January 18, 2005

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Hey Gang!

Happy New Year a few weeks in! Hope your holidays were shiny-bright, and the weather near you isn't too God-awful.

I'd like to wish a warm welcome to all the newbies out there - those of you who just started your low carb program as a New Years Resolution. Welcome to the wonderful world of low-carbing - we have more fun here than you might think.

If you have friends who have recently started low carbing, do them and me a favor, and forward them this free ezine, along with my promise to never, ever sell their email address to spammers. You might also direct them to the support groups at http://www.holdthetoast.com - also free, of course!

I know that there are some of you, too, who are now back on track after falling off the wagon. That's okay. Remember, the most important thing in life is not where you are, it's what direction you're headed.

So here it is - the first 'zine of 2005. My resolution is to get this journal out to you more often in '05 than I did in '04!

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:03 PM

It's Here! It's Here!

Well, actually, it's at Amazon.com - 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, that is. Dunno if it's in the bookstores yet, but Amazon says they can ship it within 24 hours. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/4d8nu

If you pre-ordered and already have your copy, head on over to Amazon and review it!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:01 PM

Is Low Carb Dead?

Surely you've seen the reports by now: Low carb is dead, or so says the media.

After all, low carb diets were just too extreme. They work short term, but they're just too hard to stick with long term. And even though the clinical research showed tremendous health benefits, low carb was surely unhealthy, because after all, we all know that fat is bad and whole grains are good. And anyway, the new, cool diets are based on good carbs.

Oh, phoo.

I have been eating low carb for nine years and five months, having started the day after Labor Day, 1995. I have had no, I repeat, no, trouble eating this way all these years, even though for much of that time there were no low carb menus in restaurants, nor low carb specialty foods in the stores. I have kept 40 pounds off, and I am healthy-healthy-healthy, not to mention super-energetic. I never have to go hungry, and can completely trust my appetite.

Contrast this with other dietary programs I have tried over the years - you know, the ones that say, "Eat anything you want, just less of it." Talk about torture! I vividly remember working in a health food store in downtown Chicago in my twenties. I'd eat a "healthy" lunch of a sandwich on whole wheat bread out of their cooler, a fruit juice spritzer, and some fruit or a whole grain, honey sweetened cookie. By two o'clock in the afternoon I would be RAVENOUS. I'd chew gum all afternoon, and try hard not to think about food - a difficult proposition when you're surrounded by the stuff. Long about four or five in the afternoon the slump would set in, and I'd feel exhausted for a couple of hours, barely able to keep my eyes open.

Now that's a dietary program it's hard to stick with! Low carb has been a breeze by comparison - again, no hunger, high energy. And as I documented just a couple of months back, it's done nothing but good for my health.

Are low carb diets too extreme? Well, sure, if by that you mean diets consisting only of meat, eggs, and cheese. That no low carb book recommends such a diet is apparently beside the point.

How about those diets that allow "good carbs?" I've read The South Beach Diet, and I just don't find it to be terribly different than Atkins or Protein Power, despite the hype. I have a feeling that the point is mainly to differentiate the diet in the eyes of the public.

Vegetables, surely the very best carbs possible, have always been fine on low carb diets. As I've pointed out time and again, most low carbers end up eating more vegetables than they ever have before. How about fruit? Are we all clear that berries, melon, grapefruit, and other fruits are fine on our low carb diets? Indeed, most fruit can be fit in, unless you're in an Induction phase - apricots, plums, peaches, cherries - all work.

How about whole grains and beans? While I don't think they're an essential part of the human diet, since they've only been eaten in any quantity for the past 10,000-odd years, the later phases of low carb diets have always allowed for some whole grains and legumes to be added back. To quote Dr. Atkin's New Diet Revolution, a book that seems to be very little read by its critics, regarding the maintenance diet of one of his patients:

"She also finds she can have lentils, split peas, and kasha without gaining weight. She often has the kasha with cinnamon and a few apple slices."

Sounds like the much touted "good carbs" to me.

I would like to point out that even the diets that gush "Oh, we allow good carbs" are, for the most part, limiting them strictly. South Beach allows 1/2 cup of oatmeal for breakfast on Day One of Phase Two. Two days later it calls for 1 cup of "high fiber cereal", and two days after that an open-faced sandwich on one slice of whole grain bread. We're not talking major quantities of whole grains, here - there's still a pretty strict upper limit on concentrated carbohydrate foods, no matter how "good" they are.

