December 19, 2004

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Hey Gang!

I promised you cookie recipes before Christmas, and here they are, along with a few admittedly belated holiday survival tips. I'm afraid this will have to do - I head to my mom's next Wednesday, and I'm spending all day Monday shopping with my pal Maria.

In the New Years issue, we'll look at an interesting question: Is low carb really over? (Yeah, right.) Plus I'll be reviewing the low carb book I wish I'd written!

Have a great Christmas, Solstice, Kwanza, or all three, a safe New Years Eve, and I'll see you in 2005!!

Read on -

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:21 PM

Yikes! It's Almost Christmas!

How does this happen?! It's a week before Christmas, and I've barely started shopping. More importantly, I haven't covered the topic of the holidays in this august journal, and it's very nearly too late. So here is a quick scattershot of tips that may get you through the next week, at any rate:

* Most Important Point (which is why I'm calling attention to it!) There is a huge difference between choosing to have an Indulgence for Christmas Day, and deciding "It's the Holiday Season" and giving yourself permission to eat every carb-y treat that appears before you. Pick and choose Indulgences mindfully, or you'll be ringing in 2005 in a larger size.

* Do not let others decide if, when, and with what you should Indulge. Ignore pleas of "But it's my special family recipe!" "I made it just for you!" "It's traditional!" and other such blackmail. Weigh for yourself the pleasure versus the pain of each possible Indulgence, keeping in mind the other opportunities for dietary indiscretion that are bound to come your way during the season, and make your decisions accordingly.

* Shift the focus off of food to other holiday fun. Build a snowman, go sledding or skating, make decorations, drive around to see the lights, go downtown to see the decorations in the shop windows, go caroling, gather 'round the fireplace and read Christmas stories aloud. Give your family traditions that don't focus on sugar!!

* Check specialty candy stores for foil-wrapped sugar-free chocolate novelties, like Santas and foil-wrapped ornaments. I've had good luck finding these. Many stores can also make up an assortment of sugar-chocolates in a fancy box - a great gift for low carbers on your list.

* The lowest carb and calorie way I know to get a quick chocolate fix is to nuke a cup of Carb Countdown chocolate flavor for the best sugar-free cocoa ever. Add a drop or two of peppermint extract for a festive flair.

* Can't get Carb Countdown? Swiss Miss Diet Cocoa Mix has 4 grams of carb per cup. Easy to stash in your desk, to help you resist those cookies in the break room!

* For you folks lucky to live in New York, New England, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, Carb Countdown is also distributing low carb eggnog in those regions. Here's hoping that next year they distribute this nationwide - I know my nog-loving husband would be happy.

* Speaking of which, there are two cookie recipes in the Cooking Low Carb! section, below, which will make you very popular with your low carbing co-workers.

* No time to bake? Do yourself a favor and keep at least a sugar free truffle or two on hand. Sugar is likely to ambush you at the darnedest moments this time of year. Be prepared.

* If you're going to a party, and it's the custom in your set to bring a dish along, bring something you love that you won't regret the next day. Hot wings, stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, all will be welcomed by non-low-carbers, and will keep you happy.

* No time to cook? Your grocery store deli will come to the rescue. Just call in advance, and they'll make up a tray of hot wings, cheese and sausage, assorted cold cuts, vegetables and dip, or cold shrimp, any of which will brighten up a party. You could also buy a few gourmet cheeses and some fiber crackers, or smoked salmon.

* This sort of "pickup food" is a great strategy for cozy nights at home with the family, too. While decorating the tree, wrapping presents, or watching A Christmas Story for the umpteenth time, just set out a variety of substantial, nutritious, low carb snack foods, and call it supper. Easier than getting the milling hoards assembled around the dining room table.

* Feel like you have to have sugary treats, or people will be disappointed? Serve something that's not your own personal favorite.

* Don't stand by the food table at parties. Grab a plate, load it up with low carb treats, and go socialize somewhere else. Standing there next to the bowl of chips is not a good idea!

* Speaking of parties, you might want to go really easy on the sugar free candy and other polyol/sugar alcohol-laden treats if you have a party to go to. Remember, that stuff can cause, er, social offensiveness. Having a vicious gas attack at the Christmas party is not likely to endear you to your friends.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:19 PM

Reader Review of 500 More Low Carb Recipes

More great stuff!

My favorite low carb cookbook was Dana's first, 500 Low Carb Recipes. Now this will be my second favorite, probably. The Guacamole Eggs, the Unpotato and Sausage Soup, and several of the Quiche recipes are already family favorites.

One thing about Dana's books: there's something for everyone! She has many vegetarian dishes, and stuff like graham crackers and spoon bread, that help people realize there's more to low carbing than bacon with bacon. And using her great instructions, I'm finally making omelettes like a pro.

This is a great gift for good cooks, and those, (like me) who are aspiring to that state. And the ingredients aren't that exotic...most of the recipes use ingredients you have around anyway.

All in all, a fantastic followup.

Pamela R. Merritt Saranac Lake, NY, November 30, 2004

Thanks, Pamela! See, omelets really are easy. ;-D

To read this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, click here.

We love Amazon.com, but would be remiss if we didn't tell you that 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is available at bookstores everywhere, and even through many mass-merchandisers - Target, among others, is carrying it. And remember, it makes a great gift for your low carbing friends and family members!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:18 PM

A Special Note To Those Whose Families Are Not So Idyllic

(This article is a repeat, but it still applies.)

