April 22, 2005

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Hey Gang!

I'm rushing to get this out, because it has a very late article on Passover in it, and I want to get it out ASAP. So all I'll say is

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:15 PM

Summer's Coming! Make Smoothies!

As the weather heats up, the urge to cook cools down. Something light and cool and sippable sure sounds good! How about a low-carb smoothie?

Low-Carb Smoothies has more than fifty recipes for light yet satisfying drinks that will fill you up without weighing you down - or messing with your blood sugar, like sugary smoothies do. The recipes include:

* Green Ginger Cooler
* Raspberry-Pineapple-Orange Slam
* Strawberry-Kiwi Sparkler
* Blueberry Pancakes in a Glass
* Hazelnut-Amaretto Frozen Latte
* Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
* Chocolate-Coconut-Rum Decadence
* Liquid Cruise
* Jungle Juice

Plus dozens more! Take a look at Amazon.com

And please, if you already have Low-Carb Smoothies, go to Amazon and review it - you could be the first!

Low-Carb Smoothies is available at bookstores everywhere!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:14 PM

Low-Fat Diets Causing Deficiencies in Children

A modest study done at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has turned up the dismaying fact that low-fat diets may be causing vitamin deficiencies in children. Researcher Judy Driskell, looking at 22 local preschoolers, found that fully two-thirds of them were falling short on vitamin E, and one third weren't getting enough vitamin C.

Driskell attributed the deficiencies to children eating the same fat-reduced foods their parents are eating, and this makes sense for vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Using fat-free dressings, avoiding oils in cooking, and feeding low fat crackers instead of, say, nuts or seeds, would indeed cut the amount of vitamin E available in the diet. So would dropping the traditional eggs for breakfast, since eggs are a good source of vitamin E. (The banning of peanut butter in many schools, due to allergies, has also removed a source of vitamin E from children's diets, though of course I hope you'll feed your kids natural peanut butter instead of Skippy or Jif or the like, which have added sugar and hydrogenated oils.)

I wondered about other fat-soluble vitamins, which weren't mentioned in the reports I could find. It seems not unlikely that children who are on low fat diets might well be short on vitamins A, D, and K, as well as E. Still, vitamin A can be made in the body from the carotenes in vegetables and fruits, while vitamin D can, of course, be made in the skin on exposure to sun. Perhaps this is protecting children from deficiencies - or perhaps Driskell didn't test for these. (I do know that the rate of rickets, the bone-softening disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, has been on the upswing in the United States recently, after being considered non-existent for a number of years. The problem appears to be the fact that everyone is so afraid of sun exposure that they slather SPF 4,692 all over their kids any time they set foot out the door.)

It is puzzling to me why the lack of vitamin C in the children's diets is being blamed on a low-fat diet, however, since overwhelmingly the sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. It seems to me that these should be part of a low fat diet. I fear that many parents are just feeding low fat processed stuff, which would account for the lack of C. Too, we've learned in the past few years that a steady intake of fruit juice is a bad idea, causing obesity with all that sugar. Apparently parents haven't compensated by handing their children a piece of whole fruit instead; the study suggested that many of them are afraid of causing allergies. It's good to know that there are many sources of vitamin C other than citrus fruit - peppers of all kinds are a terrific source, and so are tomatoes, so a snack of sliced peppers and cherry tomatoes with dip is a terrific snack. Kiwifruit are particularly rich in C, and so are berries. (Cabbage, broccoli, and spinach are good sources, too, but may not be as easy to get into your child.)

By the way, it's important to note Driskell feels that it's likely that the parents of these children are also deficient in vitamin E.

Hmmmm. Where are those articles from registered dietitians, warning about the dangers of a low fat diet - after all, that diet doesn't contain enough antioxidants!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:12 PM

Reader Review of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

Dana Is My Heroine!

I recently bought this cookbook, and already own her Carb Counter, 500 Low Carb Recipes, and 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes. I love her writing style, and she's "been there, done that", as far as low-carbing goes. I have never made something that I didn't like from her books, and the recipes are easy to follow ~ I am no fancy cook. The Teriyaki Ribs were so good my DH wants me to do this instead of grilling them! I made her coleslaw recipe from the 500 Low Carb Recipes to go with it, and my family was in love, and I am the only low-carber in the bunch! I think the best testament to Dana I can give is, I ordered the other three cookbooks of hers I didn't have, today. I have gotten rid of any other author's LC cookbooks I have, as well. You ROCK, Dana!!!

S. Martin, (FL, USA), April 11, 2005

Well, gee, thanks! Both for the kind words, and for ordering my other books!!

To see this and other reviews of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, or to leave a review of your own, go to Amazon.com

(But there are some other low-carb cookbooks I really like, especially my pal George Stella's new book., George Stella's Livin' Low Carb.)

200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes is available wherever books are sold.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:11 PM

Product News from Specialty Cheese!

I've written in the past about Just The Cheese Chips, by Specialty Cheese Company of Lowell, WI. If you haven't tried them, these are exactly what the name says - chips made from crumbled cheese, seasoned in various ways, and baked until they are gloriously crunchy. They are, unsurprisingly, loaded with protein and calcium. They're also very filling; I find that a half-a-dozen of the disc-shaped chips are enough to satisfy my hunger for hours.

