May 22, 2006

Hey Gang!

Thank God I married a geek. Not only is he cute, and nice to have around the house, he's endlessly useful. My mom always said that my sister and I shouldn't bother marrying a doctor and a lawyer. Instead, one of us should marry a plumber and the other a mechanic, and then she'd always know where to get one. I did the 21st Century equivalent, and married a guy with a degree in computer engineering!

As you'll read below, I was internet-less for a while there - and then yesterday afternoon, when I was finally writing the 'zine, my computer decided to crash, and the Webmaster, aka That Nice Boy I Married, had to spend all evening running scans, updating my operating system, and all sorts of other stuff I don't understand.

So here it is, finally! Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:44 PM

Dana Gets Some Time To Read

Sorry this newsletter has been so long in coming. I went out of town to visit family the weekend of the 5th - 7th , and so didn't write that weekend. I came home to the train-wreck that was Insight Broadband's switch-over to a whole new "backbone" - which I believe means that they shifted everything over to new hardware systems - servers and the like. It was an infuriating mess. My email malfunctioned for a few days, followed by five days of no internet service whatsoever. And since we have internet phone service 'round here, we had no phones, either! (Thank God for cell service. They were the only working phones in the house.)

With no internet service, I not only couldn't email, I couldn't do research at the USDA Nutrient Database, or Pubmed, or any of my other usual online haunts. I was out of business for a week, and when my service came back up, I had to get two columns written to make up for my impromptu week off. (If I'm going to have a week off, I'd like a little more warning next time. I could have gone camping or something.)

There was a benefit, though. Without the internet to work with, and more to the point, to distract me, I got a lot of reading done. Indeed, I read my way through three-count-'em-three books on carb-restricted nutrition. I read The Glycemic Load Diet, by Rob Thompson, MD, The No-Grain Diet, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, and Breaking The Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet, by Elaine Gottschall. All three books have things to recommend them, and they all have one important theme in common. I thought I'd give you an over view of each.

Of the three, the one I'd most recommend is The Glycemic Load Diet. I have long believed that the coming great wave of dietary recommendations (assuming that there isn't some huge conspiracy to give us all bad dietary advice, thus maintaining and enlarging the market for pharmaceuticals) will be based on the concept of glycemic load.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the glycemic load was devised to make the glycemic index useful in the real world. The glycemic index is the measurement of how rapidly a given carbohydrate food is absorbed, and therefore how fast and hard it spikes blood sugar. In general, a fast, sharp rise in blood sugar triggers a big insulin release (and all the hormonal mischief it causes) and a big blood sugar crash, bringing fatigue, irritability, and cravings for more carbs.

The problem with the glycemic index is that the tests use 50 grams of carbohydrate worth of the food being tested. On a practical level, that means they test a plateful of spaghetti, but a truckload of cucumbers! It doesn't take into account how food is eaten in the real world, and makes foods seem damaging that really aren't.

Take carrots. Carrots have a high glycemic index for a vegetable - around 50. But do you know how many carrots you'd have to eat to get fifty grams of carbohydrate? More than fifty of those little baby carrots! I like carrots, but that's a bit much. Accordingly, I feel free to use a carrot in a soup, or shredded in my coleslaw, or even munch one now and then as a snack.

That's where the concept of the glycemic load comes in. The glycemic load is defined as the glycemic index times the actual number of grams of carbohydrate eaten. Ten or below is a low glycemic load, 11-20 is medium, and anything over 20 is high.

(Let me state here that generally people put a decimal point in front of that glycemic index number. If you don't, then you have to go with 100 or below being a low glycemic load, etc. I point this out because the nice doctor who wrote The Glycemic Load Diet is one of the ones who leaves out the decimal.)

Five baby carrots - about what I'd eat off a relish tray - have 4 grams of carbohydrate. Multiply 4 x .50 and you get a glycemic load of 2 - very low.

But if you look at, say, oatmeal, you'll see something interesting. It has a glycemic index that's about the same as carrots. But a one-cup serving of cooked oatmeal has 25 grams of carbohydrate, for a glycemic load of 12.5. That's a big difference.

The point that Dr. Thompson makes in the The Glycemic Load Diet is that once you understand glycemic load, carbohydrate foods naturally divide themselves into two groups: starches and refined sugars, and everything else. It's the concentration of carbohydrates in the starches, and the artificial concentration of refined sugars, that makes them a problem. (Fruit juice has to be considered a "refined sugar" too, since the fiber is removed.)

Accordingly, Dr. Thompson feels that for most people, simply avoiding the concentrated carbohydrate foods, while eating vegetables, fruits, and the like freely, is sufficient dietary restriction to cause weight loss and improve health. I think that for the vast majority of carb intolerant folks, he's right.

Dr. Thompson also has some interesting things to say about exercise and insulin resistance. He feels that low intensity exercise - ideally walking - is best for improving insulin utilization. He also says that the effect only lasts roughly 48 hours, making a walk at least every other day a necessity.

The Glycemic Load Diet makes huge sense, is simple to understand and implement, and is very reader-friendly. I would recommend it to anyone.

I confess to being a little put out by Dr. Joseph Mercola's book The No-Grain Diet, and for kind of a silly reason: Mercola makes the common error of using the term "simple carbohydrates" to mean "refined carbohydrates," and "complex carbohydrates" to mean "unrefined carbohydrates." With all due respect, he's wrong. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, whether they're found in an apple or a can of Coke. Complex carbohydrates are starches, whether from brown rice or Wonderbread. The misuse of these terms is a pet peeve of mine, and when Dr. Mercola, a man I respect, makes this error, it sets my teeth on edge.

I'd be less likely to recommend The No-Grain Diet than The Glycemic Load Diet. The diet has lots of "levels," largely based on how pure and hard-core and restrictive you want to be, and makes everything far more complicated than it needs to be.

Dr. Mercola insists on organic everything, raw-milk cheeses, and grass-fed meat. I think all of these are fine things - I have grass-fed beef, raw-milk cheese, and organic lettuce in my kitchen this moment. But I think the important thing is to get people off of concentrated carbs - that alone will make a huge difference in health, whether you're eating organic or not. Too, I know that many people simply can't afford to buy all organic food, and I'd hate for them to think they can't make great strides with simple carb restriction, because they can.

Dr. Mercola also seems to be anti-pork and anti-shellfish, while I consider both to be excellent foods. Pork, in particular, has gotten a bad rap it doesn't deserve; it's not only a great protein, but one of the best sources of potassium, thiamine, and niacin. Unless you're keeping kosher, I see no reason to rule out these proteins.

(Dr. Mercola and I agree, however, that soy is not the Wonder Health Food of All Existence it's chalked up to be.)

I confess to also being put off a bit by something Dr. Mercola calls EFT, or "Emotional Freedom Technique." EFT consists of tapping yourself on various acupuncture points while repeating affirmations, like "Even though I crave this donut, I deeply and completely accept myself." He claims it will help you program yourself past any cravings or emotional ties to food. I suppose it could be so. I never really needed such a thing; I just needed to know what I had to eat to feel good, and that was enough for me. If you troubled by cravings and emotional ties to food, I suppose EFT couldn't hurt, and might help. I found it off-putting-ly New Age-y.

Those criticisms aside, I'm certain that The No-Grain Diet is a healthy one. I think it would very much appeal to folks approaching the idea of carb restriction from a history of being health-food types, and those who really like to do everything all the way.

Breaking The Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall, BA, M.Sc., is very different from The No-Grain Diet and The Glycemic Load Diet . It is not about weight loss, and does not recommend overall carbohydrate restriction. Instead, it outlines a program of restriction of specific carbohydrates as a way of treating intestinal disorders such as Crohn's Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and celiac. The current edition also includes the rather remarkable information that some parents have seen dramatic improvement in the condition of their autistic children by the use of the same diet.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle describes the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Quite simply, the diet bans any carbohydrate larger than a single sugar molecule - glucose or fructose. These monosaccharides are the very simplest carbohydrates, and need no digestion to be absorbed. The theory is that those with irritable bowel disorders have difficulty digesting and absorbing any carbohydrate more complex than these, and that instead they fuel fermentation and bacterial growth in the gut. (The autism connection is theorized to arise from toxins formed in the gut by the bacterial overgrowth. I was unaware, but apparently a lot of autistic children also have bowel trouble.)

Therefore, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet bans all starches and most dairy. (Some cheeses, and homemade yogurt, incubated long enough to be sure all the lactose is broken down, are allowed.) It also bans the vast majority of processed foods, even those that have very little carbohydrate, because to those with these bowel problems, even a tiny bit of starchy filler can be a setback.

Please note: This means that many foods that are commonly used by low carb dieters would also be banned - low carb breads and tortillas, polyol (sugar alcohol) sweeteners, the inulin (fructooligosaccharides) that is often mixed with stevia extract, all would be off limits. Indeed, Gottschall states that saccharine is the only artificial sweetener allowed, though I'm unsure why. I'm quite certain that Splenda, with its maltodextrin bulking agent, would be a problem.

However, while table sugar is banned, honey - just as high in sugar - is allowed on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet because it is made up of simple sugars, while table sugar is a disaccharide - two sugar molecules linked together. Some fruit juices are allowed as well, so long as you are certain they have no additives.

If you or a family member suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, or you have autism in the family, Breaking the Vicious Cycle is very much worth reading. It's a complex diet, requiring virtually all foods to be made from scratch, but I'm sure that if you suffer from either of these problems it would be worth it and then some. You might get started at

Obviously, the purpose of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is very different from that of The No-Grain Diet and The Glycemic Load Diet. People with inflammatory bowel conditions have trouble keeping weight on, not taking it off! Still, I find it fascinating that restricting carbohydrate intake has so many different beneficial effects.

I also find it telling that all three diets zero in on the same villain: Grains. More generally, a diet based on starches. We're having whole grains pushed at us from every side, we're being told they're not only beneficial, but essential to good health. I didn't believe it before. These books just reinforced that disbelief.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:36 PM

Reader Review of The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

The best yet...

I love Dana's previous cookbooks, so I had to buy this as soon as I saw it. I've never posted a review on amazon, but I love this book so much I had to. I spend evenings paging through it trying to decide which recipe to make next, out of all the delicious recipes. They are easy too. Some recipes even have a wide variety of ingredients, which I love. I am part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I get some of those ingredients in my weekly boxes (fennel, leeks, radicchio, etc).

I've made the Bran muffins, gyros, lime ginger yogurt fruit dip and they were all delicious. Next is Tequila-Lime Chicken Skillet.

Like another reviewer said, she also has great nutrional information in the beginning of the book.

I'd recommend this book to everyone!

S. Huebner, Westby, WI, May 2, 2006

Thanks! I'm so glad you like it. We don't have a program like that here in Bloomington, that I know of, but we have a great farmer's market, and I love it!

You can order The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook at Amazon.

Or you can pick up a copy at your local bookstore!

If you already have a copy, we'd love to have you review it, too.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:31 PM

Liquid Splenda

Several of you have written me, asking what's happened to, and do I know of a source of liquid Splenda? I don't know what happened to the website, but surmise they've gone out of business.

But I've scouted up a couple of sources for you!

Sweetzfree sells the stuff, but has a limited supply; they therefore have only a couple of "windows" per month when they allow orders. The 4-ounce bottle - the largest size - costs $64, but given that this is pure sucralose, and one drop equals a teaspoon and a half of sugar, that bottle should last you a long, long time.

Another possibility is FiberFit, a product that combines liquid sucralose, water, and soluble fiber. (I suspect that the fiber is in it so that they can call it a "supplement" instead of a sweetener. For some reason the manufacturers of sucralose (the sweetener in Splenda) aren't happy about the idea of the pure liquid being sold.) FiberFit is not as sweet as Sweetzfree's liquid sucralose - one teaspoon of FiberFit is the equivalent of about 8 teaspoons of sugar. That's still plenty sweet! You can get FiberFit through Netrition

Hope this helps!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:29 PM

I Catch Flak

I've mentioned Jimmy Moore, whose Livin' La Vida Low Carb blog I admire. He recently pointed out in the blog that the name of my column has been changed to Cook Well, Eat Well. He's disappointed that it's no longer specifically a low carb column. A reader at his blog has accused me of "selling out."

Writing is my job, it's true, and I have a mortgage to pay. But the column is a very small part of my income, and there are other things I could do to make money. The column, however, is a bully pulpit, a way to disseminate information through the mainstream media that otherwise might not be there, and a way to reach people who may not buy my books or even know this 'zine exists. But I can only do that if the newspapers carry the column, and if the readers read it. If changing the name of the column is what I need to do to get the chance to give people useful information about nutrition, I'm not ashamed to do that.

Jimmy was also kind enough to review the new cookbook, and he gave it a rave.

Thanks, Jimmy!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:24 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 4, 2004

Thanks,. Lisa!

The Low-Carb Barbecue Book

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:19 PM


Is it true that you can't have fruit on a low carbohydrate diet? Well, that's certainly a persistent rumor. But unlike many of the ideas going around about low carbohydrate dieting, this one has a more complicated answer than "yes" or "no." The truth is that fruit varies a great deal in sugar content. Some fruits really are too high carb for us to eat often or in any quantity, while others can fit neatly into a low carbohydrate diet - can even be eaten daily, if you like.

I'm pleased to inform you that one of your very best bets on a low carb diet is currently in season, and will be plentiful, cheap, and wonderful all summer: Cantaloupe!

A 1/8th-of-a-melon wedge of cantaloupe has 5.6 grams of carbohydrate, with 0.6 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of just 5 grams - that can fit into anyone's low carb day, even if you're doing a 20-gram-per-day induction. Better yet, cantaloupe is darned nutritious, with 184 mgs. of potassium, 2334 I.U.s of vitamin A, 14 mcgs. of folate, and 25.3 mgs. vitamin C in that same wedge.

What about honeydew? Honeydew is higher in potassium than cantaloupe, with 285 mg., and it also wins in the folate sweepstakes, with 24 mcg. But honeydew's cool green loses out to cantaloupe's rich orange when it comes to vitamin A - honeydew has only 62 I.Us. Most importantly for us, honeydew is considerably higher in carbohydrate, with 11.4 grams in 1/8 of a melon, and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 10.4 grams. Still, it's a pretty good carb-bargain, if you've got room in your daily count.

Watermelon is a possibility, too. Because whole watermelons are so much bigger than cantaloupe or honeydew, a portion is considerably less than 1/8 melon! We'll go with 1 cup, diced: 11.5 grams of carbohydrate, with 0.6 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of just under 11 grams. 170 mgs. potassium, 865 I.U.s vitamin A, and just 12 mgs. vitamin C. If you're having a slice at a barbecue, I'd make it a small one, but you certainly don't have to forego the watermelon altogether.

Still, cantaloupe is the clear winner in the low carb stakes. You can enjoy a simple wedge of cantaloupe as-is, of course. But consider some other possibilities:

* Dice up 1/2 cup of cantaloupe and combine it with 3/4 cup cottage cheese for a quick, cool, summery breakfast, with 12 grams of usable carbohydrate, 24 grams of protein, 407 mgs. potassium, 125 mgs. calcium, 2661 I.U.s of vitamin A, 33 mgs of vitamin C, and 180 calories.

* Toss balls of cantaloupe and honeydew with lime juice and freshly grated ginger root for a light, elegant dessert.

* Combine diced cantaloupe with blueberries (10.5 grams of carbohydrate and 1.7 grams fiber per 1/2 cup), add a little Splenda and a few fresh mint leaves, for a pretty dessert with more beneficial phytochemicals than most anything you can think of.

* Cut a cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill the resulting hollow with sugar-free lime gelatin (0 grams carbohydrate.) Chill for several hours, then cut in wedges, for a fun end to a cookout.

* Peel thin wedges of cantaloupe and wrap each one in a thin slice of prosciutto, for a classic Italian appetizer. If you like, you can wrap chunks of cantaloupe in small squares of proscuitto, and spear each one on a toothpick, for an easy summer hors d'oeuvre.

You can even put cantaloupe in your salad! This salad is not only beautiful, tasty, nutritious, and low carb, but each serving has more potassium than two bananas!

Summer Treat Spinach Salad

2 pounds raw spinach
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cantaloupe
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 scallions, sliced
Vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade (I like Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar.)

Wash the spinach very well, and dry. (Or you can just buy bagged, triple-washed spinach!) Tear up big leaves. Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed and the peel, and cut in chunks. You can also peel and chunk the cantaloupe, or, if you want to be fancy, you can use a melon baller. Add to the spinach, along with the alfalfa sprouts and the scallion. Toss with the vinaigrette right before serving. Serves 6. 11 grams of carbohydrate per serving, with 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 6 grams. 5 grams of protein.

(Reprinted from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender (2002 Fair Winds Press) by permission of the publisher.)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:16 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Aladdin Salad

I first had this fantastic salad at the Aladdin Restaurant in San Diego It was easy to duplicate, and way too good to leave out! If you're ever in San Diego, I highly recommend that you go to the Aladdin, by the way. I'm going there for Memorial Day Weekend, and I just may visit the Aladdin again.

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
8 cups romaine, broken up
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet red onion
1/3 cup bottled balsamic vinaigrette - I like Paul Newman's
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup shelled pistachios (look for these at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern groceries, or at a health food store with a good bulk section.)
1 medium ripe tomato

Preheat your electric tabletop grill, while you salt and pepper your chicken lightly. Throw it on the grill, and set a timer for 6 minutes or so.

While the chicken's cooking, assemble the romaine, cilantro, and onion in a large salad bowl, pour on the dressing, and toss it well. Pile this mixture on two serving plates. Scatter the feta and pistachios over the greens.

When your chicken is done, slice it, and divide it between the two salads. Slice your tomato into eighths, and arrange four slices around each salad, then serve.

2 large servings, each with 18 grams of carbohydrate and 7 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 11 grams. 40 grams protein, 1333 mgs potassium, and 320 mgs calcium!

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

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:10 PM

April 26, 2006

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!


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, 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 ( by Dana Carpender, copyright 2005, Fair Winds Press)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:03 PM

April 18, 2006

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!


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


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

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!


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


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, 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

March 30, 2006

Hey Gang!

I'm afraid it's a short issue this week. My mom is here for the week, visiting, and that's taking up my time. Today we went to visit the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, here in Southern Indiana - tres cool!

So here's a back column and a recipe, and I'll see you next week!

Read on.


Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:13 PM

Early Word on The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

Heather Dail writes:


I've spent most of the week reading your latest, the "Every Calorie Counts Cookbook," and it is every bit as wonderful as the rest of your books. I have, use, and love them all.

Because of your books, the majority of my diet is made up of real, wholesome food. I have a family history of just about every disease there is, and I'm bound and determined to keep myself in the best possible health I can. That for me includes watching carbs, and your books show me a liveable, delicious way to eat controlled carb cuisine, for life, in every way. I have no doubt that I will get to my goal weight and enjoy optimal health.

You are always talking about your cookbook hero. Well, Dana, you are my cookbook hero! Your warm, witty voice comes through on every page, and your recipes are inspired and so varied. This reformed junk-food junkie is now cooking food that gives restaurant fare a run for its money. I can easily pass up fast food and processed crap knowing I have this kind of food in the fridge!

Oh, by the way: I am totally addicted to Cider-Ade now. Wow... who would have thought?! The beverage section alone is worth the price of the book, in my humble opinion!

Thanks again,


Yay! Thanks, Heather! So glad you like it. (And yeah, isn't it weird that Cider-Ade tastes so good? Who'da thunk it?)

You can preorder The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook at Amazon - they'll be shipping in a week or so -

Or you can run out to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy right away. (I hear Books-a-Million has it, too...)

Oh, and my cookbook hero? Peg Bracken, of the I Hate To Cookbook, The Appendix To the I Hate To Cookbook, The I Hate to Cook Almanac, and several others. Her books are often available at used book stores, because they were so hugely popular at the time. But Amazon also has copies of The Compleat I Hate To Cookbook.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:11 PM

Easter Dinner

See those stuffed chicks and bunnies in every store? Must be Easter!

Watch out for the jelly beans, cream eggs, and chocolate bunnies lurking next to those toys, or you'll be sorry come Easter Monday. Sugar free Easter candy is becoming more available; if you must indulge, this is a better choice. Russell Stover is advertising sugar free Easter stuff, including chocolate caramel rabbits, chocolate peanut butter rabbits and Easter eggs, and jelly beans. Jelly bean titan Jelly Bellies makes a sugar free assortment. It's worth checking local candy stores to see what sort of sugar free stuff they're offering; these places often have a nice selection. And if you'd like an Easter basket stuffed with sugar-free goodies, some of the online retailers are offering them, including my pals at Carb Smart:

A word to the wise: Sugar-free jelly beans and caramels are nearly solid polyols. Be very moderate with the quantities you eat, or you'll suffer from gas, or even cramps and diarrhea. Sugar-free chocolate is less polyol-dense, but can still cause problems if eaten in quantity. These are sweets that can actually enforce moderation!

Most folks serve ham for Easter dinner, though I have no idea how this custom arose. In much of the world lamb is served for the Easter feast, and it's the tradition in my family. It fits in with the Passover story, you know. If you're weary of ham, you might consider roasting a leg of lamb as a change of pace. As an unprocessed meat, lamb is more nutritious than ham, and has no added sugar, something that is standard in ham.

If you do choose ham - and I'm betting you do - read the labels to find the ham with the least added sugar. I've seen ham with as little as one gram of added carbohydrate, or as much as 6 grams per serving. That's a 600% difference! How to glaze your Easter ham? Not with brown sugar, that's for sure! Sugar-free pancake syrup lets you make a tasty glaze.

Maple-Orange-Mustard Ham Glaze

1/2 cup sugar-free pancake syrup (I like Log Cabin brand)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Splenda
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon butter

Combine everything in a saucepan, and simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Use to baste your ham during the last hour of roasting.

