Lowcarbezine! 19 January 2000

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Hey, Gang!

How's your week been?  I've had a good one.  Found a *terrific* recipe
I'll share later on, that can cook all day in your crock pot and be
waiting when you get home.  Your house will smell like heaven when you
get home, too!  I'm really gathering steam with the recipes, and I've
made some good progress with writing the cookbook.  (You realize, don't
you, that the time I spend writing Lowcarbezine! takes time away from
writing Low Carb For Life!, don't you?  Worth it, I think.)

A personal note:  Friday was the 10 year anniversary of me and my
husband getting together.  (We've been married for 5 years come May, but
we've been a couple for ten.)  Made a low carb *feast*!  Roasted a
boneless half-leg of lamb, basted with olive oil, lemon, and garlic,
made a *huge* Greek salad, with romaine, cucumbers, green peppers, lots
of fresh parsley (do you use fresh parsley in salads?  It's sooooo
good!  And *wildly* nutritious; loaded with calcium among other things
-- I'll talk about that later.), sweet onions, lots of feta and olives,
with a lemon juice/olive oil/oregano dressing.  And tried something new
-- little Greek "krokettes"; somewhere between a pancake and Greek eggs
fu yung, flavored with shredded zucchini and feta.  Very nice!  (And
yes, I'll share recipes, but not this week.  We're still working on
budget recipes, 'member?  Feta and good Greek olives are *not* budget

Once again, I'm blown away by just how delicious low carb food is!
Sorry for herself?  Deprived?  Not me!


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Lowcarbezine! welcomes reader input!  If you have a question, a recipe,
a product review, a low carb success story, send it on in!!
mailto:dana@holdthetoast.com  However, please note -- although I really
do read all my email my very own self, I get a *lot* of mail --
generally over 200 posts a day (not all of them about Lowcarbezine!), so
I can't promise to answer every post personally.  Or I'll never get the
next book written!


Thought of the Week

Recently seen on a newsgroup:  "Old Engineering Proverb: Faster, Better,
Cheaper -- Choose Any Two."

What does this have to do with low carb dieting?  Well, it's more what
it has to do with food in general.  As a nation, Americans have become
addicted to the idea of convenience food, to the point where many people
do absolutely no cooking at all.  They want their food "faster".  Okay,
that's one of the two.  Now choose which you prefer for your other
choice -- "better" or "cheaper".  Some choice, huh?

Let's look how this plays out.  You work late, you hurry home, stopping
at the dry cleaner's for tomorrow's work clothes, and at the pharmacy
for that prescription, and get home, utterly ravenous, at 6, to find
starving children clamoring to be fed.  Does this sound like your life?
So you need to feed everybody, but *fast*.  Okay, cheaper, or better?
"Cheaper" would mean, say,  packaged macaroni-and-cheese -- 25c a box,
and about fifteen minutes to put it on the table, but overwhelmingly
made of the worst, most damaging carbohydrates.  Or, perhaps, one of
those dinners based on instant rice -- five minutes to cook, but utter
garbage for your body, probably combined with canned soup that's heavily
laced with corn syrup, corn starch, and lots of other stuff you
shouldn't be eating.

Well, then, let's look at "better".  You could do something simple with
boneless, skinless chicken breasts -- healthy, low carb, loaded with
protein, all-natural -- but around here they usually run about $4.99 a
pound, which doesn't fall into the "cheap" category to my way of
thinking.   Serve it with some nice, healthy "bagged salad", and you up
the price by another few bucks.  Even faster, you could buy a rotisserie
chicken on the way home -- hey, there's a pharmacy at the grocery store,
so you can double up on errands -- but you'll end up spending $3.99 for
a chicken that could have cost you just over a buck.  Steak is fast and
easy, but again, it sure ain't cheap.  Ditto lamb chops.

