September 18, 2003

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Hey Gang -

It happened again - I started out a little unclear about what to write, and the issue just grew! Hope you enjoy it, because I'm heading into crunch time - I have a manuscript deadline the end of this month, and another at the end of October. This 'zine is going to get a bit shorter (maybe a whole lot shorter!), and we may do some reprints again. I have to meet my deadlines!

Hope you enjoy it. Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:28 PM

Menopause, Estrogen, and Body Fat

I recently got a really good question. Pamela Merritt writes:

One question I have that I really haven't found an answer to yet, is that many sources, including Dr. Atkins, mention women having trouble losing weight once they reach menopause, and in fact my mother found her low fat diet/exercise program was crashing and burning at this time (while low carb works. Go Mom!)

However, these same sources emphasize that birth control pills, and estrogen in general, cause weight loss problems.

How, when menopause means you are getting LESS estrogen, do women have trouble with weight gain at menopause?

Excellent question, and I believe I've found a credible answer. However, please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. That being said -

In her book Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell, Debra Waterhouse says that the stubbornness of fat in menopausal women does, indeed, have to do with dwindling estrogen levels. You see, it's not just that estrogen creates fat - fat also creates estrogen. You might call it a feedback loop. This ability of fat to create estrogen (and other hormones, as well) is why women who are a little overweight are far less likely to get osteoporosis than women who are underweight. It is also a reason why serious obesity is a risk factor for hormonal disorders.

Because fat is a source of hormones, when estrogen production by the ovaries starts to drop as we approach menopause, the body hoards fat to buffer the decrease in estrogen. Waterhouse claims that women who aren't painfully thin actually have fewer menopausal symptoms than really skinny women, for this very reason.

This means that our bodies are increasingly reluctant to give up their fat cells as we advance through perimenopause, and apparently supplemental estrogen doesn't encourage them to let go - it just increases fat deposition and holds water, just like it does during our menstrual cycles (or, for that matter, in farm animals fed synthetic estrogens to fatten them.)

Waterhouse doesn't have much of a solution for this, you understand; she just encourages women not to worry too much about it, and accept it as part of the aging process. This is probably good advice. That being said, she hasn't much looked at low carb dieting, and I certainly know women who have lost weight during the perimenopausal years by low carbing, even if they haven't become fashionably thin.

Waterhouse does recommend not dieting strenuously, which she says will diminish muscle mass. This is true of low calorie diets, but one of the great benefits of low carb diets is that they're muscle-sparing.

Waterhouse is actually strongly anti-diet, and states that there are no bad foods - I hope you're all clear on how I feel about that! For those of us who are carbohydrate intolerant, carbs, and especially high-impact carbs, are bad foods, on a purely physiological level. They make us ill, and just as importantly, they make us hungry. It's hard to understand how we're supposed to eat "normally" when we're eating food that is, for us, severely physically addictive. However, this book was written before low carb dieting gained much currency; I'm not surprised that Waterhouse was unaware of the problems that carbohydrates present for many of us.

Waterhouse also states that eating large quantities of anything, even dry salad, will trigger the body to store fat - that the physical fullness-to-the-stretching-point of the stomach tells the body that it needs to store fat. This may well be true; certainly there is some research backing the idea of eating frequent, small meals to lose weight. It couldn't hurt to try eating 5 or 6 low carb mini-meals per day, rather than 3 big meals.

Waterhouse also encourages exercise, and I don't know of a single health, fitness, or weight loss authority who would argue with that. Please keep in mind that adding some resistance exercise - most commonly spelled w-e-i-g-h-t-s - to your exercise program will not only help prevent the loss of muscle mass and the subsequent drop in metabolism, but will also help keep your bones strong. I have recently gone back to doing aerobic weightlifting videos from The Firm, and (one slightly achy elbow, and the occasional flare up of my bad leg not withstanding) am in increasingly good shape. There is simply nothing like resistance exercise.

Once you get past menopause you'll probably find weight control much easier. You'll notice that once menopause is well and truly over, the body seems to give up its hold on the fat cells; middle-aged women tend to be plump, but old women tend to be thin. Indeed, you may find, once menopause is over, that you need to keep your weight up; really skinny old ladies are more prone to osteoporosis, among other things, than women who are a little more substantial, although, of course, being seriously obese will always be dangerous.