While most of us (gosh, I hope it's most of us!) will be spending time with people we love and enjoy this holiday season, I am sadly aware that there are more than a few people whose families are more like armed camps, with nasty little arrows being fired back and forth, or even big, ugly bombs being dropped. If you are from such a family (and you're not in there being ugly with the worst of them), you have my profound sympathy.

One possibility is simply not to see them. Yes, you are permitted to do this, even at Christmas. You are not required by law, morality, or anything else to put up with people who deliberately try to make you unhappy. I know that we all hope for reconciliation, especially at this time of year, and sometimes it works. But I also know several folks I'm fond of who have had relatives that they have simply had to drop, for their own sanity, and for whom this was a hard, but very good, decision.

If it's someone you feel your kids need to see -- your parents or in-laws (their grandparents), your ex-spouse -- drop the kids off and pick them up later. Feel you need an excuse? Volunteer at the local soup kitchen or charity organization; they can use all the hands they can get this time of year. How can anyone give you a hard time for delivering Christmas dinner to shut-ins, without sounding like an ass?

Maybe there's just one or two family members who have to stick pins -- a sib, a cousin, whatever. Memorize this handy-dandy all-purpose comeback: "How very kind of you to say so." Got it? Not, "You jerk, how can you be so mean?" or "Yeah, well screw you too." No. "How very kind of you to say so." As in:

"Gee, you've gained so much weight!" (Little do they know you've taken off ten pounds in the last two weeks.)

"How very kind of you to say so!"

"Lost a lot of hair, haven't you?"

"How very kind of you to say so!"

"If you were worth anything, you'd have a better job by now."

"How very kind of you to say so!"

"I can't believe that wife of yours is such a lousy housekeeper."

"How very kind of you to say so!"

Isn't this fun?! You'll drive them absolutely nuts, while retaining the moral high ground, and looking like a class act to everyone else there.

Acceptable variations are, "How nice of you to notice!" or -- given the season and all -- "And a very Happy Christmas to you too!" This last is useful for loaded questions, where "How very kind of you to say so" won't quite fit. For instance, "Is that good-for-nothing dead beat husband of yours ever going to amount to anything?" "And a very Happy Christmas to you too!"

(If you're wondering why "Happy", not "Merry", it's because I learned this useful phrase from a British man I dated years ago. I rather like the English phrasing, but feel free to use "Merry" instead.)

Hope this helps. Next year, consider spending Christmas with FRIENDS!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:14 PM

Pre-Order 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes NOW!

You've asked nicely. You've begged. You've pleaded. (You haven't, I am pleased to say, threatened.) And I listened! 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes hits the market in January, just in time for the nasty season, when few things are more comforting than coming home to the smell of a steaming, ready-cooked meal. Amazon.com has 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes listed, pending its release in January. Click here to check it out and pre-order.

* Easy Party Shrimp
* Hot Crab Dip
* Maple-Glazed Corned Beef with Vegetables
* Asian Slow Cooker Short Ribs
* Chuck with Avocado Aioli
* Braised Pork with Fennel
* Maple-Spice Country Style Ribs
* Kashmiri Lamb Shanks
* Seriously Simple Chicken Chili
* Thai Chicken Bowls
* Cream of UnPotato Soup
* Tavern Soup
* Cheddar-Barbecue Fauxtatoes

And lots more! Order your copy today!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:10 PM

Low Carb Drinking

Long-time readers can skip this, since I do it every year, and the news hasn't changed much. But since this is just about the drinking-est time of year, it's timely.

Alcohol is technically carb-free. Indeed, it is its own class of calorie containing substances: carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 calories per gram, alcohol falls in between, at 7 calories per gram.

However, alcohol does raise blood sugar, and many people even consider it to be a "super carb." There are folks who insist we should be counting 25 grams of carbohydrate per ounce of alcohol. Without a whole lot of money for clinical research, I have no way of knowing how valid this is. However, three things are certain:

1) Alcohol slows your metabolism, or as a medical journal article I read put it, "Alcohol profoundly inhibits lipolysis." This means that carbs or no carbs, alcohol is always a luxury on a low carb diet.

2) Alcohol contributes a fair number of calories, and while we can more calories on a low carb diet without gaining weight, we can't eat unlimited calories. Calories do count, at least some.

3) Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it more likely you'll eat the chips or say "Yes" to dessert.

All of that being said, many of us are likely to include alcohol in our making merry this season. How can we minimize the damage? By exercising moderation, of course. And also by avoiding taking in extra carbs and calories with our alcohol. Here are some tips to help you get the most fun for the least damage:

* I've seen "low carb wine" recently, but all dry wines are low carb. Burgundy, Cabernet, Shiraz/Syrah, Merlot, Rhine, Chablis, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, all should run between 1 - 4 grams of carb per 3 1/2 ounce glass. Red wines have more beneficial antioxidants than white wines!

* "Dry" champagne isn't really dry; it's actually pretty sweet. We won't even consider sweet champagne! If you're toasting the New Year, "Extra Brut" champagne is your best bet.

* Michelob Ultra has gotten a lot of press, but I don't much like it. I find it bland and flavorless. Miller Light tastes a lot better, to my way of thinking, and has only about a half a gram more carb per serving. Miller Lite is also a lot lower carb than Bud Light. If you like a beer that tastes "skunky," Rock Green Light is worth a try. My vote for best beer for 5 grams or fewer per bottle? Amstel Light.

