October 22, 2003

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Hey Gang -

Hey, I got an issue out right on time for a change! Wonders never cease.

It's a glorious day here in Southern Indiana - September, October, and May are the best reasons for living in the Midwest - so I'm going to send this issue to the webmaster to publish, and go for a walk! Hope you enjoy it!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:38 PM

Low Carb and Calories Revisited

Did you see it? Huh? Huh? On October 13th, Associated Press ran an article, carried in newspapers from coast to coast, detailing a new study that suggests that Dr. Atkins was right all along: People can, indeed, eat more calories on a low carb diet than they could on a mixed, but calorie controlled, diet, and still lose weight. Can't you just hear Dr. Atkins saying "I told you so!" from the Great Beyond?

The study, presented to the American Association for the Study of Obesity, was directed by Penelope Greene of the Harvard School of Public Health. It was paid for by the Atkins Foundation, although the foundation had no control over the design of the study (which is, of course, as it should be.) Here's how it went:

Twenty-one overweight volunteers were divided into three groups. Two groups were given the same number of calories every day - 1500 for women, 1800 for men. One group ate 55 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. The other group ate 5 percent carbohydrate, 5 percent protein, and 65 percent fat. (Notice, by the way, that the percentage of protein remained the same. I've said before that the term "high protein diet" for a low carb diet is misleading. We really eat a high fat diet, and a fine thing it is, too.)

The third group got the same nutrient ratios as the low carb/calorie restricted group - 5 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, and 65 percent fat - but also got 300 more calories per day - or 1800 calories per day for women, and 2100 calories per day for men. Since the study lasted about 3 months, those extra calories added up to 25,000 per customer, or about 7 pounds, if the old 3500-calories-equal-a-pound-of-fat theory of dieting holds strictly true.

The food was supplied for the participants at an upscale Italian restaurant, which sure sounds like a nice way to diet. Every day the participants picked up their dinner, and the next day's breakfast and lunch. The meals looked similar, but were prepared using different recipes. Interestingly, the low carb meals were light on the red meat, heavy on the fish, chicken, salads, and vegetable oils - hardly the "nothing but bacon and cheeseburgers" image many people have of the Atkins diet.

So what happened? Everybody lost weight. The folks on the high carb diet lost an average of 17 pounds, while the low carb/low calorie diet group lost an average of 23 pounds. But what about the folks who got the extra 300 calories a day? They lost an average of 20 pounds apiece.

This appears to be confounding the medical weight loss establishment - comments like "It violates the laws of thermodynamics" and "hard to believe" have been bandied about. Some have tried to explain away the results by suggesting the higher calorie/low carb group was less hungry, and so cheated less, or perhaps got more exercise.

A few thoughts come to mind looking at this study, and the reactions to it.

First of all, the skeptics all sound as if there had never been any previous demonstrations of this calorie-wasting effect of a low carbohydrate diet - yet there have been several studies, starting with Kekwick and Pawan, two well-established and respected English scientists who, back in the 1950s and '60s, showed that people who lost slowly on a diet with as few as 1,000 calories per day when those calories were largely carbohydrate, lost weight easily when those 1,000 calories were protein and especially fat.

Kekwick and Pawan did a second experiment in which they found that on a carb-containing diet of 2,000 calories per day, subjects did not lose at all, but that they did lose weight eating as much as 2,600 calories per day when the carbs were omitted. Then, as now, the medical establishment tried to come up with reasons why Kekwick and Pawan's results couldn't possibly be correct. I sometimes wonder where we'd be now if, instead of trying to explain away Kekwick and Pawan's work, medical researchers had set to work on discovering the mechanism involved.

(To see an abstract of one of Kekwick and Pawan's published studies, go to the Atkins site, here: http://atkins.com/Archive/2002/1/11-175782.html )

Far more recently, and most dramatically, a study of the effect of a low fat/high carb diet versus a low carb/high fat diet on weight loss in obese adolescents was done at Schneider's Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, NY. To the great surprise of the skeptics, not only did the kids on a low carb/high fat diet have a greater improvement in blood work than the kids on the high carb/low fat diet, but the low carb kids lost twice as much weight as the low fat kids - while eating 66% more calories, on average, than the kids on the high carb/low fat diet.

So this shock and amazement at the results of this new study are, shall we say, somewhat misplaced. It's already pretty clear that - despite cries of "the laws of thermodynamics!" - a low carb diet does, indeed, confer some sort of metabolic advantage. It's time for the medical establishment to stop trying to prove that the earth is really flat, and to start studying just exactly how this calorie-wasting mechanism works.