So there you have it: Eat low carb, don't starve yourself, divide your food up into several mini-meals, never eating enough to feel really stuffed, get some exercise, particularly resistance exercise - and accept the fact that it's just gonna be tough to be really thin for a good decade or so.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:27 PM

More About Women and Middle Aged Weight Gain

After that first article you're thinking, "but all those people in Hollywood are still thin and glamorous and beautiful when they reach middle age."

Maybe. And maybe not.

However, keep in mind that these people have access to the best help - top-flight trainers, personal gyms, chefs who count every carb and every calorie. If you'd like to get an idea of what even young stars go through to look the way they do, see if you can catch "Rock Bodies: From Flab to Fab," currently running on VH1. The show tracks four women - definitely less than middle-aged - and the 12-week program of rock-star-like training and diet control they undergo to shape up. It becomes very clear that, even for youthful stars, looking like that is a nearly full-time job, requiring 3 to 4 hours of serious exercise a day, plus someone dispassionate to cook for them and measure every mouthful. Again, most of these aren't even middle-aged people!

Too, let us not forget that the vast majority of people who make it to Hollywood star status started out genetically gifted in the looks department. There is simply no amount of dieting, exercise, or even surgery that will make my waist anything less than painfully short. We all have to work with what we're given.

Still, consider Demi Moore. Looks fabulous, of course - but then, she recently had $25,000 worth of plastic surgery, including liposuction and a tummy tuck - and she certainly is one who started out genetically blessed. If we try to compare our middle-aged selves to Demi and her ilk, we're going to have totally unreasonable expectations.

Bless Jamie Lee Curtis. Known as "the body" in Hollywood in her twenties, Jamie is now in her forties (indeed, she and I will turn 45 just over a month apart this fall.) Last year Jamie Lee decided to come out regarding the work and the deception it takes to make over-forty celebs look skinny, young and glamorous. She openly talked about having "not great" thighs, a "soft little tummy," and "back fat," and revealed that it took 3 hours of professional makeup, hair, and wardrobe people working on her to get her ready for a single photo shoot.

Furthermore, Jamie Lee said that even after all that preliminary work, plus a really good photographer who can make anyone look their best, celebrity photos in magazines and such are airbrushed and retouched to make their subjects look younger, slimmer, and more glamorous.

In an amazingly courageous move, Curtis insisted on having her photo taken in her underwear, with no makeup, foundation garments, manicure, hair stylist, or anything, and being published unretouched. It was her hope, she said, that women would stop looking at the fake images of middle aged women that Hollywood was putting out, and hating themselves for not being a size 2 and buff in their forties and beyond. You can see Jamie Lee Curtis's ground-breaking honest photo here:

What's the point of this discussion about what it takes to make middle-aged - and even youthful - celebrities look skinny and perfect? Just this: I worry that you (and I, for that matter) will look at these impossible images, and become so unsatisfied with being a normal size and healthy, and give up our nutritional and exercise regimens in disgust - when in reality, by any reasonable standards, we're successful.

I have actually gotten the occasional email from women who have lamented, "Gee, I've lost 30 pounds, and my cholesterol and triglycerides and blood pressure are all better, and I have more energy, but I'm stuck at a size 12, so I guess this diet doesn't really work, and I'll quit." Makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

I guess I just want you to know what success looks like, especially once you're middle-aged - and for most of us, it ain't a size 2 with six-pack abs. Okay?

(Here's a link to my Images of Beauty Gallery - some of the un-anorexic women that, until quite recently, Hollywood acknowledged for the extraordinary beauties they were and are: )

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:22 PM

Keto Keeters

So I recently tried Keto Keeters, a low carb soy-corn chip, in the original corn flavor. They look a lot like Fritos, and the bag reads, "Yes, now you CAN enjoy incredibly delicious corn chips without all the carbs!" And indeed, Keto Keeters have 8 grams of carbohydrate per serving (1 ounce), with 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams, plus they have 10 grams of protein. So these would be fine if they were, indeed, "incredibly delicious." If they were a tiny bit delicious. If they were 4% delicious.

