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Is this issue late enough for you? I'm afraid I'm absolutely swamped; I have a deadline of May 1st for the next cookbook - and another deadline of July 1st for the cookbook after that, and one of September 1st for the cookbook after that! I spend most of my time cooking, going to the grocery store, and cleaning up the kitchen. So I'm afraid the situation isn't going to get a whole lot better any time soon. But this 'zine is still worth what you pay for it, right? ;-D
Happy spring! (Except to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere - Happy autumn!) You'll find some recipes for cooking out in this issue!
When one is as outspokenly opinionated as I, it is inevitable that sooner or later one will have the disconcerting experience of having to eat one's words (hoping that they're low carb.) That day has come. It is time for me to issue a revised opinion of some low fat products.
My opinion of low fat products was, for a very long time, scornful in the extreme. I still find many of them appallingly bad, and revoltingly full of sugar. Many of the fat free salad dressings, for instance, are little more than spicy corn syrup, and low fat ice creams generally add extra sugar to make up for the texture lost when the fat is removed. Regular mayonnaise has 0 grams of carb per cup, while light mayonnaise often has over 35 grams. Low fat frozen meals bulk up the volume by adding plenty of rice, noodles, or potatoes. Low fat sauces leave out the cream, but add a ton of cornstarch. And of course, much of the low fat stuff falls into the category of "nutritionless processed garbage" anyway - a category into which a distressing number of the new low carb specialty products also fit, I'm sorry to say.
Furthermore, I believe that getting the preponderance of my calories from fat - so long as it's unprocessed healthy fat - is actually good for me. Accordingly, I have long disdained low fat products.
I have changed my mind, though in a very limited fashion. I have found, upon further research, that there are some sorts of foods where removing the fat is not followed by adding corn syrup or corn starch, and accordingly, these products are lower in calories while remaining low in carbs. Since, carb counts being equal, eating somewhat fewer calories beats eating somewhat more calories, I see no reason not to use these products.
Which products? Reduced fat dairy products. I was shopping for cream cheese to make a cheese cake, a few months ago, and was startled to discover that the "lite" cream cheese actually had fractionally fewer carbs than the full fat stuff, and of course it was lower calorie, as well. I could see no reason not to choose the "lite" cream cheese, so I did, and my cheesecake was very nice, too.
So I took a look at reduced fat dairy products. Turns out that many, particularly cheese and sour cream, do not have objectionable ingredients added. (The exception is reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese, which has a bunch of junk added to it.) Furthermore, most of them have few, if any, more grams of carbohydrate per serving than the full fat varieties (some of which do have objectionable ingredients added.) Land O Lakes "light butter" is okay, too, if pricey.
Many of us have added yogurt back to our diets since The GO-Diet explained that most of the carbohydrate in the milk it's made from is actually converted into lactic acid by the yogurt bacteria. If you are a fan of yogurt - I am! - fat free yogurt has exactly the same carb count as low fat or full fat, and finding plain yogurt with no additives is easy. Ignore the 12 grams of carbohydrate listed on the yogurt label, and count 4 grams per cup.
Avoid fat-free processed dairy products - fat free 'half and half,' sour cream, cheese, and the like. Not only do these taste god-awful, but unlike the reduced fat products, they often have corn syrup and other junk added. And of course, there's never a substitute for reading labels!
I see no reason not to use reduced-fat sour cream and cheese. Many of us have learned that even on a low carbohydrate diet we can't eat unlimited calories and still lose weight. And while I will never advocate a low fat diet, fat is the fraction of our diet which is expandable and contractible.
What do I mean by that? Look at it this way. We eat a fairly fixed amount of protein - I know that I get between 100 - 125 grams per day. Since protein has 4 calories per gram, protein accounts for between 400 and 500 calories per day. I try to stay below 50 grams of carb per day, and usually end up below 40. Since carbs also have 4 calories per gram, that means that most days I'm getting no more than 160 calories per day from carbohydrate. 660 calories per day is nowhere near enough!