So what's a busy, modern-day low carbing family type to do?  (Or a busy,
modern-day, low carbing non-family type, for that matter?)  Here's a few

The cheapest meats I know of that are *fast* are hamburgers and pork
chops -- I regularly buy ground beef for 88c - 99c/lb on sale, and pork
chops for 99c/lb.  Indeed, I refuse to pay more.  No doubt you know how
to broil or grill or pan-fry a hamburger -- it helps if you make the
beef into patties when you get it home, before you freeze it.  Used to
breading pork chops?  Try simply pan-broiling them in a heavy skillet
with olive oil and a little garlic.  I even make these for lunch
sometimes -- although recently I've been cooking them on my new electric
grill, which is even faster.

Even cheaper than hamburgers or pork chops, and just as jet-propelled
are *eggs*.  Consider serving omelets for dinner -- for some weird
reason, I find that an omelet feels more like a *meal* than scrambled
eggs with something beside them.  Psyching myself out, no doubt.  Not
sure how to make an omelet?  Kind of scared of them?  Don't be; they're
easy.  I'll do a whole section on omelets in an upcoming issue.

Haul out that crock pot, and *use* it!  If you don't have one, get one
-- and if you're getting one, get one with a removable pottery liner.
Why?  Because that way you can put everything in it while you're
cleaning up after dinner, and stick it in the fridge.  Next morning, all
you have to do is haul it out, put it in the electric unit, plug it in,
and run.

Do some prep work on the weekends, or in any other spare time.  (Spare
time?  What's that? ;-D)  No reason why you can't make your own bagged
salad, your own cauliflowerettes and broccoli chunks for dipping, chop
onions ahead of time to speed up weeknight cooking.

Better yet, do some cooking over the weekend, so you have some meals
already prepared, waiting to be heated up.  Soup is a *wonderful* choice
for cooking ahead, and we'll talk about soup next week.  All-meat chili
is another great make-ahead choice.  There are salads you can make
ahead, too -- coleslaw keeps quite well, and around here I can get
cabbage for 29c/lb.  *Don't* go buying deli coleslaw, or even commercial
coleslaw dressing!  Virtually *all* of it is *loaded* with sugar.  My
favorite recipe for coleslaw dressing is below.

Have some *healthy*, *low carb* food available for immediate noshing
when you get home, for both you and the kids.  Vegetables with dip are a
terrific choice, so are pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  You can buy
pumpkin and sunflower seeds, shelled, in bulk at most health food
stores, either raw or already roasted.  (Yes, I know I've told you to
buy them still in the shell for "munchy food", for instance to take to
the movies, because the shells slow you down.  But if you have hungry
kids on the rampage, slowing down is probably not what you're looking
for!)  Much cheaper than nuts, and higher in vitamins and minerals.
It's obviously faster to buy them already roasted, but I like them
better roasted fresh -- I just take a handful or two, put them on a
toaster oven tray, stir in a smidge of oil, and roast them at 300 in the
toaster oven for 5-7 minutes.  Yum!  The point is, if you can all eat
something *now*, you may have the patience to cook something that takes
a whole 20-40 minutes to put together.  And if that "something" is
nutritious, instead of being junk like chips and cookies, you don't have
to worry about the kids spoiling their dinner -- just figure the snack
is *part* of the dinner.

A freezer can be your very best friend when you're trying to low carb on
a budget -- it means you can stock up on the fastest, easiest cooking
foods -- those boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork chops, steaks,
hamburger -- when they're on sale.  (I deliberately go to my grocery
store late in the week -- Friday seems best -- and buy the meat that's
been marked down because it's a day or two old.  Indeed, I rarely buy
meat for full price.)  Also frozen vegetables, which sure are quick and
easy to cook in the microwave.

