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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Low-Carbing and the Rest of the Family

It is the rare family that all eat low-carb. I'm a low-carb fanatic (for 10 years now), low-carb cookbook author of 5 low-carb books and my family don't all eat low-carb. My husband takes long vacations from low-carbing (he is addicted to carbs and when he goes off low-carbing, it is a slippery slope that continues in that direction for a long time. Of course, he always regrets it, as he winds up overweight.). My sons have never been low-carbers. Although they are grown, they are still with us, working on entrepreneurial pursuits to get their futures secured.

How do I cope with the meals then? Sure, I make different meals for them too, but because time is a factor in my life, I prefer to make something everyone can enjoy. When I wrote my cookbooks, that is what I kept in mind and that is how the recipes were created - with a family in mind! My family has even eaten my low-carb breads and pizzas without complaining, and sometimes I get high praise! Cool. Often I will make the main course and add a vegetable or two, plus a starch for the non low-carbers. Then everyone is happy! :-)

Besides that, my recipes are simple, use everyday ingredients for the most part, except for a few specialty items for baking. I kept it simple-simple once again, because time is a factor for many people, not just myself. I only used one sweetener - Splenda Granular - however, sweeteners of choice can easily be substituted in my recipes, as Splenda affords very little in the way of texture.

So there you go - my thoughts on paper (oopsies, I mean computer screen!) this fine morning. Have a happy low-carbing day my friends reading this! Be healthy, be happy and know that you're doing a good thing for your body, your health, your emotional state and thus for your family.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Does One Bite of Something Off Plan have to Mean the "Kiss of Death" to your Low-Carb lifestyle?

Seriously, who has not been tempted and who has not succumbed from time to time? Quite honestly, I've been tempted and succumbed many times. It is true though that sometimes it could mean that we throw in the towel for a lot longer than the one indulgence. It is a choice though to do that. It always is. I have had times when one bite leads to enjoying the forbidden food and then the next day I'm back on track. I've also had times when I made a decision to go high-carb again for a lot longer, and always-always I regretted it. My weight would eventually go up and my blood work would not look as good, plus my energy levels would fluctuate wildly.

Does one bite of something off plan have to mean the "kiss of death" to our low-carb way of eating? No, but it is a risk and as long as one knows the risk and has made the firm mental commitment to get back on track the very next meal or the very next day or as soon as is practical (maybe it's a vacation and we're hanging loosely in the saddle of life, so to speak), then one is more likely to hop on the wagon again without too much damage being done psychologically, emotionally and physically. It does not make one a bad person, a failure or whatever to indulge occasionally, but many, many people take one slip-up to mean that and they throw in the towel for a very long time, until all their weight is regained and sometimes more. It's sort of crazy to think about, but it happens.

I think it would be better to abstain, but if one does indulge, to go into it with one's eyes open and mentally very aware of the pitfalls. Soon thereafter is the time to remind oneself of the many benefits of low-carbing and the many negatives of the old lifestyle. Remind yourself of how great your skin looks or how much firmer and less pudgy you look (even if your weight is higher than you would like), etc. and get back on track quickly. :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feeling Depressed on a Low-Carb Diet?

The problem might not be the low-carb diet as such - simply that the carb restriction, if it is pretty severe, then perhaps a lack of vitamins and minerals can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Also, keep in mind stress depletes serotonin levels. B vitamins, calcium and magnesium play a role in regulating serotonin levels.

The other thing to consider is carbs raise serotonin levels in the brain and that makes one feel good. For instance, a cup of coffee or tea will do the same. Eating carbohydrates or consuming stimulants raises insulin, which raises serotonin levels, but as we know refined carbohydrates will let us crash soon thereafter, causing serotonin levels to plummet as well. Enough fat and protein and some carbs will keep serotonin levels more balanced. If carbs drop too low, for some people this can be a problem. Also, a very low-fat diet makes one deficient in serotonin.

Moral of the story: Make sure you are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals (take supplements as well), sufficient protein and fats and some carbs. The carb level will vary with each individual. Some people feel great on a very low-carb diet and others feel better with a moderate carb level. However, high carb with lots of sugar and white flour products will cause serotonin levels to fluctuate wildly in susceptible people. Living off sweets and junk food can actually lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well - and, of course, to anxiety and depression.

