Lowcarbezine! 11 September 2002

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Hey, Gang -

You may not believe it, but this brief welcome note at the beginning of each issue is often the hardest part to write. That's even more true this issue, simply because of the date: September 11th.

I struggled with whether to say something about it or not, and if so what to say. I have resolutely kept politics, except for food politics, out of this newsletter, because that's not what we're here to discuss. Yet it seemed somehow even more awkward to say nothing at all about the anniversary of last year's horrific tragedy.

So in the end, I decided to simply say this: Remember the dead. Cherish the living. And live your life knowing that every day with the ones you love is a gift.

Damn. Now I'm crying.

Read on.


All contents © Copyright 2002 Hold the Toast Press. All commercial reproduction is expressly prohibited. If you think your friends will enjoy Lowcarbezine!, please forward them the WHOLE ISSUE. Please, do not post articles or recipes elsewhere on the internet without permission. My attorney tells me that I'll have to come scold you and tell you to cut it out if you do.

A lot of people have inquired about advertising; we actually are going to launch new ad rates and a sign up page as soon as the webmaster is through with grad school for the semester. Watch this space!

School Daze

School lunches are something I can usually ignore, since I have no kids. Still, I get comments and questions about them from time to time from parents concerned about their children's nutrition. Since my local paper ran an article about the lunches in our schools just recently, it seemed a timely issue.

Apparently school lunches ain't what they used to be. The creamed tuna, sliced turkey with dressing and gravy, and liver and onions of my childhood, nutritionally imperfect as they were (and they were!) have been replaced by pizza, chicken nuggets, tacos, breadsticks with cheese sauce, and french fries - in other words, the nutritional wasteland of the worst of fast food. Indeed, according to this article, a common lunch in our local schools is pizza and french fries. Atkins wept.

The reason given for this, of course, is that "it's what kids like." Oh, please. When did we decide that 3rd graders were competent to make vital decisions for themselves? If they liked whiskey and tobacco, would we give them that? If they wanted to drive themselves to school, would we let them? School is for learning. What kids are learning is that their elders will let them eat a steady diet of junk just to avoid listening to them whine. Great lesson.

Worse, many schools have soda and candy machines; indeed, these have become profit centers for cash-strapped schools. Soft drink manufacturers pay thousands of dollars for the exclusive rights to sell their brand of soda in the schools - and the school gets the vending machine money on top of it. If ever there was an illustration of "penny wise and pound foolish", this is it. In an effort to keep taxes down, communities are dooming themselves to ever-escalating medical bills instead. Better to just pony up the money needed for education; I can't imagine a better investment (says a woman who gladly pays taxes for the schools despite being childless.) These machines must be particularly galling to parents who are doing their level best to teach their kids good eating habits - you can keep the poison out of your home, but how do you keep your child away from the school's soda machine?

Worst of all, kids are learning that the adults in their lives think that the endless consumption of nutritional rubbish is okay - and that's not okay, especially with obesity and diabetes - what we used to call "adult onset" diabetes - epidemic in America's children.

There is some talk of improving school lunches, and that's heartening. It's the ways that they're planning to "improve" them that worry me. The big boogeyman, of course, is fat. Never mind the sugar overload, ignore the piles of refined, high glycemic index starch, overlook the fact that children's brains are still growing, and that animal fats contain substances - most particularly cholesterol and DHA - that are vital to that growth. Fat, especially saturated animal fat, is evil, and we must see to it that kids get no more than 30% of their calories from it, even if it means filling them up with junk carbs.

There are some favorable changes on the horizon, at least here in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. Cathy Sparks, the new director of our school lunch program, is planning to add more fresh fruit and vegetables to the menus, which certainly couldn't hurt. Sharon Lucas, the food services director for a nearby town says that she's found that elementary school kids are surprisingly enthusiastic about fresh vegetables: "It's amazing how much the elementary children like vegetable sticks and salads," she says.

