Lowcarbezine! 24 May 2000

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Hey, Gang!

Uh, wasn't it Christmas a few weeks ago?  How did it get to be Memorial
Day Weekend?  (For my readers in other countries:  Memorial Day is a
national holiday here in the USA; it's the last Monday in May.
Officially, it's supposed to be a day to remember and honor our military
service men and women who have died over the years.  Practically
speaking, it's become the official kickoff of summer -- the first long
weekend of barbecues and parties.)  Let me guess, I'm going to wake up
tomorrow and it will be Christmas again, won't it?  And two days after
that, I'm going to wake up, discover I'm seventy five, slap myself on
the forehead and say, "What happened?!"

But not before I go camping and grill some things!!  Let the summer



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Thought For The Week

Boy, you gotta love Memorial Day Weekend!  Not only is it the official
beginning of summer (Ah, forget about that June 21st thing.  We all know
summer starts this weekend, and ends Labor Day Weekend!), not only will
Miss Manners grant you permission to wear white shoes after this
weekend, not only do most of us have a long weekend off -- but it's a
holiday that isn't centered around junk food!!  YIPPEE!!

Indeed, what with all that cooking out, Memorial Day Weekend is just
*made* for us low carbers!  Add to that the fact that many of us have
outdoor activities planned -- camping, biking, boating, hiking,
volleyball, or just tossing a Frisbee around -- and you come up with a
fun celebration where you might even *drop* a pound or two!  Wow.  Hard
to beat that!

So let's talk cookout menus.  Of course, you all know that you can have
all the grilled steak, burgers, and chicken you want, and ain't *that*
an improvement over a low fat diet!  But don't forget about the other
grilling possibilities -- how about grilling a whole salmon?  Some
*huge* shrimp?  (Think Paul Hogan saying, "I'll put a couple shrimp on
the barbie for you!")  A swordfish steak?  You could try doing a whole
chicken in a Weber Kettle -- I've done this, and it's *wonderful*.  And
I know people who have even roasted a whole turkey on the Weber!
(Again, an aside to my readers outside the US -- Don't know if you get
the Weber Kettle over there, wherever "over there" happens to be for
you.  It's a charcoal grill with a big, domed lid that holds in enough
heat that you can cook all sorts of things that you couldn't cook on a
regular, open grill.  Probably America's favorite charcoal grill,
although gas grills seem to be taking over.)  How about a boned, rolled
leg of lamb on the grill?  How about pork chops?

Then there's hot dogs, brats, and smoked sausage, all of which are
popular grilling foods.  Since these are processed meats they need to be
approached with a modicum of caution.  Any time meat has been chopped up
and re-formed, you can give it better than even odds that some sort of
sugar has been added.  Doesn't mean you can't have these at all, but it
does mean that you want to *READ THE LABELS* (Dana's constant refrain!)
and choose the ones with the least added carb.  Hot dogs run from 1 g of
carb per link all the way up to 6 g of carb per link -- that's a pretty
big difference!  (Not surprisingly, the "lite" hot dogs are some of the
highest in carbohydrate.)  Brats and smoked sausage you need to be
careful with; they tend to run between 1/2 and 1 gram of carb per
*ounce*, and you *know* you're eating more than an ounce or two!  Choose
the lowest carb sausages you can find, and eat them in moderation --
have a half a brat, perhaps, and then a burger, too.

How about ribs?  I *LOVE* spareribs!!  And they're just as carb-free as
can be.  Sadly, the same cannot be said of barbecue sauce, *all* of
which is simply *loaded* with sugar.  We're talking 8-12 grams of carb
in an ounce -- 2 tablespoons!  That's a *lot* of sugar from a little bit
of a condiment!  That's why you'll find a recipe for low carb barbecue
sauce in the Cooking Low Carb! section of today's Lowcarbezine!  Hope
you like it!

