THE Premier Low-Carb store .. .. AND Meeting Place

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

LIFE WITHOUT DONUTS

Life Without Donuts is a blog name that tells us so much about the man who owns the blog. This is a guy who loved carbs, preferably loaded with fat and smothered in sugar - as in Donuts! However, today he has undergone a metamorphosis. It's almost as if he is another person! Ron went low-carb and lives his life without donuts. Weigh to go, Ron (pun intended)!!

Known as The Former Donut Junkie, Ron is a happily married pre-senior (I'm assuming he means later middle-aged, similar to me in my early fifties) who has lived and worked in the hills of East Tennessee all his life. I got this info from his first blog (he doesn't share a whole lot about himself and his accomplishments on his blog, mainly because I think he doesn't want the focus on himself, but instead wants to be of help to those in the low-carb community who can benefit from his personal experience with low-carbing). I believe this means we can truly trust Ron, not only with his writing, but if ever we have the privilege of knowing him as a friend. Anyway, when I saw his photo on the first blog (which he didn't transfer to the new wordpress blog), I could have sworn I was looking at Tom Hanks, the movie star. Is that really you, Ron, or is that Hanks? (smile) Here is the first blog for those who are curious as can be at this point to see the photo: Photo

Ron is a plumber and we all know plumbers are very much needed. To my chagrin, I can't call my friend, Ron, to come and fix the leaky faucets in the kitchen of our new home as we live in another country.

Ron is also a pretty good poet in his spare time: Sugar's Sweet Kiss of Death. He is also a pretty funny guy who doesn't mind poking fun at himself: Honey I shrunk my Muffin Top. Cute! :-)

Ron is a regular participator at Jimmy Moore's Forum. I just went over there to have a look. He is a moderator on that board. He is a kind man, bright, understanding and willing to encourage others on to success in the weight loss arena.

Rons' blog contains lots of fun reading for low-carbers. He will share recipes, news, research and data, product reviews and success stories with a good dose of humor usually - so never boring! He talks about his youth and struggles with dieting, mostly low-fat and the horrible hunger he had to endure. Story is here:
Dieting....the Early Years. He terms the low-fat diets fad diets, because he says they only work short term and after that the return to former eating habits restores the weight lost and sometimes more. He says they fail because they are not sustainable. It is a depressing cycle that many people are familiar with - lose weight, put it back on and yet some - soul destroying, not to mention embarrassing. Some people have even given up trying to lose weight, because at the very least their weight doesn't keep going up and up, as in after another failed diet attempt.

One needs to make a lifestyle change, Ron, aka The Former Donut Junkie, insists and I quote: "Low-carb is a journey and not a day hike! It is a lifestyle! It is not a diet! If it is to be successful!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jamie (Cleo): The Lighter Side of Low-Carb

Jamie Van Eaton (Also known affectionately as Cleo short for Cleochatra): The Lighter Side of Low-Carb and National Low-Carb Examiner Column.

I don't know of too many people who have not heard of Jamie (Cleo)van Eaton, the famous creator of the "Oopsie Rolls" who endeared herself to fellow low-carbers on low carb friends' forum. However, I bet many of you did not know that the self-deprecating Jamie could care less about being in the limelight. She cares about sharing her culinary creations, encouragement and low-carb inspiration with her fellow low-carbers, however, but does not like it when the spotlight is directly on her. She has turned down interviews for that reason and was not sure she wanted me to write about her either. Go figure! I can relate to Jamie though.

Jamie is a wife and mother of no less than 4 children. She works full-time and writes for her prestigious column as a National Low-Carb Examiner. She is hugely popular, because any cookbook review I have had with her has resulted in a number of sales, for which I'm grateful in this economic downturn, when books and art (we sell art too - at least it is mostly my youngest son's business now) sales inevitably suffer. Jamie is a gifted, humorous writer as well as a clever food chemist when it comes to low-carb fare. She is an international writer who writes for Parents Canada (I'd say she is qualified for the job, having 4 children of her own. Wow!). She also writes for an online photography magazine called Design Aglow. All these different hats Jamie wears has her run ragged just of late and that is totally understandable. To add to this, she hurt both her ankles by falling in a hole in a field not so long ago. She cannot believe how these things seem to happen to her! I believe she is recovering well.