Secondly, it seems to me that the low carbers who got the extra 300 calories per day weren't really needed to show some sort of metabolic advantage. After all, the low carbers who ate the same number of calories as the low fat group lost an average of 6 pounds more than the low fat dieters, fully a 35 percent greater weight loss. You'd think that right there was enough to demonstrate an advantage - some difference in the number of calories burned between the two groups.

Thirdly, I'd like to point out that the low carbers who were eating more calories were still eating a reasonable number of calories, as were the subjects in all the studies that demonstrate a metabolic advantage for a low carb diet. There is every reason to think that a low carb diet will allow us to eat enough calories so that we can feel satisfied and comfortable, and still lose weight. There is no research I am aware of indicating that we can eat unlimited calories and still lose weight. Eat 7,000 calories per day, and the chances are you will not lose weight, and may even gain, even if you're eating a very low carbohydrate diet.

And finally, I'm glad that this study dents the reputation of a low carb diet as being composed only of red meat and butterfat. Despite the constant cracks about pork rinds and bacon, it seems to finally be coming to the public attention that a low carb diet embraces a wide variety of healthy foods, including fish and poultry, vegetables and low sugar fruit, nuts and seeds, monounsaturated oils, and, yes, red meat, eggs, butter, and cheese.

I only hope that this study, coming, as it has, when the whole world seems to have discovered the benefits of a low carb diet, will finally lead to the research needed to determine why a low carbohydrate diet speeds calorie burning, instead of another long and tedious debate about why the results of the study can't possibly be true.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:38 PM

Low Fat Foods Revisited

I have long scorned low fat packaged foods, knowing that many of them simply replaced the fat with sugar and chemicals - fat free salad dressings, for instance, tend to be nothing but spicy corn syrup, and fat free ice cream usually has more sugar than the super-premium kind. And of course, many low fat products are just plain nasty.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that Philadelphia Lite Cream Cheese actually has fractionally less carbohydrate than Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese. I made this discovery when I went to buy cream cheese to try out a new cheesecake recipe (and a fine, fine recipe it turned out to be, by the way; see below!) and, in the spirit of inquiry that has long characterized my approach to food in general, and grocery shopping in particular, I read all of the cream and Neufchatel cheese boxes in the dairy case. (Neufchatel is, so far as I can tell, identical to lite cream cheese.) First, I learned that the store's own brand of cream cheese had 2 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, instead of 1 gram per ounce for the more expensive Philly, and the Neufchatel had the same. But the Philly Lite had "<1 g" of carbohydrate per ounce - not a big difference, but a difference nonetheless, and one in the lite cream cheese's favor.

So I bought the Philly Lite, and used it for my cheesecake, which was exceedingly yummy. I also used plain yogurt in place of the sour cream, after running the nutritional analysis and discovering that the substitution wouldn't add even 1 gram of carbohydrate per slice. I got a cheesecake with an excellent flavor and texture, with no more carbohydrate per serving than if I'd used the higher fat products. Further, the cheesecake ended up with 328 calories per slice instead of 407, or almost 20% fewer calories. Please note: This was not a low fat cheesecake! 73% of the calories in the cake came from fat. But it was, indeed, lower calorie than the full-fat version would have been, without being any higher carb.

It was a thought-provoking experience, to say the least.

Again, do not think I am advocating a low fat diet; I'm not. However, many low carbers have learned that they also need to keep an eye on calories, and in the context of a low carbohydrate diet, fat is the exandable-and-contractable fraction of our diet. What do I mean by that? Just this: We all have a certain number of grams a day of protein we must get - for most of us, that will be between 65 and 100 grams per day. Taking an intermediate figure, if your protein requirement for the day is 75 grams, at 4 calories per gram, that's just 300 calories that are going to come from protein. (This, of course, doesn't include any fat calories that come along with those protein calories.)

We also have a certain allotment of carbohydrate we ought to be getting every day, and most of us aren't willing to give up a single gram - nor should we, since those vegetables, fruits, nut and seeds, etc, bring a lot of variety to our diets, not to mention some vitamins and minerals, and all of our fiber. Say you can eat 40 grams a day of carbohydrate and still lose weight, that's another 160 calories (again omitting any fat that comes along with those grams of carbohydrate.) So we're up to 460 calories.