This will add just 6 grams of carbohydrate to the whole ham, not counting the polyol sweeteners in the pancake syrup.

If you plan to buy a pre-cooked spiral sliced ham, call around and ask the various purveyors what sort of carb count their ham has. In my experience, companies are very nice about this sort of thing. Most of these hams are heavily glazed; do yourself a favor and leave the outer surface on your plate.

What to serve with your ham? Deviled eggs would be the obvious choice for an appetizer, since you're likely to have a bunch of hard-boiled eggs on hand. I'd serve asparagus; as I wrote recently, asparagus symbolizes spring to me, it's delicious, and has just over half a gram of usable carbohydrate per spear! If you prefer it, broccoli also has just over half a gram of usable carb in a 5" spear. Add a big salad, some pureed cauliflower "fauxtatoes" and, if you must, some rolls for the carb eaters in the family, and you've got a feast!

Here's an Easter dessert that's just about ideal: It's festive, beautiful, delicious, unusual, seasonal, low carb, easy to make, and highly nutritious. What more can you ask from one recipe?

Balsamic Strawberries with Cream Cheese Sauce

2 pounds strawberries
1/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

For the sauce
4 ounces cream cheese -- softened
1/4 cup plain yogurt OR sour cream
2 teaspoons Splenda

Remove the green hulls from your strawberries, and halve them __ if you have some really huge berries, quarter them. Place in a glass, plastic, or stainless steel mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Splenda over the berries, and toss to coat. Now sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar, and stir again. Stash the bowl in the fridge for at least a few hours, and a whole day would be fine. Stir them again whenever you open the fridge.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, yogurt or sour cream, and Splenda together until very smooth - you can do this in advance, too, if you'd like, and refrigerate it till dinner.

Simply spoon the berries into pretty dessert dishes, and drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar syrup in the bottom of the bowl over each serving. Top each serving with a dollop of the cream cheese sauce, and serve.

8 servings, each with 89 Calories; 6g Fat; 2g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber, and a useable carb count of 6 grams.

(Jewish readers, bear with me. Next week I'll reprint my Passover column!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:07 PM

Reader Review of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

Just Wonderful!

Dana Carpender never fails to bring you delicious recipes for "every" low carb (LC) lifestyle. You will find this book versatile with a garden of recipe choices you never thought could be done in a slow cooker! Everything from hot dips to desserts (yes desserts) that will leave you asking "are you sure this is low carb"? She is a gift to those of us who know LC is the magic bullet we've all been looking for... I've lost over 100lbs eating Atkins LC and doing moderate exercise (1hr/3-5x/wk) and Dana's recipes have been my saving grace! This book is worth every penny and praised for every delicious morsel I've consumed while keeping every one of those 100 pounds "lost"!

Kat "Kat Paws Crochet" Chester, MD, , February 23, 2006

Wow! Over 100 pounds? You go, Kat!

See this and other recipes of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes at Amazon.

Or you can pick up 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes at your local bookstore.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:04 PM

Creole Eggs

Since eggs are cheap this time of year, here's an egg recipe. I really love this, and have made it at least a half-a-dozen times in the past month! The sauce is very easy, and stands on its own - try poaching shrimp in it, instead. Wonderful!

These are deceptively simple - you make a quick sauce, then poach the eggs in it. Don't let the simplicity fool you; these are so good I made them again the next day!

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
hot sauce to taste (Louisiana hot sauce is best)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 eggs

Give a medium-sized, heavy skillet a squirt of non-stick cooking spray, and put it over medium-low heat. Add the oil and the garlic, and saute the garlic, not letting it brown, for just a couple of minutes. Add the basil, then the tomato sauce, creole seasoning, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Stir it all up, and let it come to a simmer. Let it cook for a couple of minutes to blend flavors.

Now break your eggs into the sauce, cover the skillet, and let your eggs poach in the Creole sauce until done to your liking -- 4 1/2 to 5 minutes is about right for my tastes -- whites cooked through, but yolks still runny. Lift eggs out carefully with a big spoon, top with the remaining sauce, and serve.

2 Servings: 214 Calories; 14g Fat; 13g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; 9g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:01 PM

March 22, 2006

Hey Gang!

Boy, was this issue easy to put together. In the last issue I asked you to report on what low carb products were available in your area. Well! I've rarely had such a response! You wrote in from all over to let me and your fellow readers know what products are available, and where. So here it all is - all I had to do was cut-and-paste. And thank you!

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:16 PM

More Early Word 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!

So far as I know, Barnes and Noble is the only store that has The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook so far; if you really, really want it, you can run out and buy a copy!

Or you can pre-order at Amazon, and they'll send your copy as soon as they have it in.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:15 PM

Readers Report on Low Carb Product Availability

Marilyn Olshansky, who has contributed great recipes to my cookbooks, writes:

Hi, Dana,

I have been buying the low carb breadcrumbs marketed by 4C. I find them excellent and I use them in meatloaf, meatballs, etc.

Do you have A&P supermarkets out there? Ours sells a 1 Carb Ketchup under the America's Choice label. I've bought it on sale and it's fairly reasonable.

Walden Farms makes a variety of 0-carb, 0-calorie products including all kinds of jams, apple butter and chocolate sauce. They're not exactly cheap, but they're not outrageous and their flavors are good. Some of the diet food shops around here carry them, although a local chain, Fairway, has a great selection at lower prices.

We also like a soy crisp that's available at Super Walmart. I think it's called Eat Smart. I buy my Carb Countdown at Super Walmart - it's about $1 cheaper than at the local supermarkets. I sometimes use 1/2 Carb Countdown and 1/2 cream to lower the calorie content of recipes. It lowers the carb content, as well.

Also, Steele's makes an excellent Hoisin sauce, other sauces and jams. Atkins Nutritionals used to sell them - I don't know whether they still do.

I also enjoy the Baja Bob mixes, especially the Pina Colada mix. Of course, that's only for special occasions.

I still have enough Ketatoes in my refrigerator to get me through at least two more Hanukahs. I'm glad there's another product available, though. Hope you like it.

I am hopeful that more products will be coming on the market, although the reason will be unfortunate, to say the least. I have read that Type 2 Diabetes is becoming a horrible epidemic. I guess there'll be an increasing demand for sugar-free products.

Stay well -

Marilyn Olshansky

Renee Cordrey writes:

I appreciated the product update. I have a couple products to add.

I really like the Walden Farms barbecue sauce. It makes great ribs or a dipping sauce.

For chips, my husband and I are addicted to the Eat Smart Soy Crisps. They have two flavors that I know of-- garlic/olive oil/parmesan (my favorite!!!) and tomato romano. The problem is that it is too easy to get carried away.

I get a bread at the local farmers market that's really good. It tastes a bit like "brown bread" familiar to French Canadians and New Englanders), with a bit of molasses flavor in it. I'll have to get the label next time I pick some up. I don't know it off-hand. It's from the local baker's booth, but I think he buys the bread from elsewhere.


Diana O'Brien also likes Walden Farms products:

Walden Farms makes a SF BBQ sauce, It's not bad either…. They also have a website.

Thank You,

Diana O'Brien

Margaret King, from Albany, writes:

I find to be very helpful...and they have a lot of low carb things- and the best S &H price! They carry the DaVinci syrups, Steel's Gourmet l/c jellies and condiments, Mama Lupes l/c tortillas, Tippy Rosa Taco shells and all the Dreamfields products - including their new lasagna. They also have the Tova Industries Carbquik - a Bisquik like replacement...very good for breading, making muffins, etc.

Just wanted to mention all these products still out there!

Ruth Siegal and Nina Nethery, proprietors of LoCarb Diner, write:

Our business is indeed quite alive, and as you said, it has much to do with customer service. Locarbers and diabetics do need a lot of hand-holding!

Also, the reduction in competition seems to have helped boost our sales. We are back up to 2003 levels -- not as high as 2004, but much higher than 2005!

We are selling great bread and muffins on our web site: Carb Krunchers Breads and Fred's Incredible Muffins. The site is here. We would be delighted if you would let people know about these fabulous products. We are one of the few sites that still offers fresh breads.

A reader named Bonnie writes:

The Francis Simun Bakery in Dallas TX makes low carb bread, pizza crust and a few other low carb items. The bread has 2.46 grams per slice with 1 fiber gram for a net total of 1.46 grams of carbs per slice. It is made from organic wheat gluten, filtered water, garbanzo flour, black bean flour, canola oil, golden flax seed, wheat germ, molasses, onion and sea salt. There are no preservatives added. It tastes like "real" homemade bread and is wonderful toasted. They will ship anywhere. Visit their website at for ordering information. BTW, the bread costs $6.99 a loaf. For a 2 pack of pizza crust, the price is $7.99. It is expensive, but it sure compliments those morning eggs. It is the best low carb bread I have ever eaten!!! Dana..thanks for all the good information! Keep it coming!

Melanie Sandridge says:

Dear Dana,

I would like to add two more sources of low-carb items. They are:

1. Atkins still makes their low-carb cereal. I've always liked them. I get mine in the "nutritional" section of Kroger.

2. A great source of low-carb bread, bagels, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, and pizza crusts is Francis Simun Bakery located in Dallas, Texas. They do ship nationwide, though the shipping cost can be a bit pricey. They're another great candidate for a group order. A majority of these items are 3 net carbs/serving and they taste fantastic. They are made with black bean flour. For more information, go to They take phone and internet orders and are quick with their shipping.


Melanie Sandridge

Joel and Nancy Ray in Columbia, MO write:

Since the current list is about low-carb products I'd thought I'd mention one that we recently found at Sams Club. It's called Philly Swirls. They are made by two guys, Alex and Max in Tampa and really hit the spot for a low carb cold treat. Here's their site.

Just wanted to help these guys and get the word out. Again, thanks for your webzine!

Heidi Green from Merced California writes:

My sister, Susan Wink from Lodi, Wisconsin turned me on to Michael Season's Original Soy Protein Chips. They are super crunchy, low carb (5 carbs for one ounce) and still available. They are very similar to the Atkins Original Crunchers, only shaped like a bubbly tortilla chip! The are organic as well.

They come in BBQ and Spicy Ranch flavors too!

Jamie from Boston writes:

* Carb Countdown Reduced Carb Dairy Beverage:

I live in the Boston area and the Carb Countdown had suddenly disappeared from the stores where I shop so I looked on the Hood website and found out that I can get Carb Countdown delivered to my home - they still do milk delivery in the Northeast.

* Low carb bread:

The Baker makes and excellent (but I think regional to the Northeast) low-carb flax seed bread. It's not quite as low carb as some of the others and I don't eat it everyday, but my husband and I can't taste the difference between a "real" hearty whole grain and the low-carb flax. They also make a low-carb bran bread that we like slightly less, but that may be a matter of personal preference.

* Low carb tortillas:

Trader's Joe's low-carb whole wheat tortillas taste like the real thing to me (and I can't taste the difference between white flour versions). They have 4g net carbs per tortilla.

* Low carb cold cereal:

The low carb Special K has been renamed Special K Protein Plus, but the ingredients and carb count haven't changed. It's available at every grocery store around Boston.

Sandy In Kansas says:

I noticed in this week's Lowcarbzine that you mentioned not being able to locate commercial low carb BBQ sauce. Our local Walmart carries a KC Masterpiece variety with only 2 carbs per 2 Tbsp serving. I love your recipe for sauce and make it often, but when traveling or in a hurry, the KC is very good and convienent too. I don't know if it's available in your area, but the upc code is 0 7460905470 2. It's the Classic Blend and has a 2g carb label on the neck of the bottle. It contains no sugar (per say), corn syrup or hydrogenated anythings, but it does have modified food starch and malodextrin which seem to be in everything these days :-( BTW, it's sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. It runs $1.50 for a 15.5 oz bottle. Just thought this might be useful to someone.

In response to your newsletter, I was told by my grocery store (Cub Foods) that Pepperidge Farms is discontinuing the Carb Style breads altogether (my husband liked it). I also have a loaf of the Natural Ovens bread (Golden Crunch) in my freezer and occassionally indulge in their Golden Crunch bagels...I'm just wondering if they've changed the name (didn't see either on the web site). SF grape spread/jelly is another difficult one to find (another fave of my hubby). Sigh.

I would also respectfully suggest that you might check out as an e-tailer...they were a store front here in the Twin Cities, MN area but went strictly onlinelast year. They carry a wide variety of products and are very nice to deal with (heck, they DELIVERED may last order and saved me the S/H!!)

Thanks for the great newsletter...

Ginger Klietz writes:


I love your e-zine by the way. I just got done reading the most recent about low carb products. You mentioned the low carb bagels. Natural ovens has a "Golden Crunch" bagel that is low in carbs (I believe 7) and high in protein. I can get these in my local Jewel and Cub foods. They have fructose in them but it is not one of the main ingredients. They also have flax and are high fiber. They are great. Just wanted to let you know.

But then Joyce Nahorski added:

Hold that thought on the Natural Ovens Golden Crunch Bagels. I just noticed they are temporarily unavailable and not listed on their website. I just bought some last week. I hope that they are not discontinued.

(I called Natural Ovens - the Golden Crunch Bagels have been reformulated, and are not specifically low carb anymore. The new carb count is as I reported in last week's Lowcarbezine! - 21 grams of net carbs per bagel, or 10.5 per half.)

Terri says:

Hi, Dana.

I'm a low carber, been this way happily since 2002, plan on it forever.

I have all of your books and consider them - literally - lifesavers. I come from a long line of people with really crummy cardiac histories, and my lab values are now so perfect my internist is impressed (duh!). I have learned so much from you, and, even though we are now divorced, I always forward your nutritional updates to my former husband, a public health physician, who says he too is always learning from you.

Thanks! I just bought your latest, Every Calorie Counts, and haven't tried anything yet, but am really intrigued by the cauliflower tabouli. Can't wait!

I just wanted to let you and everyone know that Netrition sells a terrific low carb tortilla made by Mama Lupe. They are a little bit smaller than the ones you can find in the stores, but at 3 gm net carb, I can make a cheese tortilla filled with cheese - sometimes with some sauteed onion, sometimes with a little avocado - and have this meal come in at less than 8 gm net carb with plenty of protein from the cheese.

Thank you for your work, and I wish you all kinds of continued success!

b'shalom/bis salaam/in peace,


Carol Doersom says she can find these products at HEB in Texas:

LaTortilla Factory wraps -- they're at the deli counter instead of with all the other wraps!

Mootopia milk (lactose free & very tasty) -- white is 4 net carb grams per cup; chocolate is 10 net and sweetened with acesulfameK & sucralose.

Sugarfree pickles & pickle relish -- various brands, sweetened with sucralose.

Judy Ritchie writes:

Hi Dana,

I noticed in the grocery stores out here they have a Del Monte Carb Clever, peaches, pears and fruit cocktail.

The sliced peaches are 7 g total carb, 1 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugars, 1 g protein. The list of ingredients are: peaches, water, asorbic acid, acesulfame, potassium, sucralose and on the can it says, "sweetened with Splenda". Have you seen these? What's your opinion of them?

Judy Ritchie

Renton, WA

A reader named Barbara writes:

Hi Dana,

First, let me thank you for the great LC information you pass along! Its so helpful and your newsletters are written very well.

I just read you recent newsletter, and the Lite Minute Maid juice drinks reminded me of a question that I had. Many of the 0 cal/0 carb juice drinks have fruit juice in them. I am looking at the label of Talking Rain Purely Passion drink (bought them at Costco). The ingredients are: water, citric acid, natural flavor, apple juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice for color, potassium benzoate, ascorbic acid, tea extract, sucralose....etc. The label states 0 cal/0 carb per 9 oz serving. I also found a really good sugar free orangeaid at the market, and it also had juice in it, but 0 carb/cal. I can only think that it is such a small amount, its not effecting the carb/cal count, but do you think it could cause a glycemic impact? These drinks are all good, but I'm afraid to use them.



(Legally, food processors can label a product "0 grams" if it has 0.4 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving. Pay close attention to the serving sizes - it's not unknown for food processors to label a product you think of as one serving as 2 or 3, or even something odd like 2.5, just so they can get that 0 grams label. Keeping that in mind, I go by the total carb count, but I would also pay close attention to how my body reacted to these juice drinks. If I found myself hungry, tired, or craving after drinking one, I'd drop them. And diabetics - you know there's no substitute for your blood glucose meter!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:13 PM

Reader Review of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes

Just Wonderful!

Dana Carpender never fails to bring you delicious recipes for "every" low carb (LC) lifestyle. You will find this book versatile with a garden of recipe choices you never thought could be done in a slow cooker! Everything from hot dips to desserts (yes desserts) that will leave you asking "are you sure this is low carb"? She is a gift to those of us who know LC is the magic bullet we've all been looking for... I've lost over 100lbs eating Atkins LC and doing moderate exercise (1hr/3-5x/wk) and Dana's recipes have been my saving grace! This book is worth every penny and praised for every delicious morsel I've consumed while keeping every one of those 100 pounds "lost"!

Kat "Kat Paws Crochet" Chester, MD, , February 23, 2006

Wow! Over 100 pounds? You go, Kat!

To see this and other recipes of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, visit Amazon

Or you can pick up 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes at your local bookstore.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:02 PM

Has Low Carb Suddenly Been Proven Dangerous?

Did you see the headlines? Since I have a Google News Alert set up for the keyword "low carb" I couldn't get away from them:

Low-carb diets can be unhealthy, doctors warn

Low carbohydrate Atkins diet may pose health problem

Atkins diet may not be safe for every dieter

Low-carb diets can be unhealthy

You'd think some major study had proven that low carbing was deadly, and indeed I heard from a few of you about this. But if you looked in a dictionary of cliches under "tempest in a teapot," you'd find this "story."

When it showed up in my local paper, of course I read it with concern. And then I saw the truth: What the Reuters news service article called a "study" was one case, involving one women, that was written up for The Lancet, a medical journal. It claimed the patient had developed severe ketoacidosis from "the Atkins diet." Now, I don't have access to the full text of The Lancet, so I couldn't read the whole thing. But I did find a few things about the newspaper report fishy - I mean, other than calling one case with no controls "a study."

Like the fact that the patient involved may have had " a mild pancreatitis or stomach infection" that "may have added to the problem." And the fact that the patient involved had been vomiting several times a day for several days. And the fact that ketoacidosis simply doesn't happen to anyone whose pancreas is working.

At this point, I was convinced that the whole thing was bogus, and the media was seizing on it because they just love a good "Low carb is bad" story. After all, "Low carb is good" stories aren't gee-whizzy and controversial anymore.

So I turned to a more medically informed soul than I, Regina Wilshire, who writes the excellent low carb blog Weight of the Evidence. Regina is married to an endocrinologist, and has access to the full text of articles from The Lancet. I highly recommend you read Regina's analysis of the story.

Regina points out that the doctor's own records show that the woman in question did not have a particularly high level of ketosis, and had a normal blood pH and normal blood glucose - none of which is the case with ketoacidosis, a condition that threatens Type I diabetics.

There's much more to Regina's analysis of the story, but suffice it to say this was a clear case of a doctor looking at a sick low carber and simply assuming the diet must be at fault.

I long ago stated in this ezine that if I were to fall off a roof and break my leg, I confidently expected that some doctor, somewhere, would see fit to blame it on my low carb diet. That appears to be exactly the sort of thing that happened here. Go read Regina's article, and see if you don't agree.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:52 PM

Reader Review of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds

Information and Guidance

I needed to make changes in how and what I was eating. A low-carb diet was strongly recommended by my doctors. This book gave a lot of useful information about how focusing on lowering carbohydrate intake, rather than reducing intake of fat and calories, can be a sensible way to improve ones health.

The author explains to a layman's level of understanding the how and why of low-carb eating. She also has a good section explaining the similarities and differences between the many highly publicized low-carb diets. Her cook books are wonderful- I have two-my family is reasonably satisfied with the overall change in our eating style. And the dietary changes have positively affected my health.

K. Wynne "exphile" Elizabehtown, PA, March 17, 2006

Thanks, K. When I started low carbing, there were very few books on the market, and they were all terribly technical - I mean, who wants to know from delta-6-desaturase? So I wrote the book that I wished I had had when I started out, and I'm glad you find it helpful.

To see this and other reviews of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, visit Amazon.

Or grab How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds at your local bookstore.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:50 PM

Low Carb on a Budget

(Low Carb for Life Reprint: As you can tell from the lead paragraph, this column originally appeared in January. But it's useful all year 'round.)

Now that the holidays are over, while our VISA cards are still smoking in our wallets, it seems an opportune moment to tackle a common complaint regarding a low carb diet: "It's so expensive!"

At first glance, this seems true. If you've been basing your meals on potatoes, rice, pasta, and generic white bread, you've been getting away with a lower cost-per-serving than, say, steak. However, I have several thoughts on this matter.

First, and most important, is this: Any food that makes you fat, tired, sick, and hungry would not be cheap even if they were giving it away. If you are carbohydrate intolerant, if you have the illnesses that have been identified as being related to high insulin levels - diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and the like - "cheap" carbs are a luxury you can't afford. You'll pay for them in the form of doctor visits, medicines, sick days, dental bills, and new clothes in bigger sizes.

Second, remember that many carb-y foods are not even cheap to buy. I've long suspected that cold cereal is a conspiracy to get us to pay three and a half bucks for fifteen cents worth of grain. Bulk potatoes may be cheap, but Pringles are expensive. Frozen dinners, canned biscuits, boxed potatoes, and other prepared foods are not budget items, and most of them are loaded with junk carbs and bad fats. Cut all of this rubbish out of your food budget, and you'll find a bit more room for protein and vegetables.