But Keto Keeters suck. No, they don't just suck, they really suck. Indeed, they reach truly transcendent levels of suck-itude rarely approached, much less rivaled, in the realms of low carb specialty products. Keeters border upon the utterly inedible. I tried one chip, was incredulous at how bad it was, and tried another, just to see if it really was that bad. It was; in fact, it was even worse than I originally thought.

I took the bag home, and foisted one chip upon my unsuspecting, long-suffering husband. He dutifully chewed it up, his face registering his growing disbelief that I could feed him something so - well, sucky. He did not ask for another Keeter. I suspect if I had tried to get him to eat another, he might have called a divorce lawyer. The only reason I didn't immediately throw the rest of the bag of Keeters in the trash is that I wanted the label information for this article. Having used it, I will now dispose of the rest of the Keeters. I'm tempted to take them to the hazardous waste facility, but will probably just dump them in the trash. I could feed them to my dogs, I suppose, but I like my dogs.

How, specifically, do Keeters suck? Let me count the ways. They're cardboardy. They're soggy-stale-ish. They're un-crisp, and stick in your teeth unbecomingly. They have a really weird, un-cornchip-y flavor, with a bitter overtone of rancidity. And to top it off, they ran me $2.99 for a 2 ounce bag. Don't get me wrong; I'm willing to pay tall tickets for good low carb specialty products; I know that they use expensive ingredients. However, I resent spending this kind of money on something that - what was that word? - oh, yeah, something that sucks.

Keeters come in two other flavors: barbecue, and hot and spicy. I suppose it's just barely possible that these flavors don't suck quite so bad as the Original Corn, but I certainly won't be finding out. I mean, I'm willing to do a lot for you guys, but there are limits. I draw the line at putting even one more Keto Keeter in my mouth. I don't get paid enough for that.

There are other protein chips on the market, all of which (that I have tried) are better than Keeters, but I don't think any of the protein chips are outstanding. If you want something crunchy, I recommend that you try Just the Cheese chips, or smoke-flavored roasted almonds, or a fiber cracker, or pumpkin seeds.

Or a nice pork rind. Which brings me to an ancillary matter: I've been asked which were the pork rinds I'd given rave reviews to. There are two brands, and I love them both (and this, when I really don't care much for your average grocery store pork rind) - Gram's Gourmet, which makes Cheddar Crunchies (aka Cheetos for low carbers) and Sweet Cinnamon and Butter Crunchies, and Katiedid's Pork Rinds, who fry their rinds fresh daily, make rafts of great flavors (I adore sour cream and salsa - you'll never miss Doritos again), and ship 'em straight to your door. Gram's Gourmet's pork rinds (and their other great products) are available at retail stores that carry low carb stuff, and through all your favorite low carb etailers. Katiedid's Pork Rinds are only available through her website:

Just don't buy Keto Keeters. Please. I beg you. I hate losing readers.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:17 PM

Dana's Blood Work Report

I needed a new prescription for my thyroid meds, and I hadn't had a check up in a couple of years. I didn't have time for the full deal, but my doctor insisted on blood work, which seemed like a good idea to me, so I went to see the nice Vampire Lady, and got blood sucked out and tested. I just thought you all would like to know how it came out, since you're 18,000 of my best friends and all.

After 8 solid years of low carbing, of eating red meat and eggs and cheese and butter with no restraint (and, of course, also eating poultry and some fish, monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados, and plenty of low carb veggies), it's official: It will take a silver bullet through the heart to kill me.

Click to enlargeMy total cholesterol is 204. Oooooooooo, comes the cry, that's too high! No, it's not. The 200 cut off point for cholesterol insisted upon by the US medical establishment is arbitrary; indeed, in much of the world cholesterol up to 225 is considered totally normal and healthy. (Oddly enough, I was talking to a friend about this right after I got the blood work back from my doctor, and they told me their cholesterol had also come up a few points over 200 - and their doctor had said, "Don't worry about it; this is considered normal in most of the world.)