The rest of those calories are going to come from fat. I shoot for about 1800 calories per day, which means I need 1,140 calories from fat. Since fat has 9 calories per gram, that means I need roughly 125 grams of fat per day. That sounds like a lot, I know, but remember - just about all of our protein foods contain fat, too. A 6-ounce broiled hamburger has 28 grams of fat. An ounce of cheddar cheese has 9 grams of fat, and an egg has 5, so a two-egg cheese omelet will have about 19 grams of fat - and that's if you don't add any fat to the pan. You see how this can add up.
So if you, like me, have found that you can't eat unlimited calories on your low carb diet, fat is the fraction of your diet that you can change. Don't get me wrong - I am not advocating a low fat diet! I get just over 60% of my calories from fat, and it seems to do me nothing but good. Just saying that I'd rather keep an eye on my fat just a little, than cut out the protein and my few grams of carb. In that context, reduced fat dairy products make some sense.
Furthermore, as you'll read in the letters below, while most people see an improvement in their blood cholesterol levels on a low carbohydrate diet using unlimited saturated fat, not everyone does. Some people's high cholesterol seems to come solely from carb intolerance, while other people also are "saturated fat responders" and need to slant their low carb diets away from saturated fat, toward monounsaturates like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. For these people, too, reduced fat dairy products are a good idea.
Please, do not take this as a pronouncement that you should use reduced fat products. If you're doing fine on your low carb program using full-fat everything, hey, go to it. Just want you to know that reduced fat dairy is okay if you feel it will be useful for you.
(Just a final note: I trust you all know that lean cuts of meat are just as carb free as fatty ones, right? Again, if you're watching calories as well as carbs, or have found that you're a saturated fat responder, there's no reason not to eat ground round instead of the fattier ground beef, or skinless chicken breast instead of the stuff with skin.) (But I, for one, am not giving up my chicken skin. Yum.)
On Saturday, January 24, 2004 9:24 PM David Musolf sent me this email:
Dana and/or Staff,
I have just been diagnosed with slightly high cholesterol (223), and extremely high triglycerides (over 800). I've been reading up on various diets to help without taking drugs. Most of the things I've read have lead me to a low-carb diet to help with the blood sugar and hopefully lower my triglycerides. My question is that many of the low carb diets don't necessarily address the low cholesterol side of things. In you 500 Low-Carb recipe book that I just bought, you use lots of butter, eggs, coconut oil etc. I thought these things would be bad for the cholesterol. I'm 40 years old, 6' 3" and 205 lbs and in pretty good shape. My goal isn't to lose weight (even though I've already lost 10 lbs), but to eat better to help my cholesterol and triglycerides. I want to make sure that your style of diet addresses this.
Here's the deal:
Triglycerides almost invariably drop like a rock on a low carb diet -- indeed, that high triglyceride levels are carbohydrate-driven is not even controversial.
More controversial, but backed up by many clinical studies (including the Duke University study that got a lot of press last year) is the fact that most people also experience an improvement in their cholesterol levels on a low carb diet, even one that includes butter, red meat, cheese, and the like. HDL (good cholesterol) almost always comes up, and most people have a drop in total cholesterol at the same time. This is because high insulin levels (caused by eating lots of carbs) can cause the body to create lots of cholesterol.
However, there does appear to be a group of "saturated fat responders" -- people who, if they go on a low carb diet with lots of butter, cheese, cream, and fatty red meat, get an improvement in triglycerides and HDL, but also get a worsening of LDL.
The way to find out which group you are in, logically enough, is to try a low carb diet including the saturated fats, and then get your bloodwork done again in about two month's time. If all your numbers improve, hey, you've found your diet. If you find your tri's and HDL are better, but your LDL is also way up, you'll want to look instead at a low carb diet that emphasizes poultry and fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados (ie, monounsaturates) instead of saturated fats.
Of course, you can just go straight to the low carb diet that slants toward monounsaturates if you like.
As for eggs and coconut oil: Eggs were cleared long ago of the charge of raising blood cholesterol. It made sense on the surface that eating less cholesterol would lower blood cholesterol, but it doesn't work - all that happens is that your body makes more, and if you eat more, your body makes less. Eggs are not a good source of saturated fats, so that doesn't factor in.