However, some of you have found Just The Cheese Chips to be too salty for your tastes. So I'm pleased to let you know (a bit belatedly) that in the past year Specialty Cheese has reduced the sodium in their Just The Cheese chips by 25%. These really are one of the best possible low carb snack foods - no weird Frankenfood ingredients here, just real cheese plus some seasonings. They're easy to carry in a purse or attache case, too, and they make ideal emergency food to carry while travelling. If you can't get them locally - my grocery store carries them! - you can order them online.

But there's more news from Specialty Cheese! At Expo West, the huge natural foods/health foods trade show I went to in March, the Specialty Cheese Company booth was my favorite! Why? Because they were passing out samples of their latest product: Frying cheese!

What's frying cheese? It's cheese that's formulated just for pan-frying (not deep-frying); it gets brown and tasty on the outside, and soft and melty on the inside, without melting down into a puddle in your frying pan. Unbelieveable. It's like eating a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread. I think I must have eaten a dozen pieces, hot off the griddle.

Frying Cheese comes in plain, garlic, jalapeno, and pineapple-mango. I'm torn between whether garlic or jalapeno is my favorite! I'm going to nag my pals at Bloomington's Sahara Mart to start carrying this stuff; it could become a staple around here. I suggest you ask your local stores to carry Frying Cheese, too. Barring that, you can order Frying Cheese (and Just The Cheese Chips) directly from Specialty Cheese Company. http://www.specialcheese.com/

These are the sort of low-carb products I really love - real food, not bad imitations of what was junk food to begin with. Get your hands on some!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:08 PM

What About Whey Low?

Quite a few of you have asked me about a new "low carb" sweetener called Whey Low. I have not tried it. There's a good reason for this: I read the list of ingredients. It says:




You know what that is? It's sugar. It's all sugar. Nothing but sugar. There is NOTHING low carb about this product. This is one of the most egregious misuses I have yet seen of the "net carbs" concept.

Sucrose is just plain table sugar, the same stuff you used to keep in your sugar bowl before you got smart, the same stuff you've been cooking and baking with all your life, to the detriment of your health. It's a carb, a high impact carb, and it's a nutritionally empty high impact carb. Are we clear on table sugar being bad for us?

Fructose is fruit sugar, but don't let the "fruit" part fool you into thinking it's healthy. Unlike actual fruit, in which the fructose is diluted with fiber and water, and brings vitamins along with it, the crystalline fructose in Whey Low is a refined sugar. It has no vitamins. It has no fiber. And because it's concentrated, it's easy to consume in excess. You've heard, no doubt, about the dangers of giving your children lots of fruit juice, because once you remove the fiber, it's really easy to get way too much sugar? Same problem here, only worse.

Fructose does have a much lower glycemic index than sucrose, but that does not mean that you don't digest or absorb it. You do, every gram. There may be some (notice the emphasis on the word "some") validity to discounting at least a fraction of the carbohydrates in the sugar alcohol sweeteners, because they are only incompletely digested and absorbed - I think it's unrealistic to completely discount sugar alcohols, but you don't absorb every gram of them that you eat. (And yes, I know I've left sugar alcohol counts out of the carb counts in my recipes - this is largely because different sugar alcohols are digested and absorbed at differing rates; you absorb somewhat over half of maltitol, but almost none of erythritol. I have no way of knowing which sweetener you'll be using.) But fructose? Saying that you don't have to count fructose as a carb just because it has a fairly modest glycemic index is, in my opinion, dishonest. You absorb it all - how is that not a carbohydrate?

The news about fructose is not good. A 2004 article in the journal Obesity Research states:

...the glycemic index does not address other metabolic issues related to excess sugar consumption. Prominent among these issues is the use of low glycemic index sweeteners, particularly fructose, which is increasingly present in processed food. Fructose is associated with increased adiposity, which may result from its effects on hormones associated with satiety. (Emphasis mine.)

For the record, "adiposity" means "fatness." Sounds great, huh?

A rat study reported just this month in the journal Hypertension showed that fructose induced fatty liver disease; it also increased the rats' blood pressure and triglycerides.

A study reported in Nutrition and Metabolism in February of this year said: A high flux of fructose to the liver, the main organ capable of metabolizing this simple carbohydrate, perturbs glucose metabolism and glucose uptake pathways, and leads to a significantly enhanced rate of de novo lipogenesis (fat creation) and triglyceride synthesis... These metabolic disturbances appear to underlie the induction of insulin resistance commonly observed with high fructose feeding in both humans and animal models.

Oh, goody - fructose may cause insulin resistance, the root cause of type II diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome. How... healthy. Yet the producers of Whey Low are recommending it for diabetics.

Then there's that part about triglyceride synthesis. That the makers of Whey Low insist it won't raise triglycerides doesn't change the fact that multiple studies have demonstrated that fructose does, indeed, increase triglyceride levels, and does so more effectively than most anything else.

So much for fructose being benign.

Lactose is the final sugar in Whey Low. Lactose is, of course, milk sugar. It has a fairly low glycemic index as well, but again, you do, indeed, digest and absorb it - unless you're lactose intolerant, at which point you don't - you just get gut cramps and gas instead.