* Shun "alko-pops" - coolers, hard lemonade, Zima, and the like. Created to lure a generation weaned on soda pop, all this stuff is full of sugar. A shot of vodka in a glass of sugar free lemonade makes a good hard lemonade.

* Liqueurs and cordials - stuff like creme de menthe, creme de cacao, Midori, Irish Cream, Kahlua, sweetened schnapps - are all sugary. Remember, if it tastes sweet and doesn't say on the label that it's artificially sweetened, it has sugar in it.

* Monin's syrup company has an Irish Cream flavored sugar free syrup. A shot of this, mixed with a shot of cream and a shot of Irish whiskey, makes a pretty good sugar-free simulacrum of Irish cream! Order Monin's sugar free syrups here. Be aware that Monin's also makes a sugar-sweetened line of syrups; you want the Monin's O'Free syrups.

* Since hard liquor - vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, rum - is technically carb-free, the big thing to watch out for is the mixers. Juices, soda, sour mix, tonic water, are all sugary. Diet soda, club soda or seltzer, diet tonic, the new Carb Countdown low carb juices, and Crystal Light or other sugar free drink mixes are all fine. Baja Bob's sugar-free mixers are terrific, especially the margarita mix. Get 'em from CarbSmart or many other low carb etailers - or at your nearest low carb brick-and-mortar store; my local source, Sahara Mart, carries these.

* A classic martini - gin or vodka with a whisper of dry vermouth, and an olive - is fine. Most of the new so-called martinis - "appletinis", "chocolatetinis" and such - are sugary. Steer clear.

* There's no reason not to make your favorite eggnog recipe with Splenda in place of the sugar. I've done this, and it works just fine. Don't have a favorite eggnog recipe? Try this one, from 500 Low-Carb Recipes. It doesn't include alcohol, but of course you can add a shot of your favorite grog:

Cooked Eggnog

This is for you safe-living folks who would never consider eating a raw egg - and it's mighty tasty, too.

2 cups half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup water
Nutmeg

In a big glass measuring cup, combine the half and half and the cream. Microwave it on 70% power for 3 - 4 minutes, or until it's very warm through, but not boiling - this is simply a time-saver, and is not essential; if you prefer you can simply heat the half and half/cream mixture over a low flame in the saucepan you'll use to finish the recipe. After microwaving, pour cream/half and half mixture into a heavy bottomed saucepan, and whisk in the Splenda, vanilla extract, and eggs. Turn the burner to lowest heat - if you have a heat diffuser or a double boiler, this would be a good time to use it - and stand there and stir your eggnog constantly until it's thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film. This will, I'm sorry to say, take at least 5 minutes, and maybe as much as 20. Stir in water, and chill. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on each serving - this makes about 1 ˝ quarts, or 6 1-cup servings or 12 ˝-cup servings. If you drink 1 cup of this eggnog, you'll get 5 grams of carbohydrate, a trace of fiber, and 9 grams of protein. Again, feel free to spike this if you like!

And as always, drink with moderation, and no drinking and driving!!

Happy New Year.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:04 PM

Ginger Snaps and Chocolate Dips

Here are two of my very best Christmas cookie recipes from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes. Both of them call for polyol sweeteners, aka sugar alcohols. Any polyol sweetener should do - maltitol, erythritol, Diabetisweet, xylitol, what-have-you. The polyols give these cookies a better texture than they'd have if they were sweetened solely with Splenda - in particular, they're far less crumbly than Splenda-only cookies. On the other hand, I've kept the polyol content to a minimum, partly to avoid gastrointestinal upset, partly because some folks do get at least a bit of a blood sugar rise from polyols, and partly because polyols are pricey. I think the Splenda/polyol combo offers a great balance of flavor, texture, and price.

Where to buy polyols? I can get them locally, at Sahara Mart, the international grocery store/health food store that is Bloomington, Indiana's best source of low carb specialty stuff. If you have a store locally that carries a good line of low carb products, that's the first place to look. Readers have reported that they've seen Diabetisweet in the diabetic supplies aisle at WalMart. If you can't find polyols locally, you can order them online, though you'll want to pay for fast shipping if you're going to make these cookies in time for Christmas! I order mine from http://www.carbsmart.com, but lots of low carb etailers carry them.

Gingersnaps

Crisp and gingery-cinnamony, these cookies are nothing short of extraordinary.

Serving Size : 42

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup Splenda
1/4 cup polyol
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 egg
1 cup almond meal
1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup gluten
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Using your electric mixer, beat the butter, coconut oil, Splenda, polyol sweetener, blackstrap, and egg together until mixture is creamy and fluffy.

Beat in the almond meal, vanilla whey protein powder, and gluten, then the baking soda, salt and spices.

Dough will be fairly soft, but cohesive. Spoon by the scant tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets, shaping a bit with the fingers to make little balls. Flatten balls slightly with the back of your spoon or fingers. Keep in mind when placing cookies on sheets that they will spread some -- I find that 10 per sheet is about right.

Bake at 350 for about 7-9 minutes, or until just getting golden around the edges. Cool on wire racks, and store in an air-tight container.

About 42 cookies, each with: 76 Calories; 5g Fat; 7g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2 grams usable carb.

Chocolate Dips

The high-carb version of this cookie is part of my earliest memories - my mother makes them for Christmas every year, and they're a favorite with everyone. They really dress up a holiday cookie plate, too!

1 1/3 cups vanilla whey protein powder
1 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons gluten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup Splenda
2 tablespoons polyol
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dipping Chocolate (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 325.