(Parenthetically, I'd like to point out here, for those of you who don't know yet, that total cholesterol under about 170 is associated with an increased risk of death. Your risk of heart disease drops, but your risk of other things, most notably cancer and hemorrhagic stroke, goes up - and keeps going up the lower your cholesterol gets. Since cancer is the "family disease," and in light of the recent, tragic death of my governor, Frank O'Bannon, from hemorrhagic stroke, I think I'll keep my cholesterol over 170, thanks.)

But my total cholesterol is really not too high in light of my other numbers: My HDL - "good cholesterol" - is 60, which is superb. And my triglycerides are at 40, which is astonishingly low.

The most important thing is the blood work ratios - the relationship of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Let's look at those, shall we? It'll help you to interpret your blood work, when you get it done.

First is total cholesterol divided by HDL, and you want the number to be 4 or below. 204/60 = 3.4, comfortably below 4.

Next comes LDL ("bad" cholesterol) divided by HDL ("good" cholesterol). For men, a ratio of 3.55 gives average risk, anything lower is better; for women, 3.22 is average risk, again, with a lower number being better. My LDL is at 135. 135/60 = 2.25, or well under average risk.

Finally, the ratio many researchers are now considering the most important: triglycerides divided by HDL. This number needs to be 2 or below. Since my triglyceride number is only 2/3 of my HDL number, my ratio is, er, a bit below 2: 40/60 = 0.66666 (repeat forever) - unbelievably good.

In short, at this point my chances of actually dying of a heart attack are roughly the same as my chances of winning the Powerball, or being invited to the White House, struck by lightening, and abducted by aliens in the same day. Egg, meat, and cheese been very, very good to me.

For the record, they also tested my blood sugar and my kidney function. They didn't actually send me the numbers, just checked off the place on the form that said "normal". I'm assuming that this means that I still don't have that kidney damage that everyone tells me this diet will cause.

Anyway, since I hold myself up regularly as a low carb success story, I thought you ought to know: It's official. I'm healthy.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:12 PM

What Ingredients Do I Use?

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions I get:

1) What brand of soy milk powder do you use, and where can I get it?

I use Fearn brand soy milk powder, aka soy powder. I buy it at my health food store, Bloomingfoods, where they carry it in bulk. However, Fearn is a nationally distributed brand, and they do sell the soy powder in a box, as well as in bulk. Any good health food store should be able to order it for you.

2) What brand of vanilla whey protein powder do you use?

I have used two brands of vanilla whey protein powder in baking, and both have worked equally well - "Show Me The Whey" brand (ain't it adorable?), which is packaged as the "house brand" for various health food stores, including the afore-mentioned Bloomingfoods (and also Henry's, a west coast chain, as I happen to know, because I have family in San Diego), and Designer Whey French Vanilla, which is available in GNC stores coast-to-coast.

3) Where do you get sugar free chocolate chips?

Actually, I don't. As described in 500 Low-Carb Recipes, I generally chop up sugar free dark chocolate bars in my food processor to make my own chips. I like Pure De-Lite brand chocolate bars best. However, sugar free chocolate chips are becoming more widely available - I believe I saw them at Sahara Mart here in Bloomington the last time I was there. Furthermore, a quick Google search on "sugar free chocolate chips" (include the quotation marks) turns up legions of low carb etailers just dying to send you sugar free chocolate chips. So if you have a US shipping address, you can get sugar free chocolate chips.

4) I'm allergic to nuts. What can I use in place of almond or hazelnut meal?

I confess I haven't tried it, but I would try ground sunflower seeds first - just take raw, hulled sunflower seeds and grind them to a cornmeal consistency in your food processor. I don't know exactly how this will work out, but have a hard time believing it would bomb entirely.

If, as one reader was, you are also allergic to sunflower seeds, I'd try pumpkin seeds. Beyond that, I'm afraid I'm stumped.

5) I'm gluten intolerant. What can I substitute in your bread recipes?

I'm sorry, but I know of no substitute for gluten in bread; it's what makes the dough stretchy, so it holds in the gas from the yeast. Furthermore, those darned bread recipes have turned out to be problematic for so many people that I'm reluctant to suggest anything!

