April 26, 2006

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Hey Gang!

Here you go!

Along with this week's article, column reprint, recipes, and such, I have sort of the beginning of an idea. I got a ton of feedback from readers regarding the TLC show Honey, We're Killing The Kids. Many of you suggested I should have a show of my own teaching families to change their habits. I very much appreciate the vote of confidence and the love, but of course I'm not the one who gets to make that kind of decision - some production company would have to put up the money, and some station would have to decide to carry the show.

But I've been thinking about a website to help families get healthy, one step at a time. One substantial change per month seems about right to me. I'd want to have support discussion groups, where people working on any particular step could talk about how their families were dealing with it, trade ideas, that sort of thing.

Would you be interested in something like that? If so, I'd like to know.

In the meanwhile, Read on!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:17 PM

Burning Your Own Energy

As I write this, it's a glorious Sunday late-afternoon in April. I'm wearing old yoga pants, a cheap tank top, and a bandana wrapped around my forehead as a sweat band. I've spent much of the afternoon out in my new yard, mowing our very considerable expanse of lawn.

"Very considerable" is defined here as roughly two and a half to three acres. We mow it with your standard walk-behind mower - not a lawn tractor; not even a self-propelled mower, but one we have to use muscle to push. That's how we mowed our previous yard, with roughly an acre of lawn. This time of year mowing is a near-constant task - the grass is growing fast in Southern Indiana!

I steadfastly refuse to get a ride-on mower. Why on earth would I spend over a grand for the equipment, plus pay for a whole lot of extra gasoline, just to encourage us to get less exercise? Yet this is what Americans have been increasingly doing for the past few decades - burning gasoline instead of their own energy.

When we moved in last fall, I did a lot of raking - if you think a lawn this big grows a lot of grass, you should see how many leaves it can accumulate! We don't own a leaf blower. Again, I'd have to spend a bunch of money on the equipment, and then on gasoline - all to the purpose of getting less exercise.

I did, however, decide to buy a leaf-sweeper. I went to four stores before I found one made to be walked behind and pushed by hand, instead of to be towed by a garden tractor. The help at the stores looked at me kind of funny when I asked for the people-powered variety. After all, doesn't everyone prefer to burn gas rather than their own energy?

Back in my early twenties I had a habit of walking uptown in the evening to hang out at the only bar in town. I figured that I burned off some of the wine by walking, and anyway, I'd never have to concern myself with driving under the influence.

When people found out I'd walked to the bar you'd have thought I'd said I flapped my wings and flew! "You - WALKED?!" Shock! Surprise! Near disbelief! Simply unheard of!

How far was it? About a mile and a quarter. I found myself thinking of Pa Ingalls in Little Town on the Prairie, saying of the family's new claim in South Dakota, "It's only four miles from town - just a nice walk."

Yet I've read that the average American now fires up the car rather than walk as far as the length of a football field. It bemuses me to think how many gallons of gas we burn up circling parking lots, rather than simply parking in the first spot we see and walking a few hundred feet. My sister, who has recently joined Weight Watchers (she's been counting points and doing low carb simultaneously - ie, eating low carb points - and has lost nearly twenty pounds) reports seeing people driving around the lot looking for the spot closest to the Weight Watchers meeting. More ironic it would be hard to get.

What does this have to do with low carb diets, other than the obvious connection between exercise and weight loss? A couple of things.

First of all, exercise has been demonstrated to improve insulin sensitivity. There's every reason to think that the dramatic decrease in exercise over the past century is a co- factor, along with the massive increase in the consumption of junk carbs, for the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other carb intolerance diseases. Trying to improve your body's carbohydrate metabolism and reduce your risk of disease by diet alone is kind of like trying to push a wheel barrow while holding only one handle - it's a whole lot harder than it ought to be, and you're just not going to get very far.

Secondly, one of the most common complaints about a low carb diet is that meat and vegetables are more expensive than pasta, rice, and potatoes. This is true, though I have long held that food that makes you fat, hungry, and sick wouldn't be cheap if they were giving it away. Few investments will yield you the impressive results that money spend on good food will, and I don't just mean in looking and feeling better. I'm talking finances. Improved health means less money spent on increasingly pricey pharmaceuticals, lower rates for health and life insurance, fewer sick days, less time and gas and co-payments spent on trips to the doctor, not to mention the money saved on buying new, larger clothes every year or so.

But to add to those savings, the money spent on decent food can, to some extent, be made up by spending less money on gas, and using our own energy to do things instead. As the price of gas goes up, this strategy will become more and more economically effective.

It goes beyond money saved on gas, though. You can skip buying all kinds of pricey equipment, too. I certainly spend less on garden equipment than people who use tractors and leaf blowers!

For that matter, if you could walk to work and back, for a total of say an hour to an hour and a half a day walking, you'd not only save on gas, you could drop any expensive gym membership you might be paying for. Around here we're talking $20 a month for most gyms. Or you could skip buying that treadmill. Oh, and let's not forget the reduced wear-and-tear on your car.

Don't have the time to walk to work? How about the time you're spending at the gym?

I realize not everyone can walk (or bike) to work; some people simply have too long a commute, while others have no safe route. But is there some other way you could burn your own energy, instead of gas? Maybe when you're running a half-a-dozen errands within six or eight blocks of each other you could park the car and walk to all those places. Maybe you could get off the bus or train a stop or two early, and walk the extra distance - some places, this maneuver will save you money on your fare. Maybe you could just vow to never move your car for any trip shorter than a quarter-mile, unless you have to haul something heavy, or the weather is truly foul. And of course, keep your eye out for household and garden chores where you can use muscle instead of motors.

Get your kids in on the act. Before the lawn tractor became a suburban fixture, kids mowed the lawn, raked the leaves, weeded the flower beds, along side the grown ups. My family used to giggle at the folks next door, who had four-count'em-four strapping teenaged sons, yet paid a landscaping service to mow their lawn. Seemed silly to us. Yes, your kids may whine about yard work. Big deal. Aren't they always telling you "I'm bored" anyway?

Kids used to walk or bike everywhere, too. I walked or rode my bike to elementary school and back, a little over a half-mile either way, not only morning and afternoon, but home for lunch and back. That's over two miles of walking or biking, five days a week, all through the school year. (Not uphill both ways, just one way. But yeah, I walked in the rain and snow.) I wanted to go to a friend's house? . I wanted to go into town? (For you young folks, "going downtown" is the archaic version of "hanging out at the mall.") I wanted to go to Friday Night Rec at the Y? I I wanted to go to the village pool to meet pals? I walked or rode my bike.