In one bowl, combine the vanilla whey, almond meal, gluten, and salt, and stir together.

In another, use your electric mixer to beat the butter and coconut oil together. When they're combined, beat in the Splenda and polyol sweetener, until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

Now beat in the vanilla whey/almond meal combination, adding it in two or three lots. Finally, beat in the oat bran, then the water.

You'll have a stiff, somewhat crumbly dough. Use clean hands to form little logs, about 1 1/2" long, and the diameter of a thumb (unless your fingers are huge!) press them tog Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 25-30 minutes. Cool before dipping.

Make your Dipping Chocolate, and dip one end of each cookie in the chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool.

At least 36. Assuming 36, each will have: 107 Calories; 7g Fat; 9g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 3 grams usable carb.

Dipping Chocolate

12 ounces sugar-free dark (semi-sweet) chocolate
2 tablespoons polyol
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon water

In a double boiler, over hot, not boiling, water, melt the chocolate. Stir in the sugar-free imitation honey, the cream, and the water. Keep hot over water while dipping cookies, fruit, or what-have-you.

It's hard to know how many things you're going to dip! But assuming you make 36 Chocolate Dip cookies, or dip three dozen strawberries, the dip will add to each of them: 3 Calories; trace Fat ; trace Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; no usable carb. Carb count does not include polyols in the sugar-free chocolate.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 11:59 AM

Amy's Step-Dad's Ham Rolls

I am such a dork. My pal Amy Austin gave me this recipe ages ago, but somehow it never made it into the cookbooks. It's a shame, because these look really pretty and taste really great, but they're pretty simple to make. These will make you popular at your next party.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
6-8 dill pickle spears
1 pound good quality deli ham, in one ounce slices - in other words, a one pound package should have 16 slices.

First, combine the cream cheese well with the onion soup mix; an electric mixer or a food processor is easiest for this, but a good, thorough beating with a fork should work, too. Next slice each dill pickle spear lengthwise into 2-3 thinner spears. Now, lay a piece of ham flat on the counter or on a plate. Spread evenly with some cream cheese/onion soup mixture, spreading all the way to the edges. Place a skinny pickle spear at one end of the ham, and roll the whole thing up, with the pickle in the center. Repeat with all the slices of ham, distributing the cream cheese mixture evenly between all the ham slices. Cut each roll into 6 sections; they'll look quite pretty - little pink pinwheels with a bit of green in the center. Arrange on a lettuce lined plate (oh, okay, you can leave off the lettuce if you want!) and serve.

The carb count on these will vary some with what brand of soup you use - Lipton was the lowest carb brand at my store - what brand of ham you use, and what brand of cream cheese you use - you'll read the labels carefully, right? I get about 36 grams for the batch, and since you're making 96 rolls here (feel free to halve the recipe - or double it, for that matter), we're talking well under a half a gram per roll.

By the way, Amy strongly recommends making "8 million of these, to avoid riots when someone eats the last one." Consider yourself warned!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 11:55 AM

December 03, 2004

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!

Here’s your ezine, complete with info about Dreamfield’s pasta. Furthermore, I have every intention of getting a couple more issues out before Christmas. After all, you need cookie recipes, right?

For those of you who received word that your recipes were being included in 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, be aware that your autographed copies have shipped, so if yours hasn’t arrived yet, you should have it soon. And thank you once again to everyone who contributed recipes, whether yours was included or not!

Read on!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:49 PM

Dana's Health Update

Since I’ve been out here for five years claiming that a low carb diet, complete with red meat, eggs, cheese, butter, and cream, is, for many if not most of us, an exceedingly healthy one, I feel it is incumbent upon me to maintain transparency regarding my own health. If I’ve got some awful condition that might be linked to my diet, you have a right to know.

Well, I got a bunch of tests recently. I applied for life insurance, and not surprisingly, they wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to keel over in the next six months. So they sent a nice lady to my house, who sucked blood out of my arm, made me pee in a jar, even hooked me up to an EKG. I asked for a copy of the results, and here they are.

You’ll notice that not only are the results good, they’re remarkably good. I’d have a hard time getting much healthier. Certainly there’s no indication that nine years of low carbing has hurt my health, damaged my liver or kidneys, jacked up my blood fats, or anything of that sort.

Of course, this is merely anecdotal evidence, and the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” What’s most important to you are your tests, not mine; my body may be different from yours. Not only that, but I should mention that along with my low carb/high fat/protein-and-vegetable-rich diet, I consume a handful of nutritional supplements every day, including a multiple vitamin and mineral, a bunch of antioxidants, fish oil (EPA), and lots of calcium and magnesium. I also exercise regularly. It’s impossible to know how much of my good health is due to which factor.

However, I think we can pretty much rule out the notion that my diet is killing me.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:47 PM

Reader Review: 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

More great stuff!

My favorite low carb cookbook was Dana's first, 500 Low Carb Recipes. Now this will be my second favorite, probably. The Guacamole Eggs, the Unpotato and Sausage Soup, and several of the Quiche recipes are already family favorites.

One thing about Dana's books: there's something for everyone! She has many vegetarian dishes, and stuff like graham crackers and spoon bread, that help people realize there's more to low carbing than bacon with bacon. And using her great instructions, I'm finally making omelettes like a pro.

This is a great gift for good cooks, and those, (like me) who are aspiring to that state. And the ingredients aren't that exotic...most of the recipes use ingredients you have around anyway.

