November 21, 2003

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Hey Gang -

Wow! I've been on the road since Friday. I've been in New York - first Westchester County and then Long Island, where I did book signings, and met some terrific folks. In particular, Vicki Cash, who donated a bunch of recipes from her Low Carb Success Calendar for 500 Low Carb Recipes (including the hugely popular Pumpkin Cheesecake) came with her charming husband Keith to see me in Scarsdale. We had dinner together, and a fine (low carb) time was had by all.

I then spent a day in New York City. I would like to state, here and now, that the most pernicious and unfair regional myth in the country is the near-universal notion that New Yorkers are rude, unfriendly, and generally unpleasant. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every time I go to New York, I am struck once again by the helpfulness, friendliness, and humor of New Yorkers. It's a wonderful place, and you should all visit at least once, at the very least.

Anyway, now I'm in Pennsylvania, where I'll do a full-day guest training for QVC tomorrow (I will, of course, let you know when I'm going to be on QVC!), but I wanted to give you the article I promised on how to decarb Thanksgiving dinner. I'm afraid that's all you're getting this issue, but heck, this ezine's still worth what you pay for it, right?

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:11 PM

DeCarbing Thanksgiving Dinner

Last issue we talked about having an Indulgence Day on Thanksgiving, and eating the traditional high carb foods of the holiday, without completely blowing our low carb way of life. However, many of us have reached a point where we don't care to eat a lot of concentrated carbs, even for a holiday. So this issue, let's talk about how to have a fabulous Thanksgiving feast, while keeping the carbs to a minimum.

Notice the phrase, "keeping the carbs to a minimum." I'm not going to pretend that even a decarbed Thanksgiving feast is going to be a strictly low carb meal. Nor should it be, to my way of thinking - it is, after all, a celebratory feast. But we can keep the carbs as low as is consistent with a satisfyingly traditional Thanksgiving dinner - and this is a fine thing to do.

Here, then, in no particular order, are some ideas for decarbing your Thanksgiving feast.

* All but the newest of low carb dieters are aware, I am sure, of the trick of using pureed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. This is very simple to do: You simply steam or microwave cauliflower until it's tender, drain it well, and then put it through a blender or food processor. Add butter, salt, pepper, and - if you want to make it really top-drawer - a little cream cheese - and you'll have what we call "fauxtatoes."

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have had dinner guests try fauxtatoes with gravy, and not realize until the third or fourth mouthful that they were not eating potatoes. If, for the holiday dinner, you'd like to make your fauxtatoes even more convincing, you might try cooking and pureeing just one potato along with your cauliflower, to add that potato flavor.

* Stuffing, also known as dressing, is a major part of the Thanksgiving experience, and I, for one, adore the stuff. How can we decarb our stuffing?

First of all, you can use reduced carb bread. This is more and more available; my local grocery stores in Bloomington, Indiana have now started carrying Atkins bread, and a reduced carb bread from Brownberry. "Lite" breads are also worth looking at - if I recall correctly, Pepperidge Farm light bread has no more than 6 grams of usable carb per slice. If you really want to show that your heart is in it, you could make your own low carb bread, either from one of the recipes in 500 Low Carb Recipes, or in Diana Lee's Baking Low Carb.

Once you've got low carb bread, the next thing to do is to look at the bread-to-vegetable ratio of your stuffing. Will you be happy with more celery and onions, and a bit less bread? How about adding some sauteed mushrooms - a very low carb vegetable - to your stuffing? I've done this, and the results were excellent.

For that matter, my mother has always put cooked and crumbled pork sausage in her turkey stuffing. Accordingly, my sister, Kim - who is also a low carber - has sometimes made stuffing with quite a lot of celery, onions, and sausage, and just a little bread. Not only did Kim find this meaty, reduced-carb stuffing acceptable, but so did our father, who is not only not a low carber, but a picky eater of the first water.

Of course, Southerners eat corn bread stuffing, instead of stuffing made from loaf bread. I know it sounds nuts, but there's a recipe at the Katiedid's Pork Rinds website for a stuffing made from crushed pork rinds that is remarkably like cornbread stuffing. Do take a look!

If you're interested in a recipe that has no grain whatsoever, but is still very tasty (not to mention quick to make,) there's a recipe for Apple-Walnut Dressing in my new book, 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes. I think it's quite good (of course!,) but I can also tell you that the nice people at Fox and Friends also pronounce my grain-less dressing delicious.