Coconut oil, far from being dangerous, is emerging as one of the healthiest oils -- one of the reasons I have it in my kitchen. The tests that showed coconut oil raising cholesterol involved highly processed, hydrogenated coconut oil, not virgin coconut oil. I trust you're clear on hydrogenated oils and the trans fats they contain (think margarine and Crisco) being about the worst sort of saturated fat you can eat.
Anyway, I hope this helps!
This week, I got this post from Mr. Musolf:
I just wanted to give you a quick update. I just got my latest blood work back and the results are very encouraging.
total cholesterol 223 -> 198 (goal is under 200)
Trig. 823 -> 224 (goal is under 150)
LDL ??? -> 127 (goal is under 130)
HDL 20 -> 30 (goal is over 40)
body weight: 217 -> 198
All of this was accomplished since the first week of January. I've been following most of the guidelines in your cookbook and used a lot of the recipes. I think I'm on a good trend here and my doctor was very impressed. I'll probably go on a much lower dose of medication to get the HDL's up and the triglycerides down.
This is just another data point to back up your philosophy and I wanted to thank you for a great cookbook and good advice that has really worked for me.
Dave, you made my week. Thanks so much for writing and letting me know about your success! And thanks even more for letting me share it with my Lowcarbezine! readers. What a great story.
Long-time readers know that along with "Low Carb Cookie God," another of my titles is "Used Exercise Equipment Girl" - I've written more than once about taking advantage of the huge after-market in exercise equipment, constantly fed by the abandoned good intentions of the folks who bought the equipment new. Accordingly, when I was at the Goodwill last weekend, I checked out the exercise equipment. I found nothing interesting, but hit the jackpot when I checked the videos: I found 8-count-'em-8 exercise videos that interested me, and each was only $2. Such a deal! I couldn't turn it down.
I haven't gotten around to trying them all yet - I've hardly had time - but I started right in using a two of them: A couple of tapes from Leslie Sansone's Walk Away The Pounds collection. I had purchased a couple of these tapes for my mother a while back, and had tried them while staying at her house, so I had an idea of what they were about.
For those of you who are truly out of shape, and looking for a place to start, let me recommend any and all of the Walk Away The Pounds series. These are home exercise at its most basic: If you can walk in place, you can do these tapes. There are only four moves - marching in place, stepping from side to side, kicking gently, and knee lifts. No dance steps, no complicated choreography - just walking.
Yet these tapes actually get your heart rate up. I am a long-time power walker; for 20 years I have walked with hand weights as my preferred exercise. I didn't expect walking in place in front of my television to be much of a workout. Yet I find that I feel muscles in my legs and butt doing these tapes that I don't feel when I'm out walking around the neighborhood, except when I'm going up a good hill.
Sansone incorporates some arm movements with light weights or power bands into her walking routines; beginners can simply do the arm movements without the weights or bands. Since I am a long-time Heavyhands walker, ( http://www.heavyhands.org/ ) I use a 3 pound weight in each hand during just about the whole "walk," to bring it up to the sort of intensity my body is used to. This is very easy to do; I encourage you to use some light weights with these tapes as soon as you're fit enough. While Leslie Sansone uses spherical "Walk Away Weights," they're not essential; I use the same dumbbells I use for walking outdoors.
The advantages of the Walk Away The Pounds tapes are obvious - it's an extremely accessible form of exercise, approachable by anyone who can walk, yet it's a pretty effective aerobic workout, and if you use weights, it gives you some toning as well. If you have concerns about the weather or the safety of your neighborhood, if you have small children at home, or - like my sister - much of the year you can't get home early enough to walk before dark - no problem; you can get an effective walk in front of your television. You don't need a lot of room to do these tapes, either, unlike many aerobics tapes I've tried that require you to push the furniture back to the walls. Perhaps best of all, you can get in a good, brisk walk indoors without spending huge sums (not to mention lots of space) on a treadmill. I've seen these tapes as cheap as $6.99 a pop at Target.