Folks, need I point out that if you're going to decide that fructose and lactose, both manifestly digestible, absorbable carbs, somehow don't "count", you should be eating fruit and drinking milk, not baking cookies and cakes? And do you really believe you would be able to eat enough apples and drink enough milk to get the sugars you'd get in a dessert made from Whey Low?

The makers of Whey Low also claim it has 75% fewer calories than sugar. Since it is sugar, I haven't the faintest clue why I should believe this. Sounds like some very creative math to me - the same sort of creative math that lead them to call a product that is made of nothing but sugar "low carbohydrate."

Pay attention here: The "net carbs" concept (aka 'impact carbs', 'effective carbs', 'usable carbs', etc) never was meant to extend to subtracting low glycemic index carbs. It originated with subtracting only fiber, a type of carbohydrate which the human gut can neither digest nor absorb, and which actually slows the digestion and absorption of the usable carbs consumed with it. Just because a carbohydrate has a relatively low glycemic index does not mean it's not a carb, does not mean you don't digest and absorb it, does not mean it can't kick you out of ketosis, does not mean it can't refill your glycogen stores and make you retain water, and does not mean it can't screw up your insulin sensitivity and your triglycerides.

Furthermore, not only are the carbs in Whey Low digestible and absorbable, they're nutritionally vacant. Refined. Stripped of all nutrition value. Not a vitamin or a mineral in sight. And of course they're concentrated, so it's really easy to get a whopping big dose.

Whey Low also comes in a formula called "Whey Low D," apparently being marketed as their "diabetic formula." Whey Low D omits the sucrose, which is a bit of an improvement, but it's still nothing but refined, nutritionless sugars. It's still carbohydrate that you will digest and absorb, it can still cause "increased adiposity," jack up your triglycerides, etc.

I will continue to use Splenda in most applications. I know that some of you are unhappy about Splenda because it's not "natural." I will persist in pointing out that many of the most toxic substances on Earth are completely natural, so "natural" is no guarantee of safety - just ask anyone who is currently dying from using tobacco, a natural product.

If you just can't bear to use an artificial sweetener, stevia/FOS blend is available at most health food stores; I find it works better in some applications than others, but it does blend will with acid flavors, like fruit or yogurt, in particular. I usually use stevia/FOS blend to sweeten yogurt, especially since the FOS helps the body use the good bacteria in the yogurt. In recipes which need the textures of sugar, I like erythritol, which has both the lowest digestion/absorption rate and the least gastric effect of any of the sugar alcohols; I usually combine a small amount of erythritol and some Splenda. If you can find a source (I can't,) inulin, aka fructooligosaccharides (FOS) is pretty much unabsorbable, and considered a fiber. It improves your intestinal health as well - though since it's only half as sweet as sugar, you'll need to add something else to bring things up to the desired degree of sweetness. I consider all of these to be vastly better choices than Whey Low.

All of this being said, I think I've had my bag of Splenda down off the shelf twice in the past week, both times to use a teaspoon or two in a marinade, not to put a cup and a half in a dessert or a drink. I've used maybe two-three teaspoons total of the stevia/FOS blend to sweeten yogurt. I haven't made a single dessert. I haven't drunk a single sweetened beverage.

Please, please, stop looking for a way to have lots of sweets without consequences. Stop trying to make your low carb diet look like your old diet. There's nothing "normal" or "natural" about eating a lot of sweet stuff; the typical American intake of sweets, especially sweetened beverages, is nothing short of pathological, and changing sweeteners doesn't make it any more normal, historically speaking.

We need to back to the notion of a "treat" being something that we have on special occasions, not something we have every day.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:56 PM

Reader Review of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

Best low carb author!

Like Dana's first tome, 500 LOW CARB RECIPES, 500 MORE LOW CARB RECIPES is my bible - I LIVE BY THESE!!! She is truly the most creative yet down-to-earth cookbook author I have had the pleasure of reading and using, ever. I honestly would not have been able to continue a low carb lifestyle without her books. She brings tremendous variety to my diet, and her recipes are accessible and delicious. This is a MUST-HAVE for anyone even remotely interested in low carb!

Mary C. Kribs, April 7, 2005

Wow, the best? Thanks, Mary!!

Folks, if you're happy with the results of your low carb diet, but bored to tears with what you're eating, you know having 500 recipes is going to help! To read this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, or to leave a review of your own, visit Amazon.com

But keep in mind, you can get 500 More Low-Carb Recipes wherever books are sold.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:54 PM


I realize this is not a moment too soon. This is a reprint of a column I wrote last year:

Most people are aware of some Jewish dietary laws - that Jews who keep kosher do not eat pork or shellfish, or consume meat and milk products together. The laws are more complex than that, governing how kitchens are run, how animals are slaughtered, and who may or may not prepare certain foods. These rules do not interfere with a low carbohydrate diet.

However, there are additional laws governing foods eaten during the Passover season, and many Jews who don't keep kosher the rest of the year follow the Passover laws, and of course, there are food traditions. Some of the Passover laws and traditions do, indeed, make it more difficult to stick to the diet.

A Passover rule followed even by many Jews who do not generally keep kosher is the ridding the home of chometz - any leavened grain product. In memorial of the unleavened bread eaten by the Hebrews in their haste to flee Egypt, nothing leavened may be eaten during Passover. The chometz is ritually gathered up, and disposed of.