* Sweet potatoes are another traditional Thanksgiving carb food. It's nice to know that sweet potatoes, while high carb, have a lower blood sugar impact than "regular" potatoes, and contain far more vitamins. Still, we are talking roughly 30 grams of carbohydrate per sweet potato - and that's without the brown sugar, corn syrup, and/or marshmallows people tend to heap on them! What can we do?

Here's a neat trick: Combine one sweet potato, cooked and mashed, with canned, pureed pumpkin. Now, add Splenda to taste, with maybe 1/2 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses for a brown sugar flavor (you could use Brown Sugar Twin instead; I don't like the stuff,) and a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Put it in a casserole, dot it with butter, and bake it till it's hot clear through. Using one average sweet potato and a pound of pumpkin puree, and assuming you serve 6 people, each serving will have about 10 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber, or 9 grams of usable carb - just a third of eating a plain sweet potato.

* Cranberry sauce is the easiest thing to decarb! Buy a bag of fresh cranberries. On the bag you will find a recipe for Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. (Or at least, I've never found a bag of cranberries that didn't have this recipe on it...) This is exceedingly simple to make - you combine cranberries, water, and sugar in a saucepan, and boil them together for about 5 minutes, or until the cranberry skins pop. Do this exactly the way it says on the bag, only use Splenda in place of the sugar! If you've only ever had canned cranberry jelly, I think you'll be excited at how wonderful fresh, homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce is.

If you're fond of cranberry sauce all year long, here's a useful tip: Cranberries are one of the few foods that are still strictly seasonal. They're only available for a few months in the autumn. However, cranberries freeze beautifully! So if you want cranberry sauce all year long, pick up a few extra bags of cranberries and stash them in the freezer. They'll live there happily, and be ready to gladden your heart with tart-sweet cranberry goodness till next autumn rolls around.

* Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without turkey gravy, and gravy is, of course, usually thickened with flour or cornstarch. If you'd like to really go all the way with de-carbing your feast, consider thickening your gravy with guar or xanthan gum, instead. You can put the de-fatted drippings and some broth through your blender with a little guar or xanthan, then pour it back into the pan to heat it through and season it. Alternately, you can combine the de-fatted drippings and the broth in the turkey roasting pan (the turkey will, we trust, be on a platter by this point!,) and, using an odd salt shaker, sprinkle guar or xanthan over the surface while stirring frantically with a whisk. Either way, stop adding guar or xanthan when the gravy is a little less thick than you'd like - both of these thickeners tend to thicken a bit more on standing. Again, once your gravy is thickened you can add salt, pepper, some poultry seasoning, and whatever other seasonings you like, to taste.

* Then we come to dessert. I'm pleased to say that low carb pumpkin pie is no more difficult, and is perhaps even tastier, than the traditional kind - after all, we make the crust with ground pecans! This recipe appears in 500 Low-Carb Recipes, but I've repeated it below. If you prefer, you'll also find Vicki Cash's wonderful Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe in 500 Low-Carb Recipes - the decision is up to you.

I'm afraid I have not yet managed to de-carb apple pie, for a very simple reason: Apples are a relatively high-carb fruit. I have a few ideas to try yet; if I come up with a winning recipe, I'll let you know!

* The rest of the advice for a de-carbed Thanksgiving appeared last issue: Have plenty of great low carbohydrate vegetables, and of course lots of turkey. Add a dry white wine - perhaps a Chardonnay - and you've got a traditional Thanksgiving feast that - while not being strictly low carb - will have far, far fewer carbs than is usual.

Have a very happy Thankgiving! (And to all my readers outside the US, I hope at least some of these ideas are applicable to your lives. I promise to go back to being less US-centric next issue!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 05:39 PM

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Crust

I'm very proud of this recipe. Serve it at Thanksgiving Dinner, and no one will guess it's made without sugar.


2 cups shelled raw pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons Splenda
1 1/2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons water

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 eggs
3/4 cup Splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Put the pecans and salt in a food processor with the S blade in place. Pulse until the pecans are chopped to a medium consistency.

3. Add the Splenda, molasses, and butter, and pulse again until well blended. Add the water and pulse again, until well combined. At this point, you'll have a soft, sticky mass.

4. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray, or butter it well. Turn the pecan mixture into it, and press firmly in place, all over the bottom, and up the sides by 1 1/2 inches or so. Try to get it an even thickness, with no holes, and if you wish, run a finger or a knife around the top edge, to get an even, nice-looking line.

5. Bake for about 18 minutes. Cool.

6. Increase the oven temperature to 425F.

7. Combine the pumpkin, heavy cream, eggs, Splenda, salt, molasses, and spice in a bowl, and whisk together well. Pour into the prebaked and cooled pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350F, and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Cool, and serve with whipped cream.