That being said, real, good, nutritious food does cost more per pound than the cheapest carb-y junk. How to deal with this?

* Not one of those expensive low carb specialty foods is essential to your success. When I went low carb they didn't exist. Going low carb meant eating unprocessed real foods, and I suspect that some of the health benefits stemmed from this simple fact. You'll save big money eating real food instead of low carb macaroni-and-cheese mix.

* Your body does not care if you get your protein from lobster, steak, and boneless, skinless chicken breast, or from hamburger, tilapia fillets, and chicken leg-and-thigh quarters. Hereabouts those boneless, skinless breasts often run $4.99 a pound, while leg-and-thigh quarters often go on sale for 69c a pound or less. Big difference.

* Buy in bulk When hamburger, tuna, butter, canned broth, natural peanut butter, or the like goes on sale, stock up. A freezer lets you take advantage of meat specials. I bought mine used for $225 and it has paid for itself many times over.

* We love rib eye steaks, which run $8.99 a pound. So I wait till whole rib eyes go on sale for $4.99 a pound, and have the nice meat guys slice one into steaks for me. No charge for this service, and I get steaks for several months for the price of one dinner at Outback. I also buy leg of lamb on deep discount, and have it cut into steaks - much cheaper than lamb chops.

* Eat what's in season. Asparagus, lettuce, berries, and melon, all great low carb foods, are sky-high this time of year. Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are all in season, and are cheaper - I just bought cabbage for 39c/pound. This makes coleslaw, steamed broccoli, and cauliflower "fauxtatoes" better choices than salad. Turnips and rutabaga (I adore rutabaga!), spaghetti squash, and celery are other winter vegetables that work well for us. Grapefruit is abundant, wonderful and cheap in the winter, and has only about 10 grams of usable carb per half.

* Bagged salad, pre-cut veggies, skinless chicken, pre-made hamburgers are all expensive. The more food preparation you do yourself, the more money you will save. Spend an hour on the weekend prepping stuff yourself, and stash it in the fridge for busy days.

* Nuts are low carb, but so are sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and they're far cheaper. More minerals, too!

* Drink homemade iced tea instead of diet soda.

* One of the lowest carb-and-calorie desserts is also one of the cheapest - store brand sugar-free gelatin.

* Cut way back on eating out. The same food is always far cheaper at home.

* Bag lunches are a great way to use up leftovers - who wants to pay for food to turn green in the fridge?

Here's a family-pleasing supper that cooks while you're out of the house. Buy leg-and-thigh quarters, and spend five minutes cutting the drumsticks off for another meal, and pulling off the skin - you'll save 30c a pound or more.

Southwestern Barbecue

1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Splenda
1 1/2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, canned, sliced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 pounds skinless chicken thighs

Combine everything but the chicken in your slow cooker, and stir well.

Place the chicken in the sauce, meaty side down.

Cover, set on low, and cook for 6 hours. Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over it.

6 Servings, each with: 215 Calories; 7g Fat; 34g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Usable Carbs.

(Reprinted with permission from 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:47 PM

Oat Bran Pancakes, Corned Beef Hash

Since low carb bake mixes are getting harder to find, here's a pancake recipe for you, from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes:

I like these for their grainy-cinnamony flavor. I eat 'em with butter and a little cinnamon and Splenda.

1/2 cup oat bran

1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, and stir to distribute evenly. Measure the buttermilk in a glass measuring cup, and break the eggs into it. Whisk the two together. Dump the buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix with a few quick strokes of the whisk, just enough to make sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over a medium-high flame until a single drop of water skitters around when dripped on the surface. Using a hot-pot holder, remove from the heat just long enough to spray with non-stick cooking spray, then return to the heat (the spray is flammable, so you don't want to be spraying it at a hot burner!)

Pour about 2 - 3 tablespoons of batter at a time onto the hot griddle. Cook until bubbles around the edges start to break and leave little holes, then flip and cook other side.

Serve with butter, and your choice of sugar free pancake syrup, sugar free jelly or preserves, or cinnamon and Splenda.

Yield: 8 servings, each with 287 Calories; 14g Fat; 32g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 9 grams usable carbohydrate.

(Reprinted with permission from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes)

And here's your bonus recipe! I made this with the leftovers of the New England Boiled Dinner

I made for St. Patrick's Day - corned beef slow-cooked with turnips (instead of the usual potatoes,) celery, and cabbage. My husband and I both loved it with the warmed-over cabbage, and I ate the leftovers with fried eggs for breakfast. Fab!

I'm afraid I don't have exact measurements for this, because I was just throwing it together. But it was so good I had to tell you about it, and hey, it's a way of using up leftovers - it's supposed to be elastic.

Corned Beef Hash

I diced up a medium onion, and started it sauteing in a tablespoon or so of butter in my big iron skillet. ( I would have sprayed the skillet with non-stick spray first, but I was out.) While that was cooking, I diced up the leftover turnips - I had about 2 cups, I'd guess. I threw them in the skillet, too. I also diced a little of the leftover celery - maybe a 1/2 cup - and added that. Then I diced up a roughly equal quantity of leftover corned beef - probably 8 - 10 ounces. That, of course, went in the skillet too.

I sauteed everything together, adding a little more butter as it seemed to need it, stirring now and then. As stuff browned and stuck to the bottom, I used the edge of the pancake turner to scrap it off and plow it back into the hash.

When everything was good and hot and well-amalgamated (in particular, I wanted the fat to cook out of the corned beef, into the mixture,) I added a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire, and a little salt and pepper, stirring it in, of course. I sprinkled 2 tablespoons of Ketotoes mix (the Dixie Diner Instant Mashers should work just as well,) stirred it in, sprinkled another 2 tablespoons of Ketatoes mix over it, and stirred again.

Then I flattened the hash into an even layer in the bottom of the pan, and let it sit for five or ten minutes - I wanted it to form a nice brown crust on the bottom. When I served it, I made sure to scoop up the crust with each serving, and turn it over as I put it on the plate, so the crust was on top.

Talk about comfort food! It was soooo good. If you like hash, it would be worth slow-cooking some corned beef just to make the hash with! I liked the New England Boiled Dinner, but the hash was even better.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:45 PM

March 21, 2006

Discussion Groups Moving or Closing

Hi All,

We are moving the website to a new server this month, and this is affecting the Discussion Groups that we have been hosting. In brief, there are two important points:

1) Only the Basic-A, Basic-C and Recipes groups will continue, as they are the only ones with ongoing activity. The others have seen a trickle of traffic recently, if any at all.

2) The posting addresses for the three remaining groups is changing.

We have already set up the discussion groups on the new host, and they seem to be flourishing even as I write this. (Thanks, all, for your patience.)

More information here. (This link is the pre-release site for the new

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:23 PM

March 15, 2006

Hey Gang,

As you'll see, the main article this week is about which low carb products are still available, and which are gone. It is incomplete at best, since these things are often regional. Please, please, if I've missed a good product that's available in your area, let me know so I can pass the info on.

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:42 PM

Low Carb Products Update

A few issues back, I addressed the Sad Death of Ketatoes, a low carb product I had found useful enough to incorporate into several recipes. But there are other products that have either gone off the market, or become harder to find, and I get questions about them.

Indeed, when I was halfway through writing this article, I got this email:

Hi Dana,

I'm new to your website for forgive me if my question was answered some time ago.

First off I bought all your books and as far as I'm concerned you certainly know your low carb business. I've tried all the plans out there regarding low-carb and none work except atkins or a modified version of his. I love you comments, observations and commonsense approach and not to mention fantastic recipes and ideas. Thank you and keep it coming.

No for my question, after reading through back archives of your newsletter you mentioned some low carb products, After going to the store and looking up on some of the web sites you mention to purchase these I was told they were out of business. For example everyone raved about Keto tortilla chips, (out of business) The bakery back in Illinois where they sell low carb bread at 3 grams a slice (I went to the web site and I could not find a link to purchase their low carb bread).

If you could be so kind and mention in a future newsletter an updated consensus of what is still out there as far as superior low carb products particularly bread and tortilla chips. I feel

Mission makes a great low carb tortilla at 5 net grams for the small size and 7 net grams for the large size. Seeing these three items are pretty much all you need. And yes I'm putting my two cents in about Dreamfield Pasta - yes once or twice a week is great as long as you eat a good portion of protein and some fat along with it (not hard to do with a sauce) I have a

great recipe I'll share later on that one.

Again thanks for all your hard work and research for not being a doctor you sure no what the heck your talking about.

Mary Sawyer

Las Vegas, NV

So here you go, Mary! And the rest of you, too, of course:

* Carb Countdown Reduced Carb Dairy Beverage: Carb Countdown "milk" is still being made, though the juices and yogurt have been discontinued. Here in Bloomington, Indiana, Marsh grocery stores still carry it (or at least they do here on the east side.) If you can't get Carb Countdown, it's because your local grocery stores have stopped carrying it. Your best bet is to ask Hood Dairies if anyone in your region carries the stuff:

* Juice products: As mentioned, Carb Countdown juices are gone, which is a shame; I really liked them. (And my sister is seriously mourning the loss of their Pink Grapefruit variety.) Minute Maid has a line of "light" no sugar juice beverages; they run about 4 grams a serving. I haven't tried them, but they're widely distributed.

* No-sugar-added ketchup: For a while there I had three brands of no-sugar-added ketchup in the house, but two of them have gone off the market. I can only buy Heinz One-Carb Ketchup anymore. Doesn't worry me; I made my own ketchup for years, I can do it again - and will, since the Heinz One-Carb is a little pricey for me.

* No-sugar-added barbecue sauce: I can't find this in my grocery store anymore. I can make really good low carb barbecue sauce at home, though, so I don't sweat it. If you want to buy a bottled sauce - they're handy -- Stubb's brand has some sugar, but is much lower carb than most of the commercial sauces - 5 grams per 2 tablespoon serving, as opposed to 12 grams for Heinz and 14 grams for KC Masterpiece. Good, too. I keep a bottle of Stubb's Original on hand.

* Low carb ice cream: I can still get these, though some brands have re-labeled as "no sugar added" rather than "low carb." Edy's/Dreyer's is my favorite, though the Breyer's is good, too. Do yourself a favor and skip ice cream that's both sugar free and low fat. Yuck.

* Low carb bread: Speaking of low carb bread, availability has become hit or miss. Pepperidge Farm still lists their Carb Style bread and rolls - quite good -- on their website. Brownberry makes low carb bread in whole wheat and 7 grain varieties; I can get it locally at Kroger. What your local grocery stocks may well be different. I've seen other brands - Aunt Millie's was making a low carb version for a while - but often they include hydrogenated vegetable oil, something I refuse to eat, and I've seen high fructose corn syrup, too. READ THE LABEL! I've said it before, my favorite low carb bread comes from Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, and bless their hearts, they ship.

* Low carb tortillas: Every grocery store and health food store in Bloomington Indiana has these, and many have more than one brand. However, I've heard from readers who are having a hard time finding them. Keep in mind that low carb tortillas keep for at least a few months if unopened, so you can stock up when you do find them, or if you order them.

* Low carb bagels: Haven't seen these in the stores for a while. But then, I was unimpressed with Atkins Bagels anyway. They were too squishy. However, here's an all-bagel website that sells a reduced carb bagel. There's good news and bad news about these bagels. The good news is that since they're made by Jewish folks in New York who specialize in bagels, I'd be willing to bet they've got an authentic taste and texture. The bad news is that I called the company and their "low carb" bagels have 21 net carbs per bagel, or 10.5 per half. That's too much for many of us. It is, however, considerably lower than the 56 grams of carb in the average medium-sized "regular" bagel.

Interestingly, Natural Ovens makes a "Golden Grain" bagel that also has 21 grams of net carb, they just don't label it "low carb." So that's an option as well.

I'd call either of these bagels a treat food, not a staple.

* Ketocrumbs: Gone with the Keto company, I'm afraid. If you can get low carb bread near you, it's a simple matter to dry some out in a slow oven, then run it through your blender or food processor to get low carb crumbs. For that matter, this is a fine thing to do with any low carb bread that goes stale or gets freezer burned. If you really, really low carb crumbs, grind a bag of pork rinds in your food processor! Keep pork rind crumbs in the fridge. Either way, if you want Italian seasoned crumbs (similar to Progresso) mix 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon Splenda with each cup of crumbs.

* Sugar free chocolate: My poll indicated that sugar free candy, overall, wasn't popular, but sugar free chocolate was. I'm pleased to report I still see it everywhere - my local Marsh grocery store carries Sorbee sugar free chocolate bars in both milk and dark chocolate, and I see sugar free Reese's peanut butter cups and Russell Stover's sugar free candies in big drug stores. For more exalted chocolate - I'm hooked on Guylian's sugar free, from Belgium - look in gourmet stores (I get mine at Sahara Mart, here in Bloomington), or go online. And remember - most good chocolate shops carry at least a few varieties of sugar free chocolates.

* Low-carb pasta: Atkins and Keto pasta are gone, and I won't miss them. I never liked the soy pastas; the texture was off. Dreamfield's is still available, but not everyone's carrying it. When I see it, I stock up, since pasta doesn't go bad. The venerable Mueller's noodle company now has a reduced carb macaroni that's quite good. My local grocery stores stock this. I consider both Dreamfield's and Mueller's low carb pastas to be too carb-y for staples - they're occasional treats. I eat them less than once a month.

There are other brands of low carb pasta available online.

( I've been reading a lot about shiritaki noodles recently. These are Asian noodles made from konjac (a root) fiber, and have virtually no usable carbs. Apparently they have no flavor, but a good texture, and simply take on the flavor of the sauce you serve them with. I'm looking for a local source, and will report in a future 'zine.)

* Low carb cold cereal: For a little while both Total and Special K cereals were available in low carb/high protein versions. I don't see them in the stores anymore, and I've seen low carb Special K at Big Lots, a sure sign that it's been discontinued. No big loss; they both sucked anyway, and had objectionable ingredients. All Bran is high enough in fiber that it can fit into a low carb diet, and All Bran Extra Fiber is even better. But exciting? Not really.

Keto Crisp is gone with the Keto company, of course, and a darned shame it is; I had a couple of really good recipes that used it. If I find another source of soy crisps, I'll let you know. If you're a Grape Nuts fan, there's a soy cereal called Nutlettes available online that's pretty similar. I don't like to eat a lot of soy, however.

There are low carb granolas available online, too. I make my own granola, so I haven't tried these.

* Low carb chips: I can't find these locally anymore, and some brands are gone for good - Atkins protein chips and Keto tortilla chips, for instance. Trader Joe's still carries their "Joe's Lows" low carb corn-soy-and-flax chips, which I like a lot. I called the Indianapolis Trader Joe's, and they say the chips are a good seller, and there are no plans to discontinue them. So if you have a Trader Joe's near you, you're set. If not, you may have to order chips on line - R.W. Garcia's are good.

Don't forget Just the Cheese Chips - little rounds of real cheese baked until crunchy, from the Specialty Cheese company. Very tasty, very crunchy, zippo carbs, plenty of protein, plenty of calcium. If you can't find them locally, they're worth ordering online. You can get them direct, but you'll have to buy a lot. The low carb etailers all have them, though.

(Not a chip, but let me also recommend Specialty Cheese Company's Frying Cheese - cheese that gets hot and melty inside, and brown and crunchy outside, without melting away into a little puddle. Incredibly good. Buy it if you see it. Order it from the company if you don't. SO great!)

* Low carb soups: The only low carb soups I ever saw in my grocery store were from Progresso. They're still listed on the Progresso website; whether your grocer carries them is another question. Some of them contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, so I can't recommend them anyway.

You'll notice a couple of running themes in this article: One is that many of these products are still being made, but many grocery stores have stopped carrying them. This is a genuine problem, especially in smaller towns. You could try getting together with other local low carbers, and petitioning the largest local grocery store to carry a reasonable selection of low carb stuff. You'll have to make a compelling case, however, that there will be enough sales to make it worth their while. Grocery stores operate on razor-thin profit margins, and genuinely cannot afford to stock stuff that doesn't sell reasonably well, especially stuff that goes bad or stale, like breads.

You might also find a store that is willing to special order stuff for you if you're willing to buy a case at a time. Again, go in with low carb friends and split a case or two of your favorite products.

The other running theme is that you can still order low carb products online. Us long-time low carbers are used to this - it's where we got our low carb stuff back before the low carb explosion of 2003-2004. The great thing about the low carb etailers is that they're not dependent on a geographical region for their customer base, so they can afford to carry a wide range of specialty products. Indeed, if you haven't shopped the low carb etailers I think you'll be surprised the range of stuff available.

My favorite etailer is Carb Smart - Andrew DiMino, the owner, is a pal of mine, and is a long-time low carber himself; he's been in the low carb etail biz since long before the boom. Andrew has a big selection, gives good service, and keeps his prices reasonable.

Netrition is another site that's been around for quite a while. They handle more than just low carb stuff - a lot of vitamins and the like - but they have a good selection of low carb specialty products.

Low Carb Nexus has a good rep.

I haven't done business with Lo Carb Diner, but they've been around a while, a good sign that they're serving their clientele well.

And finally, in a triumph for all of us mourning the death of Ketatoes: I found Dixie Diners Carb Counters Instant Mashers at several of the etailers. Looks to be substantially similar to Ketatoes. I'll get a hold of some, try it in my recipes that called for Ketatoes, and let you know.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:24 PM

More Early Word 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!

So far as I know, Barnes and Noble is the only store that has The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook so far; if you really, really want it, you can run out and buy a copy!

Or you can pre-order at Amazon, and they'll send your copy as soon as they have it in.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:22 PM

Low Carb for Life Reprint: Calcium

One of the most persistent criticisms of low carbohydrate dieting is the assertion that eating "all that protein" will cause calcium loss, and therefore osteoporosis. But is this true?

It's hard to say with certainty. There are a lot of factors that contribute to bone density, and they interact in complex ways that are still only poorly understood. Among the factors that affect bone density are calcium intake, calcium absorption, exercise, sun exposure and/or vitamin D intake, heredity, and body weight.

Osteoporosis is one of the few health problems that is more common in people who are slim than in people who are heavy. Again, the reasons are unclear - it could be because body fat increases estrogen levels, protecting bone mass, or because slim folks are eating less calcium, or because the extra weight adds stress to the bones, increasing the rate at which calcium is deposited, or because the gene for slimness is linked somehow to a gene for weaker bones. Whatever the reason, it's nice to know that if you need to lose weight, you're at a reduced risk for osteoporosis to begin with.

I've looked at a fair number of medical studies regarding protein intake and calcium status, and I'm not worried about my low carb diet, even though osteoporosis runs in my family. Recent research is reassuring. Two studies of high-meat diets, both done in 2003, showed no adverse effects on bone metabolism . A 2004 study of diets high in protein, but restricted in both fat and carbohydrate, showed an increased excretion of calcium - but this mirrored a 50% greater calcium intake, and therefore was not a threat to bones. Another 2004 study found that men and women between 50 and 69 who had a higher protein intake had less risk of hip fracture than those with a lower protein intake.

The most important factors in bone health appear to be calcium intake, and exercise., and the problem of people getting too little of both cuts across the diet spectrum. You need 800 - 1200 milligrams of calcium every single day, and most people don't get enough. Many people figure, "I drink a glass of milk every day, so I'm covered," but it takes a quart of milk a day, or its equivalent in yogurt and cheese, to get close to that 1200 milligram mark. Some of the more recent low carb diets encourage the consumption of dairy products - The South Beach Diet recommends low fat dairy products, while The GO-Diet recommends at least a serving a day of yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir. The new carb-reduced dairy beverages are also good sources of calcium,

Other good low carb sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, almonds, unhulled sesame seeds (find these at your health food store), and especially canned sardines and canned salmon - because the bones are soft enough to eat! It's a good idea to cook chicken on the bone, ox tails, pork neck bones, or other bony cuts of meat, in sauces with tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic ingredients; you'll end up with a calcium-rich sauce. If you boil chicken or turkey carcasses to make soup, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the water, and you'll get a calcium-rich broth (you won't taste the vinegar.)

And of course, it never hurts to take calcium supplements. I do, every single morning.

Here's a main-dish salad with more than half of your daily calcium requirement per serving!

Ham and Cheese Salad

1/2 head cauliflower cut in 1/2" chunks
8 ounces Swiss or Cheddar cheese, cut in 1/4" cubes (Use reduced fat cheese if you like.)
8 ounces cooked ham, cut in 1/4" cubes
3/4 cup chopped dill pickle
1/4 cup red onion, diced fine
3/4 cup snow pea pods, cut in 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 clove garlic, crushed

First chop your cauliflower, including the stem. Put it in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cover. Nuke it on high for 7 minutes.

Dice your ham, cheese, and onion, and chop your pickle. Put in a big mixing bowl.

Pinch the ends off of your snow pea pods, and pull off any strings. Cut into 1/2" pieces, and put those in a microwaveable bowl. Add a tablespoon of water and cover. When the cauliflower is done, pull it out of the microwave, and uncover immediately - let it cool a little before adding to the salad. Put your snow peas in the microwave, and nuke them on high for just 1 minute. When they're done, uncover immediately, drain them, and add them to the mixing bowl.

Measure the mayo, mustard, vinegar, tarragon, and garlic into a small bowl, and stir together well.

When the cauliflower is cool enough to not melt the cheese, drain it and add it to the mixing bowl. Add the dressing, and toss to coat.

4 servings, each with 472 Calories; 38g Fat, 28g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber, 7 grams usable carb, and 577 milligrams calcium.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:18 PM

Reader Review of The Low-Carb Barbecue Book

Another great cookbook from Dana Carpender

I love all of the Dana Carpender cookbooks, and this one is no exception. Both her writing and cooking styles are a lot of fun, and I have yet to make a recipe I didn't like out of her books. The Chipotle Garlic Butter is already a favorite in our house, and we've only had the book a few days. The recipes are simple to follow with easy to find ingredients, and the results are delicious.