(This echoes the experiences of my sister Kim, aka The World's Best Second Grade Teacher. Kim says that kids will eat anything if you give them ranch dressing to dip it in. She also says that every year when they make Plant Parts Salad as part of their botany unit, her kids are tremendously excited - sadly, the excitement often stems from the fact that they rarely get salads at home.)

Even better, we're being told that pizza and french fries will no longer be served on the same day, and that candy bars will be eliminated from our middle schools - very positive changes indeed. I am uncomfortable, however, with some of what is being touted as improvement - for instance, the addition of sugar sweetened yogurt as a lunch choice is less than wonderful.

But as usual, when it comes to true nutritional cluelessness, one has to look to the federal government. Those wonderful people who brought you the Food Pyramid, .the USDA, have approved the use of soy protein in place of animal proteins in school lunches. Soy has been used in school lunches for quite a while, but up until recently, it was only used as a filler to stretch meat. Now the USDA has decided that meals that derive all of their protein from soy are just fine. I find this worrisome in light of the gathering bad news about soy - in particular, the well-established fact that diets heavy in soy can cause thyroid dysfunction, and the equally well-established fact that such diets also can cause serious mineral deficiencies. Interestingly enough, the USDA has decided that soy products fortified with extra minerals should not be allowed - but is planning to monitor for signs of mineral deficiencies. Uh, guys? If you know the stuff sucks minerals out of growing bodies, why did you approve it for school lunches in the first place?

Clearly, school nutrition is a hot topic, and it is being discussed nation-wide. There is now a Coordinated School Health Program, created and funded by the Centers for Disease Control as a model for improving the health of school children. This model is being used in 20 states, and addresses, among other issues, school nutrition. It's a good idea, I'm sure, but I doubt that school nutrition will improve markedly before the federal government admits they put their foot in it when they made their broad, sweeping, and utterly unscientific indictments of dietary fat, and equally sweeping endorsements of complex carbohydrates. The USDA just recently suggested that the recommendations be changed from 60% of calories coming from carbohydrates to 50% of calories coming from carbohydrates, but this is simply not good enough. The feds need to say, loud and clear, "We blew it. Forget all that low fat, high carb stuff. We didn't know what we were talking about." I confidently expect this to happen sometime before the heat death of the sun.

All of which leaves you as your child's only nutritional teacher and defense. You're not there in the school cafeteria, but you have a huge influence on your child anyway. Here are some ideas for improving your child's nutritional status in general, and their lunch habits in particular:

* For the fifty-zillionth time, feed your children - and yourself - a high protein breakfast, devoid of junk. There is all kinds of evidence for the importance of a good breakfast. It will improve your child's learning ability, energy level, concentration, and behavior. It will also moderate his or her appetite for the whole day - in one study of the effect of low, medium, or high glycemic index breakfasts on obese adolescent boys, the kids who ate a cheese omelet for breakfast were so much less hungry for the rest of the day that they ate 81% fewer calories than the boys who had instant oatmeal. This is a powerful defense against the vending machines at school.

I understand that for many of you, morning is a scramble, and I don't mean the eggs. But even five minutes spent on good nutrition first thing in the day makes a big difference. Hard boiled eggs and individually wrapped string cheese are about the fastest and easiest things to give them for breakfast. How about a protein shake, made with milk, a big scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, a glob of natural peanut butter, and Splenda to taste? You can mix this up the night before and store it in the fridge - they can just grab it and go. Infinite flavor variation is possible, of course! Natural peanut butter and no-sugar preserves can be stuffed into a low glycemic index whole wheat pita bread, for a breakfast pocket sandwich. Sausage patties can cook in an electric tabletop grill while everybody gets their hair combed and their books together, so can hamburger patties. Low carb, high protein baked goods can be made over the weekend and stashed in the freezer. Just get that protein into them!!

