Lowcarbezine! 19 February 2000

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Hey, Gang!

Here I am, back in Indiana, starting at 3:30 on Saturday to write you a
post-vacation issue of Lowcarbezine!  It may be a bit shorter than
sometimes, since I usually spend a few days writing it.  But, as I've
observed before, it's still worth the price, right? ;-D

Did *not* come back from San Diego with a tan, I'm afraid.  It started
raining the day I got there, and stopped the day after I left!  Still,
they needed the rain badly, and the rain did stop long enough for us to
do some fun stuff.  We had a "Critter Vacation" -- went whale watching,
visited the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park (this is
*unbelieveable*.  If you're ever in southern California, *do not miss*
the Wild Animal Park.  When was the last time you saw whole *herds* of
rhinos running around in the open?!), checked out the tide pools at the

Did cook a fair amount, but nothing much new, so nothing to report
there.  However, my sister introduced me to Vogel's new soy and flaxseed
bread -- lower in carbs than the Pepperidge Farm Light Bread I reviewed
a few weeks back, higher in protein, and tastier, to my way of
thinking.  If you're on the West Coast, which seems to be Vogel's
territory, check it out!


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reproduction and/or use is expressly prohibited.  As always, feel free
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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 for the Week

My thought for the week can pretty much be summed up as, "You can too
find something low carb to eat!"  You just have to *want* to.  This
observation comes out of my travel experience this past week.  I will
state categorically that the only times I ate anything that wasn't on
the program were times I deliberately *chose* to, not times when I had
absolutely no option.  Options abound!

I flew Continental, and I went prepared.  I assumed that the airline
food wouldn't be anything I wanted to eat.  (I was, overall, right.)
Accordingly, I ate my usual three eggs for breakfast when I got up at
the crack of dawn to head off to the airport.  I also packed pistachios
and pumpkin seeds in my carry-on luggage, in case of "food attack".
(You know why vultures don't fly on commercial airlines?  They're only
allowed two carrion.)

Got to the airport only to discover that my flight was delayed by two
hours!  (Probably just as well; the plane they'd been planning to put us
on was found to be mechanically unsound.  Given a choice between cooling
my heels at the airport for a couple of hours and plummeting to a fiery
death, I'll take the airport.)  By the time I'd been at the airport for
an hour, it was four hours since breakfast, and I figured I'd look for
something low carb right there, on the theory that I could be *very*
hungry by the next time I found food I wanted to eat!

There was a McD's right there, so I wandered up and read the menu.  It
looked like a disaster -- nothing in the way of breakfast food except
sandwiches.  I knew, however, that McD's used to serve scrambled eggs,
so I asked the nice lady behind the counter if they'd discontinued their
scrambled eggs.  She cheerfully told me that there was no problem at all
making me a couple of scrambled eggs, she'd be happy to do that!  So I
got two eggs, scrambled (in a sandwich box!) and a cup of tea for
$1.58.  Not bad!

Right after I'd ordered, a fella came up and ordered a Spanish Omelet
Bagel, and I suspect I could have gotten just the eggs and veggies --
Spanish Omelets usually have tomato, pepper, and onion -- in a box
instead.  I'll keep that in mind for next time!  All of this is, of
course, useful info for those of you who are sick and tired of cooking
your own low carb breakfast, and would like to be able to stop by the
local McDonald's on the way to work.  I would, however, suggest that you
go in instead of driving through.  I can't recommend trying to eat
scrambled eggs while driving!

I was glad I had those extra eggs -- predictably, all they were handing
out on the plane were packaged sweet rolls.  Ugh.  Nothing I would have
eaten even before I went low carb.  I never liked that stuff.