Jamie is a low-carb weight loss expert - having lost almost 90 lbs. This is amazing to say the very least. I so admire people that do things like that.

Okay, back to Jamie's blog: She has been a prolific writer - topping 42 posts in February alone! Did you know she reviews cookbooks and promptly gives them away to readers? I think her low-carb cookbook library must be dwindling as a result. At any rate, she has so much of her own repertoire that she scarcely needs more recipes. What is nice is that Jamie prefers sugar-free and gluten-free recipes, so this is a specialty niche that is being addressed. She has come up with some great pasta recipes, that I need to try soon. She makes homemade low-carb pasta! Here is an example of her talent - See photos of Dessert Fruit Pizza and other recipes here. If you look carefully, you will also find her low-carb success story on that screen. Amazing lady!

She warns people off of aspartame. Her findings make one really think. I tend to think her experience as a heavy diet coke drinker for 24 years is no coincidence. I think it is extremely addictive and I don't exactly blame her, but rather the company which made an unhealthy drink (in my opinion as carbonated drinks leach calcium out of our bones and also promote inflammation in the body and contribute to wearing away the dentin of our teeth) that literally addicts one. You can find her post about that at that link above. Jamie shares very personal struggles like this on purpose in order to help others. Her encouraging posts for dieters and restarting dieters are phenomenal. She has great compassion for others, having herself suffered through the years, to know intimately the struggles that others with weight problems have. I honestly believe that, yes our Western diets contribute to overweight problems, but that that is only a small part of the puzzle. Some people that eat the same way, don't have that happen - so we really don't know everything yet. It is a heartbreaking challenge to have in life, but to her credit Jamie rose above it all - being a super mom and a super achiever in life with her sense of humor in tact.

Here is an example of Jamie's compassion and talent in writing - yes she is humorous, witty and funny, but she is also a very sensitive person:

Jamie tried to get rid of the roses that were growing too close to the swimming pool, as they didn't want anyone getting poked or pricked.

"Look who came back? Small and beautiful and more vigorous than ever, this little shrub poked itself from the mounds of dirt we finally piled atop of them as if to say, "I have the right to be here. I do."

And so I pulled the weeds around this little plant, and each day it grew stronger until its buds opened and it smiled at me in an array of light pink the other day. It welcomed the local bees and gleamed at me. "I hope I can stay here." And so it will.

Sometimes (like those bushes I tried to destroy for a ridiculous reason) our own journeys in life are buried, poisoned and chopped down. Our hopes for health are left bloomless and beaten down, sometimes because of inconvenience, and sometimes because we don't see the beauty in even something as simple as the small, seemingly insignificant triumph of a hardy stem fighting from the dirt.

All we need to be is who we are, without apology, and remember those sturdy little blossoms, shining in bright sunshine. In beauty. In triumph. With pride. And with purpose.

Today, as you look at those flowers, look into yourself, move away the wood piles, smooth away the dirt clods, and pull those weeds choking you.

You have the right to be here.

See what you can do!

What took you so long?

and Hello. To you. Because you're beautiful even hidden under that discarded lumber."


Jamie, keep up the good work! People love ya! :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prompted by a Reader - Only Two Bake Mixes Required for all my recipe books!

A question was posed by Ethyl who owns my low-carb cookbooks:

How interchangeable are all the bake mix variations that are listed in your cookbooks? I have all the low-carb ones and have been trying some of the recipes (no disappointments yet), but am a little overwhelmed by all the different bake mix options. If I try a recipe for the first time I feel that I should stick to the exact bake mix you recommend (otherwise how would I know, if it didn't turn out, that it was because I used another bake mix?) but I am ending up with several different bake mixes on hand and small amounts of each left over. It's getting a little overwhelming and to have so many and to keep straight which one to use for what. I would prefer if there were just one bake mix that would work for everything. Your advice is appreciated.