6) Can I use psyllium powder instead of psyllium husks in your bread recipes?

I don't know why not, but keep in mind that being far finer in texture than the whole hulls, the powder will measure quite differently, since it packs tighter in the measuring cup, so I don't have a clue as to how much to tell you to use. I'm afraid experimenting is the only solution, and it can get pricey. I will tell you that if your bread comes out in weird lumps, stuck together, with stringy bits between - a look I call "alien dung" - you're using too much psyllium! The voice of experience. I fed a few batches of alien dung to my dogs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:07 PM

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

With all those end-of-summer tomatoes coming in, I thought I'd give you a great salad to help use them up. This one is easy, delicious, refreshing, and looks really beautiful, to boot.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

1 medium cucumber
2 smallish or 1 really large ripe tomato
1/2 medium red onion
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper

Cut your cucumber in quarters, lengthwise, then cut those quarters into 1/2" chunks, and dump 'em in a good-sized bowl. Cut your tomatoes in pieces roughly 1/2" square - I cut smallish tomatoes in 16ths - and add them to the bowl. Cut your half an onion in two, giving you two quarter-onions, then slice those paper thin, and throw those in as well, along with your cup of chopped parsley. Then just add everything else, salting and peppering to taste, and toss it a bit, to coat. That's it!

This should serve 6 to 8. Assuming 8 servings, each will have 4 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams. 1 gram of protein.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:05 PM

September 02, 2003

Click here to subscribe to Lowcarbezine!

Order The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook from Amazon.Com
Order 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes from Amazon.Com
Order 500 More Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

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Order 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

Order How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet -- And Lost Forty Pounds! from Amazon.Com

Order 500 Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com

Hey Gang -

Okay, it's late. I'm up to my eyebrows in cooking, writing, and publicity appearances, so I'm not promising it won't happen again. Still worth what you're paying, right? ;-D

Actually, I'm kind of happy I held off on publishing, because today is a special day for me. What day? This is the Official 8th Anniversary of Dana Going Low Carb. Eight years ago, after putting on between 10 and 15 pounds in the three months from my wedding till Labor Day, I decided that something new had to happen -- clearly my low fat, high carb diet was not working! I had recently read an old nutrition book by Gayelord Hauser, and one sentence had jumped out at me: "Obesity has nothing to do with how much you eat. It is, instead, a carbohydrate intolerance disease."

I remembered that when I was a kid, the common wisdom had been that to lose weight you gave up potatoes, spaghetti, bread, and sweets, and that when I joined the original Weight Watchers Program as a pudgy 11 year old the program had called for plenty of protein and unlimited low carb vegetables, but had strictly limited starches, and banned sweets altogether. I also remembered the Atkins diet from its first popularity in the 1970s, before low fat/high carb mania hit.

And I was also just plain fed up, and more than a little desperate. I decided, "What the heck do I have to lose?!" I went ahead with the Labor Day cookout I'd planned, and had my last tastes of low fat chocolate chip cookies and pasta salad made with low fat mayonnaise. The next day I cut the carbs out of my diet. No particular plan -- not Atkins, not Protein Power, not The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet; I just stopped eating anything high in carbs.

Two days later the shorts that had been tight at my Labor Day cookout were loose, my energy level was soaring, and I felt better than I had in years. I never looked back.

It's now been eight years. So much for all of those naysayers who insist that it's impossible to stick with a low carb diet long term. So much for everyone who said I'd develop high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or end up with no energy. Instead, in the years from 36 to 44 I seem not to have aged at all, and I feel better in my middle age than I did as a teenager! (Of course, as a teenager I was living on sugar and cigarettes...)

So if you've wondered whether it's possible to go low carb for life, never doubt that the answer is yes -- and that it's a decision with rewards that continue, day after day, year after year. I am, I have no doubt, low carb for life.

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:46 PM

Ethnic Restaurants 101 Continued: Indian

Let's continue our virtual ethnic restaurant tour (and boy, do I wish I were getting to do this in real life!) Today we're going to look at an Indian restaurant menu.