Nicolle (Carmichael, CA USA) , January 4, 2005

Thanks, Nicolle! I'm betting you get to cook out more of the year than I do.

I figured that with the crocuses (croci?) up and the daffodils about to bloom here in Indiana, it was about time to haul out the grill again. My whole Toastmasters Club is coming over next week; I'm thinking I'll slow-smoke a turkey!

To read this and other reviews of The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, visit

Or look for The Low-Carb Barbecue Book at a bookstore near you!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:17 PM

Cooking Low Carb: Dana's No-Sugar Ketchup

This is the recipe I have repeated more than any other - it's appeared in every cookbook I've written. Why? Because ketchup isn't just a condiment, it's used as an ingredient in myriad other recipes. If you can get no-sugar-added ketchup in your grocery store - Heinz's One Carb Ketchup is quite good - go ahead and use it. If you can't, this is very simple to make, and tastes - well, like ketchup. The one difference here from previous versions is that I've worked out the quantity of stevia/FOS to use in place of Splenda, if you prefer not to use artificial sweeteners.

Once you've got no-sugar ketchup on hand, it's a snap to make cocktail sauce (add horseradish and lemon juice), steak sauce (add Worcestershire, and just a touch of lemon juice,) all sorts of things.

Dana's No-Sugar Ketchup

6 ounces tomato paste
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Stevia Plus OR 1/3 cup Splenda
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Just combine everything in your blender, and run it until the onion and garlic disappear. Store in a snap-top container in the fridge, and use the way you would any ketchup.

Makes1 2/3 cups, or 14 Servings: 13 Calories; trace Fat; trace Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Fiber; 3g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:14 PM

March 07, 2006

Hey Gang!

Here you go! And it's 10 pm, so I'm just going to say "Read on!" and send it off to the webmaster, aka That Nice Boy I Married.

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:57 PM

Whole Grains

Have you noticed? Officialdom and the food processors are pushing whole grains. I mean really pushing them. Five or six years ago, ads for things like bagels and oatmeal crowed "full of healthy complex carbohydrates!" The buzzword for the supposedly post-Atkins era is "whole grain" - you know, 'cause they're good carbs. Sugary, highly processed cereal is being sold with "Contains whole grains!" Highly processed crackers full of bad fats are being pushed as "made with whole grains!"

I find the whole thing sourly funny. I've been a Junior Nutrition Buff since 1978 - long enough to remember when insisting on whole grains instead of refined, "enriched" garbage earned one the epithet "food faddist." For years and years and years the government and registered dieticians insisted that enriched grain products were just as good as whole grains. Menu plans for Joliffe's "Prudent Diet," Weight Watchers, or the like would list, "Bread, enriched or whole wheat," the implication being there was no difference.

Heck, back in the 1940s (a tad before my time,) the federal government, in the form of the FCC, tried to force Dr. Carleton Fredericks off the radio for having the temerity to state that whole wheat bread was more nutritious than white bread.

When the big Food Pyramid push started, we were told to eat 6-11 servings of grains a day. The word "whole" was not mentioned. Dutifully, we chowed down on pasta salad with fat free dressing. I don't have to tell you that a whole lot of us ended up fat, tired, and even sick as a result.

Then came the Low Carb Revolution, and millions of us discovered that cutting grains out entirely vastly improved our health. It was looking grim for the Food Pyramid and its government creators and backers, not to mention the manufacturers of grain-based food products, from bread to crackers to cold cereal. (Never forget that processed grain products are among the most profitable products in your grocery store. Just how much do you think the grain in that box of corn flakes is worth?)

All of a sudden, the epiphany! It wasn't just grains that were good, it was whole grains. Studies showed that people who ate whole grain were healthier than people who didn't! Whole grains were good carbs! That must mean that the more whole grains people eat, the healthier they'll be!

Do you detect a certain sarcasm in my tone? It's all so obviously flawed, and to my admittedly jaundiced eye, it all seems aimed at us - a way to get the low carb heretics back into the balanced diet fold.

Shall I spell it out? Refined grains - white flour and everything made from it - white rice, corn starch, and the like - are nutritional garbage. All the vitamins and minerals are removed. Since your body needs vitamins and minerals to process food, these "foods" actually go into your body and suck nutrition out.

(Yes, yes, they're "enriched." You know what that means? They take out over thirty nutrients we've identified so far, and put back five. Usually in synthetic form. Often in lesser quantity than they were present in the first place. "Enriched" is a joke. Worse, it's a lie.)

Refined grain products are also stripped of fiber. This makes them digest and absorb faster, increasing their blood sugar impact - their glycemic index. This is why squishy white bread has a glycemic index higher than an equivalent quantity of table sugar. So do most cold cereals. So refined grains not only suck vitamins and minerals out of your body, they also cause big blood sugar swings and massive insulin release, with all the medical problems that follow.

By comparison, whole grain products have their naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and fiber left in. While many of these products are highly processed, and have a high glycemic index, at least they're contributing some nutrients, rather than stripping them out of your body.

And some - but nowhere near all - of the less processed whole grain products have a lower glycemic index than refined grain products. Brown rice is gentler on blood sugar than white rice. Whole wheat pasta has a lower glycemic index than white pasta. Coarse-ground, dense whole grain bread absorbs slower than fluffy cheap white bread. This translates into lower insulin levels, and reduce risk of the diseases that come with hyperinsulinemia.

Is it any surprise that people who eat a less-harmful-to-somewhat nourishing food (depending on the individual's carbohydrate tolerance) are healthier than people who eat a highly damaging "food" that actually removes nutrients from the body? Extrapolating from this to "whole grains are essential to human health" and "the more whole grains you eat, the better" is a jump worthy of the Olympics.

I have to go back to my personal experience: Before I went low carb in 1995, I ate lots of whole grains. I hadn't bought a loaf of white bread in 18 years. I ate only whole grain cereals. I used only brown rice. I used whole grain flours for baking, and even for thickening gravy. And I got up to 190 pounds at 5'2", with borderline-high blood pressure, and nasty mood and energy swings. As far as my body is concerned, whole grains are not health food.

What about the vitamins and minerals in whole grains? I don't know of a one that can't be found in other, lower carb sources. Let's do a rundown:

B Vitamins - whole grains are a pretty good source of thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenate (B5) and pyrodoxine (B6). But checking the old standby, The Vitamin Bible, we find that:

* B1 is also supplied by peanuts, lean pork, "organic meats" (though I know of no reason why standard grocery store meats wouldn't be a source as well,) and "most vegetables."

* B3 is also supplied by liver, lean meat (pork is especially rich,) kidney (don't laugh - I like kidneys!), fish, eggs, white meat poultry, peanuts and avocados.

* B5 is also supplied by meat (it's the first source listed!), kidney, liver, heart, green vegetables, chicken, and nuts.

* B6 is also supplied by liver, kidney, cantaloupe, cabbage, eggs, peanuts, and walnuts.

For the other B vitamins, B2 and B12, whole grains aren't listed as a source. (Indeed, B12 is only found in animal foods.)

Looks like we can get plenty of B vitamins without whole grains.

Whole grains contain folic acid or folacin, but so do leafy vegetables, carrots, liver, egg yolks, cantaloupe, apricots, and avocados.

Whole grains are a source of vitamin E, an important antioxidant. But so are nuts and seeds, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, spinach (which last I checked was a leafy green) and eggs. So we're good.

How about minerals? Whole grains are a source of magnesium, but so are nuts and seeds, and green vegetables. Grains have some zinc, but meat, seafood, eggs, and seeds do too. They contribute some selenium, but so do seafood, kidney, liver, onions, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Whole grains contain fiber, of course. But are they an outstanding source? Hardly. Eat two slices of 7 grain bread, say in a turkey sandwich, and you'll get 3 grams of fiber, out of 24 grams of carbohydrate, and 131 calories.

If, instead, you cut up that turkey into a salad with 3 cups of shredded romaine, you'll get the same amount of fiber, but only 4.6 grams of total carb, and 24 calories. Throw in a half-a-cup of cherry tomatoes, and you'll add another gram of fiber, only 2.9 grams of total carb, and 13 calories. Looks like you can afford some berries for dessert, doesn't it? Add a cup of halved strawberries, for another 3 grams of fiber, 11.7 grams total carb, and a big 49 calories. Our low carb lunch has 7 grams of fiber, 19.2 grams total carb, 12.2 grams usable carb - and 45 fewer calories than the sandwich. (Of course, we haven't factored for salad dressing, but then the sandwich would have had some mayonnaise, now wouldn't it?)

One cup of cooked brown rice has 46 grams of carbohydrate, of which only 3 grams are fiber. It also has 218 calories, not an inconsiderable amount. A similar serving of "cauli-rice" - cauliflower that's shredded in your food processor and cooked lightly - has 5 grams of carbohydrate with 2 grams of fiber, and only 24 calories.

Low carb vegetables, fruits, and nuts and seeds are far superior to whole grains as sources of fiber. And low carb baked goods, should you care to eat them, are invariably fiber-enriched - the La Tortilla Factory low carb tortillas that are a staple around my house have 8 grams of fiber apiece!

There simply is no nutrient in whole grains that cannot be found in low carb sources - and not in weird, obscure low carb sources, but in the common foods that make up the bulk of our diet.

On the flip side, grains are among the most allergenic foods; many people are allergic to wheat and corn in particular. Gluten, the grain protein that makes bread dough stretchy, is implicated in a growing number of health problems. Some researchers feel that long-chain carbohydrate molecules, as found in grains, cause or exacerbate illnesses as various as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease, and autism. (See Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall) Clearly, grains are not for everyone, insulin problems aside.

Too, there's the simple fact that grains were not a part of the human diet until the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. We all come from hunter-gatherer ancestors. It's hard to see how a food that all human beings did without for countless millennia can be essential.

I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't eat some whole grains if your body can tolerate the carbs, and you don't have allergies or gluten intolerance. I keep good, whole grain low carb bread in the freezer (from Natural Ovens of Manitowoc; best low carb bread I've found - and no, they don't pay me, though they've occasionally sent me free bread.) I mix some cooked wild rice or other grains with my cauli-rice on special occasions. I sometimes add a handful of barley to a pot of soup - barley has the lowest glycemic index of any grain, and adds a really nice texture and flavor. And along with those low carb tortillas, Wasa Fiber Rye and Finn Crisp have found a permanent place in my kitchen.

Just don't let the advertisers, food processors, and the dieticians and doctors who are still demonizing fat convince you that whole grains are essential to your health. They're not.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:53 PM

Reader Review of The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

Okay, it's really an email I got, but it warmed my heart like a blowtorch:

Dana, I just received your new book from

To be honest, at first I was hesitant about ordering it, because I feared it was just another low calorie cookbook, but I've enjoyed all your other books and I knew I had to give it a chance.

I am glad to see your cooking evolving and acknowledging that calories do count. That said, I do not count calories; but I do know they count! I can't eat a ton of low carb food just because it's there, and not have it show up on the scale! For years I counted carbs, but now I don't even count carbs anymore. I educated myself about glycemic load and just focus on foods that have a low gylcemic load. This automatically keeps my carbs down without counting!

I am sitting here at work leafing through all the recipes, and yes, they are amazing. They will fit in very nicely with my way of eating. I might add I am lacto-ovo vegetarian, and I just substitute low carb meat substitutes (like Morningstar Farms) for meat, chicken and fish in your recipes, leaving out the salt because these meat substitutes are already salted.

I also agree that fat is not the culprit. I feel better eating good, wholesome fats. I don't limit them, but I don't stuff myself with them either. Butter, nuts, good oils, etc. are some of the healthiest foods on earth. THANK YOU for not buying into the low fat mantra. You might be

pleased to know that scientist Gary Taubes has a new book coming out this spring titled "A Big Fat Lie...What if Fat Doesn't Make You Fat." I'm sure you and I couldn't agree more!

Dana, thanks for such a great book. Please keep these cookbooks coming. They are such a joy. I already love this one and I haven't even tried any recipes yet, but like your other cookbooks, I know I'll enjoy them!

Sincerely, Sheryl Du Somme

Thanks, Sheryl! I'm so glad you like the book. The rest of you can take a look here

Or you can buy it today at your local Barnes & Noble!

(And I'll be buying Gary Taubes's book! If you haven't read Taubes's ground-breaking article from the NY Times Magazine, I found a link to the text

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:51 PM

Important Health FYI

You'll recall that several issues back I wrote about Seasonal Affective Disorder, a problem I have dealt with for many years. This year, however, it seemed particularly vicious. I found myself having trouble dragging myself out of bed before noon. I caught two colds in six weeks time. I couldn't think clearly or concentrate. I was tired all time. The slightest exercise made me ache to the point of needing muscle relaxants. I gained weight - enough so my jeans were tight - even though I wasn't eating any more than usual. I had constant headaches that were unmoved by aspirin or ibuprofen. I was depressed to the point of weeping frequently, when anyone who knows me can tell you I'm not a weepy person. My sex drive dried up - this, when I'm married to a man I adore, and who inspires other women to sidle up to me at parties and murmur, "Your husband is cute!"

I began to wonder if there was something more wrong with me. I wondered about a systemic yeast infection, since I'd taken two rounds of antibiotics in the past year. I worried I might have fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue, or even Epstein-Barr virus. Finally I saw my doctor. (I would have gone sooner, but she was on vacation.)

Bless her, she took me seriously. All too often, doctors look at a middle-aged woman with my symptoms and simply label her "neurotic." But Dr. Florini listened, agreed there was a genuine problem, and said, "Even though you may feel better when April rolls around, that's eight weeks. I don't like to leave you like this. We could try a low dose of an anti-depressant, or we could bump up your thyroid medication a little." When we discovered my body temperature was 97.1, it became clear that thyroid was the thing to try.

So she increased my dose of Armour Thyroid (natural desiccated thyroid,) and sure enough, I quickly started feeling more like myself.

As a result, I've been reading a lot about thyroid problems, and I thought it vital I give you a heads-up. After all, if your thyroid is low, all your attempts to lose weight and become healthy and energetic will be in vain. Here, from Mary Shomon's excellent site at, is a list of hypothyroid symptoms:

____I am gaining weight inappropriately

____ I'm unable to lose weight with diet/exercise

____ I am constipated, sometimes severely

____ I have hypothermia/low body temperature (I feel cold when others feel hot, I need extra sweaters, etc.)

____ I feel fatigued, exhausted

____ Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic

____ My hair is coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out

____ My skin is coarse, dry, scaly, and thick

____ I have a hoarse or gravely voice

____ I have puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face

____ I have pains, aches in joints, hands and feet

____ I have developed carpal-tunnel syndrome, or it's getting worse

____ I am having irregular menstrual cycles (longer, or heavier, or more frequent)

____ I am having trouble conceiving a baby

____ I feel depressed

____ I feel restless

____ My moods change easily

____ I have feelings of worthlessness

____ I have difficulty concentrating

____ I have more feelings of sadness

____ I seem to be losing interest in normal daily activities

____ I'm more forgetful lately

Mary also lists the following additional symptoms, which have been reported more frequently in people with hypothyroidism:

____ My hair is falling out

____ I can't seem to remember things

____ I have no sex drive

____ I am getting more frequent infections, that last longer

____ I'm snoring more lately

____ I have/may have sleep apnea

____ I feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest

____ I feel the need to yawn to get oxygen

____ My eyes feel gritty and dry

____ My eyes feel sensitive to light

____ My eyes get jumpy/tics in eyes, which makes me dizzy/vertigo and have headaches

____ I have strange feelings in neck or throat

____ I have tinnitus (ringing in ears)

____ I get recurrent sinus infections

____ I have vertigo

____ I feel some lightheadedness

____ I have severe menstrual cramps

Add to this one more symptom: Low body temperature. Mine sometimes ran as low as 96.4 during the day. Think about that: That's 2.4 degrees below normal. If my temperature were 2.4 degrees above normal, I'd have a fever of 101, and any doctor on the planet would take it seriously. I can tell you from unpleasant experience that a swing in the other direction can make you feel just as wretched, whether it alarms your doctor or not.

Be aware that it is estimated that millions of people in the US alone suffer from undiagnosed thyroid problems, and that possibly as much as 15% of those who have been diagnosed with depression are actually hypothyroid. Know, too, that thyroid tests are notoriously inaccurate, and that medical opinions on the meanings of those tests, and what constitutes a "normal" range, are changing. For example, just this year the "normal" value of the commonly used TSH test was changed from 0.5-5, to 0.3-3. Since higher values indicated hypothyroidism, that means that everyone who had a TSH between 3 and 5 and was told they were "normal" is now officially hypothyroid!

If you have a number of these symptoms, I urge you to visit Mary's websites and learn more:

In particular, if your doctor refuses to take the possibility of thyroid problems seriously, avail yourself of Mary's "Top Thyroid Doctors" list. It's the only list of its kind on the internet, and you can access it free. (Dr. Florini is on it, though I didn't know that till after she'd increased my dosage.)

I also highly recommend Mary Shomon's wonderful book Living Well With Hypothyroidism

Take a look, too, at The Thyroid Diet - Mary's hip to carb control, and agrees with me that there's no one dietary approach that's right for everyone - you have to try things and see what works for you.

Mary and I spent a good hour and a half on the phone recently. I liked her very much, and I hope to work with her on a joint project of some kind in the future. Please, take advantage of her knowledge and experience.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:48 PM

Reader Review of The Low-Carb Barbecue Book

Another winner!

My husband does the BBQing in our house, so I haven't gotten as much use out of this one as Dana's previous two cookbooks--but he's having a great time! I made the Lime Cheesecake with Ginger Almond Crust and it was wonderful--made it for some regular carbers and they didn't know the difference. So far everything he's BBQed has been great, too--my favorite however is the Orange-Tangerine Up-the-Butt Chicken. We couldn't find the tangerine Diet Rite, so my husband used beer with a bit of orange extract in it (left over from the Orange Blossom Turkey Breast--another winner--lots of leftovers--we used them for Mondo quesadillas from 15 minute low-carb recipes). There are so many slaws I can't wait to try them all, but we love Dana's original so much we haven't gotten around to it yet! My husband *loves* this cookbook--it has made his life so much easier (in the past, before he grilled he would consult his other grill books and always have to ask me "Can we eat this?")--he grills from it every weekend.

Jennifer (Texas) , May 14, 2004

Hey! My barbecue book got a rave from a Texan! Now I'm dying to know how she liked my Texas-style barbecued brisket recipe...

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

Or take a look at The Low-Carb Barbecue Book at your local bookstore!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:41 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Low Carb and Antioxidants

I thought this column fit into the theme of a low carb diet having plenty of vitamins and minerals...

I'm growing frustrated. Now that the clinical research is in, and it's clear that a low carbohydrate diet causes weight loss, and actually improves blood work for most people, the dietitians are working overtime to find objections. The current cry is "A low carb diet is low in antioxidants!" So let's take a look, shall we?

Dietitians still parrot the myth that a low carb diet excludes fruits and vegetables, which is simply untrue. Even the two week "induction" phase at the beginning of the Atkins diet, the strictest phase of the most restrictive low carb diet, calls for two to three cups of vegetables per day - more than the average American is eating. After that, quantities increase, low sugar fruit is added in. Most low carb diets are even more liberal - many of us simply shun starches and added sugars, while eating vegetables and low sugar fruits freely.

But what about whole grains? Dietitians always mention whole grains when they talk about antioxidants. Are they that great a source?

The most important antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals zinc, copper, and selenium. Grains have no vitamin A or C. They do contain some vitamin E, but E is found in plenty of low carb foods, including nuts, brussels sprouts, avocados, leafy greens, and the much-maligned egg.

Whole wheat is a source of copper, but so are seafood, nuts, liver, and dark leafy greens, all great low carb foods. Grains are a source of selenium, but so are fish, red meat, chicken, liver and kidney. And zinc? Medline states, "High-protein foods contain high amounts of zinc. Beef, pork, and lamb contain more zinc than fish. The dark meat of a chicken has more zinc than the light meat."

Further, animal foods like eggs, butter, cream, and liver are the only sources of pre-formed vitamin A (plant foods contain carotenes, which must be converted to vitamin A, a process some bodies perform more efficiently than others.) It begins to look as though a diet based on animal foods, non-starchy vegetables, low sugar fruits, and nuts and seeds may supply more antioxidants than a diet in which some or all of the animal proteins or vegetables are replaced with whole grains.

Let's look at two meals. Meal One, the conventional "healthy" meal, consists of 6 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1 cup of green beans, and 1 cup of cooked brown rice. Meal 2 has 6 ounces dark meat chicken, which is higher in fat - and nutrients - than the breast, 1 cup of green beans, 2 cups of cauliflower (which will turn into roughly 1 cup of our favorite, Fauxtatoes) and adds 2 tablespoons of butter on the vegetables.

How do the meals stack up? Meal One contains 18% of your RDA of vitamin A, 30% of your vitamin C, 39% of your zinc, and 7% of your vitamin E. It contains 54 grams of carbohydrate, with 7 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 47 grams. Meal Two contains 36% of your vitamin A, 111% of your C, 35% of your zinc, and 11% of your vitamin E for a better antioxidant profile overall. It has 18 grams of carbohydrate, with 9 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 9 grams.

QED: A low-carb diet is not low in antioxidants.

Here's a salad that's loaded with antioxidants - and other nutrients. You'll like if you like chicken livers, and won't if you don't. Mmmmm. Chicken livers.