Made it to the Houston Airport by about 12:30 local time, or 1:30 by the
time I'd gotten up, and had an hour and a half layover.  Had a lovely
conversation with a couple of folks at the airport bookstore, one of
whom called up and suggested to his manager that he consider stocking my
book!  (THANKS, HENRY!!!)  Then decided I'd see if I could find some
lunch, and got luckier than I expected to -- right next to the gate
where I was waiting was a little joint that had a chicken caesar salad
on the menu.  Now, chicken caesar salad has become ubiquitous, and they
range from very good to pretty darned bad -- but if you pick out the
croutons, they're virtually always low carb.  I didn't expect much from
a salad purchased at an airport kiosk, but I was pleasantly surprised!
The romaine was crisp, and freshly tossed with the dressing, which was
light and nice -- so often caesar dressing is gooey, and the lettuce
limp from soaking in it for hours.  They grilled the chicken fresh for
my salad, so it was still warm!  All in all, it was a pleasant surprise.

Caught my second flight, and headed to SD.  They fed us lunch, which
consisted of a small turkey sandwich on a largish roll.  I pulled out
the turkey and lettuce, consumed them, and gave them back the roll!  I
also skipped the packaged sugar cookie.   (I haven't mentioned beverages
yet, because beverages aren't really a problem on a plane.  You can get
coffee, tea, diet pop, water, sparkling water, club soda, or even dry
wine or lite beer.  I mostly drank club soda with lime.)

Did about the same thing on the way back -- ate a good breakfast, caught
an uninspiring salad at the San Diego Airport, and ate the chicken salad
out of the sandwich they gave me, wrapped in the lettuce leaf.  Yes, I
ate my chicken salad with my fingers!  Hey, they gave me a napkin for a
reason, right?

I ate breakfast at my sister's every morning while in San Diego -- she
bought 5 dozen eggs for the occasion -- but I was out of the house for
lunch almost every day.  Again, had no problem finding low carb stuff to
eat!  I did splurge while in Tiajuana; I had Chicken Mole, which I
*adore*.  It has a little bit of carb in the sauce -- no telling exactly
how much, since each restaurant has its own recipe, but it's high enough
in fat and protein to prevent big blood sugar swings -- but I did ask
them to hold the tortillas and the rice.  (The nice gentleman was
curious as to why I didn't want them.  "Me hacen muy gorda!" -- "They
make me very fat!" I replied, and he laughed.)  But I could have had a
very low carb meal if I'd chosen to; my sister had a shrimp caesar
salad, or I could have had carne asada, fajitas, or any number of other

Both the zoo and the Wild Animal Park have chicken caesar salads, which
they were happy to prepare with no croutons and extra parmesan.  They
also had all sorts of burgers -- I ate a bacon cheeseburger without the
bun one afternoon, but Indulged with about a dozen onion rings.  (I can
walk past sweets of almost any kind, but fried onions get to me every
time!)  I feel, however, that I deserve commendation for actually
*throwing my last half-dozen onion rings in the trash*, an act of
supreme willpower, I can tell you!  Again, beverages are not a problem
in the parks; water, tea, coffee, iced tea and diet soda are widely

The day that Eric and I went to the tide pools at Point Loma
(fascinating, although we were hoping to see a baby octopus, and
didn't), we stopped at a little place called Gus's that did pizza and
sandwiches and such.  I got a *wonderful* Greek Salad, freshly made, and
a half a Greek roasted chicken, as fine a casual restaurant meal as I've
ever had.  (They also served fries and pita with that; my brother in law
took them to work for lunch the next day, along with the leftover
chicken breast.)  And our last evening there, Eric and I had dinner with
a guy he's been communicating with by email for a while, and his wife
and son -- they just happen to live near the Wild Animal Park.  The menu
was, again, mostly pizza and sandwiches, but they had a few main dish
salads.  I decided, instead, to have steak fajitas, hold the tortillas,
with extra guacamole.  Again, a great, healthy, low carb meal!

So what's the point of this?  Why should you care what I ate on my
vacation?  Surely someone is thinking by now, "This Dana is too
narcissistic for words!  Who cares what she has for lunch?!"

The point is just this:  I hear excuses all the time why people can't
eat healthy.  I don't -- I really don't -- scold people about their
eating habits.  (Okay, I scold my father.  Surely that's excusable.)
But I'm a known nutrition wonk, so people feel the need to confess to me
-- sorta like English teachers hear, "Oh, I guess I'd better watch my
grammar around you!" (I actually once had a friend call me, and before
she even said, "Hi, how are you?" she said, "You're going to be mad at
me -- I ate a Butterfinger at work today!"  Hey, I'm information, not
enforcement.)  One of the most common excuses I hear is, "I'm on the
road all the time, so it's just impossible for me to eat healthy!"
Piffle.  Bosh.  Stuff and nonsense!