Are you thinking "But the world was safer then?" Actually it wasn't, at least here in the US. Crime rates were rising sharply in the 1960s, and especially the 1970s, but have fallen since the 1990s. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, crimes against children have dropped since 1993. And the US Department of Justice says that specifically, sexual crimes against children dropped 40% between 1992 and 2000.

What has increased is media coverage of this sort of crime. Twenty four hour national news coverage has made the world seem like a much more dangerous place than it was in my childhood, when in reality, the US has actually become safer. Sadly, the greatest crime danger to kids (outside of their families, but that needn't concern us for the purpose of this discussion) comes from people who disguise themselves as "helping adults" - scout masters, coaches, babysitters, that sort of thing - rather than from strangers who might grab kids on the street. Not saying it doesn't ever, ever happen, but it's very rare. Child predators mostly try to find a position where they can "groom" children over weeks or months.

In the meanwhile, there is not just a risk, but a full-blown epidemic of obesity and diabetes among the same children who are being protected against the "dangers" they might encounter while walking and biking. We're protecting children right into diminished lives and early graves.

You may live where the roads aren't safe enough for your kids to walk or bike to school. I live in such a neighborhood; biking to the nearest school/shopping area/subdivisions - only a few miles - involves a mile stretch along a country highway with a narrow shoulder. (That's why out here we need big lawns for exercise instead.)

But in areas that allow for walking or biking, I'd love to see a renaissance of kids getting places under their own steam. The more of them are out there, the safer it will be. And wouldn't it be nice to free up all that time you spend playing chauffeur? And all that money you're spending on gas?

How about getting some family time walking or biking? Walk or bike to the park together for a picnic and an afternoon of playing in the sunshine, or to the grocery store or convenience store for a dozen eggs or the Sunday paper. Walk to church (you could bike, but most Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes aren't conducive to biking.) Beats sitting in front of the tube together.

In short, I challenge you to think of creative ways you could be burning calories instead of gas.

It's at least worth thinking about.

Maybe while you're mowing the lawn.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:16 PM

Reader Feedback on The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

Jamie Gardner writes:

I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and bought Every Calorie Counts. I had it pre-ordered from Amazon and was surprised to see it at the book store. I was anticipating this book so much I paid the difference rather than waiting for Amazon to ship it. This is by far my favorite book from her and I really like them all. So many recipes were still low carb enough to be eaten while still losing weight so that was a nice surprise. But, as a person who has to watch both carbs and calories, I have been waiting along time for a book just like this one. I couldn't find a single recipe I wouldn't make.

Thank you for the wonderful book. I have a feeling I should get a back up copy for it will probably become "well used". And thank you for sharing all this with us. I have never heard of any other low carb cookbook author that is so highly recommended. The recipes truly are fantastic.

Thanks, Jamie! I'm so glad you like it!

You can order The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook from Amazon, of course. You can also find it at your local bookstore!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:12 PM

More Product Stuff

Long-time subscriber Marilyn Olshansky writes:

Hi, Dana,

It's a little late for Passover, but for those who like matzo ball soup...

Aviv makes a wheat bran matzo that has a lower net carb count than ordinary matzo. The total carb count is 21 grams per sheet, including 6 grams of fiber. With the net count down to 15 grams, I used two sheets to make matzo balls for my husband, son and me (a regular batch for my Seder guests) and the recipe (from an Atkins cookbook) yielded enough for us to have it three times - small portions, of course. Actually, they came out so good that I might just make them this way for everyone next year and just not say anything.

Aviv is an Israeli company. I bought the matzo at Mrs. Green's - you know them as you did a book signing there. I don't know who else carries it, but it's worth looking for. We used them at the Seder, as well.

Great info, Marilyn! Thanks!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:10 PM

A Useful Link For You

Several issues back I mentioned that I have a program called Nutricounter (since changed to Health Fit Counter) in my PDA that I use to keep track of what I eat. Well, a few readers wrote in and said that the Fit Day website lets you do the same thing for free! And it's quite true. It also will track exercise.

I still like my Nutricounter - I can take it with me, and I find it easier to use than FitDay - but it's darned hard to beat free.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:08 PM

Reader Review of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes

Weight Loss With Quick, Delicious Meals!

In a motivated mood, I asked my doctor recently to give me a good diet plan so I could take off many unwanted pounds. He didn't skip a beat. He just said "try the Atkins' Diet." So, I did...and it is excellent! What a great way to lose weight, in a healthy manner, with a minimal amount of suffering. I am dropping pounds, not feeling hungry, and ready to experiment with low carbohydrate food recipes, as I have grown a little bored with broiled meats, fish, omelettes and plain salad.

I bought an Atkins' recipe book, and wanting more variety, I also picked up a copy of Dana Carpender's "15 Minute Low Carb Recipes: Instant Recipes For Dinners, Desserts and More." This book is wonderful - great meals, lunches and snacks in a jiffy. Many of the recipes call for inexpensive ingredients, which is great considering the expense of a high protein diet. Meat, fish and shellfish aren't cheap. Her skillet dinners are excellent. I have tried nine of the recipes so far and the results have been delicious. The meals have been easy to prepare and Ms. Carpender's tips and shortcuts cut down preparation time considerably.

I find that I am using this cookbook more than my Atkins book. There is so much variety that meals have become less boring. While losing weight is difficult, variety and food that tastes good make the process less painful. I highly recommend this compilation of creative, effortless low carbohydrate recipes.

Jana L. Perskie "ceruleana", New York, NY

Thanks, Jana!

To see this and other reviews of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon

You can order 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes while you're there, of course, or you can find it at your local bookstore.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:06 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint - Burgers

We had our first cookout of the season this weekend, so this column seemed timely:

The scent of burgers on the grill is one of the great joys of summertime, surpassed only by eating them! Americans didn't invent the idea of the ground meat patty, but we did elevate it to defacto National Food. Even vegetarians can't quite get over the yen for burgers, or why are there so many veggie burgers out there?

The humble hamburger has a lot to recommend it. It's reliably inexpensive, quick to cook, and lends itself to endless variation. Too, your family will eat it with no complaints, a virtue not to be underestimated. But how is that burger nutritionally?