Warm Chicken Liver Salad

6 chicken livers
2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
Salt or Vege-Sal and pepper
8 ounces bagged mixed greens
˝ ripe avocado
1" wedge of a big sweet red onion, sliced paper thin
1/3 cup bottled Dijon vinaigrette (75 ml)

Cut each chicken liver into 3-4 pieces. Spray a large, heavy skillet with non-stick cooking spray and put it over a medium-high burner. Add the oil and the livers. Saute the livers, turning them frequently, until no blood runs, and no pink spots show on the outsides. Take care not to overcook your livers! Turn off the burner when they're done, and if you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the warm element. Salt and pepper lightly.

Pour the bagged greens into a big salad bowl. Scoop bits of avocado out of the shell with the tip of the spoon, into the salad bowl. Add the sliced onion, pour the dressing over it all, and toss well. Divide the salad mixture between two plates.

Top each salad with half of the livers, and serve.

2 servings, each with 15 grams of carbohydrate, of which 6 grams is fiber, for a usable carb count of 9 grams. 21 grams of protein. 892 mgs. of potassium! Well over your daily requirement for vitamin A and vitamin C, 23% of your zinc, 77% of your vitamin E, 26% of your copper, 100% of your selenium, half your daily requirement for niacin, B6, and iron, and good doses of vitamins B1, B2, B12, folacin, calcium.

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

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:38 PM

Jamie's Elvis Burgers

With warm weather on the way, I thought I'd print a recipe from The Low-Carb Barbecue Book. But since it's still a tad chilly for long, slow smoking on an outdoor grill - at least here in Indiana - here's a burger recipe.

Jamie's Elvis Burgers

Credit where credit is due: This recipe was inspired by one demonstrated by Jamie Oliver on his Food Network show, Oliver's Twist - he made some burgers for an Elvis impersonator friend. They looked very tasty, but had too much onion, and a pile of bread crumbs in them, and of course Jamie served his on a bun. Plus he's a serious purist who grinds his own beef, not to mention his own spices. This version is both easier and considerably lower carb - but still unusually tasty.

2 pounds ground chuck
2/3 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
˝ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 ˝ tablespoons spicy mustard

Just plop everything into a large mixing bowl, and moosh it all together with clean hands until it's well-combined. Form into 6 burgers, about 1" thick. Put 'em on a plate, and chill for at least an hour before grilling.

Get your fire going - you'll want your gas grill on medium, or a little lower, or well-ashed charcoal. Grill for 7-10 minutes per side, keeping flare ups down with a squirt bottle of water, until juices run clear. Serve with no-sugar ketchup, and some dill pickles, if you like.

6 servings, each with 3 grams of carbohydrate, a trace of fiber, and 28 grams of protein. 441 calories.

(Reprinted with permission from The Low-Carb Barbecue Book by Dana Carpender, copyright 2004 by Fair Winds Press.)

Note: Feel free to broil these inside, or even cook them in your electric tabletop grill.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:24 PM

February 28, 2006

Hey Gang!

I'm afraid all you get this week is a back column and a recipe. My dad was visiting for a few days, and then we went up to Chicago for my niece's 5th birthday. Now I'm back and caught up with the housework - and it's time to write this week's column! So I thought I'd just send out this short issue, and start writing next week's after I get the new column done.

Spring has definitely sprung here in Southern Indiana. I have snow drops blooming in my yard, and the crocuses and daffodils are sending up their leaves. Just as clear a sign, asparagus is on sale at the local grocery stores - so I'm sending you a column on asparagus. Then I'm going to run out and buy some, and make an asparagus quiche for dinner!

Read on.


Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:40 PM

Asparagus! - Column Reprint

It's spring! You know what that means - perfect baby stalks of asparagus are in your grocery store, excruciatingly fresh, and for once, reasonably priced!

Asparagus hollers "Springtime!" - while it murmurs "Luxury and elegance." It's delicious, quick and easy to prepare, and takes to all sorts of easy variations. And, I'm pleased to tell you, asparagus is also one of the very lowest carb vegetables. A half-pound of asparagus - a fabulously generous serving - contains only 5 grams of carbohydrate, of which 2 grams are fiber, for a usable carb count of just 3 grams. This is one indulgence we can all afford to make more often!

Asparagus is plenty nutritious, too. It's a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C, and a particularly good source of folic acid. Asparagus also has plenty of potassium.

Knowing this, isn't it time for a low carb asparagus feast? Choose asparagus that is very fresh, with no shriveled stalks, and the tips tightly closed. If you're not planning to eat your asparagus right away, wrap it well, and serve within a day or two.

To trim asparagus, simply snap the bottom off each spear where it wants to break naturally. I don't bother taking off the scales, but if you want to you can use a potato peeler to do this. Your asparagus is now ready to cook.

How to cook asparagus? Quickly. Most vegetables suffer from overcooking, but asparagus, in particular, loses its charm when it becomes limp. I like to microwave my asparagus - I put it in a microwaveable container with a lid, add just a tablespoon or two of water, cover the container, and nuke on "high" for just 5 minutes. Once the microwave beeps, uncover your asparagus right away! Otherwise it will continue to cook, and be gray and mushy.

You can cook your asparagus on the stove top, of course. The classic way to do this is to stand the asparagus on end in a deep, narrow pot, with the bases of the stalks in just a couple of inches of water. Cover the whole thing tightly, place on high heat, and once the water boils, cook it for just 5 to 7 minutes - once again, uncover it as soon as the cooking time is up.

Using this method, the tender tips of the asparagus steam, while the tougher bases of the stalks boil. You can buy tall, narrow asparagus pots, but a great substitute is available cheap at yard sales and thrift shops: Buy an old stove-top coffee perker, and remove the guts, for an admirable asparagus pot!

It may amuse you to know that the proper way to eat whole asparagus spears is with your fingers - even Miss Manners says so. You can dip your asparagus in lemon butter, hollandaise sauce, or aioli (garlic mayonnaise), all of which are very low carb. Cooked asparagus is also wonderful chilled - try dipping it in chipotle mayonnaise: Just put 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in your food processor with one chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce, and process till smooth. This is enough for 4 people, and will add only trace amounts of carb to your asparagus.

I've recently started grilling asparagus, and it's becoming a favorite. You can do it on your gas or charcoal grill, of course. You'll want a small-holed grill rack to keep it from falling through, or you can make asparagus "rafts" by skewering 4 to 6 spears side by side, with a well-soaked bamboo skewer through either end. You can also grill asparagus in your electric tabletop grill, though, and it's wonderful. Here's a new grilled asparagus recipe I came up with just the other day:

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat your electric tabletop grill. Snap the ends off the asparagus where they break naturally. Put them on a plate, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss the asparagus a bit, to make sure it's all coated with the oil.

Place the asparagus on your electric grill -- you'll probably have to do it in two batches, unless your grill is a lot bigger than mine. Set a timer for 10 minutes.

If you've had to do two batches, put the first batch on a plate and cover it with a pot lid to keep it warm while the second batch cooks. When all the asparagus is done, and all on the plate, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Roll it about to coat it, then top it with the Parmesan, and serve.

2 generous servings, each with 184 Calories; 16g Fat; 6g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber, and 5 g. usable carbohydrate.

(Reprinted by permission, from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, copyright 2005 Fair Winds Press)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:39 PM

Hey! I Saw My New Book At the Store!

While my dad was here we went to the local Barnes and Noble, and they had my new book, The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook! It's always a thrill to actually sitting there on the bookstore shelves, you know?

So if you want a copy right this very second, you could run out to your local Barnes and Noble and get one. Or you could just put in an order at, who I assume will have it very soon.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:37 PM

Chicken Burritos

Now that the days are getting longer, and the weather's turning nice, who wants to come in and cook dinner? Here's a family-pleasing meal from 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes so you can go for a walk before the sun goes down.

Chicken Burritos

Wow. Easy, delicious, low carb, low calorie, and reheats easily. What more do you want from a recipe?

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 large jalapeno, minced (or canned)
12 low carb tortillas
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Plunk your boneless, skinless thighs in the slow cooker. Mix the garlic, chili powder, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and minced jalapeno together. Pour over the thighs, and stir to coat. Cover pot, set to low, and cook for 10 hours, or cook on high for 5 hours.

When time's up, simply stir with a fork to reduce your chicken to a big pot of tasty chicken shreds! Now, fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup chicken, top with lettuce, cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, a generous tablespoon salsa, and a sprinkling of cilantro. Wrap and devour!

This is a great meal for a family that has some low carbers and some non-low carbers, just give them regular or (preferably) whole wheat flour tortillas. The chicken keeps well in the fridge, and reheats quickly in the microwave for a fast snack! (45 seconds on 70% power is about right for a 1/3 cup serving.)

12 Servings, each with: 225 Calories; 13g Fat; 22g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 5g Usable Carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:35 PM

February 20, 2006

Hey Gang!

Here's this week's opus, and I'm afraid there's urgent and unhappy news I have to convey. Sorry about that.

Read on.


Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:56 PM

Time To Cut Way Back on the Diet Soda

And the Crystal Light. Not to mention sugar-free iced tea mix and bottled iced tea, sugar-free gelatin and pudding mix, and indeed anything made with aspartame.

No doubt you know that aspartame (aka Nutrasweet or Equal) has been controversial since its introduction in the 1980s. Even among those of us who shun sugar, aspartame has had a less than sterling reputation. Dr. Atkins felt it interfered with fat burning on a cellular level. The Hellers, who wrote The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, feel that aspartame, along with all sugar-free sweeteners, causes an insulin release just like sugar. And it's been a part of the community wisdom for a long time that roughly half of low carbers have a hard time losing weight if they drink diet soda or Crystal Light.

There have been "netlore" stories going around for years, claiming that aspartame causes all manner of ills, from headaches to visual disturbances to MS - though often without any medical research to back them up. I personally stopped drinking diet soda shortly after aspartame took over the market (after years of a heavy-duty Tab habit) because I discovered that two aspartame-sweetened sodas in a day were enough to make me feel panicky at night.

Still, I insisted - and continue to feel - that artificial sweeteners are safer than sugar, especially for those of us who are profoundly carbohydrate intolerant, and find sugar addictive.

I have gotten many emails from readers taking me to task for using Splenda in recipes, because in lab animals it caused thymus shrinkage and kidney swelling. In response I point out that this is true, but that these effects happened at dosages the equivalent of a 150-pound human being eating over 10,000 teaspoons of Splenda per day.

Most tests on artificial sweeteners have involved similar whopping-huge doses. It's important to remember that the first rule of toxicology is "Dose is everything." I had a particularly Splenda-heavy day on Valentine's day - I made a sweet poppy-seed dressing for our salad, a glaze for our duck breast, and chocolate sauce and sweetened whipped cream to dip strawberries in. That's far more Splenda than I normally consume in a day, yet I doubt I got more than 1/3 cup, or 16 teaspoons. In short, I feel that my level of exposure is low enough that it's not an issue.

But now tests have been done on aspartame that actually involve doses reflecting possible real-world consumption. And the news is not good.

Dr. Morando Soffritti, an Italian reasearcher, spent the past year studying the effects of aspartame on cancer rates in rats. This man is a respected researcher, overseeing 180 scientists and researchers in 30 countries who collaborate on toxin research. And Dr. Soffritti has now stated that aspartame increases the risk of lymphoma and leukemia. Dr. Soffritti feels this is attributable to methanol (wood alcohol) in aspartame, which turns to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the body.

Previous studies have found that aspartame doesn't cause cancer. It should be noted that these studies were performed by the GD Searle company, creators of aspartame.

Dr. Soffritti responds that those studies were flawed. The rats used were "sacrificed" - killed and examined for cancers - at the age of 2 years. This is the equivalent of 53 years old in a human being. Cancer takes a long time to develop, and people under 53 years of age are far less likely to have cancer than folks who are older, regardless of their habits.

So Dr. Soffritti let his rats die at the natural "old age" for rats - about 3 years of age. He also used considerably more rats than most of the previous studies. And using this method, he found increases in lymphomas, leukemia, and tumors at multiple organ sites.

Here's the part I find really alarming about Dr. Soffritti's study: The carcinogenic effects of aspartame cropped up at doses that were the equivalent of a 150-pound human being drinking about six to eight cans of diet soda per day. A devoted diet soda drinker might easily consume that much. I know that in my Tab-drinking days I went through a dozen or more cans a day.

To be fair, cancer is complicated, and we don't understand everything involved in causing it. Some people are more susceptible than others, and there may be various interactions involved we haven't identified. But for now, this is the best information we have to go on.

So I am recommending that all you devoted diet soda and Crystal Light drinkers give it up, or at the very least, cut way, way back. This advice extends to all beverages sweetened with aspartame - iced tea mix, bottled, artificially sweetened iced tea, diet Snapple, whatever. I'm sorry, I know it's going to be hard for you, but geez. Cancer.

Beverages are the big worry, because they're how the biggest doses of the stuff are consumed, just like regular soda is the major source of sugar in most Americans' diets. You could start drinking Diet Rite Splenda-sweetened sodas, I suppose. But while I'm completely comfortable with my modest Splenda intake, I find myself suspicious of drinking soda after soda, period.

If you regularly eat aspartame sweetened desserts, I'd recommend you cut back on those, too, or even cut them out. I will no longer be using aspartame-sweetened diet gelatin or pudding mix in recipe development. I'll start working on alternatives to my best desserts that use aspartame-sweetened products. Still, people who eat 6 servings a day of diet gelatin are rare. People who drink 6 cans a day of diet soda are relatively common.

I still believe that Dose Is Everything. I wouldn't panic about the occasional diet soda, it's the daily habit I worry about. I'll still occasionally make one of my dessert recipes that calls for sugar-free pudding or gelatin mix - I mean, have you tried the "Better Than S-X" recipe from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes?

But if you're a diet beverage addict, it's time to wean yourself. Iced tea, hot tea (regular or herbal,) unsweetened sparkling water, coffee, or good old water. If you must sweeten coffee or tea, a little Splenda, Sweet 'n' Low (saccharine was taken off the list of carcinogenic products years ago; apparently it was one of those products where they used unreasonable doses in the tests) or stevia should be okay.

But best of all is to get over the idea that drinking sweet stuff all day is a good idea.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:55 PM

I've Got My Author Copies!

I've received my "author copies" (25 free copies) of my new book, The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook. It's so odd - you live with those words for months, till you can practically recite them in your sleep. You cook recipe after recipe. You arrange everything into a book. You'd think that there'd be no big surprise, seeing it in book form. Yet it's always a kick.

Anyway, my publisher assures me that The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook will be in bookstores within a couple of weeks time! The back cover reads:

Good Carbs. Good Fats. Good Food!

Are you counting carbs? Are you counting calories? Or are you just plain trying to eat healthy? This is the cookbook for you!

Millions of people have discovered that being careful about carbohydrates is their key to weight loss and vitality. Yet often low carb dieters assume they can eat unlimited calories. Other folks count calories with success, but find that they're hungry, or have nasty blood sugar crashes that bring irritability, cravings, and fatigue.

It's time for low carbers and calorie counters to take a page out of each other's books! Calorie counters need to discover the joys of never feeling hungry, and of losing those crashes. Low carbers need to keep a gentle eye on calories.

That's not all! Your body needs vitamins and minerals, too. (Oh, yeah. Them!) Quite simply, we all need to eat food that's both healthy and delicious, that keeps us full, and makes us feel and look fabulous. And since we're all seriously busy, it sure would help if it wasn't a pain to cook!

Here you go! Five hundred recipes, from family suppers to party fare. Plenty of protein, a harvest of fruits and vegetables, the good fats you need for vibrant health. Great whole grain flavor without the high blood sugar impact. And every recipe has the carbs, calories, fiber, fat and protein counts worked out - plus a vitamin and mineral breakdown! You'll know you're getting what you need.


Chile Verde Cheese Burgers * Crab Fritters with Lemon Aioli * Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread * Grilled Asparagus with Wasabi Mayonnaise * Apple and Wild Rice Salad * Blinky's Texas Red * Tequila-Lime Chicken Skillet * Sizzling Moroccan Shrimp * Ginger-Melon Frappe * Plum Sorbet * Chocolate Velvet * Better-Than-Whole-Grain Pancakes

And much more!

So grab this book, and make Every Calorie Count!

Pre-order at and they'll ship it to you as soon as it comes in!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:54 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Broccoli!

Do you love broccoli? You have a lot of company. Do you hate broccoli? You have a lot of company. This Italian cousin of cabbage has grown in popularity over the past few decades, to become one of the most enjoyed vegetables in the US.

This is very good news, because broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, and it's seriously low carb, too. A whole cup of cooked broccoli - a generous serving - has 8 grams of carbohydrate, with 5 grams of fiber, for a teeny carb count of 3 grams - and just 44 calories. Yet you'll get far more vitamin C than you would in a 4-ounce glass of orange juice, a whopping 194% of your daily requirement. You'll also get 43% of your vitamin A, 20% of your folacin, 13% of your potassium, 11% of your B6, 7% of both your calcium and iron, 4% each of your thiamin, niacin, and zinc. Surprisingly enough, you'll even get 5 grams of protein! Clearly, broccoli is your very good friend, nutritionally speaking.

Broccoli is also a great source of sulforaphane, a very powerful antioxidant that is being studied as a cancer preventative, and that may help the body detoxify itself. Hard to beat that. (It's good to know that broccoli sprouts are far higher in sulforaphane than the mature vegetable. If you can get them locally, throw 'em into your salads for a big nutritional boost.)

Yet many people loathe broccoli - we've even had a president declare his antipathy to the vegetable. I suspect that many of those folks have only ever had broccoli that was horribly overcooked. The old "boil vegetables until dead" school of cooking is particularly hard on broccoli; it goes from brilliant emerald, sweet and tender-crisp to gray, mushy, and sulfurous all too quickly. Better to steam or microwave it lightly, or stir-fry it, stopping far short of mushiness.

It's up to you whether you want to cook with fresh or frozen broccoli; the frozen stuff is certainly easier, while fresh is a bit tastier. Should you choose fresh, do yourself a favor - instead of lopping off and discarding the stems, use your vegetable peeler to remove the tough skin, and cook them along with the florets. They're wonderful. If you choose frozen broccoli, it's interesting to know that chopped broccoli is a tad higher in calcium than broccoli spears or florets, because the calcium-rich leaves are included.

Here are a few ideas for upping your broccoli consumption:

* Most grocery stores sell bags of broccoli and cauliflower florets. With bottled ranch dip, these make a great snack to put out while you're cooking dinner, and if you hide the chips it will probably get some veggies into your kids.

* Many groceries also carry "broccoslaw" - shredded stems leftover from those florets we just mentioned. Use in place of or along with cabbage in your favorite slaw recipe for a big nutritional boost. You could also add a handful to a tossed salad - it'll mix in more easily than florets would.

* Steamed or microwaved broccoli is fine with butter, but it's also easy to dress it up. Try a squeeze of lemon juice, or a little soy sauce and ginger, with a scatter of toasted sesame seeds.

* Readers submitted several variations of broccoli salad for 500 More Low-Carb Recipes with grated cheddar cheese, a little onion, and crumbled bacon, plus a dressing made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and just a touch of sweetness. Filling!

* Thawed frozen broccoli marinated in bottled vinaigrette dressing is as easy a salad as you'll ever find, and mighty tasty, too.

* Don't forget about broccoli in stir-fry. I think thawed frozen broccoli "cuts" - bigger chunks than chopped broccoli, but smaller than florets - are ideal for this.

* Broccoli soup is a perennial favorite. Here's a great version out of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, sent in by reader Amy Dungan, who says it's her decarbed version of the soup her aunt used to make. My recipe tester Julie McIntosh called it "great in all aspects" - including that her kids liked it!

Broccoli Ham & Cheese Soup

3 cups of steamed broccoli (chopped into bite size pieces)
4 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube, or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules or concentrate
pepper to taste
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked ham
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

First, of course, you'll steam your broccoli - you can steam a whole head and chop it up, or you can buy frozen broccoli "cuts," and use 3 cups of them.

Combine 1 cup of the broccoli, the cream cheese, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup water in your food processor, with the S-blade in place. Process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large saucepan. Add bouillon, pepper, the rest of the broccoli, the mushrooms, the ham and the rest of water. Simmer over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft. Add cheddar and stir until melted, then serve.

Makes 6 servings, each with: 279 Calories; 25g Fat; 10g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 3g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:51 PM

Reader Review of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes

Great variety - excellent instructions - wonderful cookbook,

This low carb cookbook is truly fantastic! I've tried at least 10 of the recipes and all have become favorites. The chicken wraps are so good that when my partner recently ordered some at a popular restaurant, he said mine were better!

The recipes are tasty, easy, and quick (I take my time with them and always end up with a full dinner within 30 minutes). There is a great variety of dishes including vegetables, which helps to prevent boredom and to provide a wide variety of nutrients. A nutritional breakdown is included for each recipes and variations and side dishes are suggested. Low carb desserts and beverages are also provded, as are several slow cooker recipes - 15 minutes in the morning or the evening before leads to a great dinner waiting for you after work!

c8grey Chicago, IL, USA, June 8, 2005

Well, thanks, c8grey!

By the way, after two years on the market, and 52 reviews, 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes finally has a negative review at Amazon! And I'm kind of proud of it. The reviewer doesn't say the recipes aren't good, or the instructions aren't clear - just that the book doesn't have color photos in it (which is why the list price is under $20 - color is expensive!) And that I used outrageous, weird ingredients - you know, like lamb, or gorgonzola cheese. How awful that I didn't stick to ground beef, chicken, and blocks of cheap cheddar!