Disadvantages? I can only think of two: If you're a serious exerciser, who likes more complex routines, and wants a very strenuous workout, these tapes are probably not for you. And I warn you, Leslie Sansone is relentlessly perky. Because the exercise itself is quite simple, it doesn't need complex calling, so instead she keeps up a steady stream of exceedingly chipper chatter that can grate after a bit. Or not; I've read reviews from people who like the perkiness factor.
The Walk Away The Pounds series has a lot of tapes/DVDs in it, ranging from "1 mile" (fifteen minute) walks to "3 mile" (45 minute) walks. There's even Walk Away Abs, though I haven't tried it. I've taken to doing my 1 mile tape as soon as I've finished my first pot of tea in the morning, and following it with 6-8 minutes of strenuous ab work. I do try to get in a "real" walk (with my weights!) later in the day, weather permitting, or do my Latin dance aerobics if it's nasty out, but if I get caught up in work and don't get around to it, at least I've had some exercise. It definitely helps to energize me for the rest of the day.
In short, the Walk Away The Pounds series is a great place to get started with exercise, and is surprisingly useful even for those of us who have had the exercise habit for a while. Check 'em out.
Here's a link to the three tape set complete with weights: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005T33K/lowcarbohysoluti
Passover is on its way! And bless her heart, my pal Barbo Gold has sent her low carb Matzo Ball recipe, plus some menu suggestion. Be warned, however: This recipe is not guaranteed kosher, much less kosher-for-Passover. You'd no doubt figure this out as soon as you see crushed pork rinds in the ingredient list. Please, use your own judgement.
This recipe is great for folks who aren't Jewish too, of course! Everybody loves chicken soup!
Matzo Balls for Chicken Soup
Recipe By : Barbo from Barbo's Diet Kitchen
Serving Size : 12
3/4 cup pork rinds -- 0 carbs
1/4 cup Matzo Ball Mix
2 extra large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 quarts chicken broth
-Place matzo mix and crushed pork rinds in a deep bowl.
-Add everything else and mix well.
-Chill for about 1/2 hour.
-Remove and make 12 little round balls
-Keep chilled until you are ready to cook them.
-Bring the soup stock to boil, then add balls and when stock begins to boil, place a tight fitting lid on top and simmer slowly for abut 45 minutes. I added my veggies and cooked chicken chunks the last 10 minutes.
-12 matzo balls @ 3 carbs each & 8.7 gr. protein, no dietary fiber
Gefilte Fish: While Aunt Sylvia's recipe would be most preferable, this year we will use Manischewitz brand Whitefish and Pike (comes in a jar). Each piece is 3g carbs (pretty sure).
Gefilte fish is not strictly legal because it does contain small amounts of starch and sugar (very little in this particular brand) but I feel it's just not Passover without it. I serve it with a cooked carrot slice on the side (optional - garnish only) and RED horseradish sauce (Gold's Brand is 0 carbs.)
Relish Plate: Celery sticks, green and black olives, pickled red peppers.
And here's a kugel recipe from 500 Low-Carb Recipes - since it has cheese in it, it's not for a meat meal:
A kugel is a traditional Jewish casserole dish, that comes in both sweet and savory varieties. This savory kugel is a nice side dish with a simple meat course - but not if you're kosher, of course! It could also be served as a vegetarian main dish.
2 packages, 10 ounces each, frozen cauliflower, thawed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Chop the cauliflower into smallish bits - pieces about 1/2 inch or so. Combine with all other ingredients except paprika in a large mixing bowl, and mix very well. Spray an 8x8 square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, and spread cauliflower mixture evenly in it. Sprinkle paprika lightly over the top. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. 9 servings, each with 5 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams. 10 grams protein.
Next issue we'll talk Easter!
I am SO excited! Mastercook is back on the market!
"What the heck is Mastercook?" I hear you cry. Mastercook is the cooking program that I use to analyze my recipes! Many people have written me, asking what program I used to calculate the carb counts for 500 Low-Carb Recipes and 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes - but for a while there, I had to tell them that Mastercook was off the market. But it's back!
The folks who created it apparently sold it to another software company, you see, and it took the new company a little while to get it back on the market in an updated form. But Amazon is now carrying it again. Yippee!