Since grains may contain wild yeasts, they are not allowed during Passover, either. This is not a hardship for us, since we don't eat grains anyway. However, Jews of European descent also shun rice, millet, corn, legumes or foods made from them. This rules out soy and everything made from it - including many low carb specialty foods. It also eliminates rice protein powder, one of my favorite flour substitutes.

Usually, high-carb matzoh meal is used in place of flour. Perhaps you could simply skip things that are very carb_rich, like matzoh balls, but use small amounts of matzoh meal to, say, thicken a casserole. One_quarter cup of matzoh meal contains 27 grams of carbohydrate, and just 1 gram of fiber, so you'll want to go very easy. Potato starch is also used during Passover, but is even higher carb.

Rabbi Hirsch Meisels, who runs www.FriendsWithDiabetes.org, a site for Jewish diabetics, tells me that ground nuts or seeds would also be acceptable flour substitutes. Almond meal is becoming more widely available - Bob's Red Mill brand, now in many grocery stores, packages this. A quarter_cup of almond meal has 6 grams of carbohydrate, with 3 grams are fiber, for a usable carb count of just 3 grams. Or you can simply grind almonds to a cornmeal consistency in your food processor.

Guar and xanthan gums, low carb thickeners, are okay. Guar is derived from a seed, not a grain, and xanthan from a microorganism. One of these would be my choice for thickening gravies and sauces. If you can't find guar or xanthan at your local health food store, Carb Smart carries them. (http://www.carbsmart.com - they have the almond meal, too.)

Mass_market powdered artificial sweeteners, including Splenda, Sweet 'n' Low, and Equal, contain corn products, and are not acceptable. However, kosher for Passover versions are made, including one by Sweet 'n' Low; look for them. Liquid artificial sweeteners and stevia are both kosher for Passover.

At the Seder, there is a Seder plate of traditional foods which must be eaten. Eggs are dipped in salt water, to symbolize tears. A roasted bone symbolizes the Passover sacrifices from before the destruction of the Temple. Bitter herbs - usually horseradish - symbolize the travails of the Hebrew people. A green vegetable, such as romaine or celery, symbolizes the fruits of the earth. All of these things are low carb! There is also charoset, a mixture of fruit, nuts, spices, and wine, symbolizing the mortar made by Jewish slaves in Egypt. Very little of this need be eaten, but if you like, you may make it with more nuts than fruit, to reduce the carb count.

Eating 45 grams of carb worth of matzoh is required, unless you get permission from your Rabbi to eat less. Barring medical problems, I'd just eat it. It is a holiday, after all! If you can find it, oat matzoh has more fiber, and thus fewer usable carbs, than wheat matzoh. Four glasses of wine are also required - sounds like fun to me! Make sure it's a dry wine; dry reds have 3 grams of carb per glass or less.

This Passover side dish is great for anyone!

Spinach Mushroom Kugel

8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
30 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 eggs
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon guar or xanthan (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute mushrooms and onions in the oil until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms soften. Transfer to a mixing bowl, reserving 9 mushrooms slices for garnish, and add spinach; mix well.

Stir together eggs, mayo, and bouillon granules till the granules dissolve. Stir into vegetables. Stir in the almond meal. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the guar or xanthan over mixture, and stir in well; repeat with the second 1/4 teaspoon.

Spread evenly in a greased 8x8" baking dish. Decorate with reserved mushrooms. Bake for

1 hour. Cut in squares to serve.

9 servings. 214 Calories; 20g Fat; 6g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 4 grams usable carb.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:51 PM

April 01, 2005

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

Special Notice: Dana on QVC, 8 April, 9AM EST

I'm going to be on Friday, April 8th, during the 9:00 am hour, EST -- which means, of course, the 8:00 hour in Central Time, the 7:00 hour in Mountain, and the 6:00 hour Pacific.

I'll be selling 500 More Low-Carb Recipes.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:05 PM

Hey Gang!

As I write this, I'm in the last stages of recuperation from some really nasty respiratory illness that I picked up in California - high fever, chills, coughing stuff up from a chest that burned like fire, the whole nine yards. (The only good part that the guy I caught it from on the plane on the way out looked just like George Clooney. If you have to catch a hideous disease, you may as well catch it from a hottie.)

I haven't been that sick in a decade. And it reminded me forcefully of one important thing: I have absolutely zero patience with feeling anything less than 100% well. Some of you have written me, wondering how someone can continue to make healthy choices, meal in, meal out, every day, for life. For me the answer is simple: The alternative - being less healthy than I can be - is simply unthinkable. Indeed, I have a hard time understanding how anyone can bear the sheer physical discomfort that comes with regularly eating junk. Yuck.

But my energy is back, and spring has sprung! Enough of this - I'm going out for a walk!

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:31 PM

Reader Review of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

Excellent Even For Those Not Pushed For Time

I have recently discovered slow cooking and this book is fantastic, even though I have more time to cook in the oven I find the process of slow cooking so much more tasty, and it makes the meat more tender. A favourite at the moment is the sweet and sour pork, suitably de-carbed of course, I have got into the habit off putting the slow cooker on late at night and then having the food ready to take as a packed lunch in the morning. Pot poasts which I never managed to get just right are now meltingly beautiful, Dana as usual provides a wonderful cookbook

A. Campbell "ailsa" (london) February 13, 2005

Thanks, Ailsa!! Glad you're enjoying it!