Anyway, read all the glowing reviews, and the one bad review, of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes at

Or pick up 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes at your local bookstore - if you can live with a cookbook that just has good, quick, low-carb recipes, not expensive glossy color photos!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:50 PM

Sweet Tea

Since I've recommended you quit drinking diet soda, it seemed incumbent on me to offer an alternative. So here's one from The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook:

I like my tea black, whether I'm drinking it hot or cold, but sweet tea is a Southern staple, so I had an Alabaman friend vet this for me. She doesn't promise it tastes exactly like your mama's or your auntie's sweet tea, but she says it tastes great. It also has no sugar, aspartame, or even Splenda.

The reason you use the blender to add the stevia/FOS blend is to prevent clumping. Who wants little lumps of ultra-sweetness floating in their tea?

6 cups water
4 tea bags, family-sized
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons stevia/FOS blend (our tester liked it with two, but admits she likes her sweet tea very sweet.)
water to fill

Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, then add the tea bags. Let it simmer for just a minute, then remove from the heat, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing them out in the process.

Ladle a cup of the hot tea into your blender, and turn it on. Add the stevia/FOS blend, and let it blend for a few seconds. Pour into a 1 gallon pitcher. Pour in the rest of the tea, then water to fill.

Chill, and serve over ice!

Note: Most health food stores carry stevia/FOS blend - an all natural sugar-free sweetener. I buy SteviaPlus brand, made by a company called SweetLeaf. You can also order it online.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:47 PM

February 14, 2006

Hey Gang!

Happy Valentine's Day! What a great day to eat sugar-free chocolate! If you really want those chocolates in a heart-shaped satin box, it's not too late to go to the local fancy candy store. Most good chocolate shops will have sugar-free chocolates, and will happily pack a box for you. Me, I'll just eat the Guylian's sugar-free chocolate bars that are a staple food 'round here.

Have a great day! And read on...


Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:28 PM

Low Fat Takes (Another) Dive

Did you see it? Huh? Huh? Hard on the heels of my article last week explaining that yes, a low carbohydrate diet will, perforce, be a diet that gets a higher proportion of its calories from fat - in other words, a high fat diet - comes the big news. All over the mainstream media came the word that a low fat diet doesn't prevent heart disease or cancer.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Okay, everybody, stand up from your computers and join me in the Smug Dance. (cue the music!)

Okay, that's enough. Everyone sit down and resume reading. Let's look at this study and the coverage of it, and see what it means, and doesn't mean, for us, and for nutrition in general.

The study that appears in this month's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is nothing short of immense. Over eight years, 48, 835 healthy postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79 years old were randomly assigned either to a low fat diet, or to continuing to eat as they had. During those eight years, the low fat group averaged 29% of their calories from fat, while the control group averaged 37% of their calories from fat. The low fat group also ate more fruits, vegetables, and grains than the control group.

The study was originally intended to look at the effect of a low fat diet on breast cancer risk. It wound up concluding that not only did a low fat diet have no statistically significant effect on preventing breast cancer, it also didn't prevent colon cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Since the all along the big-guns objection to our low carb way of eating has been "All that fat will give you heart disease! Or cancer!" this is useful ammunition.

It's also interesting that the greater intake of fruits, vegetables, and grains didn't have any detectable protective effect. We're told these are the best possible foods. Yet eating more of them didn't help, at least when combined with fat restriction. I wonder how twice as many vegetables and half as many grains would have done...

There are serious limitations to this study. First of all, it only included women. Secondly, including, as it did, only women in the 50-to-79 age group, it tells us little about the effects of a careful nutritional program of whatever kind begun earlier in life.

(I "got nutrition" like other people "get religion" - the blinding bolt from the blue that changes your life forever - when I was nineteen. While I have made some nutritional missteps since then - like a low fat/high carb diet - the most egregious junk has been out of my life for almost thirty years. If we could find several thousand like me and test us, it would make an interesting study.)

Too, the control group in the study simply continued to eat their "normal" diet - which is likely to have included bad fats like hydrogenated vegetable oils, plenty of refined carbs, processed foods, and all that wonderful stuff that's part of the Standard American Diet. The low fat group didn't put any restrictions on what sort of fat they ate, so we have no way of knowing how many of them ate, say, diet margarine - a source of trans fats - instead of good old full-fat butter. Both these factors must be assumed to have affected the results.

It would be very interesting to see a study that looked at a low fat diet and a higher fat diet, with both diets excluding refined carbs and hydrogenated oils. But that's a whole different study, and would probably take another $400 million and another eight years.

After eight years, the low fat folks weighed just a pound or two less, on average, than the "normal" diet folks. This is being trumpeted as "proof" that a low fat diet doesn't make you fat. What they're not saying is that it's pretty clear proof that a low fat diet is no better at making you thin than the Standard American Diet. It would be interesting to see an eight year trial of a low fat diet against a low carb diet, wouldn't it?

The usual suspects are weighing in on this.

Dr. Dean Ornish, whose empire is built on the notion that a low fat diet is the ultimate in disease prevention, is insisting that the diet just wasn't low fat enough. It seems to me that if cutting fat back that far was going to give fabulous results, cutting fat back substantially ought to yield at least some results. It didn't.

But Ornish insists that we need to cut back to only 10% of calories from fat, you see, and eat no animal foods at all. Then we'll see the miraculous results he's promised. That no nation, race, or tribe in history has ever eaten such a diet, much less thrived on it, apparently doesn't matter. Nor does the fact that many peoples eating more fat than Americans - like, say, the French and the Italians - are healthier than we are.

People who hate the idea of limiting their diet in any way are crowing that this proves that you might as well eat whatever you want. After all, "eating healthy" doesn't work. They are, of course, ignoring the possibility that a low fat diet wasn't the right way to eat healthy.

The "cut calories and exercise" enthusiasts are saying, "Low carbohydrate diets have already been discredited, and now low fat diets are too - so just eat a balanced diet, watch your calories, and get a lot of exercise." Which floors me, since I haven't seen a scrap of actual research to show that low carb diets don't work, and aren't healthy - just assertions.

And the mainstream journalists and medicos are saying that this shows that we don't need to cut out all fats, we just need to cut out "bad fats." They then go on to define "bad fats" as hydrogenated oils and saturated fats. This, of course, will be the new rallying cry of those who are sure that we're digging our graves with our sugar-free, steak-loving teeth - "But it's saturated fat!"

I have no argument against cutting out hydrogenated oils. They're evil, and I won't touch them. But the idea that saturated animal and tropical fats are bad for us is just as simplistic and wrong-headed as the idea that fats in general are bad for us. If animal fats caused heart disease and cancer the rate of these diseases would have dropped during the 20th century, when we were busily replacing those "bad" fats with "healthy" vegetables oils.

But that's not what happened. Instead, as we replaced traditional animal and tropical fats with vegetable oils and (God forbid) hydrogenated vegetable shortening, the rates of both heart disease and cancer skyrocketed. In light of this, it's hard to see how naturally saturated fats are dangerous. (I say "naturally saturated" because hydrogenation is simply a process of artificially saturating a fat that was originally unsaturated, and therefore liquid.)

I'll say more about good and bad fats in the future, but a good general rule is "If you can picture how they got the oil out of the food, it's probably okay." Can you picture how they get the oil out of corn or soy beans? Do you even know what a "safflower" is? No? Don't eat it.

It would be easy to assume from the big reaction in the press that this study was the first to show a low fat diet isn't effective for protecting health. It's not. There have been many.

A 1996 study in Lancet concluding that women who ate a high fat diet had a lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate a high carbohydrate diet.

Another 1996 study, this one pooling and reexamining data from seven studies of the effects of a low fat diet on breast cancer, finding no evidence that fat is a culprit.

Here's one that looked at specific types of fat and breast cancer risk, and concluded "No associations were observed for animal or vegetable fat intakes."

A Japanese study that shows a decreasing risk of breast cancer with an increased intake of fish oils and saturated fats.

And the Big Casino, the Harvard Nurses Study, looking at 88,795 women. In this article, written in 1999, 14 years after the study began, they conclude "We found no evidence that lower intake of total fat or specific major types of fat was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer."

The same study had already concluded in 1987 "...a moderate reduction in fat intake by adult women is unlikely to result in a substantial reduction in the incidence of breast cancer." Indeed, the women who ate the most fat were almost 20% less likely to get breast cancer than the women who ate the least fat.

Here's a trial of a low carb/high fat diet against a low fat/high carb diet for treatment of obesity and the health problems that go with it. The low carbers lost more weight, and had greater improvement in their heart disease risk indicators.

Here's a study that starts off with the statement, "It has been known for decades that low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets can increase plasma triglyceride levels..." Have they howdied with Dr. Ornish?

I could go on, but you get the point: All the hoopla about this study mostly indicates that the media hasn't been paying attention. The holes in low fat diet theory have been showing for a long, long time.

So where does this leave us? Well, at least in position to laugh at all those post-New Year ads crowing about how few fat grams this or that starch-and-sugar-laden junk food has. And in a good place to say to all of our critics, "Why are you recommending a diet that's been clinically disproven?"

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:19 PM

It's Almost Here!

I heard from my editor today that The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook is in their warehouse, waiting to ship to the stores. So I thought I'd let you read the back cover:

Good Carbs. Good Fats. Good Food!

Are you counting carbs? Are you counting calories? Or are you just plain trying to eat healthy? This is the cookbook for you!

Millions of people have discovered that being careful about carbohydrates is their key to weight loss and vitality. Yet often low carb dieters assume they can eat unlimited calories. Other folks count calories with success, but find that they're hungry, or have nasty blood sugar crashes that bring irritability, cravings, and fatigue.

It's time for low carbers and calorie counters to take a page out of each other's books! Calorie counters need to discover the joys of never feeling hungry, and of losing those crashes. Low carbers need to keep a gentle eye on calories.

That's not all! Your body needs vitamins and minerals, too. (Oh, yeah. Them!) Quite simply, we all need to eat food that's both healthy and delicious, that keeps us full, and makes us feel and look fabulous. And since we're all seriously busy, it sure would help if it wasn't a pain to cook!

Here you go! Five hundred recipes, from family suppers to party fare. Plenty of protein, a harvest of fruits and vegetables, the good fats you need for vibrant health. Great whole grain flavor without the high blood sugar impact. And every recipe has the carbs, calories, fiber, fat and protein counts worked out - plus a vitamin and mineral breakdown! You'll know you're getting what you need.


Chile Verde Cheese Burgers * Crab Fritters with Lemon Aioli * Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread * Grilled Asparagus with Wasabi Mayonnaise * Apple and Wild Rice Salad * Blinky's Texas Red * Tequila-Lime Chicken Skillet * Sizzling Moroccan Shrimp * Ginger-Melon Frappe * Plum Sorbet * Chocolate Velvet * Better-Than-Whole-Grain Pancakes

And much more!

So grab this book, and make Every Calorie Count!

Pre-order at and they'll ship it to you as soon as it comes in!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:17 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Folacin in a Low Carb Diet

The bonus in this column reprint is that the salad would be fabulous for a Valentine's dinner tonight!

If I ever have doubts about the wisdom of my low carb diet, I'll just look at the arguments coming from low carb detractors. The lack of logic is often breathtaking. These folks have to twist themselves into knots to find reasons why a low carbohydrate diet is a bad idea.

Witness an article that recently appeared in my local paper. In it, Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk program at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, warns that women of child bearing age shouldn't eat a low carbohydrate diet, because they won't get folic acid, and folic acid deficiency can cause birth defects.

There's no doubt that folic acid, or its naturally occurring counterpart, folacin, prevents neural tube defects. But do we have to abandon the health benefits of our low carb diets?

Koren refers to the enrichment of bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals with folic acid, and says that without these foods, we will be deficient in this nutrient. Notice the word "enrichment" - in other words, these foods are not good sources of this vitamin naturally. Instead, folic acid is added to them. There is no difference between eating a food to which a vitamin has been added, and taking a vitamin pill - except for the carbohydrates and calories involved, of course. And surprise, surprise, tacked on at the very end of the article we find, "The problem could largely be avoided if all women of childbearing age took a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid." Good idea.

"Enrichment" is something that is only done to grains that have been refined and heavily processed. These are mostly carbs of the worst kind, with a sky-high blood sugar impact, and little-to- no fiber. Even if you're on a program like South Beach that allows some "good carbs", these products ain't it. To recommend highly refined and processed junk carbs for women of childbearing age because they have a few artificial vitamins added is just dumb - especially since high insulin levels can cause health problems that make conception difficult or impossible, and diabetes and high blood pressure are common risks of pregnancy.

It is more than possible to get plenty of folacin from low carbohydrate foods. One slice of white bread has 21.5 micrograms of folic acid, or roughly 1/20 of the 400 micrograms needed each day. It also has 12 grams of carbohydrate, and almost no fiber. One cup of orange juice - another source recommended by Koren - has 26 grams of carbohydrate, and less than a half a gram of fiber. How much folacin? 74 mcg. Three cups of romaine lettuce, on the other hand, has 228 mcgs of folacin, or over half our daily requirement - and only 4 grams of carbohydrate, of which 3 are fiber, for a usable carb count of just 1 gram. Looks like the low carbohydrate source wins.

The thing Koren seems to have missed is that when we cut carbs, we add other foods to replace them - and quite a few of those foods are high in folacin. I, for example, will often order the insides of a sandwich on a bed of lettuce, instead of on bread. Lots of folacin! For that matter, the cauliflower we substitute for potatoes and rice has more folacin than either.

All green leafy vegetables are low in carbohydrates and high in folacin, so eat your salads! Cooked vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus are good, too. An egg has a little more folacin than that slice of white bread we mentioned. Peanuts are a pretty good source, and even meat and dairy products contribute a bit.

Indeed, it seems that the only reason there was a need for folic acid enrichment was that so many people base their diets on cheap, starchy foods. Remove the junk carbs from the diet, and there's plenty of room for foods that are naturally high in folacin.

This salad is spring-y and beautiful and extraordinarily delicious. It also has 238 micrograms of folacin per serving!

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound prewashed baby spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine everything from the Splenda through the salt, and shake or stir well.

Put baby spinach in your big salad bowl. Pour on the dressing, and toss well. Top with strawberries, almonds, and feta, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6. Assuming 4 servings, each will have 227 Calories; 19g Fat, 8g Protein 11g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber, 6 grams usable carb

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:13 PM

Best Review of All Low-Carb Approaches

This is greatly improved from the first edition. At first I didn't even realize I'd previously read this book.

Dana's review of the differences between the various approaches to low- or controlled-carbohydrate eating is so helpful. It made me realize that I've been too strict in the past when trying to do an Atkins-style "induction" phase. Dana is really on top of the science and gives you the references if you want to follow up, and she explains it all very clearly.

I'm most motivated at this time to go back to low-carb eating because of what she wrote about feeling better mentally as well as physically. I have had to admit to myself that I just can't eat sweets and breads etc.; those things are addictive to me and have definitely contributed to health problems (I'll spare you the details).

The criticisms about her treatment of vegetarianism are on the silly side. Dana could have gone into much greater detail about what's wrong with vegetarianism, but she didn't. Instead she chose to accommodate that view and made very helpful suggestions to those trying to be vegetarian and low-carb at the same time.

I highly recommend this book. I read it in just a couple of days and promptly misplaced it; I bought another copy to give to a friend who has diabetes, but I think I'll keep that one for myself and send him another from Amazon.

Jeanmarie Todd Oakland, CA, United States , June 6, 2005

Thanks, Jeanmarie, both for your kind words, and for buying multiple copies of my book!

See this and other reviews of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds at Amazon.

Much as we love Amazon, you should know that How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds is available at brick-and-mortar bookstores, too.

And because some of you asked, I should also tell you that "brick-and-mortar" bookstores simply means actual retail bookstores you can walk into, rather than online booksellers! You know, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Walden, B. Dalton, or your local independent bookstore.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:10 PM

Portobello Fillets

Here, from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, is a seriously fancy, romantic main course that takes no planning, and almost no time. So stop at the grocery store on the way home tonight! You've still got time to make a knock-his-or-her-socks-off (and hey, maybe some other articles of clothing!) Valentine's Day dinner. You'll want to halve this for a dinner for two, of course.

Portobello Filets

4 large portobello mushrooms
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
4 filets mignon, about 5 ounces each
olive oil for brushing

Lay your portobellos in a shallow baking dish, gill side up, and pour the balsamic vinaigrette over them. Turn them over once or twice, to make sure they're thoroughly coated in the dressing, then let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Okay, now you're going to multi-tast: Heat up the broiler to "high", and brush your steaks with a little olive oil. Also heat up your electric tabletop grill.

Start your filets broiling close to the heat, and set your oven timer -- I'd probably give them about 5 -- 5 1/2 minutes per side, but cook them to your own preference. When you turn them over, put the marinated mushrooms in your electric grill. Let them cook for about 5 minutes. Your steak and your mushrooms should be done right about the same moment!

Put each mushroom on a plate, and put a filet on top of each, then serve piping hot.

4 servings, each with: 717 Calories; 64g Fat; 28g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 7 grams usable carb. However, this analysis assumes you consume all of the balsamic vinaigrette, while in actuality some will be left in the dish you marinated the mushrooms in. So you'll actually get fewer carbs and calories than this.

(Reprinted from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, by permission of Fair Winds Press.)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:04 PM

February 06, 2006

Hey Gang!

Happy Groundhog Day a little late! Ever wonder why there's such a holiday as "Groundhog Day?" (And is this just an American thing? Does any other nation on the planet have Groundhog Day? I guess you'd have to have groundhogs, at the very least.)

Groundhog Day is just about exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox - in other words, halfway to spring! Yippee!

(Unless, of course, you're in the Southern Hemisphere. At which point, you're halfway to autumn. Oh, well.)

Anyway, read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:59 PM

A High Fat Diet?

I've been asked, "Your recipes use a lot of high-fat ingredients. Are you just substituting fat for carbohydrate?" I have to ruthlessly suppress my natural wise-acre tendencies to resist responding, "You say that like it's a bad thing."

No piece of advice has been repeated more often in the past couple of decades than "limit fats to 30% of calories or less." In particular, we were told that this would help us stay slim, but we were also told that limiting fats would prevent heart disease, cancer, and a host of other ills. So it may shock you to know that there simply was never much in the way of scientific data to back up that 30% figure.

Worse, telling people to limit fats to 30% of calories or less discouraged people from eating some excellent foods - for example, nuts and seeds, avocados, olives and olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, all of which have been shown to reduce your risk of disease. It also fails to distinguish between truly horrible fats, like the over-processed, over-heated, hydrogenated oils used to make cheap restaurant fried foods, and truly excellent fats, like fresh butter, coconut oil, fresh lard, and extra virgin olive oil.

(To air a pet peeve, I frequently see objection to a low carb diet phrased, "Any diet that omits a whole food group is a fad diet." Ignoring entirely the fact that a low carb diet is exactly what the name says - low carb, not no carb - where were these people when we were being pushed to eat a low fat diet? And where do they stand on veganism, which really does omit a whole huge category of foods?)

Often I do, indeed, replace carb calories with fat calories, especially in baking, where I tend to use ground nuts - a high-fat ingredient - to replace flour. By doing this I not only make the baked goods more filling, and prevent them from jacking blood sugar around, but I dramatically increase their nutritional value.

Let's take a hypothetical cookie recipe that includes:

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter

(Note that this is not an actual cookie recipe - for real cookies, you'd need a few more ingredients! But these are the ingredients that matter to our comparison.)

Assuming this recipe makes 36 cookies (3 dozen), each will have 69 calories, with only 34% of those calories coming from fat. They'll have 11 grams of carbohydrate each, with no fiber. Each cookie will have just 1 gram of protein, and the vitamins the flour was "enriched" with - 4% of your daily requirement of thiamin, 2% of your riboflavin, 2% of your niacin, 2% of your iron - oh, plus 2% of your vitamin A, from the butter.

Let me make my usual substitutions. Now our hypothetical cookies will contain:

1 cup Splenda
1 cup homemade almond meal (made with the brown skins still on the almonds, for the fiber and minerals)
1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup butter

Once again, let's assume 36 cookies. The calorie count per cookie actually drops a tiny bit, to 67 calories apiece, with 58% of those calories coming from fat - a big jump. Each cookie will have 2 grams of carbohydrate, a tiny bit of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

But all of a sudden, each cookie also has 24% of your B6, 22% of your riboflavin, 21% each of your thiamin and B12, 10% of your zinc, 4% of your calcium, 2% of your vitamin A, 1% of your iron, and 1% of your potassium.

Would anyone like to argue that the lower fat cookies are better for you? I didn't think so.

But there's something else to look at when we talk about low carb being a "high fat diet," and that's ratios. What do I mean?

There are only three sources of calories - energy - in the human diet: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. (Okay, four. Alcohol has calories. But we earnestly hope you're not replacing all of your carbohydrate calories with alcohol!)

This means that if you cut out carbohydrates, by definition a greater percentage of your diet will consist of protein and, yes, fat.

For a long time, the government and other authorities have been advocating getting no more than 30% of your calories from fat, no more than 15% of your calories from protein, and between 55 and 65% of your calories from carbohydrate. If you are eating 2500 calories per day, and following these guidelines, you'll get no more than 750 calories from fat. Since fat has 9 calories per gram, this means you'd get about 83 grams of fat per day.

But say that by eating 50% of your calories from fat, 30% from protein, and 20% from carbohydrates ( making sure they're nutritious, low impact carbs,) you are so much less hungry you spontaneously eat 700 fewer calories per day, for a total of 1800 calories? You'll be eating 90 grams of fat per day, or just 7 more grams than you did on your "low fat" diet. That's a difference of just a half a tablespoon of olive oil per day.

In this example, the diet would be fairly high in fat as a percentage, but not particularly high in total fat intake.