My Answer:

Important Note: Most of my recipes do not require any bake mixes.

Ethyl, first of all, lump all your leftover bake mixes together in a container, seal and freeze. Use whenever needed to bread things as mentioned in the previous post or as a binder in hamburgers and meatloaf. Also, you can use it to "flour" the surface when rolling out dough.

Your best bet (to prevent possible problems) is to choose two bake mixes. One of them should be a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix (Cup-for-Cup substitution for white flour) and the other my Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix.

Splendid Low-Carbing: Replace all bake mixes with a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix of choice (there are several variations). In muffins or loaves a little more liquid may be required (not necessarily) to achieve the right consistency. Do not replace the bread bake mixes as I cannot guarantee anything. Low-carb breads are finicky.

More Splendid Low-Carbing: A breeze - substitute the two low-carb bake mixes offered in this book with Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix. It should work beautifully.

Splendid Low-Carb Desserts: Easy!
Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix is predominantly used with one or two recipes requiring a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Splendid Low-Carbing for Life, Volume One: Occasional use of a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix in this book.

Splendid Low-Carbing for Life, Volume Two: Mostly used Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Biskmix (variation of the former) and occasional use of a Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Thankfully, most of the low-carb desserts work really well with the Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix which is a good bake mix for serious Atkineers or low-carbers requiring strict carb counting and no flour products. It is possible to substitute the Vital Ultimate Bake Mix for the Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix in desserts (add 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup extra), but it is a little trickier doing it the other way around for breads, etc. -i.e. substituting the Low-carb bake mix for an ultimate bake mix. I cannot guarantee the results in breads (as I've not tested that scenario), so I can't recommend it.

I suspect the Gluten-free bake mix that I offer on this blog would work really well in my recipes as a third option, however, I cannot guarantee anything, as I've not tested them with this option.

Simple Solution: Only two bake mixes are required to really enjoy all my recipes without resorting to making too many of the bake mix options - Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Jennifer Eloff
www.low-carb.us

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flour, Flour, Flour - what to use in our low-carb baking instead

White, wheat flour was a staple in my home, ironically, when I was developing my two Splenda Splendid Desserts cookbooks for people with diabetes or people who were following low calorie diets.

When it came to developing low-carb recipes, I wanted an easy substitute for white flour in my recipes. I didn't want to guess at what would work with every single recipe I tried of our old favorites. How could I possibly guess correctly each time as to what low-carb ingredients would make an old, favorite recipe taste similar, familiar and not noticeably low-carb? I didn't have the time (I was home schooling the boys) nor the money to constantly retry recipes. I needed a low-carb bake mix that I could make in bulk occasionally and conveniently keep on hand all the time (on the shelf in cooler countries and in the refrigerator or freezer in tropical climates). I needed a low-carb bake mix that would work reliably most of the time, if not all of the time.

This is why my cookbooks contain bake mixes for all occasions and even a Bisquick substitute, that although not perfect, is not bad for several applications and definitely very low-carb and tasty with no aftertaste.

The low-carb bake mix is very low-carb (3.3 grams carbs per 1/3 cup) and on this blog I have shown how easy it is to substitute ingredients people may prefer, so it is very versatile - as are almost all of the different bake mixes for which I give several variations. There are some that are cup-for-cup substitutions for white flour (8 grams per 1/4 cup) and will be especially super in maintenance for occasional, very special desserts, however, the low-carb bake mix is no slouch. Vikki, a new and special blog friend, of Vikki's Low-Carb Kitchen and Welcome to My Low-Carb Kitchen made my pound cake using the low-carb bake mix and said nice things about it. To be honest, that pound cake is quite plain (great for trifle though), so Vikki, if you're reading this, you're in for a surprise if you try some of the more exciting recipes. :-)

When it comes to versatility, think about this: soy flour, whole wheat pastry flour (not whole wheat flour), and oat flour have more or less the same number of carbs. Oat flour can be certified gluten free (Bob's Red Mill makes gluten free oats - a good, powerful blender or food processor will turn the oats into flour in two-two's). Then not to mention coconut flour, ground flax seeds, ground almonds, walnuts, pecans, whey protein powder, vital wheat gluten, etc. for really low-carb fillers. I have a nut-free cup-for-cup bake mix for those allergic to nuts, there is a gluten free bake mix on this blog that can substituted in my recipes and it goes on like that. Sure one can substitute ground almonds in recipes for white flour, but my experience is that the baked product is often times inferior and tastes low-carb - not to mention the fact that sometimes it just plain old doesn't work and flops!