* Feed them real food when they're at home. Many kids choose fast food type meals at school because that's all they know. I realize that everyone is busy, but food is the stuff of life itself. Meals don't have to be fancy. Bagged salad and sauteed chicken breasts or broiled steak or chops take no more than fifteen minutes to put together, but teach infinitely better habits than another round of burgers and fries picked up on the way home. And please, I implore you - no soda with meals! They're growing. Give them milk, or something else with at least a little nutritional value - and no sugar.

* Send lunch with them, and don't supply money for "treats". If they want fries, candy, chips, or soda, let them spend their money on it. I have it on good authority that the number of things that a child will "just die" without drops astonishingly when they're asked to foot the bill themselves. (My friend Robbie's all-purpose response to his kids', "Can I have...?" is, "Of course! You brought your money, right?") Yes, they may trade, but at least you'll have stemmed the tide a little - and made your position clear.

* What to put in lunches? First of all, not Lunchables. What possesses otherwise sane people to spend so extravagantly for so little nutrition is utterly beyond me. Crackers and cheese aren't really a bad idea, assuming your child isn't seriously carb intolerant, but whole grain crackers, free of hydrogenated oil, from the health food store, please, and real cheese. Add sugar free pizza sauce if your kid likes it. Apple slices are wonderful with cheddar cheese! Peanut butter and crackers is also fine, so long as it's natural peanut butter.

Sandwiches on whole wheat pita bread are a good idea; pita is sort of "cool" - and also has a much milder blood sugar impact than loaf bread. Real meat, cheese, tuna, etc. have more nutritional value than bologna and "pasteurized, processed American cheese food product". Depending on the peer status of thermoses - I understand that in some schools they're the nadir of geekiness - you could send all-meat chili or something of the sort.

Carrots, celery sticks, pepper strips and other raw vegetables with a container of ranch dressing for dipping are a brilliant thing to pack. Whole fruit is far better than juice or "juice drinks" - or, for that matter, "fruit roll ups" and other sugary fruit-oid substances. If you want to send something that's chip-like, keep in mind that not only is popcorn cheap if you pop it yourself, but it's easier on blood sugar than chips, and has more vitamins, too. And there are always pork rinds!

If you're determined to send a dessert, the only ones I can recommend are sugarless or low sugar ones you make yourself. What, you didn't really think I was going to recommend Oreos, did you? One great item is peanut butter balls - natural peanut butter worked with enough vanilla whey protein powder or powdered milk to make a stiff paste, with stevia or another sweetener to taste, then rolled into balls. You can add raisins to this if you like, or toasted sunflower or sesame seeds, or even chopped up sugar free chocolate. These have high kid-acceptability, seem like dessert - and have enough protein and healthy fat to stand as lunch all on their own.

* The beverage is the hard part, really. Juice boxes are little sugar bombs, and if you give them money for milk, they could just as easily spend it on soda or Hi-C. You could send milk along in a thermos, but again, there's the geekiness factor, and anyway, milk that's not really cold just isn't the same. I know folks who, tiring of the expense and ecological impact of juice boxes, started sending along reusable bottles with sports nipples, filled with juice. If I had kids, I'd try the same thing with Kool-aid or something similar, sweetened with stevia. Alternatively, I might freeze a couple of inches of milk in the bottom of the bottle overnight, then fill the bottle the rest of the way in the morning - the thawing milk should keep the rest good and cold till lunchtime.

* Most important, of course, is that you set a good example - which you're already doing! Congratulations. Seeing you lose weight and improve your health and energy level will be one of the most useful lessons in nutrition your child will ever have.

More About Fast Food

Boy, did I get responses to last issue's article regarding low carb fast food picks! I love it when I get a pile of email letting me know that the information I've provided is useful. I also got information in return, so I'm passing it along. One of the greatest things about publishing this newsletter is that if I miss something, there's always somebody to let me know!

Janet Jenks writes:

Hi Dana,

Thank you for your last newsletter and tips for fast food. I live in California and MUST try In and Out. There are always long lines.