To see this review, or write a review of your own, visit Amazon.com

(Indeed, we could use some more reviews! If you have 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes and like it, please take a moment to go to Amazon and say so. If you have 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes and hate it, we're hoping you'll keep your mouth shut. ;-D)

Please be aware that Amazon.com is not the only place you can get 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes! It's available at bookstores and mass merchandisers everywhere.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:29 PM

Low Carb and Appetite, or, Tell Us Something We Didn't Know

The March 15th issue of Annals of Internal Medicine carries the results of a study that simply confirms what low carbers have been saying all along - that a low carb diet curbs a runaway appetite. The article, titled "Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes," details a study comparing calorie intake on a low carbohydrate diet (Atkins induction, 20 grams per day of carbohydrate with unlimited protein and fat) versus that of the everyday diet of the subjects. The study, done at Temple University School of Medicine, is notable for being the first carried out entirely in a clinical setting, allowing complete monitoring of food intake. Every carb and calorie was carefully noted.

Researchers found that the 10 diabetic subjects spontaneously ate, on average, 1027 fewer calories per day on a low carb diet than they had on their regular diet. This, the researchers said, was sufficient to account for the fact that they all lost weight.

The subjects stated that they were not bored with the food they were allowed, and that they loved the diet. But they did not eat more proteins and fats to make up for the carbohydrate calories they dropped from their diet. The researchers concluded that carbohydrates had been stimulating the subjects appetites.

Researchers determined that the drop in weight - an average of 1.65 kg, or 3.6 pounds per person in 14 days - was not water loss, a common speculation about low carb diets.

Interestingly, the drop in caloric intake was from an average of 3111 calories per day to an average of 2164 calories per day. Have you ever heard of a "low calorie diet" that allowed over 2000 calories per day? The researchers stated that they found no metabolic advantage, as Atkins claimed for a low carb diet, but knowing how many people struggle to lose weight even at 1500 calories per day, and that type 2 diabetics have a harder-than-average time losing weight, I'm not sure I agree, especially in light of previous studies that have indeed demonstrated that low carbohydrate diets cause weight loss with a higher caloric intake than carb-containing diets.

That a low carbohydrate reduces appetite does not come as a surprise to me. All the way back in 1999 I wrote, regarding my switch to a low carb diet,

"Best of all, I wasn't hungry all the time anymore!

I had always been hungry before - I would have that nice, "healthy" breakfast of whole grain cereal and skim milk, and an hour and a half later, I could have eaten the carpet I was so hungry! I'm not talking "head hungry" - I mean real, empty, growling stomach, getting tired hungry. I had often wondered why I was hungry all the time. I had read - and maybe you have, too - that if I ate a "healthy diet" (low in fat, high in carbohydrates) and "listened to my body," it would know how much food I needed. Unfortunately, I seemed to need enough for an entire army!

But on low carb, all of a sudden, I had a "normal appetite. I could eat a cheese omelet for breakfast, and not be hungry again until 2:00 in the afternoon. It was astonishing!"

(How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, Dana Carpender)

(As I write this article, it is 3:21 pm. I had eggs and bacon for breakfast around 10, and I'm still just as full as I can be. No hunger, no cravings.)

The subjects in the Temple University study enjoyed many other beneficial effects from their Atkins experience. Glucose levels normalized, demonstrating yet again the enormous benefits of a low carbohydrate approach for controlling sugar in diabetics. Insulin sensitivity improved by an astonishing 75%. Triglycerides dropped by an average of 35%, and cholesterol by an average of 10%.

(Indeed, it boggles the mind that the American Diabetic Association still recommends a low fat/high complex carbohydrate diet for diabetics. I can only attribute it to a fear of admitting they've been disastrously wrong for decades.)

So I guess there's no news here. A low carb diet still causes weight loss without hunger, improves blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol, while allowing folks to eat satisfying food.

Go figure.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:27 PM

Reader Review of The Low-Carb Barbecue Book

Great BBQ and Grilling for Low Carbers,

Dana Carpender has done it again with The Low-Carb Barbecue Book. I really have to say this is the book to have to create delicious, healthy summer foods!

Grilling is of course just about perfect low carb food - it involves fresh fish, fresh chicken, and lots of fresh vegetables. However, there are a few dishes in classic BBQ that are notoriously high carb, like potato salad and baked beans. Dana helps with everything.

There are of course the rubs and marinades, the instructions on grilling and BBQing (and how they differ). There are lots of great spice combos that can be helpful to new cooks, but are second-hand to experienced grillers.

Where the book really shines is in the side dishes and extras. The variety of mock-potato salad are great. There are various slaws and salads, plus a wide array of desserts.

The drinks section is fun but again, what low carb drinker doesn't know about mixing rum and diet coke? Is vodka plus sugar-free lemonade really worth a mention? I'd much rather have had those pages pointed at appetizers or more side dishes.

Still, summertime's parties and picnics will become much easier for low carbers who don't have to worry if something is OK to eat or not. By following the recipes in this book, you're sure to get a delicious dish that is truly low carb and healthy for you.