All of the rest of the calories in this hypothetical diet, whether you eat another 1000 or another 5000 calories per day - will come from fat. That's what I mean by fat being the expandable-and-contractable fraction of the diet - it's the part of the diet you can eat more or less of, at your discretion, depending on how many calories you want.

Using our example of 460 calories from protein and carbs combined, and a hypothetical limit of 1800 calories per day, that leaves 1340 calories that you'll need to get from fat. 74 percent of your calories would be coming from fat, hardly a low fat diet. Yet with fat being very calorically dense, and many of our favorite and most nutritious low carb foods being very high in healthy fats, and therefore calories, it's not difficult to overshoot the mark.

So here's what I think I'll do: I think that, over the next few months, I'll do some re-examination of reduced fat products, to see which ones - like most of the fat free dressings - are "filled" with extra carbs, and which reduce calories without adding a bunch of sugar to our daily carb count.

I will report back with data as I have it. I'll also let you know if it makes a difference in my own weight!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:36 PM

Combined Reader Success Story and Product Reviews

Sheila Butler, whom I know from Trinity Episcopal Church here in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, sent me a great email recently that included her and her husband, Prince's, success stories, plus a bunch of product reviews. I just had to share!

Sheila writes:

I got your new cookbook, (15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes) haven't had a chance to try anything but I have read it cover to cover and it looks fabulous.

Prince and I are almost at the end of 5 months with only one indulgence meal in all of that time. I have lost 21 lbs and Prince has lost about 25 lbs. I seem to be speeding up and he is slowing down. By far the easiest weight I have ever lost. It so helps having Prince do it with me and he is becoming quite the chef. He makes the absolutely best pancakes, I accused him of giving some of the boys' ones. He uses any of the low carb mixes but he adds a little salt and a little Splenda as well as some cinnamon and it is amazing how much that salt helps the flavor.

A chip that I absolutely love is the Carb Solutions Nacho Chip. Much more like the texture of a Pringles but tastes like Nacho Doritos. They are $2 a bag at Wal-Mart but you get 2 servings to a bag for 3 carbs a serving. They also have Barbeque but I find these too sweet and they are 4 carbs a serving. One serving is really filling though often I just eat the whole bag. Nature Zone on the West side sells many low carb items too and they often have samples to try. I tried the Keto tortilla chips, corn, excellent, but I felt the carb count was too high for the amount you got. The microwaveable pork rinds from Wal-Mart are favorites at our house-- I love them with cream cheese and salsa. You find the chips by the pharmacy department, they have the best buy on chocolate too, I buy it in bulk.

Oh, another product you might want to try - it is called Soy Slender, it is a sugar free soy milk sweetened with sucrolose. The chocolate is to die for, tastes just like chocolate milk to me. Prince raves on the Cappucino if you like cold coffee and the vanilla is like a vanilla milk shake and pretty good on low carb cereals. It runs about $2 a quart and for some reason since I have been drinking it (about a quart of chocolate a day) my weight has dropped much quicker. It counts for about 1 carb for 8 oz glass. I know you don't like soy products much but I love this stuff. Prince says it glumps him up worse than milk, he says he talks funny for about an hour and feels like he has mucus in his throat. I don't have any problem with it at all. I find it in the health food aisle by the freezer section. It is a shelf milk but tastes best ice cold or hot. Makes great hot chocolate for only 1 carb and tastes so much better than Swiss Miss.

There's a low carb bread from Bread of Life called Carb-Lite. They have hamburger buns, hot dog buns, rolls, bread and cinnamon raisin. The bread is only 1 carb per slice and is excellent toasted.

Wow! Sheila, this is so helpful for so many folks. Thanks so much for the terrific story and product reviews - right now I don't have a lot of time to go out looking for new products!

Another Reader Product Review

Cathy Sparks writes:

Yikes!! At your recommendation we purchased a small bag of Keto Tortilla chips and were sorely disappointed. At our local "low carb" establishment, they had free samples of the Atkins Crunchers at the check-out counter. My husband picked up a few of the cool ranch flavor and said they were world's better than the Keto brand. He said the deciding factor was the big "CRUNCH" that the Crunchers had. Just a side opinion in case you hadn't tried them.

Hey, Cathy -

I've tried the Atkins Crunchers, and I do think they're quite good, but to me the Keto chips are much more like regular tortilla chips, both in flavor and texture, than the Crunchers, or indeed, any other low carb chip I've tried.

However, I haven't seen them in anything but the 4 serving bag - are you sure you didn't get the dreaded Keto Keeters, instead?