Our Col Sanders has roast chicken - lemon roast chicken. It is kept behind the serving area and the clerks forget to offer it. Perhaps it is being re-introduced. A recent offering out here in Pasadena, CA is 7 pieces of dark meat for $5 - legs and thighs.

Do you have El Pollo Loco in Indiana? Another fast food place with good choices -- but not salads.

I'm afraid I've never seen Lemon Roast Chicken at a KFC here in the midwest, but it sounds wonderful. Maybe I'll write KFC corporate headquarters and let them know there's a growing crew of folks out here who'd appreciate it! And no, El Pollo Loco hasn't made it this far east yet, more's the pity.

Prairie Gal writes:

Hi Dana,

I was interested in your Fast Food Restaurant Review. I was a bit puzzled by your comment that Hardee's doesn't have salads. That is where we eat most often in our town and they DO have salads. You can get a side salad, a garden salad and a meat (chicken) salad. For the meat salads they give you the garden salad in one container and the meat in another so you can add the

amount you want. Since DH and I usually split one (they are huge) this works out just great. Here is a link with the nutritional information for you:


Thanks, Prairie Gal! I swear I looked and looked, and couldn't find salads listed at the Hardee's website. I hereby revoke my rating of "hopeless."

Appears I was also wrong about Pizza Hut:

Deb Rowland writes:

Hey Dana,

Love your article on fast foods. I do have a couple comments.

The fast food joints around here are more than willing to fill my order "no bun, no catsup". They serve it up in one of their containers and give me a fork to boot!!!

Also - please take the black mark off Pizza Hut - they have hot wings and salads in our area (northern Illinois). The wings are NOT breaded and quite tasty. Haven't been there for a while, but once in a while they will do an order from work and I always get them.

At Taco Bell, I order the tacos, gorditas etc., and just don't eat the shells - I take them out of the shells, put on some fire and green sauce and eat them like a salad - looks funky, but I don't care what people think!

I agree about not caring what people think, and it's a very useful trait for anyone who is determined to eat healthy. I've been known to pick the breading off mozzarella sticks, fried chicken, and jalapeno poppers, and pick the middles out of fried ravioli - and of course, every low carber knows about eating the toppings off the pizza and leaving the crust! I've been teased occasionally, but for the most part, nobody cares what you are or aren't eating.

Another post about El Pollo Loco, this one from my cyberpal and fellow cook, Barbo Gold:

Hi, it's me Barbo,

Not certain if you have El Pollo Loco back east?? A couple of brothers from Mexico started the chain. The chicken is all char broiled and they have many side dishes, mostly high carb.

BUT: There is a salad -- the Mexican Chicken Caesar, and oh it's good! They put hot Mexican rice on the bottom but low carbers can ask them not to. It's shredded romaine lettuce, a little diced tomato and a wonderful cilantro dressing topped with char broiled chicken. You can then put on extra cilantro, extra salsa, hot or cool and mashed avocado. You can also have a pile of chicken.......

Just thought I'd tell you about it. Looking forward to the new book.

Wow. Now I'm hungry, and I just had a huge breakfast! That sounds incredibly good. All you Left Coast low carbers will have to head to El Pollo Loco for lunch.

Finally, my pal Ray Stevens, who lives here in town and tested recipes for the new cookbook, sends this useful idea I had overlooked:

You forget the best suggestion for grabbing something to eat on the job during lunch -- eat at a regular restaurant, but call ahead. I used to keep take out menus and call it in as a order for eat in and have then have it ready at a specific time. Many of these places will do that. Fast food seldom is. ;-)

This is a terrific idea, and one that will greatly increase your lunchtime variety. Just call your favorite "slow food" restaurant and order ahead! You could also, of course, take this "slow food" out and eat it at your desk - or on a beautiful day like today, in the nearest park. One thing I especially like about this idea: it dramatically increases the range and quality of main dish salads you can choose from. Thanks, Ray; you've helped out a lot of people with this idea.