Highly recommended!

Lisa Shea, Massachusetts, June 5, 2004

To see this and other reviews of The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, visit Amazon.com.

Please be aware that you can get The Low-Carb Barbecue Book at any good bookstore!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:23 PM

The State of Low Carb (Wow! I Felt Like a Fan Girl!)

While I was out in California, I had the great privilege of participating in a panel discussion of where low carb is, and where it's going, with some very, very cool people - including Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, of Protein Power fame, Dr. Fred Pescatore, formerly of the Atkins Center, and author of The Hamptons Diet, Linda Langdon, who both owns low carb retail stores and has been in low carb specialty food manufacturing, Lora Ruffner, of Low Carb Luxury, far and away the web's most popular low carb website, and Andrew DiMino, of CarbSmart. It was very, very cool to be in that sort of company; I admire all these folks a great deal.

The big question, discussed from a number of angles, was "whither low carb?" A number of interesting points came up.

* Low carb product sales spiked in 2003, when thousands of new products flooded onto the market, and low carb stores opened seemingly on every corner. (Linda Langdon reported that at one point her area had 25 low carb stores in 25 square miles. That's just ridiculous. It's not surprising that most of them failed.) They crashed in 2004, and there was a big shake-out in the industry. However, our retailers who have hung on reported that in the past six months, sales are starting to increase again. This reflects a drastic reduction in competition, but also a continuing interest by the public.

* Indeed, according to our retailers, sales are currently above where they were in 2002, before the big spike of 2003 and the crash of 2004. It was suggested that if you remove the big 2003 "blip" from the graph, you'd see a steady growth in the interest in low carb and low carb products.

* Those of us who are largely in the information business are still busy - Fred's book is selling well, the Eades' are working on a television show for PBS, Low Carb Luxury gets 2 million hits a day, my books are still selling well. Too, a couple of publishers of low carb magazines were in the audience; they told us their subscription figures continue to grow. So apparently interest in low carb is still strong - it's largely the products that are doing poorly.

* There was a general agreement that many of the products did badly simply because they were, indeed bad; low carb pasta was mentioned in particular. There was also discussion of the discernment of the low carb buyer (that's you!) who rejected products that contained objectionable ingredients like white flour, corn syrup, sugar, and hydrogenated vegetable oil.

* There was also a feeling that low carb consumers had, for the most part, rejected low carb junk food - chips, cookies, and the like. It was suggested that perhaps the "Snackwellification" of low fat diets had served as an object lesson, and consumers were unwilling to let that happen this time around.

* We also mentioned the fact that I, the Eades, Dr. Pescatore, and others have been out here all along, saying, "No, no, no. Eat real food." We suspect we had at least a little something to do with the failure of some of the low carb products.

* The consensus was that certain products would continue to exist - low carb breads and tortillas, sugar free chocolate, sugar free ice cream, and sugar free condiments all made the list - while a lot of the chips, cookies, bake mixes, pastas, and the like would disappear.

All in all, it appears that low carb is not dead. Well, thank heavens. I was going to have to vanish.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:36 PM

Reader Review of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

Another fabulous cookbook from Dana

I have all of Dana's cookbooks. I like all of them and recommend them without reservation. That said, this one is my favorite (so far). I have been low-carbing for about 4 years now. Dana's books keep me sane and interested in low-carbing. Some of my favorite recipes from this book include: Cheesy Chipotle Soup (p.417). It is great on a blustery day or if you have a congested nose. General Pam's Cheesecake is super easy and using different extract flavors makes it a new experience every time (p. 500). Brussel sprouts in browned butter (p. 176). I have always like them but this twist makes them really wonderful; even my hubby commented on them. Island pork chops (p. 345) and Jill's coleslaw (p. 201) are also outstanding.

I have dozens of family favorites from each of her books. I'm never at a loss for something to cook.

Can't wait to receive her new slow cooker book.

S. Clark , Sacramento, CA, December 27, 2004

Thanks, S. Clark! Hope you like the slow cooker book, too!

I'm so glad you pointed it out - my recipes are remarkably family-friendly. No cooking two meals, and you can get the spouse and kids eating healthier without them even realizing it!

Read this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes at Amazon.com

If you have 500 More Low-Carb Recipes and like it, how about taking a minute to write a review?

Remember, 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is available at bookstores everywhere, and even at a lot of mass-merchandisers!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:33 PM

Reader Product Review: Blue Bunny

Hi Dana-

I live down in Bedford and enjoy your column in the Herald Times. After church today I ran by the supermarket for some low carb ice cream novelties. To my surprise there were two new flavors from Blue Bunny. The first was called "Candy Bar" and tastes surprisingly like a Snickers Ice Cream bar. The other one I still cannot believe is low carb. It is dark chocolate black

raspberry. If it hadn't been written on the outside of the box I would have never dreamed this was a low carb product. Oh my gosh is it great! I think their brand is called Carb Freedom. I found it at the Jay C Plus store incase you cannot find it in Bloomington. It is a division of Kroger's so I would assume they would have it too. I'm sure you'll love these two new ones too.