A four ounce (cooked weight) broiled hamburger, made from 80% lean ground beef, has zero carbs, of course. It will have 306 calories and 29 grams of protein. But so much bad has been said about red meat that you may be surprised at the vitamins and minerals that burger packs - 15% of your iron, 39% of your zinc, 15% of your B6, 12% of your riboflavin (B2), 33% of your niacin (B3) 55% of your B12, even 9% of your potassium. The bun, fries, and soda may be a nutritional wasteland, but the hamburger patty very definitely is not.

Ground chuck, about 80% lean, is ideal for burgers, and because of the fat running off your finished burger will only have about 20 more calories than one from the leaner ground round, a negligible amount. Since you're likely to broil or grill your burgers, I wouldn't use ground beef with less than 20% fat. Leaner meat is likely to end up being dry and flavorless. With fattier meat, much of the fat cooks out, shrinking your burger and wasting money.

(This is as good a place as any to recommend that you not press down on burgers while they're cooking. Yes, they'll cook faster, but you're pressing out the juice, ensuring your burgers will be dry and flavorless. I'm afraid this also means that electric tabletop grills, which squeeze from both sides, also tend to turn out dry burgers. I tend to save mine for burgers with additional moist ingredients, like minced vegetables.)

Of course, the burgers are carb-free, but hamburger buns have about 22 grams each, in the form of refined white flour. Not good! There are low carb buns available from the low carb etailers - among others, www.low-carb.com lists them. Or you could slap your burger between a couple of slices of toasted low carb bread, which is easier to come by. I'd be more likely to eat that burger with a fork, or wrap it in lettuce, myself.

But a plain hamburger patty on a plate can look pretty forlorn. How to add flavor and interest, and maybe even nutritional value?

* Slap some cheese on top, of course! Cheeseburgers are standard. Can I urge you to use real cheddar on your cheeseburgers, instead of "American singles?" I know those little hermetically sealed slices of pasteurized processed cheese food product fit neatly on a burger, but they're simply not the equal of real cheese, nutritionally, or in flavor. Three-quarters of an ounce of American cheese - the size of a standard "single" - will add 1.64 grams of carb to your burger, while cheddar will add only 0.27 grams. The cheddar has more calcium, too, and is a better source of vitamin A. If cheddar's a little strong, you could use the milder Colby - which you can buy in handy slices at the deli counter.

* Have you tried blue cheese on a burger? To die for. Add a teaspoon of minced sweet onion. Only a trace of carb here.

* Melt a slice of jalapeno jack on top of your burger and top with a tablespoon of salsa, for a Mexiburger. 2 grams of usable carb.

* Or try mozzarella, and top with a tablespoon of jarred pizza sauce - Ragu makes a sugar-free variety. Pizza burger! About 2 grams usable carb.

* Often, though, I just eat my burger with "everything" - except the bun. Lettuce, tomato, sugar free ketchup, mustard, pickles, and mayo. Just one concern here - that ketchup. Standard ketchup has a ton of sugar in it - just one tablespoon will add 4 grams of carb to your burger. That's a lot for just a dab!

Many grocery stores now carry low carb, sugar free ketchup - Heinz makes one. If yours doesn't, or if the high price of commercial low carb ketchup is too much to bear, try this!

Dana's No-Sugar Ketchup

This recipe has appeared in every cookbook I've written, because ketchup is an American staple. Here I've added the option of using Stevia Plus instead of Splenda, for those of you who don't trust artificial sweeteners.

6 ounce can tomato paste
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup Splenda OR 2 teaspoons Stevia Plus (stevia/FOS blend)
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon guar or xanthan

Assemble everything in a blender, and run it - you'll have to scrape down the sides; this mixture is thick - until the bits of onion disappear. Store in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cups of ketchup, or 24 1 tablespoon servings. 2.25 grams per tablespoon, with a trace of fiber and protein.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:04 PM

Stewed Pork Neckbones with Turnips and Cabbage

This week's recipe is what happens to be in my slow cooker this very minute. It's a cool, rainy day as I finish up this issue, and I couldn't think of a darned thing that sounded better than this simple dish. I found the prototype for this recipe on a website dedicated to soul food cookery, and simply substituted turnips for the potatoes to slash the carb count, and adapted if for the slow cooker, rather than stove top cooking.

About Pork Neckbones

Unless you grew up on soul food, you may never have tried pork neck bones. They're one of those cuts that are perfect for the slow cooker - they're bony and tough, and darned cheap; my grocery store has them for 59c a pound week in and week out. Yet cooked with slow moist heat, they're incredibly flavorful, and since the meat falls right off the bone, who cares that they're bony?

I did have one teeny problem with pork neck bones: I simply could not find any nutritional statistics for them, and I even wrote a big pork producer! However, you can count on them being carb free, and these carb counts as accurate; it's the protein and calorie counts that I couldn't get.

Stewed Pork Neckbones with Turnips and Cabbage

This one pot meal is not a beautiful dish to look at, but boy, does it taste good! Plenty of Tabasco is essential.

3 turnips, diced
3 pounds meaty pork neck bones
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or Vege-Sal
3 cups water
1/2 head cabbage, cut in wedges
Tabasco sauce

Put the turnips in the bottom of the pot. Put the neck bones on top of them. Sprinkle the red pepper and salt or Vege-Sal over it, then pour the water over that. Now arrange the cabbage wedges on top of that. Cover the pot, set to low, and cook for 7, 8 hours.

Scoop everything out onto a platter together with a slotted spoon, and dose it well with Tabasco before serving.

4 Servings, each with: 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 4g Usable Carbs.

(Reprinted with permission from 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes (http://tinyurl.com/jz322) by Dana Carpender, copyright 2005, Fair Winds Press)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:03 PM

April 18, 2006

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

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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 you go! Hope you enjoy it.

My house smells like heaven right this minute. You see, I didn't have ham for Easter - our family's traditional Easter dinner has always been roast lamb and asparagus. But I took advantage of all those sales on ham, and I have one (well, a half-ham - there are only two of us, you know!) in the oven right this second. Thinking I'll serve it with broccoli and cheddar-cheese fauxtatoes. Mmmm.

Think I'll go do ten minutes on my Total Gym, and then cook!

Read on!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:21 PM

Honey, We're Helping Kill The Kids

I haven't written a rant in a while, but I feel one coming on...