My husband and I had cheeseburgers and broccoli last night -- not one of
my creative cooking nights, clearly!  The ground beef had been bought on
sale for 88c a pound, and we each had two patties about 1/4 lb. apiece.
The broccoli was purchased on sale for 69c a bag -- boy, did I stock up
at *that* sale!  The cheese was purchased on sale as well, for $1.29 for
a package of 16 slices.  Adding incidentals, like pickles, mustard,
mayo, ketchup (commercial for him, homemade for me), etc, we spent about
a dollar apiece on a dinner that was perhaps not inspiring, but fast,
easy, filling, tasty, and nutritious.  Can't afford a freezer?  We
bought ours, a Sears Coldspot, used, from a reputable local dealer in
second-hand appliances.  It's a big upright, something like 16 or 17
cubic feet, no more than 6 or 7 years old, looks like new,  and runs
great.  Including delivery it cost us $225.  (*Don't* buy a really old
freezer -- it'll cost you *far* more in the long run, since they've
gotten far more energy efficient over the years.)

If you have some time to cook, even an hour or so, your options for
good, inexpensive food broaden considerably.  In that much time, you can
make Chicken Paprikash, Skillet Stroganoff, Fajitas, Ginger Beef,
Curried Chicken, all kinds of yummy things.  This, of course, is where
those healthy snacks come in.  And if you can lure the children into the
kitchen with food, you might -- just *might*, mind you -- rope them into

Of course, if you choose the "better" option over the "cheaper" option,
it gets really easy!  You can eat pre-cooked, pre-shelled shrimp, crab
legs, spiral-sliced ham (choose cured meats less often than fresh,
though -- they're not as nutritious, and they almost always have sugar
added, *especially* ham.), beautiful loin lamb chops, fabulous broiled
rib eyes.  For that matter, if money is *really* no object, you can go
out to a different restaurant every night.

Hey, take me along, will you?


Frequently Asked Question

What about calcium?

People ask this question fairly often, and it's actually two questions:
A) Where do I get calcium if I don't drink milk and B) I've heard that a
high protein diet will cause my bones to become weak; is this true?
Let's tackle both, shall we?

First of all, where *do* we get calcium in a low carb diet, since we
don't drink milk?  Well, first you need to be aware that an 8 oz glass
of milk contains only about 1/4 of your calcium requirement for one day
("about" because requirements vary).  The same is true of a cup of
yogurt.  Accordingly, a whole lot of people who have a glass of milk or
a cup of yogurt every day, and figure that their calcium needs are taken
care of, are sadly mistaken.  You need between 800 and 1500 mg. of
calcium every single day.  So where will we get it?

We can, of course, have cheese on our low carb diets, in moderation.
(Both Doc Atkins and the Eades recommend that you hold it to no more
than 4 ounces a day, and I think that's a good idea, too.  People who
eat a ton of cheese seem to have a harder time losing.  Don't know if
it's the few carbs that cheese contains, its caloric density, or some
other factor; just know it's so.)  We can get some calcium there, for
sure -- hard cheeses, like cheddar and parmesan,  have in the
neighborhood of 180-200 mg per ounce, while softer, moister cheeses have
less.  Why?  Because they're diluted with water, of course.

Almonds are a fair-to-middlin' source of calcium, with 66 mgs. in one
ounce.  Those sunflower and pumpkin seeds I mentioned earlier have some,
too -- 3 1/2 ounces of sunflower seeds contains 120 mgs. of calcium, and
3 1/2 ounces of pumpkin seeds contains 51 mgs.  Actually, these seeds
pretty good sources of minerals in general.  So are sesame seeds, *if*
you buy them unhulled -- you'll have to go to a good health food store
for these.  Unhulled sesame seeds taste the same as the hulled ones you
pay inflated prices for in little jars at the grocery store, but they're
cheaper and far better for you.  On the other hand, I don't generally
sit around and snack on sesame seeds.  They're good on or in things,