Personally, I feel fantastic on a lower carb diet. I take all my vitamins and supplements every day. My moods are more stable and so is my blood sugar on a low-carb diet. The times that I have switched to high carb, I've gained weight over time and felt less healthy, as my food choices seem to deteriorate along with my morale. Low-carbing is the weigh to go for me! 'Scuse the pun! :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Low-Carb Fruit - Include Some in Your Low-Carb Diet


Here is an interesting link.

Here was where I talked about fruit on a low-carb diet on my blog some time ago: Can we have fruit on our low-carb diet?

Laura Dolson offered an excellent review of the different fruits: Lists of different fruits

PEANUT CHOCOLATE FUDGE


PEANUT CHOCOLATE FUDGE
Easy fudge recipe – decadent-tasting with a lovely fudge-like texture! Cut small pieces as it is very rich. Two or three pieces at a time would be more than enough to satiate. Coconut oil will rev the metabolism and keep yeast in check, therefore, this fudge unlike regular fudge may actually help with weight loss. For those who are adverse to honey, keep this fudge for maintenance or for a special treat around Thanksgiving or Christmas time or find the sugar free honey, which might be in Walmart, I'm thinking. :)  You would know better than I.  I'm just thinking back to our visit to Orlando in May last year.  Gotta love Orlando...beautiful place - everything is so orderly near Disney World!

For other great Low-Carb, Gluten-Free recipes by the team & me:
Support your team, buy Low-Carbing Among Friends cookbooks at: 
http://amongfriends.us/Jen.php (Paypal/Amazon) - SALE priced!


2 cups Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts (I get the big can of salted peanuts from Costco)
7 tbsp coconut oil
½ cup powdered erythritol
½ cup cocoa
2 oz unsweetened chocolate (melted)
2 tbsp honey, OR sugar free honey (a friend of mine tried it and it worked for her)

In food processor, grind peanuts until as fine as possible (it will still be a coarse meal most likely, depending on the power of your processor – mine is not too powerful). Add coconut oil; process. Add erythritol, cocoa and melted chocolate. Add the honey and notice something amazing happens to the texture! It thickens up nicely and the taste improves – the slight cooling effect of the erythritol is now barely noticeable. Spread in an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish. Freeze. When more solid (happens after about 20 minutes to half an hour), cut into 80 pieces (8 x10).

Nutritional Analysis: 80 pieces. 1 piece
38.5 calories; 1.0 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 1.2 g carbs

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Moderate Low-Carbing Revisited

Most low-carbers are the diehard kind - i.e. Atkineers - by far the majority of people choose Atkins. However, there are many people who are afraid of the high fat diet (at least to the extent that Atkins is) or cannot tolerate the high fat for whatever reason. These people might still be overweight and somewhat insulin resistant and could benefit from a lower carb diet. Personally, I think everyone is different, but the important thing is to achieve a healthy weight (not perfect - simply healthy) and to find a way of healthy eating that suits the individual. My personal conviction is that we eat too many refined carbohydrates in our society. It benefits everyone to cut down on the white flour and sugary products. The late Dr. Atkins said that they are anti-nutrients. They will actually deprive the body of nutrients as it tries to digest that garbage - oops, I meant carbage! I believe low-carbing is a healthy way to eat, however, the level of carbohydrate is really an individual thing. If someone is a true believer in low-carbing, then even if they veer from the diet for a while, they will always return with a renewed commitment to healthier eating.

Perhaps the views of this doctor below will ring true with a few folks reading my blog. This article was in the health section of the Time magazine.

How I Became a Low-Carb Believer
After seeing results in his patients, a once skeptical doctor is now a convert
BY WOODSON C. MERRELL, M.D.

In my 25 years of medical training and practice in Manhattan, I've seen a wide range of diets come and go. Virtually none of them work. Of course, they may work for a few weeks or months, but my experience follows the national statistics that 90% of dieters regain their weight within two years of weight loss. The ones who have been successful are those who have made a permanent commitment to altering their eating habits and continuing to be active physically. A major problem is that the dedication it takes to stay on a diet, especially for those significantly overweight, is usually too much for most people. So the weight-loss gurus are always looking for a diet that requires little or no self-discipline.

Diets that drastically reduce caloric intake leave most people feeling too physically and emotionally deprived to continue. Also, the body is often quick to recognize caloric deprivation and adjusts by lowering the metabolic rate, thus sabotaging the effect of a lower caloric intake. I saw this when I was a consultant in a hospital weight-loss center that specialized in liquid diets. I was astonished at the number of people on 600-to-800-calorie diets whose weight loss seemed to stall after just a few weeks. Even worse, when you come off such a diet, the metabolism often remains at that lower level, making weight gain inevitable.