Do any of you watch TLC (The Learning Channel?) I'm a big fan of the makeover show What Not To Wear. Last Friday during the show, they announced that the new show Honey We're Killing the Kids would be on afterward. It had been heavily advertised as a show that would show parents of junk-food-junkie kids just exactly what their indulgence was doing to their children, and help them make the changes needed. Sounded right up my alley, so I stayed put after watching Stacy and Clinton.

And ended up turning off the television in disgust halfway through.

The family presented certainly needed change. The parents were seriously overweight, as was the oldest son. Meals were mostly carry-out or packaged food; the kids were getting 60% of their calories from commercial deep fried stuff, aka Festival of Bad Carbs and Hydrogenated Fats. They ate unlimited sugary garbage like "Brownie Bites." The children watched unlimited television and played unlimited video games. All three were unruly, defiant, and rude. No one in the family got any exercise. There was certainly room for improvement.

But did they actually try to give this family workable solutions? Oh, heck, no. This is reality television. It's not about helping people, it's about creating on-camera conflict.

So what did they give these three boys who had, up until now, been eating fast food and packaged junk, for their first healthy supper? Tofu and bok choy stir fry.

We won't even talk about whether estrogen-laden soy foods are a good idea for boys approaching puberty. Could they have possibly come up with a meal more calculated to make the kids go "Eeeeew!"? Could anything have been more unfamiliar, more "weird" to them? Hard to think of anything, isn't it?

Off the top of my head I can think of a half-a-dozen menus that would have been more acceptable, and still have been a huge nutritional step up for this family: Roasted chicken, green beans, and a small serving of brown rice. Individual pizzas made on low carb or whole wheat tortillas, with no-sugar-added pizza sauce and mozzarella, plus a big crisp salad on the side. Homemade chili, made with a combo of ground round and ground turkey, with plenty of tomatoes in it for veggies, and a side of baby carrots and ranch dip. A protein and vegetable-rich soup - chicken minestrone, or vegetable beef, perhaps. A chicken stir fry, with vegetables the kids recognized - peppers, perhaps - instead of tofu and bok choy. Flank steak, with faux-po (cauliflower and potatoes pureed together to dilute the carbs) and sliced ripe tomatoes. Protein-and-fiber enriched pasta, with plenty of meatballs, no-sugar-added sauce, and cheese, again with a salad.

Oh, there still might have been some whining for fries, but I'd bet none of these menus would have inspired the understandably extreme reaction of that tofu-and-bok-choy stir fry, and all of them would have been a huge nutritional step up for this whole family.

For breakfast, they gave the kids plain oatmeal. Plain oat meal. Again, ignoring the fact that oatmeal is a lousy source of the protein these kids needed to help them control their appetites all day, who eats plain oatmeal? I've never known anyone who didn't add something - brown sugar, or honey, or raisins, or sugar and cinnamon, plus, of course, milk or cream. Plain oatmeal is the stuff of Dickensian orphanages.

How about a smoothie made with plain yogurt, each kid's favorite fruit, some vanilla whey protein, sweetened with Splenda or stevia/FOS blend? Or that same yogurt, with sweetener and vanilla, layered in a parfait with fresh fruit and toasted nuts? Or whole grain/low carb toast, with natural peanut butter and low-sugar jelly? Or a couple of string cheese sticks? Or, heck, good old eggs and bacon? Again, any of these would have been far better nutritionally than cold cereal, toaster pastries, and donuts, and would have kept the kids full and satisfied far longer than that plain oatmeal. And they would have been far, far more acceptable to the kids.

But nooooo. Reality television needs conflict. So they had to make the changes as unpleasant as they possibly could. How else would they get the children to scream and curse and threaten to run away from home?

Then there was the "Junk Trunk" - the family went through the cabinets together, searching out all the processed, sugary, carby junk food. But did they throw it away? Oh, no. That would have been too easy. They piled it in a trunk in the kitchen, and left it there where the kids could see it and be tempted by it. After all, they had to teach the kids to "deal with temptation!" Then they trained a hidden camera on the Junk Trunk, and when the youngest boy, inevitably, succumbed to temptation (having been fed a diet of tofu, bok choy, and plain oatmeal,) they harangued him into tears on camera. It was downright sadistic.

Couldn't they have thrown the junk away, and given the boys reasonably nutritious treats - peanuts, or home-popped popcorn (microwave popcorn has hydrogenated oils - and is ridiculously expensive, to boot. But popped in good fats, popcorn would have been a reasonably healthy choice for kids, who can tolerate more carbs than adults.) Why not sugar-free fruit pops, or frozen bananas-on-sticks?

And it wasn't just the food. They sent the boys to a fancy restaurant for an etiquette lesson. Just eating real food, with forks and knives off of plates instead of out of wrappers, at the table instead of in front of the television, all while making conversation instead of staring at the tube or yelling, would have been, again, a big step up for this gang. There was absolutely no purpose to a crash course in what fork to use.

The whole thing was nauseating and infuriating. And for me, the worst part was that they made it look so hard and so painful and so unpleasant. I could just hear millions of people across America thinking, "So much for that. I mean, sure, our kids are fat and unhealthy - hell, we're fat and unhealthy! But there's no way I could go through that. And I'm not eating tofu!"

In short, a show that gives the impression of being about facilitating healthy change for families has, in my opinion, set back the cause it professes to espouse. That's sad.

And onions to nutritionist Dr. Lisa Hark for apparently pushing a low fat diet, low in animal foods. It's increasingly clear that there's no value to a low fat diet (although there's huge value to avoiding bad fats - hydrogenates and highly processed, polyunsaturated vegetable oils.) There's also increasing doubt that soy foods like tofu are fit for human consumption, much less healthier than the animal foods that have been the backbone of human nutrition since prehistoric times. And oatmeal, despite the good publicity, isn't some magical health food. There was no good nutritional purpose in pushing the foods she did.

I've rarely been so profoundly disappointed. What a huge disservice to TLC's viewers.

Folks, it just doesn't have to be that hard. I have no children of my own, but I certainly know plenty of children. My niece and nephew - 5 and 7, respectively - stayed with me recently, and happily ate grilled chicken, low carb whole grain toast, raw carrots, apples, pepper strips, even raw spinach - all foods they're familiar with, because it's what they get at home. When I made them a Sunday morning breakfast of sugar-free smoothies, made with milk, vanilla whey protein powder, sugar-free vanilla syrup, a small scoop of Breyer's Carb Smart vanilla ice cream, and a little guar for thickness, Henry said I'd "sent his tastebuds to Paradise." (The kid has a precocious way with words.)