The options are out there.  Sometimes it can get a bit repetitive --
like my eating chicken caesar salad three times in a week.  But if you
*want* to, if you value feeling and *being* well, you can eat low carb
if you try!  It can take a little planning -- like my eating low carb
stuff whenever it presented itself in the airports, because I knew I
wasn't going to get much I wanted to eat on the planes -- but it
certainly doesn't take endless searching and tons of work.

Again, we're back to the matter of personal choice.  I could have
decided, as so many people do, "Heck, I'm on a vacation, I'll just eat
whatever I want!"  (Well, actually I did.  I *want* to eat right!  And I
did have a couple of small indulgences -- those onion rings, that
chicken mole.  But I didn't eat even a bite of the two free chocolate
bars they gave me at Trader Joe's!) (Trader Joe's is a *great* store, by
the way, chocolate bars not withstanding.  If you're in Southern
California and haven't checked them out yet, get over there!)  And I
could have scarfed down ice cream at the zoo, tortilla chips in
Tiajuana, a double order of onion rings at the Wild Animal Park, and
accepted whatever nastiness they served me on the plane as just being
the way it was -- "Hey, it's out of my control!"

 But I would have come home 5-10 pounds heavier.  Worse -- *far* worse!
-- I would have felt tired and logy and cranky on vacation, instead of
energetic and upbeat and ready to walk for miles practically every day,
which I did!  What kind of vacation is that?

The options are out there waiting for you.  The rest is -- as always --
up to you!


Frequently Asked Question

I'm sooooo tired of eggs!  What else can I eat for breakfast?


I'm so short on time in the morning.  What can I eat that doesn't take
any time?

I must be a freak of nature.  I never get tired of eggs!  I love them
just about any way you can cook them.  As I write this, I'm still
digesting a *very* late Saturday brunch (I'm still readjusting to
Eastern Standard Time) of steak and two fried eggs.  I may also be just
about the only wife left in the USA who gets up every morning and cooks
her husband breakfast -- two fried eggs -- every day before he heads off
to work.  I work, of course -- what do you think this ezine is? -- but
at home, on my own schedule, which is, I realize, a *huge* luxury.

If you like eggs okay, but find them a little monotonous, you could try
omelets, a really great way to vary eggs.  I think I'll do a section of
Cooking Low Carb! on omelets soon.  But maybe you're just plain sick of
the things.

What can you eat for breakfast besides eggs?  Not to belabor the
obvious, here, but you may eat for breakfast anything you'd eat for any
other low carb meal!  Eggs for breakfast are simply customary, not
essential.  You can have meat, cheese, fish, any protein your little
heart desires.  Personally, I think a pork chop makes a very nice
breakfast from time to time.  A hamburger patty is a good breakfast as
well.  If you're in a tearing hurry in the morning, as so many people
are, you might invest in A) a box of pre-made hamburger patties  -- be
sure that the box says "100% All Beef"; many pre-made hamburgers have
carb-y fillers in them -- and B) one of the George Foreman Electric
Grills I reviewed several issues back.  Since the grill cooks both sides
of the burger at the same time, it's fast, and since it doesn't need to
be watched, you can be combing your hair or finding your shoes while the
burger -- or a chop, or a small steak -- cooks.

Let us not, in this discussion, forget about sausage.  Pork sausage,
turkey sausage, no matter, it's meat, and it's a good breakfast, so long
as you read the label and make sure you're getting one without a lot of
added sugar and other junk.  I've taken to cooking pork sausage patties
on my George Foreman Electric Grill as well, and it works just fine.
Ham is another possibility that's traditionally "breakfasty", but be
cautious which brand of ham you buy.  Ham virtually *always* has sugar
added, but how much sugar varies a *lot*.  I've seen ham with 1 gram of
carb per serving, and I've seen ham with *6* grams of carb per serving!
That's a big difference.  Read the labels.  If you're buying ham at the
deli, make *them* read the labels!