For most of my professional career, I adhered to the generally recognized dictum of weight management. I advised my patients to count their calories and follow a low-fat diet. So when low-carbohydrate diets experienced a resurgence in the mid-'90s, I dismissed them as another fad. But a funny thing began to happen. Many of the people who went on the modern Zone or Atkins diets lost weight, didn't feel deprived, and were more successful in the long term.

Then I sat down with a cardiologist who not only espoused the Atkins diet but also had been on it himself and lost 40 lbs. over five months. He argued that the insulin-lowering effect of the diet was essential for allowing the body to burn fat more effectively. He also contended that reducing insulin levels could help prevent many diet- and weight-related diseases, including high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Atkins is a cardiologist too, but he is selling books. This physician, with no vested interest, made it clearer to me that carbohydrates are often the culprit. Certainly the majority of my overweight patients are carbohydrate junkies.

I tried the low-carbohydrate diets on a few patients for whom nothing else had worked. To my surprise, they did well. I chose the more cautious Zone and Heller systems, with moderate-to-low fat intake, though I noticed that the patients who were experimenting with the Atkins system of high saturated fat and ultra-low carbohydrates seemed to lose weight even faster.

So I have become a convert. Carbohydrates in the amount we commonly consume them (particularly sugar and other refined carbos) are often prime saboteurs of our weight. What's more, cutting back on them--especially on wheat--seems to produce improvements in energy, mood and sleep for many patients. It is hard to do--our culture is carbo- and wheat-driven. But of all the diets I've seen over the past few decades, the moderate-fat, lower-carbohydrate ones are the most successful. They stress not how much food you eat but what kinds. Calorie counting is not as important as carbo counting. They are not so much diets as a permanent change to a more balanced eating pattern.

I still have a difficult time recommending an Atkins-style, high-saturated-fat diet to my patients. Though the diet does provide a quick weight loss and is very satiating, I am concerned about its possible effects on people with serious heart, liver or kidney disease and cancer. As long as you are healthy, a high-fat diet is usually fine for a while. But after about a month, you should go off it. (My comment: I think Dr. Atkins would have taken serious offense to this statement, but anyway he has some other things right) That's the problem. When people begin to go off the strictest form of the diet, they have to be extremely careful as they increase the amount of carbos and dramatically cut back on fats. For most people, this is too much of a metabolic swing, and weight regain is all too common. The more moderate diets of Sears and the Hellers--cutting carbohydrates by about one-third and eating moderate amounts of fat, preferably monosaturated ones like olive oil--are more gentle to the system.

So we now have a new set of tools that can help reduce food cravings, lose weight, and often provide a better sense of well-being. But remember, amid all the talk about carbos and fats, that all responsible diets, low carbo or not, recommend a minimum of five helpings of vegetables and fruits a day. And there is not a diet in the world that is a substitute for that good old-fashioned metabolic jump starter called exercise.

DR. WOODSON MERRELL is executive director of the Beth Israel Center for Health and Healing in New York City

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chocochunk Cookies


This is basically my chocolate chip cookie recipe using homemade chocolate chips. I used chocolate chunks, raisins and walnuts. These cookies are not great right out of the oven (the chocolate goes weird), but refrigerated or frozen they are very acceptable. In a pinch if you don't have chocolate chips or a Lindt bar to cut up, use this recipe of mine:

Chocolate Chunk Recipe:
3/4 cup Splenda Granular
1/4 cup whole or skim milk powder (Hispanic section of Super Walmart, Publix, Costco)
3 tbsp whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp water
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz (4 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate

In blender, combine Splenda Granular, milk powder, whipping cream, erythritol, butter, water, olive oil and vanilla extract; blend. In cereal bowl, place squares of baking chocolate. Pour boiling water over chocolate and pour off when molten (test with a sharp, pointy knife). Add to blender; blend until combined. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet or dinner plate. Freeze until hard enough to score into chips. Freeze until solid and break along the scored lines using a blunt knife. Keep in the freezer in a sealed container until ready to use.