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting James, Elizabeth, and William Hoffman, the three children of my sister's best-friend-since-Girl-Scouts, Debbie Hoffman, who brought her brood to visit us at the Jersey Shore. They were smart, nice, well-behaved kids, with very broad tastes in food. Why? Their father is a professional chef, and from the time they were out of high chairs, they were simply expected to eat whatever the grown ups were eating for dinner. No special "kiddy food." They were matter-of-fact about it, and seemed to think it was silly for any family to act otherwise, and that other kids were missing out on the good stuff.

Of course, these families started early. Changing gears later on will be harder, I have no illusions about that. But it certainly doesn't have to be anything like as hard as the dorks at TLC deliberately made it. And on one thing we can all agree: Teaching your children to eat a diet of healthy real food is a gift they deserve, and that you can't afford not to give them.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:19 PM

The First Amazon Reader Review of The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

LOVE IT!!!!

I had this pre-ordered here at Amazon but found it this past weekend at a bookstore and it was worth paying the difference and having it rather then waiting for it to ship. I love all of Dana's books, but by far this is my favorite. I wasn't sure what to think because of the title saying every calorie counts instead of "low carb" but it is a low carb cookbook, just better for OWL and maintenance, BUT, most everything in this book is 13g carb per serving and less (a lot between 4-8), even dishes with rice and whole wheat flour.

She mixes cauli-rice with wild rice and almond flour (meal) with whole wheat flour to keep carb counts low while giving us those grains we can add back once off induction. This is a book perfect for low carbers and for those watching carbs and calories alike. But it's the recipes that earn it 5 stars. Peachy rice (8g per serving) and tandoor chicken is what I made last night and they were delicious (and everything on my plate was 12g carb total). 3 meals like that keep me under my 40 grams daily carb allowance, and yet I enjoyed real rice last night.

I'm so happy to have this book. I know it is about to become the most used cookbook because everything appeals to my taste buds. Dana never disappoints us and this one is no exception. Low carbers, don't be fooled by the title, it is low carb. Maybe not low enough carb for induction, but perfect for the later stages of weight loss.

Thank you Dana!!!! And thank you for thinking of all of us who watch what we eat. Its so nice to have all these options for OWL. More recipes for those of us past induction, almost to goal weight or maintaining is always appreciated, especially for those of us who have had to count calories too. This is something not many low carb cookbook authors address and I'm so glad she did. Keep the cookbooks coming Dana!

Oops, it says 4 stars but I gave it 5! I would give it 10 if I could!

J. Gardner , March 8, 2006

Hmm. I wonder how I could get that extra star added...?

Thanks, J! I'm really pleased with how the book came out, myself. And rest assured: I will never, ever write a cookbook full of sugar and white flour. Never. As for keeping them coming, it's been six months since I turned in the manuscript for The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, and I find I'm really missing being in recipe development mode. Time to think about writing another book.

To see this review, or to add a review of your own, visit Amazon.

You can also find The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook at your local bookstores.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:14 PM

Important New Information

Back in January I wrote about vitamin D supplements as a possible way to help Seasonal Affective Disorder. I still think that vitamin D helped me, and that there are a lot of people who don't get enough - and the research bears that out. Vitamin D is especially important for your bones, of course, but also is shaping up as one of the great cancer fighters.

However, it has come to my attention that people who are prone to kidney stones shouldn't take vitamin D. Because most kidney stones are made of calcium compounds, the increased calcium assimilation that comes with D supplementation - something that's a great health boon for most of us - can increase the rate of stone formation. Given that kidney stones are supposed to be the most painful thing a human being can experience short of professional torture, this is something to be avoided.

So if you're prone to stones, don't take vitamin D. Heck, if you have kidney problems in general, ask your doctor about vitamin D. (And if you've got kidney problems of any kind, remember - a strict ketogenic diet, like Atkins Induction, is NOT for you.)

Please remember: I do my research, but I am not infallible, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. Everything here is for your information only.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:09 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Easter Leftovers

First things first: This is the voice of your conscience speaking. Easter is over. You can no longer justify eating leftover jelly beans and chocolate eggs by saying, "But it's a holiday!" Cut that out!

Good. Glad we got that straight.

Now, about those Easter leftovers. Ham is notorious for hanging around forever - indeed, the venerable cookbook The Joy Of Cooking defines "eternity" as "two people and a ham," and they're not too far off. So even though it's been a few days since Easter, I know that many of you are still giving up valuable refrigerator space to the Leftovers That Would Not Die, not to mention technicolor hard-boiled eggs. But hey, it's pre-cooked protein, and for a low carber, that's a beautiful thing! Here are some ideas of how to clear out the fridge without resorting to ham sandwiches:

* Make UnSandwiches. Cut a slice of ham and a slice of your favorite cheese, spread mayonnaise and mustard in between the two, and stuff them in your face. If you're feeling dainty, you may wrap the whole thing in a big lettuce leaf, first; it'll add only a trace of carbohydrate.

* Dice up some ham and throw it in your skillet when you scramble eggs. Heck, throw in some sliced mushrooms (3 grams per cup, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2 grams) and a little minced onion (1 gram per tablespoon, with just a trace of fiber,) and call it supper.

* Melt a little butter in your skillet, and add slices of ham. When the first side is browned, flip, spread a little spicy brown mustard on each piece, and top with cheddar or Swiss cheese. Let the cheese melt, and serve for a simple family pleaser - with next-to- no carbs.

* Make egg salad. I like mine with green pepper (4 grams in half an average pepper, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams,) celery (virtually carb-free - 1 gram per stalk, with 1 gram of fiber), and scallions (1 gram apiece, with a trace of fiber.) But my mom likes chopped green olives in her egg salad - and they're low carb, too; like the celery, 2 tablespoons of chopped olives has 1 gram of carb, and 1 gram of fiber.

* Peel and chop up an Easter egg or two when you make your favorite tuna salad recipe - they're a terrific addition.

* Deviled eggs are universally popular, and a fabulous snack for a low carber to have on hand. You'd be hard-pressed to add enough mayonnaise and mustard to bring your deviled eggs up to 1 gram per half! So make some deviled eggs.

Here's a quick-and-easy one-dish skillet supper that will use up both leftover ham and Easter eggs. Of course, the rest of the year you can buy a chunk of pre-cooked ham, and boil up some eggs just for this purpose!