It's good to know, though, how other folks feel about these things. So folks, looks like you'll just have to do your sampling yourself.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:14 PM

Margarita Cheesecake

I saw Emeril make a Margarita Cheesecake on his show one night, and I had to decarb it the very next day! Fabulous. You can make this with cream cheese and sour cream, if you like, for added richness, or with Neufchatel and plain yogurt, for a lower calorie count with no increase in carbs. Remember: This cake has actual tequila in it, and the filling isn't heated, so you may not want to serve it to kids, and certainly shouldn't serve it to recovering alcoholics.

1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup Splenda
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 pounds Neufchatel or lite cream cheese
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime rind
1/4 cup tequila (I used Sauza, which I find far smoother than Cuervo.)
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Sweet-and-Salty Almond Crust (see following recipe)

Combine the gelatin and Splenda in a saucepan, and pour the boiling water over them. Stir over low heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Turn off the burner.

Put the softened cream or Neufchatel cheese in a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until very soft and creamy. (If you have a stand mixer, you can start the cheese beating before you dissolve the gelatin, and just leave the mixer mixing on its own.) When the cheese is very smooth and creamy, add the cream cheese or yogurt, and beat that in well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Now beat in the lime juice, grated lime rind, orange extract, and tequila. Now, go back to your saucepan of gelatin. It should still be liquid! If it's not, you'll need to heat it again gently. Beat the gelatin mixture into the cheese mixture and make sure everything is every well combined. Pour into the Sweet-and-Salty Almond Crust, and chill for at least 4 or 5 hours, and overnight is better.

Run a knife around the cake, between the cake and the pan, before removing the rim. Slice with a thin-bladed knife - dipping the knife it hot water before each slice is a good idea, although not essential.

Garnish with paper-thin slices of lime, strips of lime zest, or both.

12 servings, each with 11 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 9 grams. Made with Neufchatel or lite cream cheese and yogurt, this will have 328 calories per serving. Made with cream cheese and sour cream, it will have 407 calories per serving

Sweet-and-Salty Almond Crust

Emeril made his crust with crushed pretzels, to get that salty note so characteristic of margaritas. We're not going to use pretzels, of course, so I came up with this crust instead. It's great with the margarita-flavored filling!

1 1/2 cups almonds
1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I like kosher salt for this because the larger grains make a real contribution)

Preheat oven to 325. Have a springform pan assembled and well-sprayed with non-stick cooking spray on hand.

Put your almonds in your food processor, with the S-blade in place. Run the food processor until the almonds are ground. Add the vanilla whey protein powder and Splenda, and pulse to mix. You may need to open the processor and run a knife around the bottom edge, to get everything into the path of the blade. Now, turn the processor on and pour in the butter while it's running. Let everything blend - and once again, you may need to do the knife-around-the-bottom-edge-of-the-processor trick. When the butter is evenly distributed, turn the processor off. Add the kosher salt, and pulse the processor just enough to distribute the salt through the mixture.

Press firmly into the prepared pan, making sure you cover the seam around the bottom - but don't expect to be able to build it all the way up the sides or anything. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden, and cool.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:03 PM

October 08, 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

Order The Low-Carb Barbecue Book from Amazon.Com

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 -

This is a week late, and I need to get right back to the cookbook, so I'll keep this short. Here's your ezine! Hope you like it!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:56 PM

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Now that it's October, can the scariest day of the year be far off? Halloween can be utterly terrifying.

No, not the ghosts and the skeletons and the monsters. Not the ancient stories of visits from the spirits of the dead. Not even the modern urban legends about razor blades in apples and poison in candy. Face, folks, it's the candy itself that's poisonous - and Halloween has evolved over the years from a night of good-natured pranks (when my grandfather was a boy, he and a friend moved a neighbor's outhouse to the middle of a footbridge), to a huge cultural phenomenon that is unwholesomely centered on candy. And that, my friends, is scarier than any ghouly, ghosty, or long-leggity beasty.

Oh, I know, people don't generally die of acute sugar overdose. But thousands upon thousands e die every day of chronic sugar poisoning, also known as hyperinsulinemia or Syndrome X. We don't call it that, of course. We call it heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, morbid obesity, cancer, or any one of the other faces this dangerous shape-shifting monster likes to wear. The different guises don't change the nature of the beast. Sugar kills.