I was flipping through a "good carbs" cookbook at Barnes & Noble the other day, and was interested to notice that the recipes ran from about 2 grams of those "good carbs" per serving, up to about 10 grams per serving. That's indisputably a low carb cookbook. Again, it appears that they're putting "good carbs" on the label to catch the latest trend - which looks a whole like the previous trend if you look at 'em both close up.

I worry that the hype about "good carbs" will lead people to think that they can just switch to whole grain bread from white bread, and to brown rice from white, and lose weight. This is unlikely to work for the majority, although it's certainly an improvement. (God forbid they should think that the new "whole grain" Trix and the like are "good carbs." For the record: They're not.)

A few things seem indisputable: In roughly five short years, we've gone from low fat mania, with the popular impression that all fat was bad, and that fat was far and away the worst dietary evil, to the general understanding that "the whites" - white sugar, white flour, and other refined carbs - are among the worst possible foods, and the cause of much of the nation's obesity epidemic. Too, the general public is now aware that there is such a thing as "good fat," that including good fats in the diet is beneficial. It's also sinking in that trans fats - hydrogenated oils - are the worst possible fats. Even the parenting magazines have gotten in on the act, with repeated warnings that parents shouldn't give their children unlimited juice, because of the natural sugars. All of this represents a massive shift in the public's perception of nutrition in a very short time.

Too, the research is in, and it's positive. Indeed, it's almost funny - whenever I see a headline that says something like, "Low carbohydrate diets unhealthy long-term" I can confidently predict that the article will reference no studies, but instead quote a doctor or dietician merely reciting the old charges - a low carb diet is high in saturated fat, and therefore it must be unhealthy, yadda-yadda. Conversely, if I see a headline that reads, "Low carbohydrate diet shown effective," I can count on it reading something like, "In a six month clinical trial at Duke University..." - in other words, it will be talking about real, actual science.

Let me geek out on you for a moment - here's just a sampling of the research showing that a low carb diet is effective and healthy. I warn you, all but one of these links are to medical journal abstracts:

* One-Year Study of Atkins Diet Shows Surprising Results, Penn Researchers Report

* The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial.

* A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial.

* Comparison of high-fat and high-protein diets with a high-carbohydrate diet in insulin-resistant obese women.

* Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women.

* A low-carbohydrate diet in overweight patients undergoing stable statin therapy raises high-density lipoprotein and lowers triglycerides substantially.

* The national cholesterol education program diet vs a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and monounsaturated fat: a randomized trial.

* A randomized study comparing the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet and a conventional diet on lipoprotein subfractions and C-reactive protein levels in patients with severe obesity.

* Effect of 6-month adherence to a very low carbohydrate diet program.

* Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents.

I trust the point has been illustrated.

I think we will see less of people identifying with a particular diet - "I'm on Atkins" or "I'm on South Beach" or whatever, and more of health-conscious people simply internalizing the fact that a diet based on starch and sugar is not a good idea. But is the low carb "fad" dead? It was never a fad to begin with.

Call it, instead, a return to sanity. All that has changed is that a low carb diet is no longer weird or shocking - is, in short, no longer news. So the media has, for the most part, moved on to the next big thing. But those of us who have learned that controlling our carbohydrate intake not only leads to weight loss, but to tremendously improved health aren't going anywhere.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:49 PM

Reader Review of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

Dana keeps me on track!

Out of all the low-carb cookbooks saturating the market for the last year or so, Ms. Carpender's books are by far the most valuable and user friendly. I cut out sugar and starches almost two years ago, and if it weren't for these cookbooks, I'd have fallen off the wagon long ago. 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is chock-full of delicious concoctions that are easy to make and even better to eat! Many of the recipes make use of simple, fresh, REAL FOOD ingredients and require a minimal amount of prep and cook time. Dana always explains a recipe perfectly, so you're never caught off-guard with a recipe that takes longer than you thought to prepare. I have no patience for those low-carb nay-sayers who say that you have to eat the same food all the time with this way of life. If you bought this cookbook, you'd be given an amazing array of incredible, healthy food choices for you and your family to eat for a very long time!

trixiekat, December 21, 2004

Thanks, trixiekat! I do make a real effort to use real, easy-to-find food, and keep the recipes clear and approachable. Glad it's working!