Ham Kedgeree

Kedgeree is traditionally made with rice and smoked fish, but this version with shredded cauliflower "rice" and leftover ham is very tasty - and a whole lot faster than cooking rice, too.

head cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups ham cubes
4 hard-boiled egg
3 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Run the cauliflower through the shredding blade of your food processor. Put it in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave on high for 6 minutes. When the microwave beeps, uncover your cauliflower right away, or it will continue to cook, and become mushy.

While the cauliflower is cooking, cut your ham in 1/2" cubes, mince your onion, and peel your eggs and chop them coarsely.

Melt the butter in your large, heavy skillet over low heat, and add the curry powder and onion. Saute them together for 2-3 minutes. Add the ham, eggs, and cream, and stir well - but gently, so as to preserve some hunks of yolk. Heat through, salt and pepper to taste, stir in the parsley, and serve.

4 servings, each with 340 Calories; 27g Fat; 19g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 5 grams usable carb. However, if you bought a really low carb ham, your kedgeree will very likely be lower carb than that!

(Reprinted with permission from 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, 2003 Fair Winds Press)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:07 PM

Reader Review of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

You need Dana's books

How do I love Dana Carpender in a completely platonic low carb life saver kind of way? Let me count the ways. Her new cookbook is fabulous. If you don't have it, you simply must get it. So many great looking recipes. As soon as my copy arrived, I read it cover to cover and am about to read it again. We are trying a different recipe every night. We have tried several already and they are very good. We're gonna have another one tonight. I have all of her cookbooks and this one is fab. Her books offer a lot of variety of flavors, which is essential to keeping any way of eating interesting. I'm trying to broaden my taste horizens, and her books give me lots of options. I use her cookbooks everyday. I recommend them all the time, but I don't loan them out. I would be lost if I did! She makes low carb low effort, which makes my life significantly easier. Thanks Dana!

April Grow, Atlanta, GA

Thanks, April! The thing I really love about 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is that fully half the recipes in it come from Lowcarbezine! readers. It truly represents the collected wisdom and creativity of the low-carb community. If you'd like to know what other low carbers are cooking and eating, this is your book!

See this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes at Amazon

You can also check out 500 More Low-Carb Recipes in bookstores coast-to-coast (assuming you're in the US or Canada!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:00 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Southwestern UnPotato Salad

What with spring having sprung and all, it seemed like a good time to give you recipes for cookouts and picnics. Of all the unpotato salads I came up with for The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, this one is my favorite!

Southwestern UnPotato Salad

head cauliflower
cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 small jalapeno
cup chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, crushed
cup diced red onion
1 small tomato

First cut your cauliflower into " chunks - don't bother coring it first, just trim the bottom of the stem and cut the core up with the rest of it. Put your cauliflower chunks in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a few tablespoons of water, and nuke it on "high" for 7 minutes.

When your cauliflower is done, drain it and put it in a large mixing bowl. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the mayo, mustard, and lime juice, then pour it over the cauliflower and mix well.

Cut the jalapeno in half, remove the seeds, and mince it fine. Add it to the salad along with the cilantro, garlic, and diced red onion, and mix again.

Finally, cut the stem out of the tomato, then cut it into smallish dice, and carefully stir it in. Chill the salad for a few hours before serving.

6 servings, each with: 150 Calories; 16g Fat; 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 2 g usable carb. You can use light mayo if you like, and the calorie count will drop to 65; if you choose your light mayo carefully you shouldn't get more than 1 more gram of carb per serving.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:55 PM

April 08, 2006

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Hey Gang!

Here's the 'zine! And it's after 8 pm and I still haven't even figured out what I'm serving for dinner, so I think I'll just say "Read On!" and go peruse the contents of my freezer. (Freezers, actually. I have two big deep freezes...)

Read on!

Dana

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:13 PM

Making the Most of Cheap Eggs

It's egg season! We tend to forget, because of battery egg farming techniques, that eggs really are a seasonal food - kept in natural lighting conditions, hens lay far fewer eggs in the winter, and more in the spring and summer. That's why eggs are associated with Easter: They've been a symbol of spring since - well, forever.

Between the increased egg yield, and grocery stores running specials for folks planning to dye eggs, eggs are dirt-cheap these days. Right this very minute, a dozen large eggs are on sale at my local Kroger for 66c. (A month or so back, Marsh had medium eggs - common in the early spring - 3 cartons for a buck! I bought 18 cartons!)

With prices like this, it's a great time to eat eggs, not just for breakfast, but lunch, dinner, and even for snacks. Eggs are endlessly versatile, not only lending themselves to a wide variety of flavors, but letting you create a number of different textures, too. For these reasons, I never get tired of eggs. (As I write this, I have a cheese omelet sitting happily in my tum.)

Yet years of anti-egg propaganda have left many people afraid of eggs. Indeed, unlimited egg consumption is one of the things that the anti-low-carb forces brandish as a weapon against us - "All those eggs! You'll give yourself high cholesterol! You'll get heart disease!"

It's important that you know that the whole cholesterol theory of heart disease causation is in question. A number of other factors appear to be far more important, with systemic inflammation being at the top of the list. (It's also important for you to know that low cholesterol is dangerous. Total cholesterol under 170 is associated with increased mortality, especially from cancer, stroke, and - believe it or not - violence and suicide. After all, your brain is very rich in 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.

Too, in most of the world, cholesterol as high as 225-240 is considered normal. Maybe I'm a whack-job conspiracy nut, but I suspect that American standards for cholesterol keep getting adjusted downward to create a market for cholesterol-lowering drugs. That's just me, though.

But do eggs jack up your blood cholesterol levels? No doubt eggs contain cholesterol - about 200 mgs apiece. 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 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. And The Journal of Nutrition ran an article a couple of years back 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. That's three eggs a day - coincidentally, the number I eat most days. If three eggs a day doesn't negatively affect even those who have an abnormally strong response to dietary cholesterol, what the heck is anyone worrying about?

But what do eggs contain aside from cholesterol? All sorts of fabulous things. Eggs are a terrific source of protein, of course, with 6 or 7 grams each, depending on their size. Indeed, egg protein is of such good quality that it's the standard against which all other proteins are measured. Eggs do contain a little carbohydrate; about a half a gram apiece. You'll get somewhere between 65 and 75 calories.