Yield: 8 servings, each with 14 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber, for a total of 10 grams of usable carbs, and 6 grams of protein.

Wondering how many carbs you're really saving by making your pumpkin pie from scratch? A lot -- especially when you consider that a slice of Mrs. Smith's frozen pumpkin pie has 37 grams of usable carbs, or well over three times as much!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 05:36 PM

November 06, 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 -

Yikes! In less than 24 hours I'll be in New York City, and I haven't even started packing yet! I'm going to just hit "send," and go deal with getting myself ready to go out of town.

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:00 PM

The Thanksgiving Indulgence: Damage Control

There are two possibilities for the low carber when faced with a feast day like Thanksgiving: Do your best to de-carb the meal, or just declare an Indulgence Day, and eat all your traditional favorites for that one day. We'll be exploring the first possibility next issue. In this issue, let's talk about the Indulgence Day, both how to minimize the damage, and how to get right back on the low carb track afterward. ,

There will be at least a little damage, you know. That's why I greatly prefer the term "Indulgence" to the term "cheat" - because "cheat" implies you're going to get away with something, and you never do. You may be able to fool yourself now and then, but you can't fool your body.

You can, however, help your body deal with an Indulgence, and help yourself get right back on your low carb plan with minimal pain. Here are some ideas for getting through a Thanksgiving Indulgence with the least backlash possible:

* Start thinking now about which foods your family traditionally serves for Thanksgiving dinner, with an eye to which of the carbohydrate foods really matter to you. By way of example, I adore stuffing, but couldn't care less about candied sweet potatoes. Accordingly, I would have a moderate serving of stuffing, but skip the sweet potatoes. Don't bother Indulging on anything that isn't a huge favorite of yours just because it's always been there.

* Don't let family members decide what you should Indulge in, either! Indulgences are way too precious, and your health and weight loss too hard-won, to give in to nagging to "have just a taste; after all, it's a holiday, and you're eating stuffing, so why won't you eat my bread?" or whatever. You don't owe it to a soul to eat anything that isn't 100% what you want at your Indulgence meal.

* On Thanksgiving Day, as on every other day of the year, get up and eat your low carbohydrate, high protein breakfast. No starving yourself all day in anticipation of the big feast! Just a couple of eggs first thing in the day will be enough to help you eat one serving of mashed potatoes, not three!

* Do load up on the wonderful low carb foods on your Thanksgiving table, too - turkey, of course, but how about low carb vegetables? Our family always has green beans almandine for holidays, and that's a great low carb treat. Rutabaga, a borderline vegetable that I love, is also a part of our Thanksgiving. You can bet I'll be having big servings of both of these. Do you have a favorite low carb vegetable dish? Consider adding it to the menu. By loading up on protein and low carb vegetables along with the stuffing and the mashed potatoes, you'll dilute the carbs with plenty of fiber and protein - and minimize the rebound effect on your blood sugar.

* Remember, when Thanksgiving dinner is over, your Indulgence is over! You do not get to spend the rest of the holiday weekend eating hot turkey sandwiches and leftover pie! If the feast is at your house, consider giving away most of the carb-y leftovers to departing guests. If you're eating at someone else's house, and they offer to wrap up a piece of pie for you, ask if you can have some leftover turkey instead.

* Once the Thankgiving bloat starts to lift - probably several hours after dinner - hop right back on the wagon with a small protein meal. A slice or two of leftover turkey would be the obvious choice. Don't let your blood sugar crash when there's lots of temptation in the house! Anyway, this is a good way to give yourself the message that you're back to Business As Usual.

* Going to be spending the rest of the weekend watching football games? Make sure you have plenty of low carb snacks on hand - hot wings, cheese, cold cuts, a relish tray from the grocery store deli, pork rinds, mixed nuts, all will go a long way to keeping you out of the chips. For that matter, the low carb chips have improved over the past couple of years; Keto Tortilla Chips, and Atkins Crunchers are a couple of brands I really like. Remember, these aren't free foods, but they'll help keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.

* Don't forget the low carb beverages! If you like a beer with your football, make sure you have Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, or Milwaukee's Best Light in the house - they're the lowest carb beers on the market.

* All that family togetherness driving you to sugar? Leftover pie singing a siren song from the pantry? Get out of the house. Start your Christmas shopping, go downtown and look at the Christmas decorations, take in a movie, rake the yard, go skating if it's cold enough, or walk if it's warm - just get the heck out of the house and DO something!