To see this review and others, or to write your own review, visit Amazon.com

That being said, you can find 500 More Low Carb Recipes wherever books are sold.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:46 PM

What the heck is ketosis? And how important is it to my low carb diet?

You hear the word "ketosis" bandied about a lot. Some low carbers consider it to be the Holy Grail, while anti-low-carbers claim it's the ultimate proof that a low carb diet is horribly unhealthy. So what the heck is ketosis, anyway?

More accurately called "dietary ketosis," the term simply means a state when enough ketones are being produced in your body that they are spilled in your urine in detectable amounts. They're detected by means of test strips, available at any drug store, which you pass through your urine stream.

"Oh, great," I can hear you groan. "So what the heck is a "ketone," why would my body make one, and is it dangerous?"

A ketone is a perfectly normal byproduct of metabolism. They're made in your liver, and your liver is actually manufacturing ketones all the time. They're a by-product of fat metabolism. However, since your body will always choose carbohydrate for fuel over fat, if you give your body some carbohydrate every few hours, as most people do, you don't burn much fat, and you don't make many ketones. When you restrict carbohydrate intake, your body switches over to burning fat for fuel - a good thing! - and as a result, makes more ketones. Your body then uses those ketones for fuel - the vast majority of tissues in your body can burn ketones for fuel as happily as they would burn glucose or free fatty acids.

So spilling ketones in your urine is proof that your body is burning fat as its primary fuel, and this is why Dr. Atkins wanted people to test their urine for ketones - it was a sure-fire way of knowing whether they'd cut their carb intake low enough to be running a fat-burning metabolism instead of a glucose-burning metabolism.

Being in ketosis has some interesting effects. Most people find that ketosis suppresses appetite, always a good thing when you're trying to lose weight. And many folks, me among them, have found that ketosis causes a mild euphoria, a state of high energy and feeling very "clear." Since we know that the body goes into ketosis during starvation, because in the absence of food all it has to burn is body fat, I suspect that this state of cheerful energy and focus is a survival mechanism - it helped our ancestors get out there to hunt and gather.

Some low carb critics turn this around, and say that a low carb diet puts your body into "starvation mode," as if this were some sort of terrible thing. As my pal Johnny Bowden says in his superb book Living The Low Carb Life (a book that is so well-written and informative, I keenly wish I had written it myself), saying that because starvation is bad, ketones are bad, is like blaming umbrellas for rain.

It is very important to understand that while testing for ketones in your urine can give you an idea if you're burning fat, it cannot tell you whether you are burning body fat or dietary fat. You can burn fat all day long, and if you're taking in 10,000 calories a day, you'll gain weight - because you're not burning anywhere near as much fat as you're taking in. So please, don't just test your urine, think "Oh, I'm in ketosis, I'm burning fat!" and assume that "burning fat" is the same thing as "losing weight." It is not.

Too, not testing positive for ketosis is not proof that you're not burning fat - you may just not be burning enough to test positive, or you may have burned up a lot of your ketones by exercising, or you may have drunk so many fluids you diluted your urine to the point where you tested negative. The point is, ketosis is a useful tool, but not the be-all and end-all of low carb dieting.

Not all low carb diets involve ketosis anyway. I generally eat 50 or so grams of non-fiber carbs per day, mostly as vegetables, and that's enough that I'm not in ketosis. If you're on one of the diets that stresses "good carbs" over restriction of the total quantity of carbs, you may not go into ketosis, either. If you feel good and you're losing weight, not to worry.

What about those horrible, dire warnings about ketosis? There's even a warning on the jar of ketosis test strips! Breathe easy. The warnings are about ketoacidosis. This is a very dangerous thing, but it only happens to type 1 (insulin dependant) diabetics.

Here's the deal: There are two opposing hormones - insulin, which you've heard of, and glucagon, which is less well known. Insulin is responsible for storing fat, and glucagon is responsible for releasing it into the bloodstream to be burned. In the total absence of insulin, which only happens in type 1 diabetics, the body dumps too much fat into the bloodstream and starts to make ketones. But at the same time the diabetic, because he or she has no insulin, is running very high blood sugar levels. Since the body will always burn glucose first, the ketones pile up in the bloodstream to extreme levels that cannot occur with a low carb diet. There is simply no reason to equate what is a disease state to dietary restriction in a healthy person.