Julie Brassfield

Kroger's is the biggest grocery chain in the country, so I expect that many of you can find these. I particularly like low carb ice cream bars because they're portion-controlled. I've learned the hard way that sugar-free ice cream in a half-gallon carton pushes my old food addiction buttons. Thanks, Julie!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:29 PM

Why don't you include cholesterol counts with your recipes?

Frequently Asked Question:

Why don't you include cholesterol counts with your recipes?

Simple: I don't want to perpetuate the fiction that cholesterol is something to be avoided. There simply is no good reason to believe that dietary cholesterol causes health problems, and there is at least some reason to consider it beneficial.

You need to understand the difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. There has been, for the past few decades, a belief that high blood cholesterol is a cause of heart disease. That belief is questionable - most people who have heart attacks have never had high blood cholesterol. Renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey puts the number of coronary artery disease victims with high blood cholesterol at between 30 and 40%. He has been quoted as saying, "If you say cholesterol is the cause, how do you explain the other 60% to 70% with heart disease who don't have high cholesterol?" Indeed, it's beginning to appear that inflammation is the root cause of the clogging of arteries, with blood cholesterol merely an innocent bystander.

But even if high blood cholesterol is in some way causative in heart disease, there's little evidence that eating cholesterol increases your blood cholesterol. We need cholesterol. It's essential for every cell in our bodies. Cholesterol insulates nerve fibers, maintains cell walls, produces vitamin D, various hormones, and digestive juices. If we eat less cholesterol, we make it in our liver. If we eat more, we make less. It's a clever natural balance.

The reason why a low carbohydrate diet causes a drastic improvement in blood work in most people is that high blood insulin levels can interfere with the body's ability to balance cholesterol production with cholesterol intake, causing runaway production of cholesterol in the liver. When you stop eating a lot of carbohydrates, and your insulin levels drop, your body regains its balance.

There is a minority of people who are "saturated fat responders," producing more cholesterol in response to some kinds of saturated fats, especially hydrogenated vegetable oils, the artificially saturated fats that we were told for so many years were better for us than naturally saturated animal fats like butter and lard, or tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil. There is a big problem with much of the research, since food questionnaires often lump together commercial baked goods and fried stuff, nearly always made with trans-fat-laden hydrogenated oils, with things like cream, butter, cheese, and eggs, containing natural saturated fats and cholesterol.

But there's little evidence that eating cholesterol increases coronary risk. A 1994 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine looked at 12 men and 12 women, each eating 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks. Their total cholesterol did rise by 4% - but their HDL (good) cholesterol rose by 10% - meaning that their theoretical coronary risk had decreased. In an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at the Framingham study - the biggest, longest lasting study of heart disease to date. They found no relationship between egg consumption and coronary disease. For that matter, the Framingham Study turned up an interesting but little-mentioned fact: The study showed that those who weighed more and had higher blood cholesterol levels were more at risk for heart disease. Weight gain and cholesterol levels, however, had an inverse correlation with dietary intake of fat and cholesterol. In other words, the more fat and cholesterol subjects ate, the lower their rate of heart disease. Dr. William Castelli, MD, headed the study and had to admit in 1992:

In Framingham, Massachusetts, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people's serum cholesterol . . . we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.

And The Journal of Nutrition ran an article last year showing that even men who had an abnormally strong response to dietary cholesterol stayed within National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines when adding 640 mgs of egg cholesterol per day to their diets.

On the other hand, as long ago as 1974, a Dr. Kummerow of the University of Illinois published an article called "Nutritional value of Egg Beaters compared with "farm fresh eggs"", detailing a study where he fed some rats lab chow, others real, farm fresh eggs, and still others Egg Beaters "99% real egg!" egg substitute - you know, the ones with no cholesterol. The rat pups fed the lab chow and the rat pups fed the real eggs did fine, while the rat pups fed Egg Beaters developed diarrhea, failed to gain weight properly, and all died within a month of weaning. As the researchers stated: "The general appearance of the rats fed Egg Beaters indicated a gross deficiency in one or more nutritional factors as compared to those fed whole egg." I'd eat the real eggs and brave the cholesterol, if I were you. (Says the girl who had three real eggs for breakfast this morning!)

A study done in Australia looked at the diets of women and children known to have either high, medium, or low blood cholesterol levels. No difference in cholesterol intake was found. (Nor was there a difference in fat or protein intake. I couldn't find information about carbohydrate intake!)

Too, it's important to note that the dramatic rise in heart disease in the 20th Century (and it was dramatic; coronary artery disease was rare before the 1900s) was not accompanied by any increase in dietary cholesterol intake, or, for that matter, animal fat intake. Just the reverse is true - the rise in heart disease came along with the shift from a diet heavy in butter, cream, eggs and lard, to one where those traditional fats were largely replaced with vegetable oils. This is particularly interesting because vegetable oils, and particularly polyunsaturated oils like corn oil, safflower oil, and soy oil, increase inflammation in the body - and inflammation is, you recall, now the most likely culprit in heart disease, not blood cholesterol.

Weighing on the other side is the fact that low cholesterol diets appear to cause depression and violent behavior in lab animals, and at least a tentative link between low cholesterol diets and cognitive problems. This is not surprising, since your brain is largely made of cholesterol. (And if you're pregnant, you really, really shouldn't limit dietary cholesterol - what will your baby make his or her brain from?)