And here in the States (and, I understand, in the UK, where a US-style Halloween has been catching on), it's about to launch an invasion of your happy low carb home. Furthermore, Halloween is just the beginning. If you let yourself be softened up by pleas of "But it's HALLOWEEN!," you'll be a goner when the Christmas cookies and candy canes start to roll in. Now is the time to start thinking, and thinking smart, about holiday strategies, starting with the holiday at hand - which is, after all, America's premier junk-fest.

And it's not just you I'm worried about. It's your kids. Childhood obesity is an epidemic in America, and what we used to call "adult onset diabetes" has been renamed "Type II diabetes" because it is now hideously common in children. It is vitally important both that you minimize your children's exposure to the sea of sugar threatening to engulf them, and also that you teach them that there is tremendous joy to be found in celebration, and that that joy does not depend on unlimited consumption of sugar.

So what can you do to make Halloween spooky good fun, and satisfying for all, while defending yourself and your family against the demon substance? Here are a few ideas:

* Throw yourself into the fun and creative facets of Halloween that have nothing to do with candy. Work on making or assembling the perfect costumes. Decorate your house and your yard. Carve up an army of jack-o-lanterns. Make styrofoam tombstones, write funny epitaphs on them, and erect a cemetery in your front yard. Have fun!

* More and more, people are opting for Halloween parties instead of trick-or-treating. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, trick-or-treating is a terrific way to end up with vast quantities of sugar in the house. On the other hand, I can remember few things that were as much fun, as a child, as dressing up in costume and going door to door. In the end, which your family does will likely be influenced by what the community custom is. Still, it's good to point out here that having a Halloween party lets you control how much candy is involved!

* If you opt for a Halloween party, center it around activities, not around sweets. Bobbing for apples, costume judging, pumpkin carving contests (or drawing, for young children), spooky stories, the old game of turning off the lights and passing around peeled grapes for eyeballs and cold spaghetti for guts, reading scary stories aloud by flashlight - whatever you can think of that would be fun and appropriately spooky. In the meanwhile, consider serving something other than soda pop to drink (consider add-your-own-sugar Kool Aid, made with stevia, instead), and, while you may not eschew sweets entirely, make sure there are some healthy foods, too: vegetables with ranch dip, cheese chunks, hot wings, burgers - something that will encourage the children (and you) to fill up on something other than junk. In particular, you'll find that the kids are far less likely to have behavior problems if you can get some protein and fat into them to help stabilize their blood sugar!

* For kids who are old enough to not be easily terrorized, but still young enough to be able to get away with going door to door begging for sugar, consider a horror movie party instead. Let them pick out couple of videos or DVDs from the local rental joint (keeping an eye out to make sure they don't overstep parental boundaries!), invite some of their friends over, and pop some corn. Yes, popcorn is a carb, but it's lower carb, higher fiber, and more nutritious than most chips, and certainly better for them than candy! Do pop bulk regular bulk popcorn, instead of buying the microwave stuff. Microwave popcorn is full of hydrogenated oils and other damaged fats. Be aware, too, that the cable movie channels often show great old horror movies this time of year; I have a collection of classic monster movies I've taped off of AMC. (I adore the old black and white Universal horror movies! A better movie than Bride of Frankenstein has yet to be made.)

* Another Halloween treat that is traditional and festive, yet nutritionally superior to a bag full of candy, is the caramel apple. I'm not suggesting these for you, mind you, but perhaps for the kids, in lieu of piles of worse junk. Yes, caramel is almost pure sugar, and apples are a fairly high sugar fruit. On the other hand, the caramel is a relatively modest layer on the outside, and the apple has considerable nutritional value along with its naturally occurring sugar. It also has fiber, to fill the kids up, and to moderate the absorption of the sugar. Not an ideal food, but a heckuva lot better than Skittles, M&Ms, and Twizzlers. Making caramel apples with your kids - or even as part of a party - can be a fun activity, and distract them from the fact that there aren't huge bowls of more damaging candy lying around.

* Consider opting for one of the many commercial entertainment possibilities now available for Halloween fun - a haunted house or haunted hay ride, spook night at a local amusement park, or a ghost story telling festival are all possibilities. Keep an eye on your local paper for ideas. Another great place to ask is at your local library reference desk; I know our library has all sorts of lists of local events. Taking advantage of one of these entertainments is a great way to prevent huge trick-or-treat bags full of candy from creeping, unbidden, into your home.