So there you go: Ketosis is a way of knowing if you're burning fat for fuel. It is a useful indicator, and can even be an aid to dieting by making you less hungry and more energetic. But it is not proof that you are burning body fat, and it is not essential to low carb success, though it can be helpful.

And ketosis certainly isn't a dangerous, abnormal state - indeed, there's every reason to believe that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were frequently in ketosis.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:40 PM

Reader Review of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes

First Low Carb Book I've Ever Bought.. And Probably the Last

I hate to go along with the crowd, but this really is a fine book. The recipes are tasty, quick to prepare and low carb. Can't really ask for more from a cookbook.

I'm on South Beach, which has lower saturated fat limits than Atkins, so I make only occasional use some of the recipes that call for sausage, bacon and higher fat cheeses. But there's plenty of low saturated fat recipes included as well.

Some of my favorite recipes are actually for making your own low carb condiments and sauces. The stir-fry sauce has greatly increased my daily vegetable consumption. Also included are recipes for things like Asian dipping sauce, "honey" mustard (no actual honey, of course), remoulade sauce for sea food, and even recipes for low carb ketchup and BBQ sauce.

Highly recommended.

elitusprime Meridian, ID, October 26, 2004

Thanks, elitusprime! Glad you like it. Though I will say I hope you try 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, at any rate... :-)

To read this and other reviews of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon.com

Much as we love Amazon, we should point out that 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes is available at bookstores and mass-merchandisers everywhere - I've seen it at Target, and know it's been at WalMart and Costco, too!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:35 PM

The Low Carb Specialty Products Report

Some of the reports of the death of low carbohydrate diets are based on the fact that many of the low carb specialty products are not doing well. In particular, I've seen articles about Coca-Cola's disappointment that their "low carb" alternative, C2, was dying on the shelves. They're sure this is due to the end of the "low carb fad."

Huh? Since when is something with almost two tablespoons of sugar and 17 grams of carbohydrate per can "low carb?" Anyone who is even a tiny bit serious about low carbing (or nutrition in general) looks at a label that says "half the sugar" and just snorts and walks on by. Seventeen grams of high impact, nutritionally devoid carbohydrate?! I could eat four or five big salads for that carb count. Or six Finn Crisp rye crackers. Or an orange, or an apple. Or ten cups of broccoli. Or a half a cup of cashews, or one and a half cups of pecans. Or any number of real foods that would be more nutritious, more satisfying, and add far more variety and interest to my day than a can of fizzy sugar water.

And since there's diet soda in the world, what the heck is the point in the first place?

All of which leads me to the survey I did a few months ago regarding low carbohydrate specialty products. I have to say it, loud and proud: You guys rock. You're smart. You're informed. You've been paying attention. You're not looking for a quick fix. And you haven't been suckered into the idea of "changing without changing." I was absolutely blown away by the results of the survey.

Here they are:

692 of you responded to the survey, enough to get at least a modestly accurate picture of what the group is doing.

When asked how often you used low carb specialty products, the most common answer was 1-3 times per week. After that, the most common answer was daily, and the third most common was weekly. Overwhelmingly, you felt that taste was either a very important or essential factor in choosing those foods.

Asked about the importance of convenience in using specialty foods, "very" was the most common answer, with "fairly" the second most common. Price, however, was less important - about half of you said it was only "fairly" important to making choices, with "very" the next most common answer, and "essential" after that.

But here's where it gets really good: Asked how important nutritional value and ingredients were to your choices, almost all of you said "essential" or "very." Warms my heart like a blowtorch, that does. When asked how important the lowest carb count was in influencing your decisions, the most popular answer was "very", with "essential" and "fairly" running neck-and-neck.

You don't seem to care much about brand names - asked how important a familiar brand name was to your decisions, the most common answer was "not very," with "fairly" and "not at all" next in line. Packaging is no big deal, either - asked how important it was, most of you said "not very."

Variety, fighting cravings, and having an occasional treat are your biggest reasons for using low carb specialty products - about half of you rated all of these factors "very" important, with "fairly" next, and then "essential." I found the similarity of the breakdown for these questions stunning.