I've been keeping track of my diet recently - consciousness is a powerful tool - and I can tell you that I average 58% of my calories from fat. Since I'm eating an average of 1858 calories per day, that means I'm getting 120 grams of fat, or 37 grams more than our hypothetical low fat dieter. That's a difference of a couple of teaspoons of butter, a couple of teaspoons of olive or coconut oil, and a handful of nuts. Somehow that doesn't strike me as dire.

Your protein intake is essential - you need at least a half a gram of protein for each pound of body weight, every day. More protein - up to about twice that - seems to limit hunger and improve metabolism. (And if you're eating a very low carb, ketogenic diet, extra protein is essential. Your body will use it to make what little glucose your body actually needs.) So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need a minimum of 75 grams of protein per day, and 100 to 125 grams per day is quite reasonable. At 4 calories per gram, that will account for 400 to 500 calories per day.

The rest of your calories will be distributed between fats and carbohydrates. These two foods are what your body uses for energy. (Remember that "energy" and "calories" are the same thing. )

Even the lowest carbohydrate diets, like the two-week Atkins Induction, contain at least 20 grams of non-fiber carb per day, and most of us will eat a few more - I find 30-50 grams a day is about right for my body. Those carb grams are where your fruits and vegetables come in, so you don't want to cut them out completely. No-carb is a bad idea.

So if your protein intake is fixed, and so is your carbohydrate intake, it is the fat fraction of your diet that can be expanded and contracted to adjust your calorie intake. If you get less of your fuel from carbohydrates, you'll need to get more of your fuel from fats. If you eat less fat, you'll need more carbohydrate.

(And no, you shouldn't just eat lean protein, with no fat and no carbohydrate. As pioneers who sometimes had nothing to eat but very lean game like rabbit found out, an all-protein diet will make you sick.)

I suppose it's theoretically possible for someone to construct their low carb diet around nothing but fat, but it doesn't seem likely - who wants to sit down to a nice glass of olive oil? Dr. Atkins recommended a short-term fat fast - a few days of a 90% fat diet - for the metabolically resistant. However, the fat fast limited calories to just 1000 per day. That would limit the dieter to 100 grams of fat per day - just 17 grams more than our theoretical low fat dieter.

In short, any diet that limits carbohydrate will be a diet with a relatively high fat percentage. That's just the way ratios work.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:45 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 horizons, 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, September 26, 2004

Wow! She loves me in a completely platonic low carb life saver kind of way! Never let it be said that I feel unappreciated. Thanks, April!

The coolest thing about 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is that fully half of the recipes in it come from Lowcarbezine! readers! It really is the collected culinary wisdom of the Low Carb Community. And I must say, as the recipes came in from readers, I often thought, "Geez, how am I going to come up with anything better than this?!"

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

Much as we love Amazon - and we do love Amazon! - 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is available at brick-and-mortar bookstores across America.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:44 PM

Nutricounter: An Unpaid Plug For A Useful Tool

Did you wonder how I knew how many calories and carbs, how many protein and fat grams I was eating on average? I have a very useful tool. It’s called Nutricounter, and it’s nutritional software that I downloaded into my PDA. You can also get a hand-held model if you don’t have a PDA to download the software into.

My Nutricounter software keeps track of calories, carbs, fiber, protein, plus stuff I’m not really worried about, like sodium and cholesterol. It came with about 2000 foods in its database, and lets me add new foods – something I’ve done quite a lot of. It lets me average over several days or even months, to get an overall picture.

Hmm. Looking at their website, it seems they now call Nutricounter “HealthFit,” and it can also record your exercise. This seems like a great idea to me.

Even with the software, you need to have at least rudimentary math skills. For instance, if I choose “Peanuts Roasted 1 cup,” the chances are excellent I haven’t eaten that many. It’s important that I know that 1/4 cup peanuts equals 0.25 of a serving, and that 1/3 cup of peanuts equals 0.33 of a serving. Conversely, a serving of steak is listed in the database as 3 ounces. If I’ve had 6 ounces, I have to know to record that as “2,” not as “6" – which would be 18 ounces, a truly huge portion.

I find that if I use my Nutricounter software consistently, it has a subtle effect for the better on my eating habits, just because of the mindfulness.

I’m glad I bought it.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:44 PM

Low Carb For Life Reprint: Low Carb Sources of Potassium

Bananas must have a killer press agent. Over and over folks ask, "But if I can't have bananas on my low carb diet, where will I get potassium?" It is true that bananas are a pretty good source of potassium; one medium banana has 422 milligrams, or about 12% of the RDA of 3.5 grams. However, that banana also has 27 grams of carbohydrate, with only 3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 24 grams - about half of my daily maximum carb intake, and more than the 20 gram upper limit for those of you who are in the induction phase of the Atkins diet. Clearly we can't count on bananas for our potassium! But where will we get it?

It's easier than you think.

There is a surprising quantity of potassium in the animal protein foods that are the backbone of our diet. A four ounce serving of pork loin provides 411 milligrams of potassium, and a quarter-pound hamburger patty provides 234 milligrams. Six ounces of sole fillet provide 584 milligrams of potassium, and four ounces of scallops provide 524 milligrams. Four ounces of chicken breast provide 282 milligrams of potassium, and four ounces of turkey breast provide 317 milligrams. All of these potassium-rich foods are carb-free, of course.

So already things are looking pretty good for us where potassium is concerned. But it's when you get to the rest of our diet that things really start looking up! After all, we're the ones saying things like, "Instead of the rice, could you bring me some steamed vegetables?" and "Do you mind putting those gyros on a bed of lettuce, instead of in a pita bread?" This is a terrific way to get plenty of potassium. A half-cup serving of white rice has a mere 32 milligrams of potassium, while a half-cup of broccoli has 166 milligrams - and the switch will save you 20 grams of usable carbohydrate, too, not to mention 75 calories. That pita bread has just 72 milligrams of potassium, with 32 grams of usable carbohydrate - no bargain. Have your gyros on a bed of 3 cups of romaine, instead, and you'll get 415 milligrams of potassium, and just 2 grams of usable carb!

But the true, undying low carb potassium champion is the avocado. All avocados are great, but if you can, buy the little, rough-skinned California avocados; they're a tad lower carb than the big, smooth-skinned Florida variety. One California avocado contains 15 grams of carbohydrate, but 12 grams of that is fiber, for a usable carb count of just 3 grams! And for those three grams, you'll get a whopping 877 milligrams of potassium. Avocados are also a great source of monounsaturated fats, the same heart-healthy fats found in olive oil - a real nutritional bargain, all the way around.

So eat avocados, early and often! You can put chunks of avocado in your tossed salad, of course, but try a simpler approach: sliced avocado on a bed of lettuce, sprinkled with lime juice, salt and pepper, or a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Guacamole is a favorite, and it's hard to beat, but without chips, how are you going to eat it? Try spreading it over a grilled steak; it's to die for. Guacamole is also a terrific omelet filling, especially with some Monterey Jack cheese melted with it. My favorite thing to do with guacomole, though, is to stuff it into tomatoes, and serve them as a salad. A medium tomato will add about 4 grams of usable carb, and another 273 milligrams of potassium.

Consider the half-avocado. Once you've removed the seed, you've got a nice big hollow, just perfect for putting things in. Consider stuffing avocados with tuna salad, chicken salad, cold shrimp, or anything else you can think of! Here's a recipe for crab salad in avocados:

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:41 PM

Thai-Style Crab Salad in Avocados

1 ripe California avocado
3 tablespoons lime juice
6-ounce can crabmeat, or 6 ounces cooked lump crab meat
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Salt, if desired.

Split the avocado in half, remove the seed, and sprinkle the cut surfaces with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice to prevent browning.

Combine the crabmeat, remaining lime juice, lemon juice, mayonnaise, cilantro, scallion, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl, and mix well. Stuff into the avocado halves, piling it high. Garnish with extra cilantro, if desired, and serve.

2 servings, each with 9 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber, for a total of 4 grams of usable carb and 20 grams of protein. Plus 932 milligrams of potassium!

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

(Unpaid plug: For those few of you who, like me, live in or around Bloomington, Indiana, Sahara Mart has recently slashed its prices on organic produce - including avocados, which have recently been running a mere 79c apiece. I've also been getting organic cauliflower for $1.99 a head. These are easily the best prices I've seen for organic produce. Sahara Mart is also a great place to get good wine at great prices, not to mention sugar free chocolate covered coffee beans, and all sorts of other stuff. In short, worth the trip. At the corner of Walnut and 2nd. Tell 'em Dana sent you!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:39 PM

Tequila-Lime Chicken Skillet

Cooking Low Carb!

This recipe from the upcoming Every Calorie Counts Cookbook is what I'm serving for supper tonight. Yum - I think I'll go cook!

Tequila-Lime Chicken Skillet

I came up with this recipe when I bought some terrific tequila-lime flavored chicken sausage at Sahara Mart, the local health/gourmet/international food store. It was so good, I had to come up with this version using ground chicken for all of you who may not be lucky enough to have access to specialty sausages.

1 pound ground chicken
1 medium onion
1/2 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup canned tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1/2 cup canned black soy beans, drained
OR 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 California avocado, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Whack your onion into a few big chunks, peel 'em, and throw 'em in your food processor with the S-blade in place. Pulse until the onion is chopped to a medium consistency. Place your big, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil, then throw in the chicken and chopped onion. Break up the chicken a little, then leave it to saute while you

Swap the S-blade for the shredding blade in your food processor. Run the half-head of cauliflower through, and put the resulting cauli-rice in a microwaveable casserole with a lid. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, put in the microwave and set it on full power for seven minutes.

Okay, that's under control. Go stir your chicken and onions, breaking up the chicken some more. Open your cans and measure out your tomatoes and beans, and have them standing by. Chop your cilantro and peel, seed, and dice your avocado.

When most of the pink is gone from your chicken, stir in the tequila, lime juice, cumin, hot sauce, and garlic. Keep stirring until the pink is gone. Now stir in your tomatoes and beans.

By now your cauli-rice is done! Grab it out of the microwave and drain it. Dump it in the skillet with everything else, and stir it all together really well. Salt and pepper the whole thing to taste. Stir in the cilantro. Now portion the mixture into bowls or onto plates, top each serving with a third of the avocado, and serve.

With black soy beans:

5 Servings: 361 Calories; 18g Fat; 32g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 5g Fiber; 8g usable carbs.

With regular black beans:

5 Servings: 350 Calories; 17g Fat; 31g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Fiber; 9g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:36 PM

January 30, 2006

Hey Gang!

Here's this week's opus! Time to cook dinner.


Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:17 PM

The Sad Death of Ketatoes, and How To Cope With It

As long-time readers are aware, I was never a huge fan of low carb specialty products. I spent a lot of time urging folks to base their diet on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds - real, unprocessed food - and to use the low carb specialty products cautiously, as a treat, or to deal with cravings.

Still, there were a few products that made their way into my kitchen regularly, and one of them was Ketatoes. For those of you who never encountered them, Ketatoes were the low carb equivalent of instant mashed potatoes, and came in several flavors - sour cream and chive, bacon and cheddar, that sort of thing.

The regular, plain Ketatoes were the ones I used, but I never used them according to package directions - which were basically, "Mix with hot water, add butter, salt and pepper," very much like regular instant potatoes. Prepared this way, I found Ketatoes had an odd, slimy, gummy texture, probably due to the high oat fiber content.

What I used Ketatoes mix for instead was to add a potato-y flavor to that old low carb standby "Fauxtatoes," aka Pureed Cauliflower. Adding f Ketatoes mix to pureed cauliflower yielded a dish that was remarkably like mashed potatoes in both texture and flavor, but still with far fewer carbs. I called this The Ultimate Fauxtatoes, and came up with many variations.

From there, I branched out to using Ketatoes mix to add a potato flavor to things like Irish Stew and UnPotato Soup. These recipes were very successful. As a result, several recipes using Ketatoes mix wound up in 500 More Low-Carb Recipes and in 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes.

So imagine my dismay when, between the time those books went to the printer and when they hit the bookstores, I learned that Ketatoes mix had gone off the market. Argh. Argh squared. I have rarely been so frustrated.

In the intervening year I've spent a little time trying to come up with an alternative. One, of course, is to simply make traditional Fauxtatoes, as we have for years - they're tasty in their own right, and absolutely dirt low in carbs. And Cream of Cauliflower Soup, like the one in 500 Low-Carb Recipes, is awfully good too. But my Irish Stew recipe just isn't the same without a potato flavor in it. And my mashed-potato-loving husband had come to really love having his Fauxtatoes have a genuinely potato-y flavor.

Thus arose Faux-Po. Faux-Po is very simple: Using my microwave (as I always do to steam vegetables) I cook half a big head of cauliflower with about 6 ounces of actual potato - that's about half a medium-sized potato. When they're both tender, I use my hand blender to puree them together. (If you don't have a hand blender, you could use a regular blender or your food processor's S-blade.) To this I add butter, salt and pepper for basic Faux-Po. Assuming that this is 4 servings, each will have about 8 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 7 grams. This is actually a lower carb count than The Ultimate Fauxtatoes recipe as it appears in 500 More Low-Carb Recipes.

You can of course vary Faux-Po just as you could The Ultimate Fauxatoes - add a little sour cream or buttermilk, plus minced green onions, or blend in a chipotle pepper and some shredded cheddar. With a steak, Balsamic Faux-Po is nice - along with the butter and salt, add a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, and give the whole thing a little extra shot of pepper.

This ratio - a half a big head of cauliflower to 6 ounces of potato - works well for Cream of Cauliflower and Potato Soup, too. Heat a little butter, oil, or bacon grease in a big saucepan, and saute a diced onion, and maybe some celery, until it's soft. Then add the cauliflower and potato, cubed, along with chicken broth. Simmer until the cauliflower and potato are soft. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and puree in your blender or food processor (or just puree everything in the pot if you have a hand-blender.) Add browned ham cubes or sliced smoked sausage, simmer for another twenty minutes or so, salt and pepper to taste, and you've got pure ambrosia for a cold, nasty night.

My original decarbed Irish Stew called for layering chopped cauliflower, diced turnips, a sprinkle of Ketatoes mix, cubed lamb, and salt and pepper, repeating the layers till you had a Dutch oven-full. Then you added water to barely cover, and simmered it very slowly for several hours. Eventually a little more Ketatoes mix was added to the gravy while thickening it with our usual guar or xanthan gum.

Now instead I grate one baking potato, and put a thin layer of grated potato over the more substantial layers of cauliflower and turnip. In the long, slow simmering, the potato mostly dissolves, imparting a potato-y flavor to the whole stew. (This is why you need a baking potato rather than a boiling potato, like red potatoes - the mealier baking potatoes are more likely to break down, which is what you want. A russet or an Idaho baker is about right.)

I haven't reworked every recipe that formerly used Ketatoes, but I expect that this sort of adaptation will work with all of them. The important figure to keep in mind is that each 6 ounces of potato will add 31 grams of total carb with 3 grams of fiber to the total recipe. That's 28 grams of usable carb - that's the number you want to divide by the number of servings to figure out how many extra grams of carb you'll be getting.

Now let's hope they don't stop making low carb tortillas. I have a hunch that would be a much harder problem to solve.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:15 PM

Another fabulous cookbook from Dana

Reader Review of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes

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

Thanks, S. Clark! Now you've got me wondering if I've got the ingredients for Cheesy Chipotle Soup in the house...

To see this and other reviews of 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, go to Amazon

Much as we love Amazon, (and we do love Amazon!,) it's good to know that 500 More Low-Carb Recipes is available at brick-and-mortar bookstores around the country.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:01 PM

Low Carb Cold Care

Low Carb For Life Reprint - Low Carb Cold Care

As you can see from the first paragraph, this column originally appeared in the autumn of 2004. It may be late winter now, but I still know plenty of people with colds! I've altered this column a bit to bring it up to date with the state of the low carb market.

Summer's gone, autumn's here, the leaves are changing. You know what that means. Right, the cold and flu season is upon us. Indeed, as I write this I have a scratchy throat, a snorky nose, and a tight chest. Ugh.

So I thought it would be timely to fill you in on low carb cold care. Low carb cold care? Yep. There actually are a few potential pitfalls, let me help you skirt them.

Please don't decide, "I'm sick. I deserve pampering. I may as well go off my diet." Nutritionists from Dr. Atkins to Ann Louise Gittleman, MS, CNS have long insisted that eating sugar will weaken your immune system, and indeed a little research turned up a 1995 study showing that the activity of immune system cells called leukocytes decreases significantly when blood sugar levels rise. If there's any chance that eating a lot of carbs will keep you sick longer, you don't want to do it!

Just as important, if you've been low carb for even a few weeks, you've probably noticed a dramatic increase in energy. Do you really want to give yourself one of those energy-sapping blood sugar crashes that come after the blood sugar rush? Talk about feeling wretched.

Here are some ideas for low carb cold care:

* Juice is not your friend - it's a great way to take in tons of sugar, without any of the fiber that would buffer its absorption if you were to eat the fruit.

* Sadly, Hood's Carb Countdown Juices are no more. But Minute Maid has a line of reduced-sugar juice drinks with 1-2 grams of usable carb per serving, and added vitamin C. If you really crave juice, they're an option. Still, they're a highly processed food, and some of them do include the extremely evil high fructose corn syrup, if only in small quantities. (Some also contain something called "GLYCEROL ESTER OF WOOD ROSIN," which sounds bizarrely like shellac, to me...)

* You could always take vitamin C in pills, you know.

* Hot beverages are soothing to a scratchy throat, and loosen chest congestion. Tea is the obvious choice (she said with a big pot of tea sitting close to hand.) If you're used to honey in your tea while sick, be aware that just one teaspoon has 5.7 grams of carbohydrate, all sugar. There are a couple of brands of sugar free imitation honey on the market - Steele's and HoneyTree. These are remarkably good, and available through online retailers and low carb specialty stores.

* We've been drinking Sipper Sweets brand sugar free raspberry lemonade mix, made hot. This is very good, very easy to make (nuke a cup of water, stir in a little mix,) and has just 1 gram of carb per serving. The lemonade and apple cider mixes by Sipper Sweets would be good hot, too. (NOTE: Since I wrote this, the market has changed. I'm still finding these products advertised on line, but some stores are saying they're on clearance, which makes me wonder if they've been discontinued. )

* Beware of cold medicines! Cough syrups and liquids like NyQuil have a lot of sugar. Buy NyQuil, DayQuil, and the like in soft gels, instead. Pharmacies carry sugar free cough syrups, often labeled "diabetic formula."

Again, your best bet for these is a pharmacy, not the grocery store or a discount store.

* Chicken soup is standard for colds, but most packaged chicken soups have noodles or rice in them. If nothing else will do, it's good to know that Campbell's Chicken Noodle has 8 grams of carb per serving - not great, but not terrible. Chicken Rice has 7 grams of carb.

* If there's a local Chinese restaurant that delivers, consider sending out for egg drop or hot-and-sour soup. Though recipes vary, both tend to be lower carb and higher protein than canned chicken noodle. Hot-and-sour soup - my cold-care favorite - has the added advantage of hot peppers to help clear out your nose.

Can't get delivery? With boxed or canned broth in the pantry, this egg drop soup is quick and easy enough to make in your weakened condition.

Eggdrop Soup

1 quart chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon guar or xanthan (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 scallion, sliced
2 eggs, beaten

If you're using the guar or xanthan, first put a cup or so of the broth in your blender, turn it on low, and add the guar. Let it blend for a second, then put it in a large saucepan with the rest of the broth. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and scallions. Heat over medium high burner, and let it simmer for five minutes or so, to let the flavors blend. Have your eggs beaten in a glass measuring cup or small pitcher - something with a pouring lip. Take a fork, and start stirring the surface of the soup in a slow circle. Pour in about a quarter of the eggs, and stir as they cook and turn into shreds, which will happen almost instantaneously. Repeat three more times, using up all the egg, then serve. 3 biggish servings, or 4-5 small ones; easy to double! Assuming 4 servings, each will have 2 grams of carbohydrate, a trace of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:51 PM

Addenda to Last Week's Article (on S.A.D.)

I heard from several of you about Seasonal Affective Disorder; it's clear I have plenty of fellow-sufferers. I wanted to clarify one thing, though: If you decide to take vitamin D supplements, discontinue taking 2000-3000 IUs per day as soon as you start getting some sun in the spring. 400-1000 IUs is far more reasonable in the summer, assuming you spend some time outside, and don't bath in SPF 4,683 every time you set foot out the door. Vitamin D overdose isn't common, but it's not unknown.

A couple of readers added their experience with SAD. A reader named Karen says:

I just wanted to add one thing to your SAD article. My brother, who lived in Pittsburgh., where the sun doesn't shine much in winter, found that if he started going to a tanning salon in late November, he didn't get depressed or crave carbs.

Something to think about.

I've heard of this too, but didn't mention it because I couldn't find anything in the Pubmed Database. Most medical websites recommend not using tanning beds for phototherapy, and insist that the light must shine in the eyes (which is dangerous in a tanning booth) to be effective.

However, if Karen's brother was using a bed that provided both UVA and UVB light, it might be that the improvement is due to increased vitamin D levels.

(Too, I find sun phobia to be a lot like fat phobia - everyone is just sure that sun is bad for you, but the research doesn't back it up. There's growing evidence that sun exposure without burning actually has many benefits, and cancer rates are lower in the southern part of the USA than they are in the north.)

Another reader wrote regarding the use of a light box:

Spare yourself the trouble and the money.. I spent well over $200 and it did not work at ALL with sitting closely in front of it for 30 minutes a day.. it was a waste of money..! Good luck to you. I live in Berlin, Germany and believe me, I can relate to the gray dark days.. it is TOUGH!

All I can say is thank goodness January is almost over, February is a short month, and by March it's usually spring here in Southern Indiana!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:49 PM

Vegetable Beef Soup

Cooking Low Carb!