This would be a good place to mention that bacon, although it is low
carb, is not high enough protein to make a good breakfast all by
itself.  You'll need to eat it along with a protein food.

Leftovers can make a fine breakfast, and of course all that is needed is
to heat them up in the microwave.  (Handy tip -- double the time at half
the power makes most warmed up leftovers taste a whole lot better than
warming them up quickly at full power.  2-3 minutes at 5 for a piece of
chicken, for instance, is about right in my microwave.)

Some of the low carb cookbooks have recipes for "muffins" and "breads"
and such, but none of the recipes I've tried have been spectacularly
successful.  Most of them depend heavily on beaten eggs, and end up
tasting eggy rather than bready, which isn't what you want if you're
tired of eggs.  Still, I haven't tried all the recipes yet, so there may
be some that are somewhat more satisfactory.  If you've tried a low carb
muffin or bread recipe you liked, you might send it in and share!  I
have had a reader send in a recipe for a low carb granola she invented,
and I've shared it below in Cooking Low Carb!  I also have a pretty good
low carb/high protein waffle recipe I'm sharing.  It's not dirt low in
carbs, so you wouldn't want to eat them every day, but then you're not
likely to make waffles from scratch every day either, are you?  You
could, however, double the recipe and freeze the extras.  Warm them up
in the toaster oven, not the microwave, if you want them to be crispy!

If you'd like something light, and very fast, you could have cottage
cheese with some strawberries or raspberries, or with a wedge of
honeydew or cantaloupe.  A half-cup of cottage cheese has about 4 g of
carb and 14 g of protein, about the same protein count as two eggs.

Another possibility for a non-egg breakfast is a protein shake.  Atkins
puts out a shake mix, though I haven't tried it.  I reviewed ProFormix
in this newsletter awhile back -- very low carb, very high protein,
tastes quite good.  No doubt there's other low carb shake mixes on the
market you could try.  I also gave a recipe for a sugar-free,
stevia-sweetened protein shake in my book, _How I Gave Up My Low Fat
Diet and Lost Forty Pounds_; I repeat the recipe below.  A shake is
especially good for folks like my friend Charlotte, who simply can't
face cooked food in the morning.

What are the fastest breakfasts?

Well, that shake we just passed can be pretty darned fast, especially if
you make it from a mix.  Even if you use my recipe, you can put all the
ingredients in the blender, stick the blender container in the
refrigerator over night, and just whiz it up in the morning.  Either
way, just pour your shake into a car cup, and you're good to go!  If you
flavor it with instant coffee, you can even get your morning caffeine at
the same time.

Other fast, easy ideas include hard boiled eggs -- just boil a dozen
eggs over the weekend, then grab two every morning on the way out the
door -- individually wrapped string cheese (2 or 3 of these would make a
good breakfast), or a few slices of deli meat -- sliced turkey, chicken,
roast beef, or ham -- and/or cheese in a baggy.  Any of these can go in
your purse or attache case and be eaten in the car, on the train, or at
your desk

Why should you eat breakfast at all?  I'll tell you why.  It has been
*long* established that what you eat for breakfast will determine your
blood sugar stability and your level of hunger for the *whole day*.  Eat
a good breakfast and you are *way* ahead of the game.  Skip breakfast,
or even worse, have a big bowl of cereal or a muffin or a pop tart, and
you'll be in trouble all day no matter what you eat later on.  You don't
have to eat the second you get up -- you can wait an hour if you like --
but a high protein breakfast is a vital health and energy strategy.

This was driven home anew by an article that appeared in the medical
journal Pediatrics last year.  It was a study of the effects of the
blood sugar impact of various breakfasts on the level of hunger of obese
teenage boys for the rest of the day.  The outcome?  The boys who ate a
cheese omelet for breakfast were so much less hungry for the rest of the
day that they spontaneously at *81% fewer calories* during the rest of
the day than the boys who ate instant oatmeal and skim milk!  And we
know that the same blood sugar stability that keeps you from getting
hungry also helps you to be cheerful, clearheaded, and energetic.  Not
to mention  helping you to resist the donuts in the break room and the
candy bars in the vending machine.