Many dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium, and
they're some of the lowest carb vegetables around.  Two-thirds of a cup
of cooked broccoli has 88 mgs, and just a half a cup of cooked collards
packs 203 mgs, while mustard greens have  138 mgs.  Kale, beet greens,
and turnip greens are good, too.  Iceberg lettuce -- the type most often
used in the US -- has 35 mgs. in 3 1/2 ounces, while the same amount of
romaine, which I *much* prefer, has 68 mgs in the same size serving, and
butterhead has 70 mgs.  Fresh parsley, which I *adore* in salads, has
203 mgs. of calcium in 3 1/2 ounces -- and you thought it was just for
garnishing!  Chopped fresh parsley is a fine addition to all kinds of
foods.  Spinach is a pretty good source of calcium, but it contains a
chemical called oxalic acid which tends to inhibit calcium absorption.
Eat spinach for its other nutrients, but not for its calcium.

One egg has about 26 mg. of calcium, the vast majority of which will be
found in the "evil, high fat, high cholesterol" yolk, by the way.  That
means I'm getting 78 mgs. of calcium with my breakfast every day, along
with all the other vitamins and minerals -- and the protein -- that eggs
have to offer.

Soybeans are a pretty good source of calcium, so if you're using tofu in
your low carb diet, you're getting some calcium there.  If you enjoy
canned sardines, they're a terrific source of calcium, because the bones
are eaten  The same is true of canned salmon, assuming you don't pick
the bones out, but rather crush them up.

Which leads us to an important point:  One of the greatest sources of
calcium in the human diet, historically, has been *bones*.  Meat was
cooked with the bones in it much of the time, and bones were gnawed on
to get every last scrap.  Calcium!  Too, meat with bones in it that was
cooked in an acidic medium, such as wine, vinegar, or tomatoes, would
leach some calcium out of the bones, into the surrounding meat and the
sauce.  More calcium!  And this bone-form calcium is the most absorbable
kind -- the most cutting-edge calcium supplements on the market use
"hydroxyapatite", which is the technical name for bone-form calcium!

Furthermore, bones were not simply discarded, but were saved and boiled
for soup.  I do this -- all my chicken bones, unless they're from a
strongly seasoned dish, go in a bag in my freezer.  When I have a bag
full, I boil them up for soup -- and get a delicious, high calcium meal
from the discards of my previous dinners!  Talk about something for
nothing.  I'm quite aware that boneless, skinless chicken breasts are
*the* hot-selling form of chicken these days -- as I've mentioned,
that's the reason I get chicken legs and thighs so darned cheap!  I know
that the boneless, skinless breasts are fast and easy to cook.  But be
aware that you're paying *far* more, for *less* nutritious food.   (Me,
I love the skin, too!)

So that should give you a pretty good idea where the calcium can be
found in a low carb diet.  Do I believe that you're going to carefully
construct your diet to be sure that you get your 800-1500 mgs of calcium
a day?  No, anymore than I believe that most people who aren't on a low
carb diet do that!  I recommend that you eat the good, low carb sources
of calcium, but I also *strongly* recommend that you take calcium
supplements, *especially* if you're female.  I take about 1000 mgs a day
on top of what I get from my food.  Osteoporosis is no joke, and my mom
has been treated for it already.

(Men, there is some new research that suggests that excessive calcium,
and in particular, drinking a lot of milk, may correlate with prostate
cancer.  Get your 800-1000 mgs a day, but don't go overboard.  This is
one of those things where a little is good, but a whole lot may not be

Now, about the question of a low carb/high protein diet causing calcium
loss.  Is it true?  I've done a lot of reading on the subject, and the
conclusion I've come to is:  Dunno.

The research is conflicting, you see. There is some research which shows
that women who have adult onset diabetes are *less* likely to have weak
bones, which suggests that insulin may help deposit calcium -- but do we
want all the horrible health consequences that come with diabetes, in
the name of preventing osteoporosis?