I was thrilled to find that few of you are using low carb products as a reason not to cook - asked how important avoiding cooking was, "not very" was the most common response, with "fairly" and then "not at all" coming in after that. Very, very few of you said avoiding cooking was an "essential" factor. Thank goodness.

Your favorite low carb specialty product? No surprises here. Over half of you eat sugar-free chocolate at least weekly, and over a hundred of you eat it daily. (Confession: I'm in the "daily" group myself.)

Other sugar free candy, however, does nowhere nearly so well - the vast majority of you either use it "only occasionally" or "never." I have to agree. I mean, why eat jelly beans when you can have a chocolate truffle? (I swear, somewhere back in the Old Country is our ancestral family estate, and carved over the mantle are the words, "If it ain't chocolate, it ain't worth it.") More importantly, since the bulk of chocolate is made up of - well, chocolate - it's less likely to cause gastric upset than candies that consist almost entirely of polyols/sugar alcohols.

How about other treats? Asked about low carb cookies, most commonly you said you never ate them at all, with several of you saying you eat them occasionally. Almost no one eats them daily. Sugar free ice cream is fairly popular, with "weekly" the most common usage, followed by "occasionally." Seventy eight of you eat sugar free ice cream daily! I'm afraid I can't do that - I just can't be moderate with the stuff, unless it's packaged in individual servings, like ice cream bars. Better for me not to keep it in the house.

You know all of those low carb bake mixes out there? The ones for muffins, pancakes, corn bread, and a whole bunch of other things? You're not buying them. The most common answer to how often you used bake mixes was "never" and the second most common was "occasionally." That accounted for 523 of you. One hundred and five of you use mixes monthly, and only four of you use them daily. Since bake mixes tend to be loaded with soy, and many have other questionable ingredients - "low glycemic corn starch" comes to mind - this made me very happy.

You're not using the bread machine mixes, either - overwhelmingly you said you "never"used these mixes, and not a single soul uses them daily.

Low carb tortillas, however, have found a place in many hearts - not to mention kitchens and meals. The most common answer was that you use them weekly - and so do I, if not more often. However, many of you use them only occasionally, and one hundred and thirty five of you never use them at all.

This makes low carb tortillas the most popular low carb bread-like food. Asked how often you used low carb bread, bagels, and other baked goods, the most common answer was "never." However, the next most common answer was "weekly," and one hundred and eight of you use low carb bread "daily," so it's obviously one of those yes-or-no products - either you don't use it at all, or it's a staple.

How about snacks and chips? Many of you don't use them at all, and those of you that do are, for the most part, only using them occasionally. This pleases me - apparently you're rejecting the concept of "low carb junk food." Again, the chips tend to be very soy-heavy, and they also tend to be higher carb than some other products, often running 8 grams or so per serving.

Low carb condiments, on the other hand, are quite popular. Doesn't surprise me a bit; heck, even I buy now my low carb ketchup instead of making it. Most commonly you're using condiments weekly, with one hundred and twenty seven of you using them daily. However, a substantial group of you use them only occasionally, and the folks using low carb condiments daily are almost exactly balanced by those of you who aren't using them at all.

How about low carb soups? Dead in the water. By far the most common answer was that you weren't using them at all. Less than half that number use low carb soups "occasionally," and only a few use them monthly or weekly. However, three of you use them daily!

One of the most striking graphs was for low carb pasta - it's just about a straight line sloping from a high of 315 of you who "never" touch the stuff, to just two of you who use low carb pasta daily, with descending bars for "occasionally," "monthly," and "weekly." The fact that most low carb pasta is as bad as it is overpriced no doubt contributes to these figures, as does, I suspect, the doubts many of you have expressed about the new Dreamfield's pasta.

Entrees and packaged meals are a dead loss - the vast majority of you never use them, with a few of you using them occasionally. There are about fifty of you, however, who use entrees and packaged meals weekly, and ten of you who use them daily. To this last group I'd like to simply say, "Cook something, will you?"

Now for the part of the survey that really made me happy - when asked whether you actually read the nutrition label, serving size, and ingredient list before buying a product, all but 23 of you said "Yes." Give yourselves a big pat on the back! You've learned one of the basics of nutrition - Pay attention to what you put into your body.