All in all, a fantastic followup.

Pamela R. Merritt Saranac Lake, NY

To read this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/42ces

For that matter, if you already have 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, and you like it, go review it!!

Of course, you can also find 500 More Low-Carb Recipes at bookstores everywhere, not to mention at Target and Walmart! Dare I suggest that it would make a great gift for all the low carbers on your list? The original bestseller 500 Low-Carb Recipes, 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes, and The Low-Carb Barbecue Book would all be great gifts for your low-carb friends and family, as well.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:44 PM

But What About Bill Clinton?

You may have noticed that Bill Clinton looked darned good last spring when he hit the campaign trail to help his party – he was considerably slimmer than when he left office four years ago. Much was made of the fact that he’d lost the weight on a low carb diet, giving up his Big-Mac-and-fries ways.

Now Clinton has undergone bypass surgery, and some reporters (and, reportedly, Hillary) are suggesting that it was Clinton’s low carb diet that clogged his arteries. While I have no way of knowing for sure, I do know that the buildup of plaque in coronary arteries is a slow and gradual process; I find it very difficult to believe that Bill’s arteries clogged in a year.

I find it sourly amusing that the popular press jumped on Clinton’s low carb diet as the culprit, rather than fifty-odd years of living on junk. Some experts think low carb is not to blame, as well: "It's highly unlikely Clinton's recent diet caused what he's going through now," said Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, chairperson of the American Heart Assn.'s (AHA) nutrition committee and a professor of nutrition at Tufts University. Since the American Heart Association has never had much nice to say about low carb diets, that’s fairly compelling.

It may be that Bill Clinton is in the subset of people who need to weight their low carb diet toward fish, poultry, and olive oil, rather than beef and butter. Or it may just be that his years of fast food caught up with him after he went low carb. I hope he – and you – will take the time to find the version of a low carbohydrate diet that’s right for the individual body concerned, rather than simply abandoning what is clearly a successful way of dealing with a weight problem.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:39 PM

Where to Read My Column

Several folks have written wanting to know where they can read my newspaper column, Low Carb For Life. Here’s a list of the papers carrying the column so far:

Potomac News, Woodbridge, VA
Ventura County Star, Ventura, CA
The Tuscaloosa News, Tuscaloosa, AL
Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, WA
Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN
Arizona Republic, Phoenix, AZ
The Lima News, Lima, OH
Lancaster New Era, Lancaster, PA
Kokomo Tribune, Kokomo, IN
Kenosha News, Kenosha, WI
Daily Journal, Kankakee, IL
The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, PA
Johnson City Press, Johnson City, TN
Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT
Herald Mail, Hagerstown, MD
The Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, NC
Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
Elkhart Truth, Elkhart, IN
Commercial News, Danville, IL
The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX
Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Corpus Christi, TX
Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO
The Mobile Register, Mobile, AL
The Post & Courier, Charleston, SC
Herald Times, Bloomington, IN (my hometown paper!)
News, Birmingham, AL
Herald, Spartanburg, SC
Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, TX
Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN
Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM
Times Union, Albany, NY

A big Thank You to all of you who have contacted your local paper, requesting that they carry my column. In general, papers run the column in their weekly food section; contact the nearest paper to find out what day the food section appears. Keep in mind that some papers run the columns in full, while others edit them for length. And some of them put the column up in their online editions!

My contract with United Media allows me to rerun material after some time has passed; we’ll start putting back columns up at http://www.holdthetoast.com soon!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:33 PM

Dreamfield’s Pasta – Is It Really Low Carb?

I’ve gotten more questions about Dreamfield’s pasta than any other product, and with good reason – it’s made from the same ingredients as regular pasta, and has the same total carb and fiber counts as regular pasta, yet it claims to have only 5 net carbs per serving. The manufacturer claims that through a secret proprietary process they have rendered most of the carbohydrate in their pasta indigestible. This is an interesting claim, and one that definitely sounds too good to be true. (It also strikes me as vaguely disturbing. In a world where millions of people are starving, Americans will pay for food that passes through their systems undigested, so that we don’t have to change our food-addicted ways. About the same way I feel about those “carb blocker” pills. Here’s a link to the issue with my article about carb blockers: http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/010607.html )

Last issue, I promised to do blood sugar tests on Dreamfield’s pasta and report back. I also asked those of you who had tried it to write me about your experiences.

What a massive confusion! The bottom line seems to be that there is no bottom line. So far as I can tell, this stuff works differently for different people, and may even work differently from meal to meal in the same person. My personal experimentation with Dreamfield’s pasta was not terribly encouraging. Here’s how it went:

I started just over four and a half hours after breakfast – technically on an empty stomach. I carefully measured 1/2 cup of Dreamfield’s dry elbow noodles, which is the serving size listed on the label, and cooked them 9 minutes in boiling water. I drained the noodles, and tossed them with 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

At 2:25 pm, I took my fasting blood sugar; the reading was 83. I then ate my noodles, which were very nice – indistinguishable from any high-quality regular pasta. I finished eating at 2:34. I then took my blood sugar every 15-20 minutes for three hours.

By 2:51, just 16 minutes after I finished eating, my blood sugar was at 101, and by 3:07, a half hour after eating, my blood sugar topped out at 144. I know from experience that low carb meals rarely bump my blood sugar much above 110, and often it doesn’t get above 100. This tells me that I absorbed a significant quantity of carbohydrate from the Dreamfield’s pasta – certainly far more than the 5 grams of digestible carbohydrate claimed on the label.

