grams for Heinz and 14 grams for KC Masterpiece. Good, too. I keep a bottle of Stubb's Original on hand.

* Low carb ice cream: I can still get these, though some brands have re-labeled as "no sugar added" rather than "low carb." Edy's/Dreyer's is my favorite, though the Breyer's is good, too. Do yourself a favor and skip ice cream that's both sugar free and low fat. Yuck.

* Low carb bread: Speaking of low carb bread, availability has become hit or miss. Pepperidge Farm still lists their Carb Style bread and rolls - quite good -- on their website. Brownberry makes low carb bread in whole wheat and 7 grain varieties; I can get it locally at Kroger. What your local grocery stocks may well be different. I've seen other brands - Aunt Millie's was making a low carb version for a while - but often they include hydrogenated vegetable oil, something I refuse to eat, and I've seen high fructose corn syrup, too. READ THE LABEL! I've said it before, my favorite low carb bread comes from Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, and bless their hearts, they ship.

* Low carb tortillas: Every grocery store and health food store in Bloomington Indiana has these, and many have more than one brand. However, I've heard from readers who are having a hard time finding them. Keep in mind that low carb tortillas keep for at least a few months if unopened, so you can stock up when you do find them, or if you order them.

* Low carb bagels: Haven't seen these in the stores for a while. But then, I was unimpressed with Atkins Bagels anyway. They were too squishy. However, here's an all-bagel website that sells a reduced carb bagel. There's good news and bad news about these bagels. The good news is that since they're made by Jewish folks in New York who specialize in bagels, I'd be willing to bet they've got an authentic taste and texture. The bad news is that I called the company and their "low carb" bagels have 21 net carbs per bagel, or 10.5 per half. That's too much for many of us. It is, however, considerably lower than the 56 grams of carb in the average medium-sized "regular" bagel.

Interestingly, Natural Ovens makes a "Golden Grain" bagel that also has 21 grams of net carb, they just don't label it "low carb." So that's an option as well.

I'd call either of these bagels a treat food, not a staple.

* Ketocrumbs: Gone with the Keto company, I'm afraid. If you can get low carb bread near you, it's a simple matter to dry some out in a slow oven, then run it through your blender or food processor to get low carb crumbs. For that matter, this is a fine thing to do with any low carb bread that goes stale or gets freezer burned. If you really, really low carb crumbs, grind a bag of pork rinds in your food processor! Keep pork rind crumbs in the fridge. Either way, if you want Italian seasoned crumbs (similar to Progresso) mix 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon Splenda with each cup of crumbs.

* Sugar free chocolate: My poll indicated that sugar free candy, overall, wasn't popular, but sugar free chocolate was. I'm pleased to report I still see it everywhere - my local Marsh grocery store carries Sorbee sugar free chocolate bars in both milk and dark chocolate, and I see sugar free Reese's peanut butter cups and Russell Stover's sugar free candies in big drug stores. For more exalted chocolate - I'm hooked on Guylian's sugar free, from Belgium - look in gourmet stores (I get mine at Sahara Mart, here in Bloomington), or go online. And remember - most good chocolate shops carry at least a few varieties of sugar free chocolates.

* Low-carb pasta: Atkins and Keto pasta are gone, and I won't miss them. I never liked the soy pastas; the texture was off. Dreamfield's is still available, but not everyone's carrying it. When I see it, I stock up, since pasta doesn't go bad. The venerable Mueller's noodle company now has a reduced carb macaroni that's quite good. My local grocery stores stock this. I consider both Dreamfield's and Mueller's low carb pastas to be too carb-y for staples - they're occasional treats. I eat them less than once a month.

There are other brands of low carb pasta available online.

( I've been reading a lot about shiritaki noodles recently. These are Asian noodles made from konjac (a root) fiber, and have virtually no usable carbs. Apparently they have no flavor, but a good texture, and simply take on the flavor of the sauce you serve them with. I'm looking for a local source, and will report in a future 'zine.)