Speaking of condiments and such, remember that ketchup is also loaded
with sugar -- most have 4-5 g in one tablespoon!  There are a few lower
carb ketchups on the market:  Estee and Featherweight, "dietetic" food
producers, both make "diet" ketchups; Estee's lists 0 g per tablespoon
(which means it may have as much as 0.4 g), and Featherweight's is
listed as having 1 g per tablespoon.  Westbrae, a brand found in health
food stores, has 2 g of carb in a tablespoon, and Heinz "lite" has 1.7.
I haven't tried any of these, but probably will try at least one this

(By the way, I've been working on low carb ketchup.  So far, I've gotten
it to taste right, but it separates and ends up with an odd texture
after a month or so in the fridge.  I'll keep working on it.)

If you'd like to try my favorite ketchup-less way to eat a burger, here
it is:  I broil the burger (either over a fire, or inside on my George
Foreman grill), and melt a slice of processed swiss cheese on it.  I top
it with a little diced sweet red onion, and sprinkle it with Vege-Sal.
I don't miss the ketchup at all!  Bleu cheese burgers with onion are
also *wonderful*.

Mustard is low carb, unless you buy honey-mustard or something of the
sort. (Don't!) Good old yellow mustard is great, but don't forget spicy
brown, dijon, even horseradish mustard!  Mayonnaise you already know
about.  And your basic hamburger dill pickle is just fine.  Relish, on
the other hand, is sweetened; has about 3-4 g per tablespoon.  I'd stick
with mustard on that hot dog!  Like sauerkraut on your dog?  Most
sauerkraut has 1 g of carb or less in 2 tablespoons, and most of that is
fiber -- so go for it!

What are you going to eat with your meat?  The
cucumber-cauliflower-pepper salad I published the recipe for a few weeks
back is a great picnic salad.  Cut up veggies with dip make great picnic
food, too, and a platter of simple sliced tomatoes (If you can get good
tomatoes this early in the year in your area) with a little salt and
fresh or dried basil wouldn't go amiss.

I know it's darned tempting to have an ear of sweet corn, but remember
it's got about 30 g in a 5" ear, almost *none* of which is fiber.  You
could have half an ear, slathered with butter, and call it a modest
Indulgence, if you like.  At least it doesn't have a sky-high blood
sugar impact.

Don't forget to take along a bag of pork rinds or a can of mixed nuts,
or both, for munching!  Or you could try my favorite, roasted pecans.
Or -- assuming you have some low carb tortillas on hand -- you could
make some low carb tortilla chips.  Recipes for both of these below!
And it might be nice to have a dish of olives, or pepperoncini (mildly
hot pickled salad peppers) or both.  How about big, crunchy kosher dill
pickles, or garlic dills?  These are both quite low carb -- about 1 g in
a whole pickle.  Of course, you'll stay away from sweet stuff, like
bread-and-butter pickles, right?

I reviewed sugar free marshmallows a couple of weeks back; they have the
taste and texture of the real thing.  What I *don't* know is if they
*roast* like the real thing.  Think I'll experiment this weekend and
report back to you.  Seems to me that what with these and good sugar
free milk chocolate bars available, we're two-thirds of the way to a low
carb s'more.  (Synergy Diet actually sells low carb s'mores -- made with
fiber crackers, apparently.  Don't have any idea how these are.)

Watermelon *seems* like a fairly harmless Memorial Day dessert.  Don't
you believe it!!  A 1 inch slice from a watermelon 10 inches in diameter
has *32 g* of usable carbohydrate!  You could have a quarter of a
cantaloupe for 10 g, instead.  Or a half a cup of cherries for about 10
g. A peach will cost you about 10 g, a plum about 9 g.  Or you could
have strawberries, my favorite!  You could even get patriotic, and have
strawberries and blueberries, mixed, with whipped cream, for a red,
white and blue dessert, if you're so inclined.  A half a cup of
strawberries only about 3.5 g of usable carb, while a half a cup of
blueberries is a bit higher -- about 8 g.

What are you going to drink with all this?  Well, there's diet soda, of
course, and Crystal Light.  You could make lemonade with fresh lemons,
water, and Splenda to taste -- now that I think of it, that sounds
*mighty* good!  There's iced tea, too, my constant summer beverage.