In short, I'm convinced that, while there may be some reason for some people to limit some kinds of saturated fats (and every reason for everybody to completely eliminate hydrogenated oils,) limiting dietary cholesterol isn't good for anyone, and may be a very bad idea. I do not wish to encourage anyone to cut their dietary cholesterol intake, even by default. So I leave cholesterol numbers out of my nutritional breakdowns.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:26 PM

Low-Carb Smoothies Will Be Out Soon!

Get ready for summer! Pre-order Low-Carb Smoothies at Amazon.com, and you should have it by the end of next week!
Here's just a sampling of the recipes you'll find in Low-Carb Smoothies:

Raspberry-Pineapple-Orange Slam
Strawberry-Kiwi Sparkler
Blueberry Pancakes in a Glass
Green Ginger Cooler
Hazelnut-Amaretto Frozen Latte
Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
Chocolate-Coconut-Rum Decadence
Cherry Vanilla Sundae in a Glass

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:22 PM

How To Make Dana Cry

I got an email just recently from a reader who had purchased 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, and wanted to know how to convert the recipes that use Splenda to use sugar instead. While people certainly have the right to do what they like with my books once they've ponied up the money for them, up to and including using them to line the cat box, I have to admit to an overwhelming dismay at the question.

Yes, I know that there are some of you who don't like the idea of using Splenda, mostly because it is artificial. Please, if that's the case, just skip those recipes. Or use erythritol, or inulin, or stevia, or something other than sugar. (But not corn syrup! If anything, high fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar.)

Of all the possible faulty logic in the world, "sugar is safer than Splenda because it's natural" is among the most illogical. Folks, rattlesnake venom is natural. Death angel mushrooms are natural. Botulism toxin is natural. Heroin, cocaine, and tobacco are natural. Natural means squat in terms of safety.

I am not convinced that Splenda is 100% safe, but then I am convinced that nothing is 100% safe. That's not the important question. The important question is "Is Splenda safer than what it replaces, ie sugar?" To my mind, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

That being said, I don't use a lot of Splenda; I drink no diet soda, and I only make Splenda-sweetened desserts when I'm working on cookbooks, and for special occasions. I really think the ideal is to wean ourselves away from a lot of sweetened stuff. But using a few tablespoons of Splenda in a slow-cooker-recipe sauce or a marinade? As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue, health-wise.

By the way, another reader who took me to task for using Splenda felt I should use organic sugar. I feel the same way about organic sugar as I do about organic tobacco - if you use these things because you think that their being organically grown somehow mitigates the fact that they're sheer poison, you're fooling yourself. I think health food stores embarrass themselves by even carrying such rubbish.

For the record: I have read the FDA test papers for Splenda, and it is absolutely true that sucralose - the sweetener in Splenda - caused thymus shrinkage and kidney swelling in lab rats - in doses that in a 150-pound human being would be the equivalent of over ten thousand teaspoons of Splenda per day. In doses that were the equivalent of just a couple of thousand teaspoons a day, the problems didn't happen. Since it's a really big day when I get as much as 20 teaspoons of Splenda in a day, I'm not sweating it. Always remember, the first rule of toxicology is "Dose is everything."

Anyway, do you have any idea what would happen to you if you ate over ten thousand teaspoons of sugar a day?

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:17 PM

Cooking Low Carb: My Favorite Lunch

Here's my favorite lunch, currently. I like to use Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Vinaigrette, which has no more carbs than their regular balsamic vinaigrette, and will actually drop the calorie count on this by more than 100 calories. I use really good imported olive-oil-pack tuna in little cans; I think it makes a real difference to the flavor, and it's certainly better nutritionally - far better grade of fat. But use what you've got on hand.

1 quart mixed lettuce
1/8 red onion, sliced paper-thin
1/2 small tomato, sliced vertically
1/3 cup sliced cucumber
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 hard-boiled egg -- chopped
3 ounces canned tuna in oil -- olive oil pack, drained

Tear up your lettuce, put it in a big bowl, and assemble the rest of the vegetables. Toss with the dressing -- I use Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Vinaigrette -- and top with the egg and the tuna. Give it one more toss, and eat it out of the salad bowl!

1 serving, with: 471 Calories; 29g Fat; 36g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 12 grams usable carb.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:12 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Irish Cream Coffee Latte

Here's a sample recipe from Low-Carb Smoothies! You'll need sugar-free chocolate coffee flavoring syrup. Try the local fancy coffee joint; they often sell these things, and my grocery store carries them at their coffee kiosk; my beloved Sahara Mart here in Bloomington has sugar free coffee syrups, too. If you can't find them locally, they're worth ordering! The low carb etailers have them (http://www.carbsmart.com) The biggest selection comes from DaVinci, and you can order direct if you want: http://www.davincigourmet.com . They were kind enough to donate a whole bunch of syrups to help me develop the recipes in the book, so I think they deserve the business!

I found a recipe for making your own Irish Cream liqueur, and took it from there. My Irish Cream loving husband says I got it right.

1 1/2 cups Carb Countdown Dairy Beverage
2 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar free chocolate coffee flavoring syrup
1 tablespoon Splenda

Combine everything in your blender, and run until smooth and well-blended.

319 Calories; 14g Fat; 40g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 8g Usable Carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:10 PM