CAROLYN'S LOW-CARB MILK (GF)


Carolyn speaking: "I was experimenting to make a cheaper version of CC (Calorie/Carb Countdown) milk and I do think it is pretty darn good. Of course, you can double/triple, etc. the recipe. But it's pretty cheap to make." The full thread at low-carb friends is here. People love this recipe. Well done, Carolyn, and thanks for letting me share it here! Your many wonderful culinary contributions over the years in the low-carb community makes you a valuable asset to all of us low-carbers.

Homemade Low Carb Milk

One cup:

1-2 Tbs. of heavy cream (depending on how creamy you want it)
1 1/3 Tbs. of instant dry milk
1 cup of cold water
sprinkle of salt
tiny sprinkle of splenda (if you want)

Just put the ingredients in and shake it up. Refrigerate.

Calories 65 if 1 Tbs. of cream is used, 110 if 2 Tbs. of cream is used
5 grams of fat / 10 grams of fat
3 carbs / 3 carbs
2 grams of protein / 2 grams of protein

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Remembering Julia Child

Most of us who are older know that Julia Child was a very famous cookbook author, and quite an outspoken person on political and other matters. Although I think I have only one cookbook by Julia Child, I was impressed by this tall lady (I think she stood 6 foot 2 inches) with her booming voice, when I was merely 35 years old, and had just finished my own first cookbook - although way more modest than anything she ever wrote. I found out to my chagrin that I would need to do a cooking show or two to promote my cookbook. I was given a video of Julia Child in action on T.V. I laughed and laughed because there she was on TV making these crepes, and would you know it, they all broke into pieces in the pan as she tried to flip 'em. She got so upset with them, that she laughingly threw them all over the set. Hahaha. It gave me courage when on my first cooking show, I had to demonstrate the Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake and ran into a spot of trouble. I had made the blueberry puree ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator on the set. Only trouble is when I dropped my blobs of blueberry puree onto the prepared cheesecake batter, to my horror they sank almost completely leaving very little blueberry floating on top the way it was meant to, before I swirled it in. Apparently, refrigerating the mixture made it heavier and more solid or something like that - less buoyant. Remembering Julia Child, I kept a smile on my face and maintained my composure, but I was dying inside of embarrassment. In hindsight, few people would have realized that something was amiss.

So, thank you, Julia - your funny video kept me from making a complete idiot of myself. May your memory continue on for generations.


I found more along those lines of what she used to do on camera for those interested:

"David Davis, then a staff member, remembers sitting in the remote truck. "Julia was 20 minutes into her first show, and the elevator bell rang. I thought, 'What are you going to do?' She was whipping away at something [and] said, 'Oh, somebody's at the door, but I'm much too busy.'"

Russ Morash, who was producing the program, recalls her pausing, then saying, "Oh, that must be the plumber. About time he got here. He knows where to go." In any case, her talent for improvisation (which she emphasized in cooking as well as TV production) was early and clearly evident.

Much has been made of Julia's on-camera faux pas — flipping the potato pancake onto the stove by mistake, adding wine instead of oil to a dish, and reaching for a pound of butter and finding a note to the prop girl to put it there. They became part of her public persona.

In fact, these errors were quite rare, for she was, and is, greatly meticulous in every aspect of organizing her programs. In the beginning, she spent 19 hours preparing for a typical half-hour show, with a large number of people — most of them volunteers — assisting behind the scene. What people really recall were her recoveries from the rare mishaps, her cheerful off-handedness. In the case of the famous pancake flip-out she remarked, "But you can always pick it up," which she did, adding, "If you are alone in the kitchen, whooooo is going to see?"

Julia Child was probably most known for her classic cookbook - Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She died August 12, 2004. She was 92!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

*CINNAMON BUTTER* (GF)

Sometimes one wants something to put on low-carb toast or crackers or even to spread inside crepes and usually we reach for sugar free preserves, however, if you have nothing on hand, this usually does the trick for me.

Start with my Healthy Butter.

2/3 cup Healthy Butter
1 1/4 cups Splenda Granular
3 tbsp powdered erythritol, or more Splenda to taste
3 tbsp cream, milk or Hood Calorie Countdown milk
4 tsp cinnamon

In food processor, place all ingredients and process until smooth. This recipe can be used for the gooey cinnamon filling for low-carb cinnamon buns - I adapted this from the filling for a Cinnamon Egg Swirl bread (Splendid Low-Carbing), which has a fabulous cream cheese frosting too - tastes like cinnamon buns!