Then there's beer.  No doubt most of you know by now that of the big,
nationally distributed brands of light beer, Miller Lite has the lowest
carb count.  Milwaukee's Best -- *very* cheap -- has about the same
count, 3.8 g per can, and tastes the same to me; it's made by Miller, so
perhaps it's the same thing, and the price difference has to do with
advertising.  Coors Light is 4.7 g per can; haven't tried it.  Amstel
Light is 5 g per bottle, and tastes better than either Miller Lite or
Milwaukee's Best, to my way of thinking, although it's pricier.  After
that, the carb counts go up unacceptably.  Be careful with your beer

If you'd like a tall, cool beverage with just a *bit* of alcohol in it,
and not too many carbs, that's really refreshing, try this:  Pour 2-3
ounces of burgundy over ice in *big* glass. (Cheap jug burgundy will
do.)  Pour unsweetened berry flavored sparkling water over it, for a
wine spritzer.  This is my drink of choice when I want something to sip
on for quite a while, without getting swacked.  If you're a wine cooler
fan -- wine coolers are just *loaded* with sugar! -- try making this
with sugar free lemon-lime soda, instead.

I'll be camping this weekend, myself.  Here's an idea of what I plan to
take along:

Pork chops
Pork sausage
Eggs!!  Lots of eggs.  All my friends at the campground know I'm the
omelet queen!
Raw veggies -- Peppers, onions, garlic, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers,
broccoli, mushrooms for omelets
Bleu cheese and ranch dips
Cheese -- probably jalepeno jack, cheddar, *and* processed swiss
Sliced ham
Sliced turkey
Sliced roast beef
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Mixed nuts
Sugar free barbecue sauce
Homemade soup -- I have a pot of broth on the stove.  A lifesaver if you
get a cold, rainy day while camping!
Kalamata olives
Sparkling water
Tea -- both regular and instant, with lemon juice for my husband
Light beer
Jug wine -- probably burgundy
Canned tomatoes
Chili seasoning
Salt, pepper, Vege-Sal, and assorted other seasonings

That's all I can think of right now!  Keep in mind, it's going to be a 4
1/2 day weekend!

So have fun!  Get some sunshine!  Grill something!  And have a great
holiday weekend!!


Too Cool To Miss!!!

Mark your calendar!  January 7, 2001, set sale for a full week of
Caribbean sun 'n' fun on the Hold the Toast Low Carb High Life Cruise!
Kick back after the stress of the holidays, while jump-starting your New
Year's Resolutions!  Meet Dana Carpender, author of _How I Gave Up My
Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds_ and author/editor of Lowcarbezine!,
make new low carb diet pals, and learn great long term, real life, low
carb living skills, all while visiting  incredible ports of call --
Cozumel, Ocho Rios, and Grand Cayman Island.  Great cuisine, great
people, great entertainment, great places, great fun!!

More details by next week!


Frequently Asked Question

I'm constipated on my low carb diet.  What can I do?

Depends on why you're constipated!  Also on if you really *are*
constipated.  If you're passing stool at least three or four times a
week, *and* it passes easily and comfortably, you're actually not
constipated.  It's dry, hard stool that is difficult to pass that is the
real marker of a constipation problem.

If this is a problem for you, the first place to look is your water
intake.  You can be getting plenty of fiber, and it won't do your guts
any good if you don't get enough water to moisten that fiber, and make
it expand.  Drink up!  Water's good for you.