I actually had some trouble finding an Indian menu from the US on line -- most of them are located in the UK. I didn't know if my American readers (most of them!) and I would understand all the British food terms, so I narrowed my search a little, and found this menu -- at, of all places: Call it up, and let's go!

Once again, I will remind you of the most important rules of restaurant ordering: Ask questions if you're not sure what's in a menu item, and don't be afraid to ask for your food the way you want it, within reason -- the sauce on the side, steamed vegetables in place of rice or potato, that sort of thing. Remember, the waiter has a job because of you and people like you. Be nice, be polite, tip well, but expect a reasonable degree of knowledge and service!

Okay, let's read a menu!

First the appetizers, or "starters" as they call them here. Most of these are not low carb, I'm afraid -- they either have potatoes, lentils, or chickpeas. The only item I'd be interested in here is the Tandoori Assorted -- three kinds of kabobs. However, I'd look over the rest of the menu before deciding I wanted this, because I might choose kabobs for my main course!

Indeed, looking at the next section, Tandoori Specialties, reinforces that notion. All of these are great for us! And what a choice -- chicken, fish, lamb, shrimp -- something for every low carber's tastes. Worried about the yogurt marinades? Don't be. As Drs. Goldberg and O'Mara pointed out in their book The Go-Diet, plain yogurt is actually considerably lower carb than the labels suggest. The 12 grams of carb per cup listed on the label (and in the food count books) is derived from the 12 grams of carbohydrate (lactose) in the milk the yogurt is made from. However, the yogurt bacteria convert that lactose to lactic acid, giving yogurt its characteristic tangy taste, and leaving only 4 grams of carb per cup. So feel free to choose Indian dishes that use yogurt as a marinade or sauce.

If you click to the next page, you'll find the curry dishes and the like. The menu doesn't say so, but it is likely that these curries are served on or with rice -- I'd ask that knowledgeable waiter. I'd also ask what the sauces are thickened with -- flour, or yogurt, or potatoes, or what?

Still, with the rice left out, or something low carb substituted for it, many of these look wonderful for us. You'll skip the Chicken Vindaloo, of course, because of the potatoes (and a shame it is; vindaloo dishes are characteristically very fiery, and I love hot food!) and the Chicken Dalwala, because of the lentils. I'd skip the Chicken Madras, too, because of the raisins -- unless the raisins are few and far between, they're likely to add a prohibitive quantity of sugar. Tomatoes are a borderline vegetable, so if I was trying to keep carbs seriously low, I might also skip the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Murgh Makhani -- but short of Induction, I'd probably feel free to order these.

Looking at the lamb dishes, I'm iffy about the Lamb Pasanda -- it sounds delicious, but I'd want to know how many cashews are added. Cashews are among the highest carb nuts. If I was having a splurge, however, I might choose this. Again, the Lamb Vindaloo has potatoes, and the Keema Aloo Mattar has both potatoes and peas -- right out. I'd also skip the Dal Gosht because of the lentils ("dal" means "lentils", by the way), and the Lamb Madras because of the raisins.

How about seafood? All of these dishes look fine to me except for the Prawn Vindaloo, with its (surprise!) potatoes. And once again, I'd skip the dishes with tomatoes if I was trying to keep the carbs seriously low.

Click to the next page!

Okay, the vegetarian specialties. There are a surprising number of these that are low-carb-friendly -- but then, a large percentage of the Indian population is vegetarian, so it's not surprising that they have a flourishing vegetarian cuisine. We'll skip the Dal, or lentils, but Bhindi Masala, made from okra and onions, would be okay if the portion isn't huge -- you might want to split an order, if you have two okra-lovers at the table. 1/2 cup of cooked okra contains 5.8 grams of carbohydrate, with 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3.8 grams. Onions, of course, are a borderline vegetable -- higher carb than some, but lower than potatoes, corn, peas, and the like, and terribly nutritious and flavorful, of course.