Clearly, the fast food issue is one that has generated a lot of interest. Keep your eyes open, everybody, and if you see a fast food menu item that will work for us, let me know, so I can pass it on!

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While you're at the site, read our recipes, interviews, and low carb success stories, too!

If you're low carb and smart, you'll shop Carb Smart!


For My UK Readers

Low Carbers in the United Kingdom, rejoice! Niki Howard, one of your number, and a Lowcarbezine! reader, sends word that Splenda is due to be launched in the United Kingdom within the next few weeks. Splenda is great, my friends. You really do want to try it, even if you've hated every artificial sweetener you've tried before - and no, I get no money for saying that. It really does taste hugely better than all the other artificial sweeteners.

It may take a while for Splenda to get into all of your markets, especially in some of the smaller villages - it took about 2 years from when Splenda was first launched here in the US to when it was widely available all over the country. So nag your grocer!! And I hope Splenda comes to your town soon.

Vitamins 101

Last issue we looked at vitamin B1. Anyone care to guess what vitamin comes this week? Oh, let's not always see the same hands. B2, that's right; anyone who got B2 can stay after the ezine and clean the erasers.

* Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. It is, of course, part of the B complex of vitamins, and it works best when all the other B vitamins are also available in ample supply.

* Like the other B vitamins, riboflavin is water soluble. This means that it is not stored in the body,. and needs to be supplied daily. It also means that it is hard to overdose on the stuff.

* Riboflavin is measured in milligrams, or mg. The RDA is between 1.2 and 1.7 mg., but doses of 100 mg. are common and, if given with all the other water soluble vitamins, harmless.

* Riboflavin is important for your body to be able to metabolize proteins and fats properly. Also carbohydrates, but we're assuming that's not your problem.

* Riboflavin is also needed for your body to be able to create the enzymes that eventually break down and inactivate insulin, which can make hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia worse.

* A lack of riboflavin can keep your stomach from producing enough acid for digestion, and for absorption of iron, resulting in anemia.

* One of the most common signs of riboflavin deficiency is a sore mouth, lips, and tongue, and also cracks at the corners of the mouth. If these are frequently a problem for you, a B complex vitamin or a multivitamin with a strong B complex in it is a very good idea.

* A lack of riboflavin can also cause whiteheads, and oily hair and skin.

* Stress increases your need for riboflavin, because riboflavin is used in the production of stress hormones like cortisol.

* Unlike many of the water soluble vitamins, riboflavin is not destroyed by heat or by exposure to air. It is, however, destroyed by light. This, incidentally, is a good reason to buy milk in opaque containers.

* Good sources of riboflavin are common in a low carb diet. Eggs are a good source; so are cheese and leafy vegetables. Chef's Salad, anyone? All sorts of meat have riboflavin, with fresh pork being a bit higher in this vitamin than some other meats. Some of the less starchy grain fractions we tend to use - brans and wheat germ - are also pretty good sources, especially rice bran.

* The hands-down champion source of riboflavin - and of so many other nutrients - is liver. If you, as I do, enjoy things like liverwurst and chicken liver pate, go to it! Hard to think of anything more nutritious than liver. If you and yours are among the people who wouldn't touch liver on a bet, try disguising it by grinding it up in a food processor, and adding it to meat loaf. I'm working on a recipe for a meat loaf of this sort, which I've been calling "Sneak Loaf", and so far, both my husband and I like it very much. If the very idea of touching liver and grinding it up in your food processor gives you the willies, ask the butcher to do it - 1 pound of liver to 4 or 5 pounds of chuck should be fine. If even that weirds you out, you could take desiccated liver tablets. Or not. You could just take vitamin pills.

(By the way, there seems to be a feeling that one shouldn't eat liver because it's "the filter of the body", and contains all the toxins the animal ate in its lifetime. This is not true. The liver is the processing plant for toxins - they go there to be deactivated, packaged, and eliminated. The toxins don't just stay in the liver, like sludge in your car's oil filter. Still, no reason not to buy organic liver, if it makes you more comfortable.)