* If, on the other hand, you're from a trick-or-treating sort of a community, consider discussing with your kids ahead of time what limits you plan to set on the post-Halloween consumption of candy. You may want to let them decide which, say, four or five kinds of candy they like best, let them keep those, and toss the rest (or take it to the office, and leave it in the break room, where it will, of course, mysteriously vanish.) I know that when I was a kid, I used to get candy I didn't care much about - stuff like Necco Wafers, Smartees, and Mary Janes - along with the stuff I craved. But did it ever occur to me to not eat the candy I didn't care much about? Might as well ask an alcoholic if they ever considered not drinking rye because they preferred bourbon.

* There need to be limits, too, on how much candy the kids are allowed to eat, and how often - certainly no child should be left with an entire shopping bag full of candy to be eaten at his or her own discretion! Parents need to take on the role of Keeper of the Candy, and dole it out in reasonable quantities, preferably after a meal. Remember that all candy freezes well.

* However, to take on the role of Keeper of the Candy, the parent needs to be confident of their ability to be a trustworthy steward. In other words, no eating all the kid's candy behind his or her back. If you're uncertain of your ability to resist, have the child keep an inventory of their own candy, so he or she will know if you've been raiding the candy supply. Who wants to be embarrassed in front of an 8 year old?

* If your kid is going out trick-or-treating, the chances are excellent that you're also expecting trick-or-treaters. Now, I no longer live in a trick-or-treating neighborhood (indeed, I live on a dead-end road, a couple of miles outside of town), but when I did, I was uncomfortable with the thought of giving candy to children. I hit on giving out peanuts in the shell - I'd fill up a basket, and let each kid take a double handful. Surprisingly, the kids reacted very well - I never heard, "Where's the candy?" Instead, they'd say, "Oh, cool! Peanuts!" And my house was never egged or TP'd, so I assume I didn't incur the Wrath of the Disappointed Trick or Treaters. I've known other people to get good reactions with small, cheap toys, stickers, or even small change.

* If you do decide to give out candy, don't go buying your own favorite! Instead, buy some kind of candy that you, personally, don't like - if I were giving out candy, I'd give out Twizzlers. Can't stand the things. If you decide that you'll give out Snickers bars, because they're your favorite, you know and I know that you'll have eaten half a bag by the time All Saints Day rolls around. Don't go there.

* In the meanwhile, have a few of your favorite sugar free treats in the house. Nowadays, you can get virtually any sort of candy you like in sugar-free versions, from gummi bears to the gooey-est caramel-filled candy bars. They're hardly health food, but they're easier on your blood sugar than the sugary kind. Furthermore, they enforce moderation by causing fairly unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms if you overindulge. Having a few of your favorite sugar-free sweets in the house, coupled with making sure whatever you're giving away isn't something that trips your trigger, will go a long way to keeping the Ghosts of Halloween from coming back to haunt you the next time you step on the scales!

* Many conservative Christian churches hold alternative celebrations at Halloween; I have some friends who are involved with running these at their churches - around here, costume parties where you come as a Biblical character are popular. If you are helping to plan and run one of these for the children of your church, I implore you to remember what the Bible says about the body being a temple, and be the voice raised for moderation where sugar is concerned. Remember that sugar addiction in childhood has been tied to alcohol problems - and who knows, maybe problems with other drugs - in adulthood, and strive to be a good influence. After all, you're having the alternative celebration because you're concerned for the welfare of the children, right?

Have fun! And in keeping with my commitment to being as inclusive as possible, Happy Samhain, Feliz Dia de los Muertos, and a Blessed All Saints Day to you all. And a Happy Halloween, of course!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:55 PM

Success Stories! I Get Success Stories!

I was just thinking that what this issue needed was a reader success story when my little "you've got mail" tone sounded, and this was in my inbox:

Hi Dana - so excited I just had to e-mail you! I just went out at lunch and bought a new pair of dress slacks for work and they are a SIZE 8!! My husband and I have been low carbing since January - I've gone from 157 down to 131 this morning and from a size 12 to 8. And we've been very relaxed about it - probably more maintenance type than induction. We reward ourselves once in a while with a burger or some pizza, or lo mein with Chinese. I wore one of my size 12 suits to work yesterday and my husband informed me I was to never wear them again - looked like a family of dwarfs moved out of the seat of my pants! That's why I went shopping at lunch today. I'm just loving this low carbing! Also, more great news. One of our very best restaurants here in Hattiesburg MS just started having a separate "Low-Carb Atkins Friendly Menu" If you have a fax, I'll fax it to you. It is so great! They offer an entree, choice of two vegetables and dessert for one price. All delicious! People are starting to finally notice all of us - isn't that great!?