By 3:21 my blood sugar had started to drop – down to 125 – and I was hungry again, that awful familiar feeling from my carb-eating days. (In fairness, I must note that this could instead be evidence that I hadn’t absorbed many calories to fill me up.) By 4:30 I was sleepy, but my blood sugar was still at 119.

All of this made me not terribly eager to try Dreamfield’s pasta again, despite the fact that it has an excellent taste and texture. I do plan to try eating it as a part of a meal – I’ll eat a measured portion of protein and vegetables along with my measured portion of Dreamfield’s, and track my blood sugar. Then I’ll try the same thing with just the protein and the vegetables. We’ll see what happens.

However, there are folks who feel that Dreamfield’s is working for them! One woman who runs a low carb specialty store got a group together for a test of Dreamfield’s, and found that roughly half of them got a blood sugar spike, while the other half didn’t. I’ve even talked to folks who got a blood sugar rise after eating it – then ran a second test a few days later, and didn’t get a rise at all. Something weird is going on here!

Many of you responded to my request for your experiences with Dreamfield’s pasta. Here are some of your stories:

As a previous pasta junkie (now low carb) I was thrilled with the introduction of Dreamfield’s pasta. I have seen ads stating 5 net carbs per serving but here in Canada the net carbs on the package is 8.

I am a type 2 diabetic and consistently check my blood sugar. My results are usually 90 before I have eaten Dreamfields pasta and 110 or a little less 2 hours after eating the pasta. I always eat with a good portion of protein. It’s a great treat twice a month!

Cathy

Dear Dana, you asked for feedback -- I'm happy to give a bit!

My husband is the poster child for insulin resistance and carb-sensitive to the max. If he eats even one bite of sugar (and the big dummy is prone to doing that occasionally!) then he's off to the races, so to speak.

Used to be, before low carb, that he would polish off a humongous plate of pasta with chicken and cheese and broccoli and fat-free (EW!) Italian dressing. I mean I'm talking a platter of the stuff. And an hour later, he'd be back poking around in the fridge because he was "STARVING!" I could never comprehend that, until reading the good Dr. A's book.

So out with the processed carbs and in with the leafy veggies, eggs, cheese, coconut oil, and of course what every non-low-carbing person alive thinks we eat exclusively -- plenty of meat!

And gee, dear hubby's problems are suddenly under control (until he can't pass up a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, which are now thankfully available in a 1 carb variety, made with Erythritol and Splenda...but I digress....) and he feels GREAT and he's even -- gasp -- losing weight!!

SO back to the original subject, it is with great trepidation that I actually bring the Dreamfield's Pasta into this house.

Now, we've tried other low carb pastas and all I can say is -- PASS! Unless you actually prefer chewy cardboard.

SO again, my expectations were not high for this new product with a new-fangled way of reducing the carb impact!

I cook it up (ONLY in the recommended serving size, which I actually DID weigh out on my digital scales before cooking) and served it up with homemade pesto as a side to a nice thick-cut, panfried center-cut pork chop and a whole passle of veggies and green salad. We eat. We smack our lips, declaring that this stuff tastes JUST LIKE REGULAR PASTA! Wahooo!

And not one word passes DH's lips later about "I'M STARVING!" or even "I'M HUNGRY!" No heebie-jeebies. No cravings. Seemingly, no elevated blood sugars leading to a CRASH and urge to carb-binge!

Now, we don't test blood sugars (thankfully) and the ketostrips have NEVER registered for DH, but judging solely by his reaction -- or more accurately, LACK of a reaction -- leads me to believe that for us anyway, this product is fine IN MODERATION, OCCASIONALLY, PER THE SERVING SIZE, AND WITH ADEQUATE PROTEIN AND FAT served at the same time. Now, that's as it should be, right??

Your faithful reader

Char Cunningham

I've tried the spaghetti noodles, the ziti, and the elbow macaroni from Dreamfields. I ate a very small portion and found that it tastes just like regular pasta. I've been doing Atkins for a little over a year now and have been stalled out at a 52 pound weight loss for about three months. I've been tweaking things, trying to get it moving again without much success.

In spite of that, my weight has stayed the same when I've had the occasional portion of Dreamfield's pasta. I don't notice any carb cravings and I've stayed in very mild ketosis like I've always been. I plan to continue using it in controlled portions for variety. I'm looking forward to hearing about your own experiments!
L.B.

My experience is not 'hard' data but this is my take on Dreamfield's...

I can eat this about twice a month... in small portions. I will be up the next day routinely but nothing major... -- 2 pounds. But goes down by the next day with adequate water intake. Don't get rebound hunger, but I do feel that I get that sleepy feeling within 2 or so hours of eating it. Haven't tried this with regular pasta, so not sure if my response would be the same.

Looking forward to your take on this product!

Lisa, Rhode Island

Hi there....

I'm a low carber who came this way via gastric bypass surgery. Because of my new "plumbing" things like regular pasta and breads do a NUMBER on my stomach. I can attest that the Dreamfield's pasta HAS to be different in some ways, because I can eat a 1/2 cup of that and not have the heavy, leaden feeling that I get if I try to eat regular pasta. I also have not seen weight gain from adding the product to my diet. I now eat it about 1-2 times a week and it's been a lifesaver. I don't know how it works either, but I do know it's somehow different!

Laura Walker
Fort Collins, CO

Hello Dana and crew!