* And remember: Having so many food choices that we have to eat mindfully, with an eye to our health and our waistlines, is a blessing so immense that it is unimaginable to vast numbers of people. Be thankful!

Next issue: How to put together a reduced-carb Thanksgiving Feast that will please dieters and non-dieters alike!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:59 PM

Used Equipment Girl Strikes Again!

Buying used exercise equipment makes all kinds of sense. After all, machines that get used just a half a dozen times before becoming clothes racks are so common as to have become a standing joke. As a result, there is a vast treasure trove of great exercise equipment, cheap, just waiting for the buyer who goes to yard sales and thrift shops, or keeps an eye on the classified ads.

Case in point: The machine I just got off of! It's the Gazelle, advertised via infomercial by Tony Little. You know Tony; he's the very muscular gentleman with the long blond curls who seems to constantly be hollering, albeit in a friendly way. I picked up my Gazelle a few months back, during the yard sale season. The nice lady who was selling her Gazelle had purchased it just 6 months before, and had paid price - $200. What did I pay her for her like-new Gazelle, complete with the instructional video that came with it? $35.

How do I like my Gazelle? I like it very well, thanks. It's well-made, sturdy, and stable, with very smooth motion. Better yet, it's absolutely silent, which is an inestimable virtue as far as I'm concerned. I found the motion of the Gazelle easy to get used to, as well. That may sound pretty basic, but I've had exercise machines that were tough to get the hang of - the Nordic Trak ski machine come to mind.

Another good thing about the Gazelle is that it uses both arms and legs, which means it will get you in better shape, faster, than a machine like a treadmill or stationary bicycle that only gets your legs moving. Furthermore, the Gazelle involves no joint impact, so it's easy on your knees. Personally, I think the Gazelle is more fun than a treadmill, too, and it takes up a bit less floor space, though I wouldn't call it a small piece of equipment.

Which leads to the down side: While the Gazelle is very easy to fold and roll, it takes up a fair amount of space even when folded. Mine lives up against my living room wall, between my TV and the door, and while I don't trip over it, I can't say it adds to the decor. It also makes smudge marks where the handles hit the paint. If you're lucky enough to have more closet space than I do, rolling a Gazelle into the closet wouldn't be terribly tough.

Also, the foot beds of the Gazelle do swing back and forth in a pretty big arc, and of course they have all the impetus of your body weight. A child or a pet wandering into their path could get a pretty nasty whack; I've come close to hitting one of my dogs more than once. You'll want to be alert.

Still, the Gazelle has become my current machine of choice for in-front-of-the-tube exercise. If you're looking for something to get the blood pumping while watching Law & Order reruns or your daily soap, you could look far and do worse.

Here's a link where you can see what this thing looks like, and read more user reviews of the Gazelle: You'll find that the reviews are largely very positive. (Fitness Infomercial Review is a terrific website, by the way. I visit every time I'm considering another fitness infomercial product, and I've saved some money this way...)

I actually think a Gazelle would be worth the price new, if you're the sort of person who would actually use it. However, when I checked Ebay there were at least a couple of dozen for sale, so if you're a savvy bidder, you might get a deal.

And who knows - maybe one will show up at a yard sale near you!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:56 PM

November is Diabetes Month!

No, no, it's not a month to get diabetes, it's a month to raise awareness about diabetes, and help people fight their diabetes. Since diabetes is the big-casino, end-game version of carbohydrate intolerance, that makes Diabetes Month a big deal for us here at Lowcarbezine! And since type II diabetes (we changed the name from "adult onset diabetes" when children started getting it with alarming frequency) is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the world, it should be a big deal to everyone else, too.

Most of you will remember that back in August, I put out a Special notice asking for low carb diabetes success stories. The response was nothing short of overwhelming - I got over 90 stories in 48 hours! Clearly, many of you have found that your low carbohydrate lifestyle has been instrumental in getting your blood sugar (and cholesterol, and triglycerides) under control. I'd like to share some of those stories this month:

Donna Hogan writes:

I have had diabetes since 1998. Started on medication and tried to lose weight. Never lost a pound. Always heard diabetics could not do low carb diets. Until I read Dr. Bernstein's book in 2001, I never thought of going low carb. But he is living proof it won't kill me.

So I started cold turkey, cut out carbohydrates similar to Dr. Atkins suggestions. Never had any trouble dropping the carbs, especially after I started dropping the pounds. When I started dieting I also started a walking program. I had been told I would need hip surgery in the future. Walking was painful, but I started slow and worked at increasing my time spent walking. Was told by my orthopedic doctor not to do any exercise except swimming or walking, so I walked.