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:51 PM

Rick Crawford's Bread

A few weeks back, I had an interview with Debbie Knox, a well-respected reporter at WISH, the Indianapolis CBS affiliate. Debbie conducted the interview in, of all places, a bakery. Odd choice?

On the surface, you bet. And there's no question that Crawford's Bakery and Deli, at 1609 North Capitol, just north of Downtown Indianapolis, can sell you all the sugary and floury stuff you could possibly want. So why hold a low carb interview there?

Because Rick Crawford, the gentleman who owns and runs the joint, is a low carber himself, having lost well over 50 pounds. (He looks wonderful, by the way.) And like so many of us whose lives have been changed by going low carb, Rick Crawford has decided to help spread the word in his own special way.

In Rick's case, his own special way is by baking. (I can understand. I'm a compulsive cook myself.)

So what has Rick Crawford come up with? Only the best low carb bread I've tried so far, and it's only 3 grams of effective carb per slice - Crawford's slices their low carb bread quite thin, so you can "afford" to have two slices, and make a sandwich.

Like all the low carb bread I've had, Crawford's low carb bread has a slightly elastic quality that comes from the low starch/high protein content, but it's far less noticeable than with, say, the low carb bread I've made from purchased bread machine mixes, and once the bread is toasted, it's indistinguishable from "regular" bread, except that - being made freeform, rather than in a loaf pan - the slices are sort of an interesting shape, kind of like an artist's palette. The taste and texture are very good.

Crawford's makes their low carb bread in three varieties, whole grain, whole grain with caraway (for those of you who'd like to be reminded of rye bread), and nut and seed. They're all great.

Rick Crawford and I had some discussion about the difficulties of making low carb bread. As long-time readers know, some folks have had trouble getting the bread recipes in 500 Low-Carb Recipes to rise. Rick explained that as a professional baker he has access to ingredients that are not yet available for the home market, most notably wheat protein isolate.

(I've had a couple of readers write recently, asking what I think of wheat protein isolate. I can tell you that it makes a great loaf of low carb bread, and lets Crawford's avoid using soy products. As for the effect on blood sugar, I'll do some testing on myself before the next issue, and report back. Which means sticking holes in my pinkies again. The things I do for you people...)

You don't have to live in Indianapolis to get Crawford's bread; they'll ship it. However, you do have to buy a dozen loaves at a time, so you'll want to have freezer space, or split an order with some friends. You can mix varieties in an order, by the way. Crawford's low carb bread runs $5.30 for a 1 pound loaf, with 21 slices per loaf.

Crawford's also makes a crustless, Splenda sweetened, very low carb cheesecake; I've tried these, too. They're a New York Style cheesecake, with dense, rich texture, and not very sweet - very good with a little low carb fruit, like some berries mashed with Splenda. The cheesecakes are $9.95. I think it's easier for the home baker to make a good low carb cheesecake than a good loaf of low carb bread (and my email backs me up on this,) but I know that there are plenty of folks who would welcome a good low carb dessert they didn't have to make themselves.

All told, I'm quite impressed with Rick Crawford's low carb baked goods, not to mention his commitment to supplying products for his fellow low carbers. There really is something about the life-changing nature of a low carbohydrate diet that inspires a certain messianic fervor! For more information, visit www.crawfordsbakery.com, or email them at LoCarb@crawfordsbakery.com

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:46 PM

Keto tortilla chips

Remember the product review in the last issue? The one for Keto Keeters, an alleged corn-chip-like product, where I used the word "suck," and variations thereof, approximately 583 times?

Well, I stand behind that review. But a funny thing happened the next day. I got an email from Arne Bey, boss-man at Keto products, the gist of which was, "Thanks for the cold shower. We'll be discontinuing the Keeters." Gave me rather a heady sense of power, I can tell you!

Mr. Bey went on to point out that many Keto products are very popular, and well thought of, and I assured him I was aware of this, and mentioned that my sister, when I'd told her my, er, low opinion of Keeters, had registered surprise, because she really liked the Keto tortilla chips.

Well, the next thing I knew, Arne Bey had sent me some Keto tortilla chips. Actually, he sent me two cases of Keto tortilla chips. (Free food, one of the best things about my job!) I got a case of Keto Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips, and a case of Keto Cool Ranch Tortilla Chips. That's a lot of tortilla chips!

So my husband and I tried the tortilla chips, solely in the name of research, of course! Indeed, to make sure that we can give a truly accurate assessment, we've been trying the tortilla chips off and on for two weeks now.