The vast majority of you say you have a cutoff point for how many grams of carbohydrate are acceptable in a product. For most of you, that cutoff point is 10 grams, but many of you draw the line at 5 grams, while almost 100 of you will accept up to 15 grams per serving. To me, the question here would be what sort of product? And what nutritional value does it offer? Just as I'm willing to eat 15 grams of usable carbohydrate in a salad, but not willing to drink 15 grams of carbohydrate worth of soda, I'd be likely to allow a few more grams for a product that was offering substantial nutritional and satiety value than I would for, say, a cookie.

Most of you say you stick to the listed serving size when eating low carb specialty products, though a substantial number of you do not. Please, just be aware that you can get fat on low carb stuff if you eat enough of it. The words "low carb" or "reduced carb" or "carb conscious" on the label do not make anything a free food!

Another statistic that thrills me is that fully 626 of you say that there are ingredients you shun, regardless of the total carb count. Roughly half of you won't buy anything with refined or "enriched" flour, and the majority won't buy anything with sugar or corn syrup, thank God. As for corn starch, you were absolutely evenly split - exactly half of you won't buy anything with corn starch in it, the other half will.

You've gotten the bad news about trans fats, too - 550 of you won't touch anything made with the stuff. (This is my absolute no-no. I'll buy a product with added sugar if the product has, say, 1 gram of carb or less per serving; ham is often like this, or Worcestershire sauce. But I won't knowingly touch a single molecule of hydrogenated vegetable oil. That stuff is poison.)

Most of you are okay with polyols/sugar alcohols, but 114 of you won't eat them, I'm guessing because of gastrointestinal upset. And all but 43 of you are okay with eating artificial sweeteners.

One ingredient I didn't include in the survey drew a lot of email: Soy. Many of you are shunning soy; I'm quite cautious about it myself. The manufacturers are really shooting themselves in the foot by making so many of the products so soy-heavy.

Here's an interesting tidbit: Overwhelmingly you feel that you understand the "net" or "impact" carbs concept - but almost as overwhelmingly, you don't trust the counts on the labels to be accurate. I can understand this - while many companies are putting out honest products, I've certainly seen products claiming to have a very low net carb count that, when I read the ingredients list, struck me as being impossibly low. This clearly is a hurdle low carb manufacturers will have to overcome to make this food category fly.

Most of you don't care much whether your low carb specialty products are made by a big "household name" food processor, or a small, dedicated low carb company. However, of those who do have a preference, it is clearly for the small companies. I can tell you from having been in and around this industry for a while, the folks I have met who run little low carb specialty companies are just about all low carb dieters themselves, and seem to care a great deal about putting out the best products they possibly can.

You're split just about 50/50 as to whether you pay attention to calories along with carbs. I pay modest attention to calories myself, and find I do better when I watch both pretty closely - no strict limits, mind you, but consciousness is a very powerful tool.

So here's the overall picture: You're using low carb specialty products cautiously and moderately, largely to add a little variety. You're mostly using products that it would be genuinely inconvenient to make yourself, or difficult to reproduce at home, like tortillas, bread, condiments, chocolate bars, and ice cream. You're not relying on specialty products to replace meals. You're eating little low carb junk food, like chips and cookies. You're reading the labels. You're paying attention to portion sizes. You're picky as all get out about ingredients. And you're skeptical to the point of cynicism about attempts to label every darned thing "low carb."

I've never been prouder of you guys. Makes every single word I've ever written for this free ezine worth it, worth it, worth it.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:30 PM

Chances Are You Already Have It, But...

Since y'all have helped make 500 Low-Carb Recipes the best selling low carb cookbook in the world, chances are most of you already have it. But for those of you who are new to this whole thing, here's a review:

This book deserves 500 stars! Simply spectacular!

First let me say that I own many, many low-carb cookbooks, and this one is THE best I have ever read! Not only does it offer 500, yes, 500 recipes that are easy, fabulous and low carb, but the introduction and ingredient chapters were SPECTACULAR! The introduction was warm, witty and informative. I typically skim through the beginning chapters and get right to the recipes, but I couldn't put this one down! So many questions that I had were answered in the Low Carb Specialty Foods chapter, not to mention the Polyols chapter and the Where to Find Low-Carb Specialty Products chapter (she doesn't like paying through the nose for this stuff, either)!