The World's Best Pork Rinds

Back in June, after attending the Third Annual Low Carb Pig Roast, I wrote about Katiedid's pork rinds. I've never been much of a pork rind girl, but these were different - fresher, tastier, and in far more interesting flavors than any pork rinds I had tried before. Apparently, some of you took it to heart, because the other day, I got this email:


A while ago you talked about some delicious pork rinds - I ordered them and they are wonderful! I even sent some to my sister. I even spoke to Katie but I lost her email and website and I can't find them on your website. Can you please email her info to me?

Thank you -

Linda Marten

So here's another much-deserved free plug for Katie and her fabulous pork rinds. If you love pork rinds, folks, you have got to try these - and if you don't love pork rinds, you've really got to try these. Because these are not your average pork rinds, folks - these bear about as much resemblance to the pork rinds you buy at the grocery store as a Rolls Royce does to a Yugo.

I currently have Bar-B-Cue, Sour Cream and Salsa (Mmmmmm!) and - believe it or not - Cinnamon and Splenda pork rinds on hand, and they're great. So go visit out Katiedid's website at http://www.geocities.com/lcporkrinds/ Or e-mail her at katiedid@atkinsfriends.com

Katie also sells pork rind crumbs, a useful item for those of us - I'm one! - who use crushed pork rinds in cooking. She has cracklings, too, which are similar to pork rinds in flavor, but denser and crunchier.

Don't miss the recipes, by the way. In particular, the recipe for turkey dressing made from pork rinds bears an uncanny resemblance to corn bread dressing - except for the carb count, of course!


Product Review

I was working on de-carbing a bread recipe yesterday, and found that it called for Kellogg's All-Bran Cereal. I knew that All-Bran was one of the few cold cereals that could be made to fit into a low carb diet, so I figured it would be okay in my bread. That's how I found myself in what is now very unfamiliar territory: the cold cereal aisle of my local grocery store.

I found the All-Bran on the top shelf, where you'll always find the "adult" (read: not heavily sweetened, sort of healthy) cereals. And sitting next to it was something I hadn't seen before: All-Bran Extra Fiber, with "12% More... Fiber Than All-Bran Original". This sounded vaguely threatening - it brought to mind the old joke ads for "Super Colon Blow" on Saturday Night Live. Still, as far as I was concerned, the more fiber the better - I figured it could only replace usable carbs.

I was right. One ounce of original All-Bran contains 21 grams of carbohydrate, of which 10 grams are fiber, for a usable carb count of 11 grams per serving. All-Bran Extra Fiber contains 22 grams of carbohydrate, but 14 grams of fiber, or only 8 grams of usable carb per serving. (Note: this is not exactly what you'll read on the box, because for some reason which passes understanding, the serving size on the box is 0.9 ounces.) You'll get just 50 calories with that, by the way.

Part of the reduction in carbohydrate in All-Bran Extra Fiber does come from the additional fiber, but apparently some of it is due to the use of aspartame, as well. This means that All-Bran Extra Fiber contains less corn syrup than All-Bran Original, which is all to the good, although there is still a little corn syrup in here.

Anyway, I chose the lower carbohydrate, higher fiber option, naturally. Came home and made my bread (which was pretty good, by the way, but I'd still like to cut the carb count a bit further). And thought, "Oh, heck, why not try some of this stuff as cereal?" So I poured some into a bowl, and added a little half-and-half. It was - well, not brilliant. Bland. I added a touch of Splenda, and that improved it a bit; enough that I finished the bowl before it got soggy. It wasn't exactly a major treat, but it wasn't half bad.

I realize that this is not exactly a ringing endorsement. However, there are bound to be those of you out there who are really jonesing for some kind of cold cereal. This is the one that will do your low carb diet the least harm. There are also those of you who are still having constipation problems on your low carb diet; certainly a daily dose of All-Bran Extra Fiber should take care of that little problem.