I can categorically state that the Keto company has made up for the whole Keeters thing, and then some. Keto tortilla chips are great. They're terrific. They're hands-down, no contest, the best low carb chip I've tried. Indeed, they're the only low carb chip I've tried that has the actual taste and texture of - well, of a high quality tortilla chip. If I didn't know that these were low carb tortilla chips, I doubt very much whether I'd have figured it out. They're that good.

(Reading this to my husband, he said, "They're better!" Asked for an explanation, he elaborated, "They're lighter, crispier, flakier. They're not as pasty as regular chips. I actually think I prefer them." There you have it. He then went to the kitchen, and when he returned to his office, I could hear a suspicious crunching.)

The Keto tortilla chips are also better than regular tortilla chips in that they're considerably more filling; a couple of times I had a handful or two in the late afternoon, and discovered that a few hours later I had little appetite for dinner. Since a serving of Keto tortilla chips - a quarter of a bag (yeah, right!) - contains 12 grams of protein, this filling quality is not surprising. That quarter of a bag will also give you 8 grams of carbohydrate, of which four grams are fiber, for a usable carb count of 4 grams. Just be aware that stopping at a quarter of a bag takes a conscious effort!

Keto tortilla chips do contain a lot of soy, and long-time readers know I'm not a huge fan of soy products. (If you want to know why, here's a link to a back issue with an article on the subject: http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/010411.html ) That being said, I've never been convinced I had to completely shun soy products, I just use other alternatives when I can. These tortilla chips are good enough that I'd be willing to eat them now and again, soy or no soy. I wouldn't eat them daily, but then, I've long said that low carb specialty products should be pleasant adjuncts to our diet, not staples. I stand by that - but these tortilla chips could easily become one of my preferred treats.

Along with Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch, Keto Tortilla Chips come in Classic Corn. I haven't tried these, but the Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch are so good, I can only guess that the Classic Corn are equally good. Certainly there is a noticeable corn flavor that shines through the Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch flavorings. Those flavorings, by the way, are indistinguishable from those used on standard chips. It's been a lot of years since I ate a Nacho Cheese Dorito, it's true, but even from that remove, I'm pretty certain that Keto Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips taste just the way nacho cheese tortilla chips are supposed to taste.

Of course, since Keto Tortilla Chips are made with more expensive ingredients (and in far smaller batches) than standard tortilla chips, they're more expensive than standard tortilla chips - suggested retail is $3.99 for a 4-serving bag. My pal Andrew at Carb Smart is currently selling them for $3.59 a bag; he sells everything at a discount (and is a swell human being to boot.) And for any of you locals, I've told my friends at Bloomington, Indiana's Sahara Mart that I'm giving this product a rave, and they'd better stock up. Tell Jahvad and Sarah I sent you. :-)

Keto Keeters did, indeed, suck, but they are now merely an unhappy memory. With their Tortilla Chips, the Keto company has knocked one out of the park. This is the low carb chip I've been waiting for.

Just keep reminding me that a serving is only a quarter of a bag.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:47 PM

Saigon Shrimp

Here's a sample recipe from 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes. Hope you enjoy it!!

Saigon Shrimp

Vietnamese style - hot and a little sweet.

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt (2 ml)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon pepper (2 ml)
1 1/2 teaspoons Splenda (7 ml)
3 scallions
4 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (60 ml)
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and cleaned (0.5 kg)
1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic paste (7 ml)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (10 ml)

Mix together the salt, pepper, and Splenda in a small dish or cup, keep by stove. Slice scallions thinly, and set aside. Gather all your ingredients except the scallions together - the actual cooking of this dish is lightening fast!

In a wok or heavy skillet, over highest heat, heat the oil. Add the shrimp, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp are about 2/3 pink. Add the chili garlic paste and the garlic, and keep stir frying. When the shrimp are pink all over and all the way through, sprinkle the salt/pepper/Splenda mixture over them, stir for just another 10 seconds or so, then turn off flame and divide the shrimp between three serving plates. Top each serving with a scattering of sliced scallion, and serve.

3 servings, each with 2 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 1 gram. 25 grams of protein, and 288 calories.

About Chili Garlic Paste - This is actually a traditional Asian ingredient, consisting mostly, as the name strongly implies, of hot chilies and garlic. This seasoning saves lots of time when we want a recipe to be both hotly spicy and garlicky. Chili garlic paste comes in jars, and keeps for months in the refrigerator. Worth seeking out at Asian markets, or particularly complete grocery stores.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:45 PM