 I've seen an article from The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition
(1983, June) which concludes that eating a diet high in meat protein
does *not* lead to calcium loss, and another from the Journal of
Nutrition (1988, June) which reaches the same conclusion.  Further, many
other things seem to contribute to bone loss, from excessive phosphorus
found in soft drinks, to aluminum-containing antacids, to alcoholism.

On the other hand, we know that the Chinese, who eat both less protein
and less calcium than Americans, have less osteoporosis.  On the *other*
other hand, they eat more vegetables, get phytoestrogens from soy foods,
drink less high-phosphorus soda pop, and get a whole heck of a lot more
*exercise* than your average member of a Western industrialized culture.

We know that paleolithic hunter-gatherers were tall, with strong bones
and teeth, and we're relatively certain that they ate primarily meat and
vegetables, like us.  And we know that when various people developed
agriculture, and switched to eating grains and beans, their stature
dropped, and their bones became weaker.  But are we certain why this
is?  Was it because of the reduction in protein intake?  Did phytates in
the bran on the grains -- phytates are a chemical found in bran that
inhibits calcium absorption  (Which means, by the way, that if you, like
I, eat bran crackers, you need to be that much more certain you get your
calcium) -- cause the problem?  Or was it the lesser number of bones
that were gnawed on?  Or that farming was less exercise than hunting and
gathering?  From the distance of tens of thousands of years, the best we
can do is make educated guesses.

So the question of whether a low carbohydrate diet, rich in protein,
increases the risk of osteoporosis is *not* settled, but it does not
seem to me to be a huge factor, either way.  However, we know some
things for certain.  We know that plenty of people, especially women,
who are *not* on low carb diets develop osteoporosis.  We know that
making sure that you get enough calcium, whether through your food, or
through supplements, can dramatically slow bone loss.  We know that
exercise, too, is crucial to maintaining strong bones -- and that people
who feel well are more likely to exercise; so if you feel more energetic
on a low carb diet, as I do, that's likely to be a plus. We know that
replacing estrogen and progesterone (yes, progesterone, and preferably
natural progesterone) is very beneficial in preventing bone loss in
women.  If we do these things -- get our calcium, get some exercise,
especially resistance (weight-bearing) exercise, and pay attention to
our hormone balance if we're women -- osteoporosis does not seem to be a
major threat to us.

We also know that far more people die every year of diseases associated
with carbohydrate intolerance/hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) --
heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, the whole
ugly list.  Life is always, to some degree, a matter of playing the
odds.  Bet on the right horse!


Confused about low carb diets?  Wondering about the differences between
Atkins, Protein Power, The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, and more?  Bored
by long-winded medical jargon?  Read the low carb book that helps you
sort through the options, and is friendly and fun to read!  _How I Gave
Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_ http://www.holdthetoast.com


Reader Testimonial!

Email!  I get email!  From my Inbox:

Dear Ms. Carpender,

I have just finished reading your book "Hold the
Toast", and not only was it a wonderful, very
informative read, it really helped clarify things for
me concerning living a Low-Carb lifestyle.  Dr.
Atkins' diet is the diet that I had chosen to follow
as well, but although I found his book to be
informative, I found it to be a little too
"scientific" for my tastes.  However, I felt as if I
was listening to a girlfriend when I read your book.
Thank you very much.  I have living the low-carb life
for 18 days now, and I have lost 9 pounds (and that
even includes a few "indulgences")!  After reading
your book, I have a renewed vigor to not cheat, and
continue with my weight loss.  The LowCarbezine is
also very helpful!  Once again, thank you.

Michelle Schuler

Thank you, Michelle!  Good work!  (Only "Hold the Toast!" is my
publishing company.  The book is titled, _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet
and Lost Forty Pounds! :-) )


Need a website?  If you like the Hold the Toast! website, you'll want to
go to Webbalah Internet Services for all your web design and hosting
needs!  http://www.webbalah.net .  (My husband does nice work!)


Product Review

Okay, I'm about to commit heresy.  I'm going to shock you to the core.
Yes, I'm going to review...bread.