I wanted to let you know that my husband and I have been using Dreamfield's since it came out. We have had absolutely NO slowing in our weight loss and we eat it probably once per week. We never fall out of ketosis and we never have sugar spikes (and we definitley know what that feels like through our own times of weakess as well as times of sugar being sneaked in on us via restaurants). Granted, we don't test our blood sugar, so we can only report that it's worked for us instead of how it's worked for us. I personally think that it depends on one's sensitivity to wheat products (i.e., Does wheat make one's blood sugar spike?) and it depends on the individual. I have a degree in Biology and when I read Dreamfield's site before trying their pasta, it sound scientifically sound. Then again, so did Thalidomide, Fen-Phen, and more recently Vioxx and we all know how that went.

FYI, I am a 30 year old caucasian female and my husband is a 40 year old caucasian male. I don'tknow if that data will help with your information gathering or not, but I thought I would throw it in there.

Thanks for this opportunity to speak out for Dreamfield's. We love it.

Sincerely,
Melanie Sandridge

Hi Dana,

I just wanted to submit a comment about the new Dreamfields pasta with "5 net digestible carbs". I had a fiasco with it that upset me and thought I should advise others.

One evening, I painstakingly measured out one serving of the pasta to try it. Of course, it tasted wonderful -- just like regular pasta -- and when I looked at the ingredients, it really wasn't a whole lot different from regular pasta. I should have known something was up. The label couldn't explain how they went from 40+ total carbs down to 5g "digestible carbs". The next day, I didn't gain any weight because the serving was small, but it had completely kicked me out of Ketosis. I knew then and there that the labeling was not what it appeared to be. What little I ate of it had the same effect on my ketosis level that a full carb meal would have had.

I had measured my ketosis that morning and it was in the second to last shade of purple, and I had been on strict Atkins and writing everything I ate down to the last bite, so there is no doubt of what caused the crash in ketosis. I went to their website www.dreamfieldsfoods.com and read their explanation of the miracle of this pasta and it still doesn't make any sense how they're doing the "digestible carbs" count or even what they mean by that phrase. I just really feel deceived when they make the claim of "for healthy low carb lifestyle" and it turns out not to be it.

Test it yourself if you can and pass it on!

M. MacLeod

Howdy,

I bought the Dreamfields pasta. i called the 800 number to inquire as to how they tabulated such low carbs out of this product. (the numbers did not add up.) The lady was nice and explained that a special process denatured the carbs and that is how they derived their numbers. i calculated the amount to cook and how many carbs in my low carb pasta sauce. i checked my blood suger 2 hours after eating and it was 110. i have experimented and tested this product and each time (12 times) my glucose was good. i am happy this product is out there for diabetics like myself.
Thanks,
Pam

Hi Dana,

I'm on my second box of Dreamfields pasta (actually, two boxes, this time I bought both the ziti and the elbows). So far, I haven't noticed any problems, although I'm on maintenance right now, and not really in ketosis, and I don't check my blood sugar. But I haven't had any noticeable blood sugar spikes or associated cravings. I don't eat it often, but it does make a nice change once in a while and, if I mix it with healthy amounts of meat and veggies, maybe with a creamy cheese sauce, it really fills me up and keeps away the late night nibblies. It also works well in my homemade low carb soup.

So I'll be very interested to read your conclusions in the next e-zine.

Thanks for all the great low carb info.

--Leila

I live in NZ and have just discovered this pasta. I also happen to have Type 1 Diabetes (48 years duration) so test my blood 8-10 times per day. I also use an insulin pump & count carbs.
I trialled Dreamfields pasta (linguine) over 2 nights on behalf of www.lowcarbnz.co.nz Blood Glucose was 4.8mmol/L before I ate. I am on a regime of 1 unit of Humalog Insulin per 11gms carbohydrate. For that serving of pasta (5gms CHO.) I had 0.5 of a unit of insulin. 2 hours after eating 56 gms (dry weight) pasta my blood glucose actually dropped to 4.6mmol/L. I was amazed as ordinary pasta used to elevate my blood glucose enormously so I have always kept away from it.

I didn't feel hungry afterwards... on the trial nights (I tried it two days in a row with similar BG results) I only ate the pasta with a heart healthy pesto sauce ( recipe from the Dreamfields web site).as I didn't want to affect my BG resulrt by eating anything else. I am an ardent fan of this pasta and am thrilled that I can eat it again. I would be interested to hear what others think.

Gail E.

Hi Dana,

You asked about people's reactions to Dreamfield’s pasta... I find that a decent-size serving (a quarter of the box) spikes my blood sugar by about twenty points within an hour. It stays up there for a couple hours. I've never tested a serving of "regular" pasta, so while I suspect the "real" stuff would be worse, I'm not sure. A normal low-carb meal for me barely affects my blood sugar, and even if I throw in a small baked-potato skin, it usually raises my blood sugar less than ten points.

For a little background... I'm unofficially pre-diabetic -- that is, when I started testing my blood sugar, during one of my between-low-carb-attempts periods, my fasting glucose was between 100 and 115 every day. I didn't have my doctor confirm this, although I did tell him. When I got back on track with low carb, my fasting glucose dropped to the 75-90 range.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who's diabetic. She finds Dreamfield’s barely affects her blood sugar.

Discussions I've read online suggest that reactions to Dreamfield’s vary widely.

Love your newsletter!