Next in the vegetarian lineup is Sag Paneer, one of the most famous of Indian vegetable dishes. Made from soft cheese, spinach, and spices, this is a terrific low carb choice, and could even be a good main dish. The Paneer Makhani will be higher carb, because of the tomatoes, but shouldn't be too bad. Saag Mushroom -- spinach with mushrooms -- should be as low carb as a vegetable dish gets, since both mushrooms and spinach are very low carb vegetables. The next eight entries -- from Sag Aloo through Aloo Gohbi -- contain potatoes or legumes of one kind or another, and won't do. However, the next three dishes -- Navratan Korma, Sabji, and Vegetable Jalfrezi -- all simply say that they're made from "mixed vegetables." Time to ask questions again! Okra, cauliflower, spinach, eggplant, green beans -- all would be fine. But if there are potatoes, peas, or other starchy vegetables in there, you'll pass, right?

Let's walk right by the Rice Specialties; why tease ourselves?

Next comes "Side Orders", and couple of these are good for us. You'll skip the Pulao -- a rice dish -- but Raita is a yogurt-cucumber dish that should be fine, and refreshing if your main course is hotly spicy. And of course a salad is a fine thing!!

We click to the next page, and find that it's largely hopeless for us. Of course we're going to skip the breads and desserts! For that matter, many of the beverages will not do for us. A Lassi -- yogurt drink -- made salty, rather than sweet, might just fit in, but it doesn't appeal to me, and I'd rather have a completely carb-free beverage, saving my carbs for food I can chew! The Mango Lassi is sweet, of course, and so is the lemonade. You could, of course, have diet soda, but I'd probably prefer the Pelligrino or Calistoga sparkling waters. You know that good old Evian water is fine, right? Juices are right out because of the sugar. So, by the way, is Chai, a spiced tea -- it's virtually always sweetened. That leaves herbal tea, or darjeeling, plus coffee, all of which are fine.

This restaurant apparently doesn't serve alcohol. However, if your local Indian restaurant does, be aware that foodies the world over agree that beer goes far better with curries and the like than wine does -- have a Miller Lite or a Michelob Ultra.

So there you have it -- an Indian feast, with plenty of exotically seasoned meats, chicken, fish, and seafood, and ample low carb vegetable choices. And I'm hungry again!

We'll do this again soon!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:43 PM

Slim Fast Sales Way Down

Cue the Evil Laugh: Muahahahahahahahahaha!

Unilever, the humongous Anglo-Dutch conglomerate that makes Slim Fast shakes and bars, reports that sales of its sugary meal replacement products are way, way off -- and blames low carb dieting. Indeed, sales have dropped a reported 13% in the past year. Indeed, Unilever is unhappy enough about the performance of the Slim Fast line that they're slashing sales forecasts overall for 2003.

In the meanwhile, sales of Atkins products increased a whopping 95% between January and May this year. I'm not a big fan of basing one's low carb diet on specialty products -- I think we should all be focusing our diets on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and vegetables -- but I'd sure rather see people drinking Atkins shakes than Slim Fast, which is simply loaded with sugar. How much sugar? The Dark Chocolate Fudge variety has 45 grams of carbohydrate in a can, 35 grams of which are pure sugar. That's over 8 teaspoons of sugar, or just two fewer than a can of Coke. Yes, the Slim Fast has vitamins added, but there's just no excuse for all that sugar. This is roughly the equivalent of a glass of chocolate milk and a vitamin pill.

Unilever does plan to fight back, by the way. How? By advertising how much "healthier" their products are than those "dangerous" low carb diets.

Yeah, right. Think it'll work?

Let me say that if I have play some small part in the torpedoing of Unilever's market for their sugar garbage posing as "healthy options," I'm proud. Proud, I tell you!!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:40 PM

Reader Success Story

This inspirational reader story come from Cardiff, Wales:

Dear Dana,

I have already read your 500 recipes and 'Hold the Toast' but this week I finished 'How I gave up my low fat diet...' and I wanted to tell you how totally inspirational it is and thank you for your great writing. (I bought it from Amazon with no problems.. it came the next day.)