A few people have moaned that once they've made a bake mix of mine and have no further use for it, that it could go waste. Why? I find the bake mixes are great to use up in burgers, meat loaf, microwave crackers (volume 2, Splendid Low-Carbing for Life), for breading meat, fish, chicken, chayote squash, eggplant, etc. Add appropriate seasoning to the bake mix, or maybe stir in a little Parmesan cheese and skip the salt.

Some of the bake mixes are more suitable for breads and tortillas and pizza crusts, as well as desserts, but, thankfully, the really low-carb bake mixes work wonderfully in low-carb desserts.

In addition to the bake mixes, I also have a thickening agent recipe that works really well to thicken sauces, puddings, stews and soups. My friend, Linda Parsons, from Atlanta, Georgia, thinks it is a wonderful recipe.

The bake mixes have made my low-carb life easier and made producing cookbooks a breeze compared to what it may have been like. It was the rare time that I had to retest a recipe and then it was usually to perfect it. It never failed though to give me a high of sorts when a new recipe worked first time and tasted great and received praise from my husband, family and friends. That was basically what kept me going - approval, creativity and knowing that I was making our lives more fun on the low-carb lifestyle and that I was helping other people too - that and it was a big distraction for me from the sadness and tragedy in my life with regard to my birth family.

In the comments, there is an in-depth discussion of how to simplify life - i.e. which 2 bake mixes will be the most useful. Simple: Only two bake mixes are required to really enjoy all my recipes without resorting to making too many of the bake mix options - Splendid Low-Carb Bake Mix and Vital Ultimate Bake Mix.

Jennifer Eloff
www.low-carb.us

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm like a dog with a bone lately.... can't seem to let it go!

I felt it necessary to moderate the last post on caffeine and coffee where a study suggested drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day is beneficial. Anyway, women in particular, should be careful of drinking more than 4 cups of coffee or caffeinated drinks a day as there could be a possible link to breast cancer, but it is not very clear from the studies. Read more about it here: Caffeine-Breast Cancer Link Refuted Although, it says it is refuted, upon reading the material, I realized there are women at greater risk (those with benign breast disease) and really it doesn't sound too clear cut to me one way or the other. Moderation is probably key, as with many things in life.

GINGERBREAD LOW-CARB WAFFLES


Gingerbread Low-Carb Waffles
This idea came from BettyR who posted on lowcarbfriends. Char, a friend from yesteryear, used BettyR's version (with maybe a tweak or two) instead of bread for her and her husband. She loves the pockets of the waffles which are great for holding condiments. This is a sweet, doctored version of the original recipe, but the gingerbread flavor is very slight. Perhaps a stronger flavor could be achieved by using water, Splenda and gingerbread spices, or simply by adding more gingerbread spice to this recipe.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 extra large eggs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Da Vinci Sugar Free Gingergread Syrup
2 tbsp olive oil for greasing waffle iron

In food processor or blender, process cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs one by and one, processing briefly each time. Add vital wheat gluten, vinegar, baking soda, baking powder and Da Vinci Sugar Free Gingerbread Syrup. Blend until smooth.

Brush (I use a new, clean, soft paint brush and keep it for this purpose again later) preheated waffle iron liberally with olive oil. Place 3 tablespoons of batter on each form. Close lid. Set timer for 4 minutes.

Helpful Hint: These may be toasted briefly to crisp up waffles that have lost their crispness.