* Low carb cold cereal: For a little while both Total and Special K cereals were available in low carb/high protein versions. I don't see them in the stores anymore, and I've seen low carb Special K at Big Lots, a sure sign that it's been discontinued. No big loss; they both sucked anyway, and had objectionable ingredients. All Bran is high enough in fiber that it can fit into a low carb diet, and All Bran Extra Fiber is even better. But exciting? Not really.

Keto Crisp is gone with the Keto company, of course, and a darned shame it is; I had a couple of really good recipes that used it. If I find another source of soy crisps, I'll let you know. If you're a Grape Nuts fan, there's a soy cereal called Nutlettes available online that's pretty similar. I don't like to eat a lot of soy, however.

There are low carb granolas available online, too. I make my own granola, so I haven't tried these.

* Low carb chips: I can't find these locally anymore, and some brands are gone for good - Atkins protein chips and Keto tortilla chips, for instance. Trader Joe's still carries their "Joe's Lows" low carb corn-soy-and-flax chips, which I like a lot. I called the Indianapolis Trader Joe's, and they say the chips are a good seller, and there are no plans to discontinue them. So if you have a Trader Joe's near you, you're set. If not, you may have to order chips on line - R.W. Garcia's are good.

Don't forget Just the Cheese Chips - little rounds of real cheese baked until crunchy, from the Specialty Cheese company. Very tasty, very crunchy, zippo carbs, plenty of protein, plenty of calcium. If you can't find them locally, they're worth ordering online. You can get them direct, but you'll have to buy a lot. The low carb etailers all have them, though.

(Not a chip, but let me also recommend Specialty Cheese Company's Frying Cheese - cheese that gets hot and melty inside, and brown and crunchy outside, without melting away into a little puddle. Incredibly good. Buy it if you see it. Order it from the company if you don't. SO great!)

* Low carb soups: The only low carb soups I ever saw in my grocery store were from Progresso. They're still listed on the Progresso website; whether your grocer carries them is another question. Some of them contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, so I can't recommend them anyway.

You'll notice a couple of running themes in this article: One is that many of these products are still being made, but many grocery stores have stopped carrying them. This is a genuine problem, especially in smaller towns. You could try getting together with other local low carbers, and petitioning the largest local grocery store to carry a reasonable selection of low carb stuff. You'll have to make a compelling case, however, that there will be enough sales to make it worth their while. Grocery stores operate on razor-thin profit margins, and genuinely cannot afford to stock stuff that doesn't sell reasonably well, especially stuff that goes bad or stale, like breads.

You might also find a store that is willing to special order stuff for you if you're willing to buy a case at a time. Again, go in with low carb friends and split a case or two of your favorite products.

The other running theme is that you can still order low carb products online. Us long-time low carbers are used to this - it's where we got our low carb stuff back before the low carb explosion of 2003-2004. The great thing about the low carb etailers is that they're not dependent on a geographical region for their customer base, so they can afford to carry a wide range of specialty products. Indeed, if you haven't shopped the low carb etailers I think you'll be surprised the range of stuff available.

My favorite etailer is Carb Smart - Andrew DiMino, the owner, is a pal of mine, and is a long-time low carber himself; he's been in the low carb etail biz since long before the boom. Andrew has a big selection, gives good service, and keeps his prices reasonable.

Netrition is another site that's been around for quite a while. They handle more than just low carb stuff - a lot of vitamins and the like - but they have a good selection of low carb specialty products.

Low Carb Nexus has a good rep.

I haven't done business with Lo Carb Diner, but they've been around a while, a good sign that they're serving their clientele well.

And finally, in a triumph for all of us mourning the death of Ketatoes: I found Dixie Diners Carb Counters Instant Mashers at several of the etailers. Looks to be substantially similar to Ketatoes. I'll get a hold of some, try it in my recipes that called for Ketatoes, and let you know.

Posted by HoldTheToast at March 15, 2006 09:24 PM