When blood sugar started falling to normal levels, I threw my diabetic pills away.

To end this story: I lost 65 pounds. I take no medications now. I lowered my cholesterol and related blood fat levels. Have improved the hip condition, weight condition, and now walk at least two miles a day, but usually three miles a day. My endocrinologist says my diabetes is "in remission." My body will not know I have diabetes until blood sugar go over 126. I maintain a level between 98 - 115 with diet and exercise. I am 66 years old.

Hope this story is what you want to hear. I still cannot get other to do low carb dieting even though they are overweight. I think the diabetes and bad hip were my incentive to follow this through. I have been on low carb maintenance way of life for almost two year now, with no weight gain.

Carolin Van Pelt writes:

We have a friend (a guy) who is married with three children. He is 30+, in good shape, lifts weights, works a physical job. His doctor told him he was borderline diabetic. He was told they would need to start medication.

We explained the no carb/low carb diet. He did almost no carb. He has not had to start medication. He came back to us and was concerned because he had been losing so much weight. I told him to add a few more carbs back into his diet. I explained weight loss is what the diet is for besides diabetes. I told him to start adding some fruit, still try to stay away from pasta and potatoes. He has been medication free for several months. I don't have the particulars on his blood count, but he is doing well. His doctor was surprised!

John Foyt writes:

My specifics are: At age 37 I went to the doc for a checkup and was warned of borderline high cholesterol and EXTREMELY high triglycerides (450.) He recommended Lipitor which I did not want to take - personal aversion to drugs of all kinds. A few months later I tripped on a copy of the Carb Addicts Lifespan Program and got started right away. Three weeks later, I saw the doc for a followup. Cholesterol had dropped 40 points and triglycerides were down to 330 - in THREE WEEKS.

Doc noted that "the drug was working" and was VERY annoyed that I had done this WITHOUT drugs. In subsecquent followups, choleterol is down to normal and triglycerides are around 200. All without the Lipitor prescribed. And as triglycerides are a marker - I'm off the diabetes fast track.

Darcie Westhoff writes:

In February 2003, my 36 year old huband was notified his triglyceride level was 799. He was approximately 10-20 pounds overweight. His fasting blood sugar was normal, but he has diabetes in his family history. His doctor wanted to start him on the medication Lopid, but he did not want to go on medication. I put him on a low carb diet. He lost 15 pounds, and his triglyceride level at recheck 4 months later was down to 156.

He is staying on the low carb diet in hopes that he can avoid getting the diabetes that has affected so many of his family members.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:54 PM

Turkey Tetrazinni

Come the end of this month, you're likely to have a big pile of leftover turkey that you need to do something with. Here's a good way to use some of it up:

Turkey Tetrazinni

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cans mushrooms, drained
1 cups heavy cream
1 cups half and half
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon crystals
2 tablespoons dry sherry
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon guar or xanthan (optional, but it makes the sauce thicker)
cooked spaghetti squash, scraped into strings (about 3 cups)
3 cups diced leftover turkey

Over medium heat, melt butter in a heavy skillet, and start the onions and the mushrooms sauteing in it. While that's cooking, combine the cream, the half and half, bouillon crystals, sherry, and guar, if you're using it, in a blender, and blend it for just ten seconds or so, to combine. Go back and stir your veggies! When the onion is limp and translucent, transfer half of the vegetables into the blender, add the Parmesan, and blend for another 20 seconds or so, to puree the vegetables. Combine the cream sauce with the spaghetti, the rest of the vegetables, and the turkey, and mix everything well. Put in a 10 cup casserole that you've sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 400 for 20 minutes, until bubbly.

6 - 8 servings. Assuming 6, each will have 7 grams of carbohydrate, a trace of fiber, and 24 grams of protein. 492 calories.

This tetrazinni is wonderful; everyone who tries it loves it. However, if you have some folks in your family who are going to be unhappy about spaghetti squash, here's what you do: use half spaghetti squash, half spaghetti. Mix half of the sauce with the turkey, and divide the other

half of the sauce, and the un-pureed mushrooms and onions, between 1 cups spaghetti squash, and 1 cups cooked spaghetti. Put the spaghetti squash at one end of your casserole dish, and the spaghetti at the other end (it helps to use a rectangular casserole dish!) Then make a groove down the middle of the whole thing, lengthwise, and pour the turkey mixture into the groove. Bake the same way as above.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:47 PM