No matter how rushed you are, you just can't afford to miss a trick like


Atkins?  Protein Power?  The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet?  Sugarbusters?
How do you choose which is for you?   And is this *healthy*?

Confused?  You're not alone.  Read the book that gives you lots of
options, instead of a one-size-fits-all diet!  Learn the pros and cons
of the different approaches to low carbohydrate dieting, and the basic
principles that they share.  And get it all in a simple, fun, friendly,
easy to read book with no dense medical jargon!  _How I Gave Up My Low
Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_  Read the first chapter *FREE* at
http://www.holdthetoast.com !


Product Review

I admit it; I'm a food snob.  I would almost always rather cook than eat
something pre-prepared and frozen. Most pre-prepared stuff tastes boring
to me, and is overpriced to boot.   However, I am *very* aware that not
everyone agrees with me!  Many, many folks are constantly on the lookout
for something fast and easy that simply takes heating up.  Chances are
that many of you are of this ilk.

Therefore, I am sacrificing my own "foodie" values to try some of the
low carb convenience foods out there.  No, you can't eat the vast, vast
majority of frozen dinners out there, since virtually all of them
include potatoes, rice, or noodles.  (You could just eat around these, I
suppose, but I know of no good way to determine how many carbs would be
left in a frozen dinner if you skipped the starch.  How to know how many
of those carbs are in the sauce, or a filler in a meat patty, or
whatever?)  However, there are some frozen convenience foods out there
that will work for us -- I already mentioned pre-made 100% beef
hamburger patties in the previous article, and every now and then I go
on sightseeing expeditions to my local grocery store to see what else
may be out there for the cooking-reluctant low carber.

Therefore, in the interests of research, last night I tried Tyson brand
Hot'n Spicy Chicken Wings.  I'm pretty sure that Tyson is a national
brand here in the States, so my USAn readers should be able to find
them.  To my international readers, all I can suggest is that you look
for a similar product in your own country.

Tyson Hot'n Spicy (yes, the "'n" is attached to the word Hot like that;
don't ask me why.) Chicken Wings come packaged about a dozen to the
box.  They're an approximation, of course, of the hot wings that have
become very popular as an appetizer at restaurants all over America.
According to the box, a serving consists of 4 pieces, and contains 1
gram of carbohydrate, which, so far as I can tell, comes from some flour
and starch in the coating and sauce.

Now, 1 gram of carbohydrate isn't a lot.  On the other hand, four
chicken wing pieces isn't a lot, either!  I heated up six, which, with a
vegetable, made a simple, light supper.  If my third grade arithmetic
holds up, 4 pieces at 1 gram means 6 pieces have a gram and a half, or
not enough to freak out about.  This should have contained, again,
according to the box, 30 grams of protein, a respectable amount.

The box gives instructions for heating in a conventional oven, in the
microwave, or on a grill.  I was going to heat them in my toaster oven,
using the instructions for heating in a conventional oven, since I think
that things like this are usually better that way, but I discovered that
my toaster oven has apparently bitten the dust.  Therefore I heated them
up in my microwave.  In retrospect, this was probably just as well,
since that's the way the majority of folks would choose to heat them.

How were they?  They were okay.  Not utterly brilliant, or even as good
as most of the hot wings I've gotten at restaurants.  But they were
pretty juicy, and flavorful enough without being terribly hot.  If they
weren't very interesting, they also were not in any way offensive.  I'd
be willing to eat them again -- and remember, I'm an anti-packaged-food
person.  They would probably be improved with some bleu cheese dressing
to dip them in; the traditional accompaniment to hot wings.

I think that for many of you, these wings would be a real winner.
They're pretty expensive, especially since they come in a small box, so
you may not want to feed them to the whole family for dinner.  But
they'd make a good, hearty low carb snack, or you could take them to
work and heat them up for lunch.  With some bleu cheese dressing, and
maybe some bagged salad or the traditional celery sticks on the side,
this would be a very nice working lunch, or light supper.

So if you've been missing the convenience of frozen, pre-prepared foods,
check 'em out.


That's it!  See you again Wednesday!
Dana W. Carpender

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