Yield: 10 waffles, 1 waffle per serving
Nutritional Analysis:
146.1 calories, 8.7 g protein, 11.4 g fat, 2.2 g carbs

Gingerbread Cream Sauce
This morning I made this and poured it over the waffles. It was really decadent! Pour low-carb syrup over all and it's heavenly. Use only 1 tbsp Gingerbread Sugar Free Syrup (or cream) and spread in my Ultra low-carb crepes, Splendid Low-Carbing for Life, Vol. 2, roll up and enjoy for a special tasty treat alongside the usual breakfast fare. I made my husband two waffles, two low-carb crepes, 3 rashers bacon and one egg. I used the Gingerbread Cream Sauce, of course, and Ian said it was better than a high carb breakfast. High praise from my bread-loving husband!

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 Splenda packets, OR Splenda Granular to taste
3 tbsp Gingerbread DaVinci Sugar Free Syrup, OR cream

Blend cream cheese, sour cream, Splenda and Gingerbread syrup in blender until smooth.

For anyone who is curious, here is the original recipe. It gives one some idea of how I "doctor" recipes. :-) These ones below are a lot more calorific than mine. I have to watch calories unfortunately, as I am short in stature at 5 foot 3 inches.

Amazing Low Carb Waffles (by BettyR)

Preheat Waffle Iron

1-8oz pkg cream cheese(cubed)
3 eggs
2 pkt Splenda
1 tsp SteviaPlus
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup Chefs blend flour(you can sub vital wheat gluten)
1/4 cup cream
1 cup mozzarella cheese(Yes cheese in your waffles)

Put everything into a food processor and process until smooth. Open processor and scrap down the sides with a spatula and process for another 30 to 60 seconds.

Cook as you would regular waffles.

Jennifer Eloff
www.low-carb.us

Friday, October 10, 2008

Prostate Cancer Survival Rate Greater in Men of Normal Weight

Obesity Linked to Prostate Cancer Deaths

Apparently, individuals with prostate cancer, obesity and high insulin levels have a greater risk of dying from the disease. It doesn't mean that men of normal weight do not die from the disease, just that their risk is a bit lower.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Coffee and Tea revisited


It would be unfair of me to only highlight the negative side effects of caffeine consumption. Obviously, moderation is probably advised for most people to prevent negative side effects, but I want to point out that studies have proven that there are positive side effects to drinking tea or coffee. I like the latter only occasionally when I go out, but I preferably drink tea. I used to drink caffeinated tea throughout the day in Canada when I was writing my cookbooks, but now that I live in the tropics in the mountains, tea loses its appeal past morning and only at night when it is cooler will I indulge in my Rooibos (decaf) tea or hot chocolate.

Although the article I will direct people to speaks about substantial (8 cups) of tea and coffee consumption (a bit crazy really for most of us), one has to realize that perhaps tea and coffee are not all bad. That said, I sometimes would call coffee, "beetle juice"! "Why?", someone may ask? Well, because my husband would get low blood sugar an hour or two after strong coffee and act like a Jekyll and Hyde around me (the bad one!). He can have mild coffee usually, but he seems to have more stable blood sugar when he drinks tea. Perhaps coffee and tea can raise blood pressure temporarily? This is another point brought up by someone who commented below the article. Everyone will decide, in any case, what is best for them. I just think it is interesting that for every subject on the internet, there seems to be at least two opposing views of thought, and one really has to use one's own head and experience to figure our what is the best advice to follow. I do enjoy the internet as it really does help in the long run for a person to do the research and become more pro-active in one's own health affairs.

Here is a great article that talks about the benefits of tea and coffee drinking and how it might help prevent strokes and cardiovascular disease: Dr. Briffa's article

Friday, October 3, 2008

CONDENSED MILK (GF)

Sugarless Condensed Milk
This is a good substitute for the canned variety. I have another condensed milk recipe (on this blog - only slightly lower in carbs at 2 grams), but it is for cold applications only. This recipe, although not terribly low-carb, is reduced carb and using, say 1/2 cup in a recipe spreads the roughly 22 grams of carbohydrates over the entire cake, cookie batch, cheesecake or whatever. I made this recipe last night when my pumpkin spice cheesecake came out a bit too savory tasting for my liking (I have a sweet tooth), so I poured a tablespoon over the top of each serving and that did the trick! This condensed milk is very much like the real thing. I could not tell the difference. This may or may not work in baking applications. Even although the taste is amazing, the composition is different to real condensed milk. Cold applications are probably still best here.