I have followed Dr. Atkins' Way of Eating since August 2001 and have come down from 29 stones, 12 lbs to 24 stones. I had better translate that for you! 418 pounds to 336 pounds. [Dana's note -- a "stone" is a British measure of weight equaling 14 pounds.] I have type II diabetes but all symptoms are gone now. I suffer from M.S. and am virtually unable to walk so exercising is very difficult. However, I care for a beautiful daughter with profound mental disabilities and the Lord helps me every day to manage; indeed, it was He who directed me towards Dr Atkins in the first place

I know you have many emails to read so I will not prattle on but thank you, thank you for the wonderful support via your email messages and the super books.

With very best wishes

Ruth King

Ruth, your story made me smile, and also illustrates a very, very important point: That a dietary program need not get one down to a super-model's size to have a hugely beneficial impact on one's life. All the best to you and your daughter, and thanks for writing!!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:38 PM

If Yogurt's Okay, How About Lactaid Milk?

I get the most interesting questions!

For a while now, I've been trying to get the word out, both here and in my books, that plain yogurt is not as high in carbohydrate as the label and the food books lead us to believe. Why? Because -- as explained by Drs. Goldberg and O'Mara in The GO-Diet -- the labels and the food books list the 12 grams of carbohydrate -- all in the form of lactose -- that were in the milk the yogurt was made from, but don't take into account the fact that the yogurt bacteria break down most of the lactose, turning it into the lactic acid that gives yogurt its characteristic sour taste, and leaving only about 4 grams of carbohydrate per cup.

(Please, remember, this 4 grams per cup figure applies only to plain yogurt. Sweetened and flavored yogurts have sugar added, and are far higher carb. If you like sweetened, flavored yogurt, add the extract of your choice plus a little sweetener.)

Well, now I have a new question -- indeed, two readers have written me in the past few weeks, wanting an answer: Does this mean that milk that has been treated with Lactaid, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, and is marketed to folks who are lactose intolerant, is also okay for low carbers? I'm sorry to have to tell you that the answer is no.

Why not? Because Lactaid doesn't convert the lactose in milk to a non-sugary substance. Instead, it converts the lactose to simpler sugars. You see, lactose is what is called a "disaccharide" -- a sugar that is made up of two simpler sugars. Some people lose the ability to break down the bond between those two sugars as they age, and this is what causes lactose intolerance. Lactaid breaks down the bond, leaving the two simpler sugars behind.

Not only does this mean that Lactaid treated milk has as much carbohydrate as untreated milk, but the treatment causes the sugar in the milk to be absorbed more rapidly, increasing the glycemic index of the milk. Indeed, I have read of nutritional experiments regarding the effects of low glycemic foods versus high glycemic foods where Lactaid treated milk was used for precisely this reason.

So, no Lactaid treated milk for you. If you simply must have milk -- and there are certainly far worse things you could be drinking , drink it untreated. At least that way it's a low impact carb.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:32 PM

Curried Cauliflower Salad

Long time readers will long ago have come to the conclusion that I'm kinky for cauliflower. I use it in so many recipes! There's a good reason for this: Cauliflower is a great stand-in for potatoes and rice, both, along with having its very own virtues. Plus it's always available, generally not too expensive, and very nutritious!

So here is yet another way to use cauliflower. I just polished off the leftovers of this for lunch, straight out of the mixing bowl!

Curried Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower
8 scallions
3 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper

First trim the leaves and the tough part of the stem off of your cauliflower -- I don't bother coring it, though. Whack the whole thing into 1/2 inch chunks, put them in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave on "high" for 7 minutes.

While that's happening, slice your scallions, including the crisp part of the green. Peel your hard boiled eggs, and chop them into not-too-tiny pieces. And in a measuring cup or bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and curry powder.

Okay, by now your microwave has gone "ding" -- check your cauliflower! It should be tender, but not mushy. If it's still crunchy, give it another couple of minutes. When it's done, drain your cauliflower well and dump it into a mixing bowl. Add the scallions and eggs, then the dressing and fold the whole thing together gently, using a rubber scraper.

I like this chilled, as a salad, but it's also good hot.

Makes 5-6 servings. Assuming 5 servings, each will have 4 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams. 6 grams of protein.

Variation: Top each serving with a tablespoon of chopped dry-roasted, salted peanuts. This adds both 1 gram of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:30 PM