Just one egg will give you 19% of your iodine, 13% of your riboflavin, 10% of the antioxidant mineral selenium, and 8% of your vitamin A (and that's preformed A, which is much more easily absorbed and used than the provitamin A in vegetables.) You'll get 7% of your B12, 5% of your folacin, 4% of your iron, 3% of your B6, copper, and zinc, 2% of your calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Eggs are a terrific source of sulphur, which makes your nails and hair strong and healthy (and grow faster!) Sulphur also makes your connective tissue strong and flexible, and is used by your liver in the process of removing toxins from your body.

Eggs are also one of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D. I say "natural" because of course the vitamin D in milk has been added artificially, not that that's a bad thing. Mostly we're supposed to make vitamin D in our own bodies, by exposing our skin to the sun. But in this sun-phobic day and age, many people don't set foot out the door without slathering on sunscreen. This makes dietary sources of D all the more important. (Please, if you're a constant sunscreen user, take vitamin D supplements, too.)

But it doesn't stop there! Eggs supply phosphatidyl choline, which is an important structural component of brain and nerve tissue. Too, your body can use phosphatidyl choline to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, important for memory. A study published in the journal Brain Research found, "The administration of phosphatidylcholine to mice with dementia improved memory..." Interestingly enough, phosphatidyl choline, aka lecithin (say "less-a-thin") also lowers blood cholesterol levels.

Eggs are also a source of the omega-3 fat DHA, which is the main structural component of brain tissue. This makes eggs an especially good bet for women who are pregnant, and for small children who are still building brain tissue.

You'll also get lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that fight macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, because of the egg yolk's fats, the carotenoids in egg yolks are better absorbed than those from plant sources, such as carrots and spinach.

Which leads us to an interesting fact: Most of the really fabulous nutritional components of eggs - the DHA, the phosphatidyl choline, much of the vitamins (including the A and D), the carotenoids - are in the yolk. Yes, the yolk. The part that you've been told to throw away "for your health."

Please, please, do not fall for egg white omelets and nasty "99% real egg" egg replacers. Eat eggs. Real eggs. The whites and the rich, delicious, nutritious yolks.

"Okay, okay!" you're thinking. "So eggs are good for me. And cheap. And low carb. But how many fried or scrambled eggs can I eat? Sheesh!" Tons of ways!

* Plain old hard boiled eggs (we just call 'em "boilies") are one of our favorite snacks. Just one egg will kill hunger for a few hours.

* Chop up some of those hard boiled eggs, and toss 'em with bagged salad and bottled dressing for a fast nutritious lunch. Add some cubed leftover ham, too, if you like. (Hmmm. Now who'd have leftover ham and boiled eggs around?)

* Two words: Egg salad! I like to wrap mine in lettuce leaves to eat it. Lower carb than bread, of course, and also more nutritious. Think of the potassium and folacin!

* Deviled/stuffed eggs are universally popular. You can vary them lots of ways - I've made them curried, with deviled ham, with mashed smoked salmon, with avocado, with Cajun seasoning - you name it. You'll be the most popular person at the party.

* Quiche turns eggs into dinner. You can make yours crustless, if you like, but I make mine with an almond/Parmesan crust.

* Eggs Florentine make a good fast supper. Just cream some chopped spinach in your big skillet, then make hollows in it with the back of a spoon. Break an egg into each hollow, turn the burner to low, cover the pan, and let simmer till the eggs are set to your liking. (My favorite creamed spinach recipe: a 10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, drained; 1 clove garlic, crushed, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Combine and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.

* Poaching eggs in salsa or tomato sauce works wonderfully well. Eggs poached in Creole Sauce is one of my very favorite breakfasts.

* Wrap scrambled eggs in a low carb tortilla for a breakfast (or lunch, or supper) burrito. I'd throw in melted Monterey Jack (just put shredded cheese on the tortilla and give it 30-45 seconds on 6 or 7 power in your microwave), sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, and some salsa. Maybe even sour cream! Yum.

* Surely I've made the point here long since that the omelet is the ultimate in fresh, tasty, nutritious fast food. Get a good non-stick pan, and make an omelet any time you want real food, fast!

* Roughly sixty-million different combinations of veggies, meat, and cheese can be added to scrambled eggs. You've figured out mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, ham, sausage, onions, all that stuff. Maybe you've tried asparagus - asparagus with mushrooms, a scallion or two, plus a little dill is wonderful in scrambled eggs. But here's a really exotic combo. This is actually more vegetables than eggs, and very filling, but feel free to add another egg if you like:

Indonesian Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables

1/4 medium onion -- sliced thin
1 hot red chili pepper -- seeded and minced (for a milder version, use an Anaheim or Poblano pepper)
1/4 small head of cabbage -- shredded
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons coconut oil -- or peanut oil
1/2 clove garlic -- minced

Cut up your vegetables and have them ready. Spray your big, heavy skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Put it over medium-high heat, and add the onions -- you want to fry them, stirring often, until they're actually starting to brown. Add the chile pepper, garlic and cabbage. Saute with the onion for a minute, then add a tablespoon of water, turn the burner to medium low, and cover the skillet for about 3-4 minutes.

While that's happening, beat up your eggs with the turmeric and soy sauce. When the cabbage is just tender-crisp, pour in the beaten eggs and scramble till set. Serve immediately.

2 servings, each with: 184 Calories; 12g Fat; 11g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 8 grams usable carb.

(Reprinted with permission from The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, by Dana Carpender, 2006 Fair Winds Press.)

* Don't forget about baked custard! It makes a highly nutritious dessert, but it's a nice make-ahead breakfast, too. The main ingredients of custard are eggs and milk, and you may use milk if you can tolerate the lactose carbs. (Milk has 12 grams of carbohydrate per cup, but lactose is a low-impact carb.) Or you can substitute half-and-half, heavy cream, or a heavy cream/water blend, depending on how rich you want your custard to be. Of course you can also use Carb Countdown Dairy Beverage if it's still available in your area. I've adapted lots of custard recipes from regular cookbooks, using Splenda, and they've all worked out.

* Eggs combine with cottage cheese to make terrific baked casserole dishes that are nutritious nearly beyond belief. I started playing with this idea for The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, and really got carried away. The basic proportions are 6 eggs beaten with 1 cup cottage cheese. Season this as you like (include a 1/4 teaspoon salt), spread half the mixture in an 8x8 Pyrex baking pan, top with a filling that coordinates with your seasonings, add the rest of the egg/cottage cheese mixture, and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. I've used cumin and oregano in the egg mixture, and layered it with chunky salsa and shredded Monterey Jack. I've also seasoned the egg mixture with thyme and marjoram, and layered it with sauteed mushrooms, onions and asparagus, plus shredded Gruyere. Let your imagination soar.