1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup whole milk powder (apparently Nestle makes it, called NIDO and also KLIM - look at Publix or in a Super Walmart in the Hispanic section or in Costco and South America (PriceSmart))
Sweetener to equal 4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2 to 4 tbsp regular butter
1/4 tsp xanthan gum 

Place boiling water, whole milk powder, sweetener, erythritol, butter and xanthan gum in blender and blend until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature before using in a recipe or store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups, 1 tbsp per serving.
Nutritional Analysis:
42.1 calories, 1.7 g protein, 2.9 g fat, 2.5 g carbs

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vikki's Low-Carb Kitchen

Vikki's Low-Carb Kitchen

Vikki's selfless desire to reach out to friends and other people with her low-carb culinary expertise really made me think that I'd like to showcase her wonderful blog and point more people her way. She very kindly reviewed one of my cookbooks (gave it a nice positive review too, but then that's Vikki!)and even shared a recipe from the book. She often shares with photos how she actually goes about making her recipes. It's really a rather unique site in that respect. Vikki has great taste in music and when you go to her Low-Carb Kitchen, you'll listen to her music selections at the same time. I got to know Vikki when she found my blog and she started visiting and commenting regularly. She was the first person ever to leave hugs for me in a comment. I figured I already knew this sweet woman! How nice is that?

Vikki worked as a teacher for 20+ years and, therefore, teaching as she does on her blog comes naturally to her.

Vikki has her own share of challenges which she shares on another blog of hers. She has many friends and it is not difficult to see why. Here is her other blog: Welcome to My Low-Carb Kitchen.

Vikki is also a pro at losing weight. She knows how to do it and how to work a low-carb diet. I am so impressed with this ability of hers and her sheer determination. I think she mentioned that she lost something like 80 lbs. Weigh to go, Vikki {pun intended :-)}.

Vikki is a fantastic daughter to her mother (also helping her with her diabetes) and a godly woman as well. What is not to admire?

ROAST CHICKEN DIPPING SAUCE

This recipe is delicious and it closely resembles the sauce served with delectable roast chicken meals at the famous and very popular Swiss Chalet restaurants in Canada.

1 cup water
1/3 cup V8 tomato juice
1 tbsp instant chicken stock mix
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Splenda Granular
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp spicy spaghetti seasoning (or basil or Italian herbs)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp Tabasco Sauce, OR Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Thickening Agent (my recipe), OR Xanthan gum

In blender, combine some of the water with Thickening Agent of choice and in saucepan, combine the rest of the water, blended mixture, tomato juice, instant chicken stock mix, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, Splenda Granular, paprika, spicy spaghetti seasoning (or use basil or Italian herbs), Worcestershire sauce, salt, onion salt and Tabasco Sauce or Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Over medium heat, heat sauce until thickened. Add a little extra thickener, if necessary, but not too much, or it will spoil the consistency.

Yield: 3 1/3 cups, 1/3 cup per serving
16.8 calories, 0.2 g protein, 1.5 g fat, 0.7 g carbs

EASY STRAWBERRY SAUCE (GF)


Strawberry Sauce
Easy to prepare sauce for pouring over a slice of plain cheesecake or cake. Make the evening before serving.

1 lb frozen strawberries
1 cup Da Vinci Sugar Free Strawberry, OR
Raspberry Syrup
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

In blender, combine strawberries and Da Vinci Sugar Free Strawberry or Raspberry Syrup and xanthan gum. Blend well. Refrigerate overnight.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups, 2 tbsp per serving
8.0 calories, 0.1 g protein, 0.0 g fat, 1.6 g carbs