I simply could not write my cookbooks without Mastercook. Before I had this program, I looked up every ingredient in every recipe by hand. If the quantity in the food count book was different than the amount in the recipe, I did the conversion for quantity. Then I added it all up, and divided by the number of servings. It was tedious, to say the least.
With Mastercook, I enter the quantity of each ingredient, tell it how many servings it is, click a button, and presto! I have a complete nutritional analysis, including not only protein, fat, carbs and fiber, but vitamins and minerals, too. If I'm adapting an existing recipe to lower the carb count, I can enter the recipe as I conceive of it, and see whether it comes out low carb enough. If it doesn't, I can make changes right then, easily, till I get numbers I can live with - and then I can try the recipe out.
But Mastercook does more than that. If you have a recipe that makes, say, 8 servings, and you want to make it for 12 (or for that matter, 6,) with a click of a button Mastercook will scale the recipe for you, and tell you how much you need of each ingredient.
Mastercook comes with a humongous data base of foods already in it, but also allows you to add new foods to it. This is quite easy to do - you just copy the information from the listing on the label. I've customized my Mastercook with Splenda, vanilla whey protein powder, Ketatoes, Atkins Bake Mix, and a number of other ingredients that are only common to the low carb cook. Makes my life much easier; I only have to enter the data once.
Add to this that Mastercook comes with 5000 recipes in it (not guaranteed to be low carb, of course) and you can see that this is a tool that every aspiring low carb chef needs.
You can get Mastercook through Amazon.com - that's where I got my copy of the old version. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000ALX5X/lowcarbohysoluti
In celebration of the debut of my new book, The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, here are a couple of sample recipes!
Brined Lemon Pepper Shrimp
Memphis Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Brined Lemon Pepper Shrimp
1 pound brined, uncooked shrimp in the shell (recipe for brining below)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
While your shrimp are brining, crush the garlic and pour the olive oil over it. That way you'll have garlic flavored olive oil by the time the shrimp are ready to cook.
Drain the brine off of the shrimp, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Put them in a bowl (if you brined the shrimp in a bowl, there's no reason not to use the same one; just rinse it and dry it first. Pour the garlic olive oil over them, and toss. Now sprinkle the lemon pepper over them, and toss again.
You'll need a small-holed grill rack, or a grill wok - I like to use a grill wok for this. Lift your shrimp out of the olive oil with a fork, to let the excess oil drip off, and put over a medium-hot fire. Grill quickly, turning two or three times, until pink clear through - the timing will depend on the size of your shrimp, but shouldn't be more than 6 or 7 minutes.
3-4 servings. Assuming 3, each serving would have 6 grams of carb - if you drank the brine! But you won't, of course. So figure no more than 4 grams per serving, a trace of fiber, and 31 grams of protein. (You'll actually get a little more protein if you cook big shrimp than if you cook little ones, because of the better shrimp-to-shell ratio.) 325 calories.
Brining shrimp makes them plumper and firmer - some say the texture resembles lobster. Adds flavor, too! I mean, what is sea water but a kind of brine? If you want to be terribly authentic, use sea salt!
1 quart water
2 tablespoons kosher salt or large-crystal sea salt
2 tablespoons Splenda
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 pound shrimp in the shell - whatever size you like
Dissolve the salt in the water - using warm water makes it easier to dissolve the salt, but don't make the water hot enough to cook the shrimp! Stir in the Splenda and molasses. Now pour this mixture over your shrimp, in a bowl, or in a large zipper-lock bag. If you're using a bag, press out the air, and seal it. Either way, make sure your shrimp are submerged. Let them sit in the brine for 30 - 45 minutes for medium-sized shrimp, or as much as an hour for really huge ones.
If you'd rather have some ribs or the like, try:
Memphis Mustard Barbecue Sauce
This tasty Memphis-style barbecue sauce is one of the lowest carb in the book, and packs a serious mustard note. Enjoy!
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup mustard
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Splenda
Just measure everything into a non-reactive saucepan, whisk it together, bring it to a simmer, and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. That's it!
Makes about a cup, or 8 servings of 2 tablespoons each. 3 grams of carbohydrate each, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of just 2 grams. 1 gram protein. 15 calories.