Because it's cold and rainy here, I'm thinking longingly of soup (if the soup references earlier in the 'zine hadn't already tipped you off to that!) So on the hunch that at least some of you feel the same way, here's a recipe from The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, due out this spring. Usually Vegetable Beef Soup has potatoes or noodles in it - but simmered with everything else, you'd never know the turnips weren't potatoes.

Vegetable Beef Soup

A true classic. Eat it at the kitchen table, and you'll feel like mom is patting you on the back.

2 quarts beef stock
1 medium turnip, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin
1 large rib celery, sliced thin
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, juice and all
2 cups frozen green beans, cross-cut style
3/4 pound boneless beef chuck, in 1/2" cubes
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

Put your stock in a big soup kettle, and put it over medium high heat. While it's warming, do all your peeling and chopping and opening. Just throw everything into the pot as you get it cut up. Bring to a simmer, cover, turn the burner down to low, and let it cook for at least an hour, and two is better. That's it!

6 Servings: 215 Calories; 9g Fat; 12g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; 15g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:47 PM

January 23, 2006

Hey Gang!

Here’s your Lowcarbezine! And it’s grown a bit again. With that lightening-fast comprehension that marks my every move, I realized that I could add an archived Low Carb For Life column to each issue, and it would be new to all of those whose local papers don’t carry my column. So that’s what I’ve done.

Read on!


Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:16 AM

Surviving Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sick and tired of winter yet? I am. And when I say “sick and tired” I mean sick and tired! I, like many other folks, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder – fatigue and depression caused by the lack of sunlight during the winter months.

It’s been particularly fierce for me this year, because we’ve had a warm but gray winter here in Southern Indiana. I like the warm, but the gray part has me ready to weep. I’m sure that winter used to involve frigid but brilliantly clear days, the sun sparkling off the snow with near-blinding intensity. Instead we’ve had a long run of days in the 40s and 50s, damp, with heavily overcast skies. Okay, so I like not shoveling snow. But I’d trade the warmth for some sun!

Why am I bringing up Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Because one of the common symptoms is serious carb cravings, and that’s of special concern to us.

Let’s look at all the symptoms of SAD. They include:

  • regularly occurring symptoms of depression (excessive eating and sleeping, weight gain) during the fall or winter months.
  • full remission from depression occur in the spring and summer months.
  • symptoms have occurred in the past two years, with no nonseasonal depression episodes.
  • seasonal episodes substantially outnumber nonseasonal depression episodes.
  • a craving for sugary and/or starchy foods.
  • Fatigue, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
You begin to wonder if bears have the right idea – just sleep all winter.

Oddly enough, I have all of these except the craving for sugary and/or starchy foods. I attribute this to having been low carb for so long that my brain just doesn’t run on that track anymore. But the reason for carb cravings during Seasonal Affective Disorder is simple, and it’s the same reason you may get carb cravings in any stressful or depressing situation – carbs cause a rush of serotonin in the brain, and serotonin makes you feel more cheerful. (As many of you no doubt are aware, antidepressant drugs like Prozac and Paxil work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.)

So here you are, full of good intentions after the New Year – and faced with biochemically driven carbohydrate cravings. What can you do?

The standard treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder is light therapy, also called phototherapy, using a full-spectrum light box that gives off 10,000 lux. Please don’t ask me to define a “lux.” I looked it up, and the explanation went into “lumens per meter squared.” Which would be useful if I knew how much a lumen is, but I don’t. Just know that this is a considerably more intense light than you’ll get from your average light bulb.

Anyway, a couple of hours exposure to a light box – for instance, putting one on your desk first thing in the day as you work – is the most commonly recommended treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am seriously considering investing in a light box. However, after some shopping around on the internet, the least expensive one I can find, called the HappyLite, runs $170. This is considerably cheaper than the $350 the local medical supply store wanted.

Still, I just bought a new house, and the budget’s stretched pretty thin right now. So I did a little poking around for cheaper measures that would still be effective.

Cheapest, and good for us in numerous ways, is to take a walk outside on any day that’s not utterly frigid or stormy. As I mentioned, here in Southern Indiana our winter’s been quite mild, but depressingly gray – not really inviting weather for a hike to the end of the road and back. I keep reminding myself that even on the grayest day I’ll get more full-spectrum light during a 45 minute walk than I would from any electronic device, and walking in itself is an antidepressant.
Not to mention an aid to weight control and general health. Score!

Of course, I work at home, on my own time, which gives me the freedom to walk out the door in the middle of the day. But if you’re having serious mid-winter blues, I urge you to get outside for at least a little while any day the weather’s not ridiculously harsh, even if you just go walk around the parking lot at work for 15 minutes during your lunch break.

A search on the PubMed database turned up a very interesting study of the effects of vitamin D supplementation on SAD. Vitamin D is, of course, the vitamin/hormone that is created in your skin during exposure to sunlight. It makes all kinds of sense that SAD would be caused, at least in part, by low vitamin D levels.

Sure enough, in this clinical study, subjects who had Seasonal Affective Disorder and were given a single whopping dose of vitamin D – 100,000 IUs – were found to have improved significantly on all “outcome measures” – all the tests that the researchers were using to quantify their depression and fatigue. Excitingly, the subjects given vitamin D improved far more than those who were given the standard phototherapy.

I read this study when my SAD was really at a low point – getting out of bed was an exercise in will, and focusing on writing was near-impossible. As soon as I read about the vitamin D study, I ran to my health food store and bought a bottle of 1000 IU vitamin D capsules. I swallowed five of them as soon as I got home, and another three that evening. I felt noticeably better by the end of the day, and with continued doses of 3000 to 4000 IUs of vitamin D per day, I have been improving ever since. Okay, so I’m still longing for spring. But at least I can get up in the morning, and get some work done during the day. That’s a big improvement, and I’m grateful for it.

(Worried about overdose? Don’t be. It’s estimated that a scantily-clad (ie, bathing suit-wearing) white person spending five to ten minutes in the summer sun will create at least 4000 or so units of vitamin D. Taking a few thousand IUs of fish oil D per day during the winter will not create an overdose.

Speaking of which: Black folks create far less vitamin D in their skin than white folks do, which is why the rates of rickets – weak bones from vitamin D deficiency – have long been higher in black folks in northern regions than they are in white folks in the same regions. I urge my black readers to take vitamin D supplements year ‘round, and to give them to their children.

Too, there is growing evidence that our national obsession with sun screen is causing more health problems than it prevents, because of reduced vitamin D formation. Some researchers are now claiming that for every case of skin cancer we prevent we are causing ten cases of breast, prostate, and colon cancer.)

Interestingly, there are very few food sources of vitamin D, which is why I referred to it as a hormone earlier. It appears that we were not meant, for the very most part, to get our vitamin D from food, but rather by creating it in our bodies from regular exposure to the sun.

Milk and other dairy products contain vitamin D, but only because synthetic D has been added to them; these are not sources of vitamin D in their natural state. Oily fish like sardines, mackerel, tuna, and salmon have some D, as do egg yolks, mushrooms, and liver. You’ll notice something interesting about these few food sources of vitamin D: They’re all low carb. If you’re fond of chicken livers – I love them – sauteing some mushrooms and onions with some chicken livers, then pouring in beaten eggs and scrambling the whole thing together would be about as high-D a meal as I can think of. (Now I’m making myself hungry!)

The very best source of vitamin D is fish liver oil, which is why people from far northern climes have taken cod liver oil for centuries – what with getting so little sun half the year, they learned that they were healthier, and their children grew better, if they took that magical fish liver oil every day. This is a very smart idea, and I take cod liver oil all year ‘round, both for its vitamin content, and for its healthy EPAs. The 1000 IU capsules I’ve been adding to my cod liver oil are also from fish liver oil, but they’re more concentrated.

Some doctors prescribe antidepressant drugs for SAD, to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Most antidepressants fall into the class of SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors. What this means is that they slow the removal of serotonin from the teeny gaps between brain cells (known as synapses) so that the effects of the serotonin are felt more.

Instead, I’ve been taking 5-hydroxytryptophan, also known as 5-HTP. Extracted from an African seed, this supplement is the immediate chemical precursor to serotonin, so taking it actually increases levels of serotonin available in the brain. Be aware that 5-HTP is still being studied and is controversial; it’s up to you whether you want to try it. However, do not try 5-HTP if you are already taking antidepressants. It’s a potentially bad combination.

You can increase your serotonin levels to a lesser degree by eating plenty of foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan. High tryptophan, low carb foods include poultry, fish, cheese, avocados and nuts. Milk is also a good source; it’s not low carb – 12 grams of lactose per cup – but it is a low impact carb, so many of you should be able to tolerate it. Plain yogurt is another good high tryptophan food (flavored yogurt has tryptophan, but is loaded with sugar.) Add your favorite flavoring extracts and the sweetener of your choice.

Some people find that St. John’s Wort, which appears to have a similar action to the SSRI drugs, is helpful for SAD. If you try St. John’s Wort – and again, don’t combine it with pharmaceutical antidepressants – be aware that it increases your sensitivity to sunlight, making sunburn much more likely. Not a problem for most of us right now, but if you use a tanning bed or are going on a winter vacation, be careful.

(By the way, any of these approaches can be helpful in dealing with emotional carb craving in general.)

Of course, the ultimate treatment would be a two-week vacation in the Caribbean, but I can’t afford either the money or the time, can you? I have vowed, however, that if I have another best-seller, I’m buying myself a winter place in Mexico.

I hope this info helps my fellow SAD sufferers to shake their winter blues without a major carb binge. And here’s a cheerful thought: Groundhog Day (February 2) is just around the corner – and that’s halfway to spring!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:03 AM

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

See this and other reviews of 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes at

Much as we love Amazon – and we do love Amazon! – I’d be remiss not to let you know that 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes is available at bookstores across America.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:58 AM

Low Carb on a Budget

(This is a reprint from my column, "Low Carb for Life".)

Now that the holidays are over, while our VISA cards are still smoking in our wallets, it seems an opportune moment to tackle a common complaint regarding a low carb diet: “It’s so expensive!”

At first glance, this seems true. If you’ve been basing your meals on potatoes, rice, pasta, and generic white bread, you’ve been getting away with a lower cost-per-serving than, say, steak. However, I have several thoughts on this matter.

First, and most important, is this: Any food that makes you fat, tired, sick, and hungry would not be cheap even if they were giving it away. If you are carbohydrate intolerant, if you have the illnesses that have been identified as being related to high insulin levels – diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and the like – “cheap” carbs are a luxury you can’t afford. You’ll pay for them in the form of doctor visits, medicines, sick days, dental bills, and new clothes in bigger sizes.

Second, remember that many carb-y foods are not even cheap to buy. I’ve long suspected that cold cereal is a conspiracy to get us to pay three and a half bucks for fifteen cents worth of grain. Bulk potatoes may be cheap, but Pringles are expensive. Frozen dinners, canned biscuits, boxed potatoes, and other prepared foods are not budget items, and most of them are loaded with junk carbs and bad fats. Cut all of this rubbish out of your food budget, and you’ll find a bit more room for protein and vegetables.

That being said, real, good, nutritious food does cost more per pound than the cheapest carb-y junk. How to deal with this?

* Not one of those expensive low carb specialty foods is essential to your success. When I went low carb they didn’t exist. Going low carb meant eating unprocessed real foods, and I suspect that some of the health benefits stemmed from this simple fact. You’ll save big money eating real food instead of low carb macaroni-and-cheese mix.

* Your body does not care if you get your protein from lobster, steak, and boneless, skinless chicken breast, or from hamburger, tilapia fillets, and chicken leg-and-thigh quarters. Hereabouts those boneless, skinless breasts often run $4.99 a pound, while leg-and-thigh quarters often go on sale for 69c a pound or less. Big difference.

* Buy in bulk When hamburger, tuna, butter, canned broth, natural peanut butter, or the like goes on sale, stock up. A freezer lets you take advantage of meat specials. I bought my deep freezed used for $225 and it has paid for itself many times over.

* We love rib eye steaks, which run $8.99 a pound. So I wait till whole rib eyes go on sale for $4.99 a pound, and have the nice meat guys slice one into steaks for me. No charge for this service, and I get steaks for several months for the price of one dinner at Outback. I also buy leg of lamb on deep discount, and have it cut into steaks – much cheaper than lamb chops.

* Eat what’s in season. Asparagus, lettuce, berries, and melon, all great low carb foods, are sky-high this time of year. Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are all in season, and are cheaper – I just bought cabbage for 39c/pound. This makes coleslaw, steamed broccoli, and cauliflower “fauxtatoes” better choices than salad. Turnips and rutabaga (I adore rutabaga!), spaghetti squash, and celery are other winter vegetables that work well for us. Grapefruit is abundant, wonderful and cheap in the winter, and has only about 10 grams of usable carb per half.

* Bagged salad, pre-cut veggies, skinless chicken, pre-made hamburgers are all expensive. The more food preparation you do yourself, the more money you will save. Spend an hour on the weekend prepping stuff yourself, and stash it in the fridge for busy days.

* Nuts are low carb, but so are sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and they’re far cheaper. More minerals, too!

* Drink homemade iced tea instead of diet soda.

* One of the lowest carb-and-calorie desserts is also one of the cheapest – store brand sugar-free gelatin.

* Cut way back on eating out. The same food is always far cheaper at home.

* Bag lunches are a great way to use up leftovers – who wants to pay for food to turn green in the fridge?

Here is a family-pleasing supper that cooks while you’re out of the house. Buy leg-and-thigh quarters, and spend five minutes cutting the drumsticks off for another meal, and pulling off the skin – you’ll save 30c a pound or more.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:54 AM

Southwestern Barbecue

Here’s a family-pleasing supper that cooks while you’re out of the house. Buy leg-and-thigh quarters, and spend five minutes cutting the drumsticks off for another meal, and pulling off the skin – you’ll save 30c a pound or more.

Southwestern Barbecue

1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Splenda
1 1/2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, canned, sliced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 pounds skinless chicken thighs

Combine everything but the chicken in your slow cooker, and stir well.

Place the chicken in the sauce, meaty side down.

Cover, set on low, and cook for 6 hours. Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over it.

6 Servings, each with: 215 Calories; 7g Fat; 34g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 2g Usable Carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:50 AM

Peachey 'Rice'

Here’s a killer side dish from my new book, The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook, that’ll perk up roasted chicken, or simple pan-broiled chops. This time of year you’ll want to use frozen unsweetened peach slices in this.

Peachy "Rice"

I love the peaches with the curry flavor!

1/2 head cauliflower
2/3 cup cooked wild rice
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup scallions, sliced, including the crisp part of the green
1 cup diced peaches, fresh, or frozen without sugar, thawed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter

Run the cauliflower through the shredding blade of your food processor. Put the resulting cauli-rice in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and nuke on high for 6 minutes.

While that's happening, dice your celery, slice your scallions, and dice your peaches. Chop your parsley, too.

Put your big, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and melt your butter. Add the celery and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry, and saute for another minute or two, stirring.

When the microwave beeps, remove the cover from the cauliflower immediately to prevent overcooking. Drain, and add to the skillet, along with the wild rice. Stir everything together. Add the scallions and the peaches, plus the salt and ginger, and once again stir to combine everything well. Let it cook just another couple of minutes. Stir in the parsley, and serve.

6 Servings: 66 Calories; 2g Fat; 2g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Fiber; 8g usable carbs.

What about that wild rice? It has fewer carbs and more flavor than any of the true rices, (Wild rice is a whole different species,) and that full-bodied flavor means that wild rice adds a lot of grainy flavor without a lot of carbs when combined with shredded cauliflower – “cauli-rice.” Wild rice does take quite a while to cook, so I like to cook up a whole package at a time, then stash any extra in my freezer, ready for the next time I need it. Here’s how to cook it:

Wild Rice

1 cup raw wild rice
3 cups water

Combine the wild rice and water in a saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Bring it to a boil, then turn the burner to low, and let the wild rice cook for 50-60 minutes, or until the kernels split open a bit. Drain any excess water. Store in a tightly lidded container in the fridge, and use it up within a week or so. Or freeze in 1/2 cup portions in zipper-lock bags, to thaw and use as you need it.

7 Servings: 82 Calories; trace Fat; 3g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 1g Fiber; 16g usable carbs.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:48 AM

January 15, 2006

Can You Low Carb Now That the Hoopla Has Died Down?

Last week I welcomed the low carb newbies, and tried to give them a good start with their new way of eating. Now I’d like to talk to some of you who have fallen off the wagon, but still subscribe to this ezine. (Let’s hear it for procrastination!)

My email tells me that some folks are faltering in their low carbing because it’s not the rage anymore. The media has been telling them that “low carb is dead.” Most of the highly processed low carb specialty products tanked in the marketplace, and are long gone. Worst of all, my latest cookbook, due out this spring, doesn’t have “low carb” in the title! (It’s The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook – and mostly I’ve cut calories by cutting out the junk carbs.) I’ve been accused of “abandoning low carbers.” I’ve been told I have a responsibility to “keep the movement alive.” A fair number of folks are afraid they can’t persist with their low carb plan if the mainstream isn’t with them.

Um, folks? I was eating a low carb diet for a good seven or eight years before the low carb explosion of 2003. When I started in 1995, not only were there no low carb specialty products, the vast majority of the world thought I was stone out of my mind. Fast food workers stared at me bewildered when I asked for “a Whopper, hold the bun.” Living in a college town, as I do, with a huge vegetarian population, many of them misheard my request as “a Whopper, hold the meat,” while others simply looked at me as if I’d ordered Roasted Puppy on a Stick and said, “What do you mean, hold the bun?” (What word didn’t you get?) Waiters in nice restaurants were polite, but puzzled.

Some friends expressed concern that I was ruining my health, while other simply didn’t get it, persistently mishearing “low carb” as “low fat.” (“Here, I brought you this sorbet. It’s low fat, so you can have it, right?”)

Public support was nowhere.

It never occurred to me to quit. You know why? Because it worked. Because the weight was coming off. Far, far more important, because I felt so good – better than I had in years and years. Because, miraculously, I wasn’t hungry all the time anymore. Because my energy and my moods were both at all-time highs.

So for those of you who have drifted back to eating carbs but are still reading Lowcarbezine!, I have a few questions you might ask yourself:

* Did low carb help me lose weight?
* Was my energy level better on my low carb diet?
* Did a low carb diet help with hunger and cravings?
* Did my health improve or deteriorate on my low carb diet?

If, upon reflection, you realize that low carb was working for you, I urge you to ignore the media, of which, I admit, I am one. I can tell you right now, that of the big reasons for all the “low carb is dead” stories, none have to do with low carb not being effective:

1) The people who look at a diet as something you go on for six weeks before your high school reunion, only to go off it again, are gone. The people who try every new diet that comes along for 3 weeks are gone. The people who are looking for something that will miraculously let them lose weight with no need to change their habits are gone. Those folks were never going to stick, anyway.

2) Since many, if not most, of you were wary of the low carb specialty products, and wisely did not make them a big part of your diet, there is very little advertising money out there encouraging the media to write pro-low-carb stories. Never underestimate the power of the advertising dollar.

3) Most importantly, the media, as a whole, have all the attention span of a hyperactive six year old who’s drunk a pitcher of Kool Aid. Low carb has to be dead, you see, because it’s not new and exciting and hot. No one is stunned and dazzled any more by the idea that you can actually lose weight eating steak. So of course it’s time for something else. That low carb is still healthy and effective has exactly zip to do with it.

Please, I urge you: Do not make your nutritional decisions based on what is currently fashionable or trendy. Ask yourself what works for you. Remember that all the evidence points to a low carb diet based on animal foods, vegetables, low sugar fruits, and nuts and seeds being the hereditary diet of human kind – what my nutritionist and radio host pal Martie Whittekin calls the “factory specified diet.” That’s about as far from a “fad diet” as you can get.

If low carb makes you well, if it’s good for your own personal body, that’s all that matters.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:05 PM

Tuscan Soup

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Southern Indiana it’s gray and chilly, and often rainy – perfect soup weather. This recipe from 500 More Low-Carb Recipes just may be my favorite.

Tuscan Soup

This Italian-style soup somehow manages to be delicate and substantial at the same time. Really addictive.

16 ounces hot Italian sausage in links
2 quarts chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 head cauliflower, sliced 1/4" thick
6 cups chopped kale
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed

First saute the sausage until done. Remove from your skillet, and let it cool a little while you...

Start heating the chicken broth and cream in a big, heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat.

While that's heating, cut your cauliflower into 1/4" chunks. Chop the kale, too. Add both the vegetables to the soup.

Okay, your sausage is cool enough to handle! Slice it on the diagonal, about 1/2" thick. I like to cut each slice in half, too, to make more bites of sausage, but that's not essential. Put the sliced sausage in the soup, too.

Stir in the red pepper flakes and the garlic. Turn the burner to lowest heat, and let the whole thing simmer for an hour, stirring now and then.

6 servings, each with 487 Calories; 41g Fat; 20g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 8 grams usable carb.

If you prefer, you can use half-and-half instead of the cream. Your soup will then have 402 calories per serving, with 11 grams of carb, 2 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of usable carb.

Note: Please, please, please use good quality chicken broth. Most of the canned stuff in the grocery store is full of chemicals, and often also has corn syrup or sugar added. Yuck. Kitchen Basics brand is good stuff. Or go to the health food store and buy Health Valley, Shelton’s, Pacific, or Hain brand broth – no junk. Some health food store broth will be salt-free – that’s fine, just add salt to taste when your soup is done.

Me, I save up all my chicken bones in a plastic grocery sack in the freezer, and when I’ve got a sackful I boil them up for broth – something for nothing, and far, far better, both nutritionally and in flavor, than any packaged broth!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 08:01 PM