Christine

Dana,

I love the taste of Dreamfields pasta. My trigger for knowing if I have had too many carbs is raised blood pressure. I had been on blood pressure reducing medication for many years. Three dayson a low-carb diet and I was feeling dizzy, overdosing on the medication. I have been off of medication for a year now. Any time I stray across the line on too many carbs, my blood pressure spikes within hours. As to Dreamfield’s pasta, my blood pressure stays normal right after eating, but it elevates later. I stayed within the portion guidlines. A quick way for me to gain a few pounds is to have a Dreamfields pasta meal followed by eating two left-over portions in the next days.
I have asked my wife to not cook Dreamfields pasta except very occasionally
and only as a small portion side dish.

Mike Scott

Dear Dana,
First of all, I have three of your cookbooks, love them and use them all the time.

Dreamfield’s: I am prediabetic and found it difficult to believe the "digestable carbs" claim by Dreamfield’s so I did an experiment. I prepared and ate one serving of Keto spaghetti with low carb sauce. Two hours later there was a very modest increase in blood sugar. The next day I prepared one-half serving of Dreamfields pasta with the same amount of the same sauce.(I was afraid to eat a whole serving). Two hours later my blood sugar was very high, in the unacceptable range. Having read interviews with the Dreamfields people about the mechanism by which they protect carbs from digestion, it doesn't seem that diabetics or prediabetics should respond differently, but if that is the case for others as well as for me, people should be aware of that..

************************************

There you go! Either Dreamfield’s pasta works for you or it doesn’t, or maybe it works for you sometimes, but not other times. How the heck are we to know?

So I’m afraid I can’t give you any hard-and-fast guidelines. You’ll just have to try Dreamfield’s pasta for yourself, if it appeals to you. I would heartily recommend eating it as a side dish with a full meal that includes protein and low carb vegetables, rather than eating just a big plate of pasta for dinner. If you test for ketosis, blood pressure, or blood sugar, pay attention to what happens! Pay attention to your weight and the fit of your clothes the next day. See if you feel hungry a few hours later. Then make up your mind whether Dreamfield’s is a great product for your low carb diet, or really is too good to be true.

I’m planning to try some other pasta possibilities for us; I’ll report back in a future issue. Stay tuned.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:16 PM

I Listen To You!

Of all the requests I’ve had from readers, far and away the most frequent has been for a slow cooker book. I was paying attention, and I’m pleased to announce that 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes will hit the bookstores in January, just in time for those long, cold months when a steaming, aromatic slow cooker meal is exactly what you want to come home to. Amazon has it listed already, so go pre-order! http://tinyurl.com/4d8nu

You’ll find:

* Easy Party Shrimp
* Hot Crab Dip
* Maple-Glazed Corned Beef with Vegetables
* Asian Slow Cooker Short Ribs
* Chuck with Avocado Aioli
* Braised Pork with Fennel
* Maple-Spice Country Style Ribs
* Kashmiri Lamb Shanks
* Seriously Simple Chicken Chili
* Thai Chicken Bowls
* Cream of UnPotato Soup
* Tavern Soup
* Cheddar-Barbecue Fauxtatoes

And lots more! Order your copy today!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:13 PM

Cooking Low Carb: UnPotato Latkes

I’ve had a request that I run my UnPotato Latkes recipe in time for Hanukkah, so here it is! I am, I confess, painfully WASPy, but my pal Barbo Gold assures me that this recipe earns me the title of Latke Maven. Take my word for it, you do not have to be Jewish to enjoy these “potato” pancakes! They’re a great side dish for anyone, especially if you’re craving something potato-y.

UnPotato Latkes

1 cup shredded cauliflower
1 cup shredded turnip
1 teaspoon salt, or Vege-Sal
3 eggs
1/4 cup Ketatoes mix, original flavor
1/4 cup Atkins bake mix
1 medium onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. You'll want to shred your cauliflower and turnip on the shredding blade of your food processor. Combine the two in a bowl, and sprinkle the salt over the two, stirring as you do so, so the salt is well distributed. Let the salted cauliflower and turnip sit for at least an hour, and two won't hurt.

2. Okay, come back to your shredded cauliflower and turnip, and dump them into a strainer. Using clean hands, squeeze all the moisture you can out of them. Put them back in the bowl.

3. Grate your onion, and add it to the cauliflower and turnip. Now add onion, then the eggs, Ketatoes mix, Atkins bake mix, and pepper. Using a whisk or a fork, stir everything together until it's all well-combined. The mixture will be quite thick.

4. Put your large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Give it a squirt of non-stick cooking spray first, if you like. Then pour in oil -- I used olive oil, but use what you like -- to a depth of about 1/2". Let it heat until a tiny bit of the latke mixture sizzles when dropped in. Then spoon in the batter, about 2 tablespoons per latke. Fry until well-browned on both sides -- maybe 5 minutes per side.

5. Serve with sour cream, if you like -- I understand that's traditional -- or with a low carb preserve, or both -- but these are awfully good as-is.

I got 16 latkes, which I figure will serve 8 as a side dish. Each serving will have 8 grams of carbohydrate, with 3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of just 5 grams. 10 grams of protein. Hard to know exactly how many calories, because who knows how much oil they absorb? Don't stint on the oil, however. Eating foods fried in plenty of oil is a Hanukkah tradition because it commemorates the oil that miraculously burned for 8 days during the rebuilding of the temple, or so my source material tells me.

Can’t get Ketotoes locally? (All my local big grocery stores carry them now!) Try my pals at http://www.carbsmart.com.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:05 PM