If you decide you like All-Bran Extra Fiber enough to include it in your low carb diet, keep in mind that it is not an adequate breakfast by itself. A half-cup serving of All-Bran Extra Fiber has only 3 grams of protein, and the cream or half-and-half you put on it won't add enough to hold you till lunchtime. Have this with your eggs, not in place of them.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep working on de-carbing the bread recipe!

Cooking Low Carb

If you think of Mexican food as being primarily beans and tortillas, and always being sharply spicy, think again. This is my decarbed version of a traditional Mexican dish that has nary a hot pepper in sight. And it's delicious!

Pollo en Jugo de Naranja (Chicken in Orange Juice)

1 cut-up broiler-fryer chicken
-- OR --
3 pounds of chicken pieces, whatever you like - I like legs and thighs.
2 tablespoons oil
1 orange
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2/3 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
guar or xanthan gum (optional)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil, and brown the chicken until it's lightly golden all over. While that's happening, grate the zest of the orange and reserve. If your almonds aren't toasted, this is a good time to do that too - simply stir them in a small, heavy, dry skillet over medium heat until they start to turn golden, then set aside. When the chicken is browned, pour off any excess fat. Squeeze in the juice of the orange, adding any pulp that may squeeze out. Add all remaining ingredients, cover the pan, turn the burner to low, and let the whole thing simmer for 45 - 50 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken to a serving platter.

If you like, you may thicken the sauce a bit with a little guar or xanthan gum. The easiest way to do this is to put the guar or xanthan in a salt shaker and sprinkle it lightly over the surface of the sauce, stirring all the while. Go easy - a very little bit of these thickeners goes a long way. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste, and serve over the chicken. 4 - 5 servings. Assuming 4 servings, each will have 13 grams of carbohydrate, with 3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 10 grams. 46 grams of protein.

About that guar or xanthan: For those of you who are new to low carb cooking, guar and xanthan are gums - a form of water soluble fiber. They are very useful for replacing flour as a thickener in low carb cuisine. Sounds dreadful, I know, but these fibers are both flavorless, and used in many of your favorite junk foods, so how terrible can they be? They do contain carbohydrate, but all of that carbohydrate is in the form of fiber, so don't sweat it.

Use these thickeners with a light hand. A little is good, a lot makes your food - well, gummy. Start with the tiniest bit, and work your way up - I used no more than 1/8 teaspoon of xanthan in my Pollo en Jugo de Naranja. This stuff is powerful.

You also want to avoid lumps. Do not simply spoon in some guar or xanthan, and then stir - you'll get a little, flavorless, slimy blob in your food. Either use the salt shaker trick, or put part or all of the liquid being thickened through the blender with the guar or xanthan.

Guar and xanthan gums are available at good health food stores - that is, stores that specialize in health food, rather than supplement stores like GNC. They have an extremely long shelf life, so long as they're kept in a tightly covered container. I bought a pound of guar 15 years ago, and it's still going strong.

After the last issue's recipe for Singing Chicken, I received this helpful email:

Dear Dana,

I love your Lowcarbezine!. You have been a great inspiration.

I am a California pepper head. According to UCLA (and my experience):

"The active ingredient is capsaicin, a volatile phenolic similar in chemical structure to vanillin, and this substance is present only in the placenta that bears the seeds. A solution of capsaicin one part per 100,000 of water can be detected by the human tongue. Now that chemical is widely known after Capzasin-P was heavily marketed in the United States as a topical ointment for relieving persistent aches; this is an analgesic to deaden nerves, thereby stopping pain messages. No seed of Capsicum contains capsaicin, so if you wish to save your out-of-town relatives from Mexican food that is too "hot," you must remove the white placenta on which the harmless seeds are attached."


Terri Cohen

Thanks, Terri!! I'll keep that in mind. And remember, folks, either wear gloves when handling hot peppers, or wash your hands immediately with soap and hot water, or you'll be very sorry the next time you touch your eyes or nose.

That's it for this issue! See you next issue!


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