If you start drinking an extra four or five big glasses of water a day,
and that doesn't help, the next thing to look at is your fiber intake.
You may have gone on your low carb diet not knowing that you can
subtract the fiber grams in a food from the total carbohydrate grams in
a food, to get the grams of "usable carb" -- the carbohydrates that will
actually be digested and absorbed, affecting your blood sugar level and
your insulin release.  Just knowing this will free you to eat more
vegetables, nuts and seeds, and even low sugar fruits, increasing your
fiber intake.  (For a more detailed discussion of the "usable carb"
concept, see the FAQ on my website, at http://www.holdthetoast.com )

Perhaps you're profoundly carb intolerant, and need to limit the
fiber-bearing foods so sharply, even with the grams of fiber subtracted
out, that you're still having trouble.  Or maybe you're simply not a fan
of these foods.  There's no reason why you can't take a moderate dose of
a fiber supplement-type laxative on a daily basis.  However, three
cautions here:  One, this is the *only* type of laxative you should take
on a regular basis; it's more like a nutritional supplement than a
drug.  Do *not* take stimulant laxatives -- Ex-Lax, Milk of Magnesia,
Correctol, mineral oil, or any of the others, even herbal stimulants
like senna -- on anything *approaching* a regular basis, or you'll mess
your system up even worse!  You'll get to the point where your bowels
can't move without them.  Two, *pay attention* to your body.  Rarely,
constipation is caused by an actual blockage in the intestines, at which
point taking fiber can be a real problem.  If you take it for a day or
two, and you have abdominal pain that is not gas, *GO TO A DOCTOR RIGHT
AWAY*.  This problem isn't common, but be aware of it.  And third, you
need to know that *many* fiber supplements contain *sugar*, especially
the kind you stir into water or a beverage.  Even here, you must *read

Another *excellent* possibility for adding fiber to your diet is flax
seed.  Three tablespoons of flax seed contain 11 grams of carbohydrate,
of which 6 g are fiber.  Further, they're loaded with good fats, some of
the best, and this is the freshest way to get that fat.  There's even 5
grams of protein in there.  That's a real nutritional bargain!  Keep in
mind, however, that the flax seeds need to be ground up a bit before you
consume them.  You can put a couple of tablespoonsful of flax seed in a
protein shake, and blend very well -- you'll barely notice them in the
finished shake, although they'll make it thicker.  Or you can simply
grind up some flax seeds, dry, in your blender, keep them in a tightly
lidded jar in the refrigerator, and swallow a spoonful or two of this
flax seed meal with a couple of big glasses of water every day.  If
you're going to do this, however, only grind up about a week's supply at
a time, and keep them in the refrigerator -- the fats start to
deteriorate as soon as you break open the seed coat.

You may want to buy organically grown flax seed, since not all flax is
grown for food, and therefore some chemicals are allowed in flax
agriculture that aren't allowed in crops grown strictly for consumption.

After these two things -- water intake and fiber intake -- the other
causes of constipation are less common.  Some possibilities include:

* Delaying bowel movements.  If you don't go when you get the urge, the
nerves that tell your body that you need to defecate become over
stimulated, and can stop "talking to you".  Whenever possible, don't put
off going to the bathroom.

*  Under active thyroid -- *that* again!  If you're constipated despite
a good fiber and water intake, *and* you're having trouble losing
weight, you have heavy periods (if you're female, of course), you're
tired a lot, even when getting enough sleep, your skin is dry, your hair
is coarse, and/or you feel cold when others do not, this may be your

* Pregnancy.  Having a developing fetus pressing on your intestines does
*not* help bowel motility, and hormonal changes don't improve the
matter.  Extra fiber and water, above what you normally get, are called
for here.

* Stuff that, if you have it, you already know -- like irritable bowel
syndrome, hemorrhoids, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis,
after-effects of a stroke.  For these, you'll have to consult your

For the vast majority of cases, water and fiber will do the trick, so
get them down!

Geez.  It's really hard to write an article about a subject where I
can't be funny without sounding vulgar...


Wouldn't You Know It?

Anyone else see the news release this morning?  It appears that drinking
coffee may have a preventive effect on Parkinson's disease.  This, hard
on the heels of the news that nicotine also seems to have a preventive
effect, as well.  Beginning to look like the best advice we have for
preventing Parkinson's is, "Have a cuppa joe and a smoke."  Too bad
it'll wreck your lungs and heart...