The Ingredients You Need to Know About section was the absolute best--necessary and unique information about eggs, fats/oils, flour substitutes (what the heck are guar and xanthan gums, anyway--she answers that, too!), sweeteners (wow, I can have molasses!), vegetables (and I can have carrots, too!), and oh so much more. Her first recipe is addictive enough to eat every day (Heroin Wings)! I wish I could say that I've made all the recipes, but I'm so busy trying out the recipes from the first chapter, I haven't even looked at the other chapters yet, but believe me, I know they'll be outstanding.

This author is down-to-earth, funny and charming. I can relate to her so well. She stresses over and over again to listen to your body and let that be your guide regardless of whether the food is low-carb. This works so well for me. The BEST book you will ever purchase on low-carbing and low-carb recipes. DON'T MISS THIS ONE!

J. Carroll (Cleveland, OH, October 21, 2002

"Down-to-earth, funny, and charming?" "Spectacular?" Wow! Thanks! I try. I really do try.

To read this and a whole pile of other reviews of 500 Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon

However, 500 Low-Carb Recipes is available at bookstores coast-to-coast, in mass-merchandisers like Target, Costco, and WalMart, and in quite a lot of the rest of the English-speaking world!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:27 PM

Product Review: The NEW Foreman Grill

I'm afraid I have bad news for you: All of you who own a George Foreman grill or one of the myriad knock-offs need to shell out the money to replace it. I got the new "Next Grilleration" Foreman grill for Christmas, and it's a big step up. I've gone from using my electric grill every now and then to using it several times a week.

Why? Easy. The grill plates snap out and go in the dishwasher.

Do you get how cool that is? I mean, I've had two previous tabletop grills, one a gen-yew-ine Foreman and one a knock-off. Both of them worked as advertised, but they were both a pain to clean. Truly. It rapidly got to the point where I would only use it now and then, for things I knew it indisputably did better than any other tool in my kitchen - like grilling a chicken breast to go on a main dish salad. But other than that, it sat, unused, on my countertop, taking up valuable workspace, because cleaning the sucker was just a big pain - at the very least, a ten minute chore.

Furthermore, I found that the degree of scraping needed to really get the sucker clean wore off some of the non-stick coating, only making the problem worse.

But with the removable grill plates, clean up is a snap. Even without using the dishwasher, the ability simply to get the dirty surface under a running faucet or in a sink full of suds makes all the difference.

Because of the ease of cleaning this new grill, I'm using it far, far more than I did the previous two models. Pork chops, burgers, boneless chicken, now go into the grill as a matter of course.

The grill does a better job with some things than with others - while I like it very much for grilling chicken breasts for salads, for burgers, and for pork chops, as mentioned, I'm unimpressed with the job it does on steaks - I'd rather broil them. However, the Foreman grill is also great for sausage patties, and even does a creditable job with bacon. I've done good wings in it. And it's actually terrific for grilling vegetables.

All of which makes the "Next Grilleration" George Foreman grill a handy addition to the low carb kitchen. And a whole lot easier to clean than its predecessors.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:23 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Tavern Soup

Here's a recipe from my new book 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes - it's a hearty, creamy cheese soup, perfect for a cold winter's night.

Tavern Soup

Cheese soup with beer! (Don't worry about the kids; the alcohol cooks off.)

1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
1/4 cup diced celery, diced fine
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
12 ounces light beer
1/2 teaspoon salt, or Vege-Sal
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
guar or xanthan

Before you head out the door, combine the chicken broth, celery, green pepper, carrot, parsley, and pepper in your slow cooker. Cover, set to low, and let it slow cook 6-8 hours, and even a bit longer won't hurt.

When you get home, either use a hand-blender to puree the vegetables right there in the slow cooker pot, or scoop them out with a slotted spoon, puree them in your blender, and return them to the pot.

Now whisk in the cheddar cheese a little at a time, until it's all melted in. Add the beer, the salt, and the Tabasco sauce, and stir till the foaming stops. Use your guar or xanthan shaker to thicken your soup until it's about the texture of heavy cream. Recover the pot, turn to high, and let it cook for another 20 minutes before serving.

8 Servings, each with: 274 Calories; 20g Fat; 18g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 3g Usable Carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:22 PM