Actually, I really don't miss bread much.  Okay, if I'm at my mom's
house and she's baking fresh oatmeal-molasses bread I might have a
*twinge* of desire, but on a day to day basis, bread really isn't a food
I lust after. If I were going to indulge in carbs, I'd rather have split
pea soup.   Or Jalapeno Krunchers Potato Chips.  Or Coffee Toffee Fudge
Torte.  Bread is not my kryptonite.

Still, it's among the foods that many people find very hard to give up.
And it is sometimes useful to be able to put a few buttered bread crumbs
on something, or nice to put a crouton in a salad.  Is there a bread we
can have?

Yes, if you can use it with *restraint*.  Pepperidge Farm Brand Light
Bread has just under 7.5 g of usable carb per slice.  That means that
you can  likely work in a slice now and then without completely
torpedoing your diet.  Comes in both white and wheat, and in my neck of
the woods -- Bloomington, Indiana -- it's available in the bread section
of the local big chain grocery store.  Since Pepperidge Farm is a
nationally distributed brand, those of my readers who are, indeed, in
the States, should be able to find it *somehow*!

Now, by my standards this is *not* exciting bread.  It's pretty much
like any other commercial, spongy, squishy, characterless bread.  By the
time I gave up carbs, I hadn't eaten this kind of thing in *years*.  My
tastes ran to whole grain rye, and other dense, chewy breads.

But I realize that I'm in the minority on this.  Most Americans *like*
this stuff.  They've been brought up on it.   So I thought I'd let you
know about this, since it's the lowest carb mass-market bread I've been
able to find.  And I *do* have a loaf in my freezer -- I've only used a
few slices over the few months since I bought it, but I have it, and no
doubt I'll use it up eventually.

Here's some stuff that *I* might be likely to do with Pepperidge Farm
Light Wheat:

*Use it at holiday time to make a reduced-carb bread stuffing.  If I
used this bread, and combined it half-and-half with celery, mushrooms,
and onions, sauteed in butter, I bet I could make a turkey stuffing that
tasted a lot like Mom's, with a whole lot less carbs.  This would make a
holiday dinner a little less of an Indulgence.

*Put buttered bread crumbs on an otherwise very low carb casserole.

*Make croutons for a caesar salad for company -- wouldn't bother for
just me and the husband.

*Make a grilled cheese sandwich every once in a great while.  If this
idea appeals to you, here's another:  Back in the 60s, when everyone
knew that you cut out, or at least cut back on, starches and sugars to
lose weight, I can remember my mom slicing one piece of bread in half to
make two very thin slices, to make a diet sandwich.  She'd place the
bread flat on the kitchen counter, place her left palm lightly on top of
it to anchor it, and use a sharp, serrated knife to slice it right down
the middle, horizontally.  I have the feeling it took a little practice,
but I don't recall ever seeing her mess it up!

What wouldn't I be likely to do with this bread?  Have a slice every
morning with my eggs, or, really, eat it plain or toasted, or with any
kind of frequency.  Just doesn't appeal to me that much; I'd rather get
those carbs from vegetables or low carb fruit or something.  But if your
hardest hurdle on a low carb diet has been no toast with your eggs, it
might be worth it to you.

Be aware that grains, in general, can be a real problem food for reasons
other than the carbs.  Gluten, for instance, the protein substance in
wheat that makes bread dough stretchy, has been implicated in all kinds
of health problems.  Grains are also among the most highly allergenic
foods.  If you try the bread, pay attention to any odd symptoms that
might arise.

But hey, if you're a big bread fan, like commercial bread, can use it
with extreme moderation (hey, I think I just invented an oxymoron!), and
don't find yourself re-experiencing health problems that had vanished
when you went low carb, this could be a useful addition to your program.

How's that for damning with faint praise?


That's it!  See you next week!

Dana W. Carpender

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