Why bring this up in a low carb newsletter?  I just find myself bemused
by how things we've all "known" were bad for us -- like a diet full of
meat and eggs -- are turning out to have some beneficial effects.


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What About Dioxin?

Some of you wrote me last week, to let me know that the Environmental
Protection Agency had announced that the risk of cancer from dioxin may
be greater than expected, especially in those of us who eat a high fat
diet.  Should we be worried about this?  Wish I had a hard-and-fast
answer for you.

On the one hand, there's no question that animals concentrate pollutants
in their fat; that's not an inherent flaw of animal foods, but a
drawback of today's polluted world.  On the other hand, it's becoming
clearer and clearer that our biggest killers, including heart disease,
diabetes, and even some cancers, are tied to, and probably caused by,
sustained high blood insulin levels.  Anyone for jumping out of the
frying pan and into the fire?  Which is the frying pan and which is the

Well, the EPA is still calling the risk "very small", and calling the
American food supply "one of the safest... in the world."  And they're
not advocating that women give up breast feeding their babies; toxins
tend to accumulate in milk fats.  If it's not a big risk for babies, is
it a big risk for you and me?  On the other hand, babies rarely drink
breast milk beyond a couple of years, whereas I plan to eat my low carb
diet for the rest of my life.

Personally, I'm not badly spooked by this.  I'm much more frightened of
the diseases that come with hyperinsulinemia.  Everything is a risk in
this world; sooner or later you've got to play the odds.  Just like I
can't advocate that you take up smoking to prevent Parkinson's disease,
because the risks of lung cancer and heart attack are far, far greater,
I can't advocate that you start eating a low fat/high carb diet to
prevent the apparently small risk that you'll get sick from dioxin,
because the risks are far greater that  you'll die of a heart attack,
diabetes, a stroke, breast cancer, or some other insulin-mediated

However, if you're concerned, there *is* one thing you can do -- you can
eat fewer animal fats and more plant fats.  Plant fats still have dioxin
in them, but it's not likely to be as concentrated.  This means choosing
lean meats, using olive, canola, peanut, or coconut oil for sautéing,
instead of butter, eating less cheese, and eating more nuts and putting
more oil on your salads to make up the fat calories you'll lose in
animal fats.  I'm not sure that plant fats are inherently better for
you, but they are likely to be less concentrated sources of dioxin.
*Don't* add fat calories by adding polyunsaturated oils like safflower
oil, corn oil, or soy oil.  There is strong evidence that these cause
cancer all on their own, especially if heated.  Modest amounts of these
oils, if *very* fresh, and used in recipes where they are not heated,
are probably okay.  But for the most part, stick to the saturated and
monounsaturated fats.

One approach that will probably not work is buying organic meat.  Sadly,
dioxin is in the air, and in our water supply; this means that it will
get into organically raised livestock as well as conventionally raised
livestock.  Organically raised meat will, of course, be free of things
like artificial hormones and antibiotics, and that's a good thing -- I
don't want to discourage you from buying organic meat; I would if I had
the money -- but it won't be dioxin-free.

Another thing I do is I take MSM, which is a sulfur supplement.  Sulfur
is used, among other things, in the process by which your body gets rid
of poisons, and each molecule of poison your body eliminates takes some
sulfur out of your body, as well.  Eggs are a fine source of sulfur (and
of animal fat!), but I take the MSM, highly bio-available sulfur, too.

It is good to know that dioxin emissions have dropped dramatically since
the 1980s -- by about 80%.  Slowly but surely, our food supply is
getting cleaner, at least where this chemical is concerned.

Me, I'm not likely to change my eating habits by much.  By every
measurable standard, eating lots of animal protein and fat has made me
healthier.  I'm not willing to risk the carbohydrate intolerance
diseases that run in my family (and be tired and cranky and fat) to
avoid a very small risk of dioxin-caused cancer.  But the choice, as
always, is up to you.


Enough!  I have to go grocery shop and pack for my camping trip!  Have a
great week -- I'll see you next week!

Dana W. Carpender

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