* One other point: People are now very scared of raw eggs, and I've even seen warnings about eating fried or poached eggs where the yolks are still runny. Personally, I think this is overdone hysteria. It is estimated that just 1 out of every 16,000 uncracked, properly refrigerated eggs is actually contaminated with salmonella. Seeing as I eat roughly 1,000 eggs per year, that's one contaminated egg every 16 years. What are the chances that it will be the one I use raw in Caesar salad dressing or mayonnaise, make into an eggnog smoothy for my husband, or simply undercook a bit? I've got bigger things to worry about.

So go stock up on eggs while they're cheap, for fast, healthy, low carb, budget friendly meals any time of day.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:10 PM

The First Amazon Reader Review of The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

LOVE IT!!!!

I had this pre-ordered here at Amazon but found it this past weekend at a bookstore and it was worth paying the difference and having it rather then waiting for it to ship. I love all of Dana's books, but by far this is my favorite. I wasn't sure what to think because of the title saying every calorie counts instead of "low carb" but it is a low carb cookbook, just better for OWL and maintenance, BUT, most everything in this book is 13g carb per serving and less (a lot between 4-8), even dishes with rice and whole wheat flour.

She mixes cauli-rice with wild rice and almond flour (meal) with whole wheat flour to keep carb counts low while giving us those grains we can add back once off induction. This is a book perfect for low carbers and for those watching carbs and calories alike. But it's the recipes that earn it 5 stars. Peachy rice (8g per serving) and tandoor chicken is what I made last night and they were delicious (and everything on my plate was 12g carb total). 3 meals like that keep me under my 40 grams daily carb allowance, and yet I enjoyed real rice last night.

I'm so happy to have this book. I know it is about to become the most used cookbook because everything appeals to my taste buds. Dana never disappoints us and this one is no exception. Low carbers, don't be fooled by the title, it is low carb. Maybe not low enough carb for induction, but perfect for the later stages of weight loss.

Thank you Dana!!!! And thank you for thinking of all of us who watch what we eat. Its so nice to have all these options for OWL. More recipes for those of us past induction, almost to goal weight or maintaining is always appreciated, especially for those of us who have had to count calories too. This is something not many low carb cookbook authors address and I'm so glad she did. Keep the cookbooks coming Dana!

Oops, it says 4 stars but I gave it 5! I would give it 10 if I could!

J. Gardner , March 8, 2006

Hmm. I wonder how I could get that extra star added...?

Thanks, J! I'm really pleased with how the book came out, myself. And rest assured: I will never, ever write a cookbook full of sugar and white flour. Never. As for keeping them coming, it's been six months since I turned in the manuscript for The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, and I find I'm really missing being in recipe development mode. Time to think about writing another book.

To see this review, or to add a review of your own, visit Amazon

You can, of course, order a copy while you're there. You can also find The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook at your local bookstores.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:09 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Passover

I published this column here in Lowcarbezine! last year, so this is a repeat of a repeat, but surely someone has subscribed since then who will find the column useful. When I printed it last year, I got an irate email from a reader taking me to task for printing a recipe for Passover that combined mayonnaise and beef bouillon. Apparently the reader was under the impression that mayonnaise contains dairy products of some kind. It does not. The kugel recipe is fine for any meat meal. Please know that since I'm not Jewish myself, I had this column vetted by a Hasidic rabbi. He approved of all the information in it, including the recipe.

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. (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.

(Recipe reprinted with permission from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, copyright 2004, Fair Winds Press.)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:58 PM

Reader Review of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

No Canned Cream of [Blank] Soup!

This is the only slow cooker cookbook I've actually not returned after reviewing and the best low-carb cookbook I've purchased. I've tried the "Broccoli-Bacon-Colby Quiche," "Mom's 1960s Chicken, Redux," and the "Mochaccino Cheesecake." All have been superb! So good in fact I recently recommended the cookbook to my Mother, who is a gourmet chef who doesn't eat low-carb but just got a slow cooker. It's that good!

SBD "sbd", Durham, NC February 9, 2006

Thanks, SBD! Hope your mom likes the book, too. I got a chuckle out of SBD's subject line. In the introduction to 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, I mentioned that too many slow cooker books seem to think that "put food in pot, dump in canned cream of mushroom soup, and cook till you come home from work" is a recipe. Not my idea of good food.

Anyway, to see this and other reviews of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, visit Amazon.

You can also find 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes at bookstores everywhere.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:53 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Egg Salad Francais

Here, from 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes, is a really fast meal with an authentically French accent.

Egg Salad Francais

Completely different from any egg salad you've ever had, and quite wonderful!

8 ounces bagged "European style" salad - the mixture should include some frizee, so read the label! (If you can't find one with frizee, you can still make the salad, but it will be less authentic.)

2 scallions
1/3 cup bottled balsamic vinaigrette - I like Paul Newman's
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (it is very important to use good quality shredded (not grated) Parmesan with no additives. Regular Parmesan in the round green shaker won't work; the cellulose in it messes it up for this.)
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 eggs, very fresh

First put an inch of water in a largish saucepan and put it over a burner set to medium high. Ignore that for a minute while you put your greens in a big salad bowl, slice up your scallion, and throw that in, too. Pour the balsamic vinaigrette over the whole thing, and toss well. Set aside.

Spray a microwaveable plate with non-stick cooking spray, and spread the Parmesan on it. Microwave on "high" for 1 minute.

While your cheese is nuking, let's get back to that water. It should be good and hot by now; turn it down to a bare simmer, add a tablespoon of vinegar, and poach your eggs in it. It helps to break each egg into a small cup or dish, first, to make sure that it's good and fresh, and that the yolk doesn't break. (If it does, keep it for something else, and use another egg for poaching.) Then slide each egg gently into the water, and poach to the desired degree of doneness.

While the eggs are poaching, remove the Parmesan from the microwave - it will now be a crispy, lacy sheet. Break it up. Pile your salad on two serving plates, and top each one with crispy Parmesan bits. Lift your now-poached eggs out of the pan with a slotted spoon, place two on each salad, and serve.

2 servings, each with 10 grams of carbohydrate and 4 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 6 grams. 20 grams of protein.

(Reprinted by permission from 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, copyright 2003 by Fair Winds Press.)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:49 PM