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Hey, Gang -
Wow, did I really do this weekly for a couple of years? ;-D
Anyway, here it is, complete with info on cutting the carbs in your Thanksgiving Feast - and a reprint of my low carb pumpkin pie recipe! Next week - Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownies!!
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Decarbing Thanksgiving Dinner
Okay, those of you who live outside the US can just let your eyes glaze over and skip this article, if you like. But for Americans, the biggest feast day of the year is right around the corner, and we need help!
There are two basic schools of thought and action regarding holidays. Some folks simply decide to take an Indulgence Day, and eat whatever the heck they want. That's a perfectly valid thing to do (aren't you glad you have my approval?), and we'll cover damage control strategies in the next issue. The other group - I'm among them - has gotten to the point where Indulgences just aren't very appealing any more. We don't like the carb rush and the crash that follows, not to mention the three days of trying to get off the water weight we've gained. We prefer to cut back on the carbs, even at holiday meals - oh, we'll eat more carbs than usual, but we have no interest in making the holiday a big carb-fest. For those of you who want to de-carb your holiday menu, here are a few ideas on how to do it:
* Perhaps the biggest carb offender at the Thanksgiving Dinner table is stuffing. Personally, I love the stuff, and would hate to pass it up. There are two kinds of stuffing - the sort made of loaf wheat bread, most common in the north, and the sort made with cornbread, which rules in the south. If you're a northerner, you can dramatically cut the carb count in your stuffing by either making your own low carb bread (recipes will be found in either 500 Low Carb Recipes or Baking Low Carb), or by buying commercial "light" bread that has enough fiber to drop the usable carb count below 5 grams per slice.
* You can also increase the ratio of vegetables to bread somewhat - add a bit more celery and onions, and even some sliced mushrooms. I've done this, and it makes for a very tasty stuffing. The celery and mushrooms are very low carb, and onions, while a borderline vegetable, are still lower carb than bread!
* If you're a southerner, you'll be surprised to learn that a stuffing that is remarkably like cornbread stuffing can be made from crushed pork rinds. No, I am not making this up; I've had it. You'll find a recipe at the Katiedid's Pork Rinds site: http://www.geocities.com/lcporkrinds/recipes.html I urge you to try this recipe - you'll be very surprised! I also strongly recommend buying some of Katiedid's truly wonderful pork rinds while you're at her site - they're far better than any store-bought pork rinds I've ever had. Sour Cream and Salsa are my favorite.
* Take a look at your side dishes. Are there any that you're serving just because you always have, that you could replace with something that would be lower carb, and just as tasty and festive? For instance, many people serve green bean casserole, made with canned cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions - 27 grams of carb per serving! How about serving Green Beans Almondine, instead? Cook and drain French-cut green beans, saute slivered almonds in butter until golden, and combine. Much lower carb, incredibly tasty, and elegantly festive.
* Is there a low carber left on the planet who doesn't know that Pureed Cauliflower makes a great stand-in for mashed potatoes, so much so that it's commonly referred to as Fauxtatoes? If you haven't tried this, you should! Just steam or microwave cauliflower until tender, drain very well, and puree in a blender or food processor. Add butter, salt, pepper, even a little cream cheese, and you'll have a dish that - once you put gravy on it - is nearly indistinguishable from mashed potatoes.
* For that matter, turnips make a great 'au gratin" style side dish. There are recipes for this sort of thing in a number of low carb cookbooks - one using cheddar is in 500 Low Carb Recipes, and one using blue cheese is in Cooking Low Carb, by Fran McCullough. Think you don't like turnips? My sister served Fran McCullough's recipe at a holiday dinner once, without mentioning that it was turnips, and was told by her brother-in-law that it was "the best potatoes au gratin" he'd ever had!
* Consider adding a salad to the menu. I know, I know, it's not traditional, but a really wonderful salad will add tremendous flavor and nutritional value to your Thanksgiving menu without adding many carbs.
* My mother always served celery and olives in a cut glass dish, as a relish. I'm fond of both, and they're certainly low carb. This is very New England-y, I believe.
* Used to serving sweet potatoes? Consider mashing one baked sweet potato with some canned pumpkin, some mashed zucchini, some Splenda, butter, and spices - you'll get a sweet potato flavor with far fewer carbs. If you do decide to serve sweet potatoes - and while they're high carb, they have a low glycemic index and far more vitamins than "Irish" potatoes - please refrain from covering them with sugar syrup, marshmallows, and the like!
* The carbs in gravy come almost entirely from the cornstarch or flour used to thicken it. Consider using xanthan or guar gum to replace part or all of the starch in your gravy. I've made some really wonderful gravies using xanthan gum. Remember, however, to add these thickeners sparingly and gradually - they're powerful, and it's easy to over do it. To avoid lumps, either put the xanthan or guar through the blender with some of the liquid part of the gravy, or put them in a salt shaker, and sprinkle lightly over the surface of the gravy, whisking madly all the while.
* Low carb cranberry sauce is almost laughably simple. Here's how: buy a bag of fresh cranberries at the grocery store. On the back you will find a recipe for cranberry sauce, which involves simply boiling the cranberries in water, with sugar, until the berries pop. Follow the recipe, only use Splenda instead of sugar. It'll take you five minutes, really. Oh, and if you like cranberry sauce all year 'round, it's good to know that, while cranberries are one of the few fruits that are still strictly seasonal, they freeze easily - just throw a few bags in the freezer, and you can have cranberry sauce next summer if you like.
* What about dessert? The hands-down favorite, of course, is pumpkin pie, with apple pie running in second place. I haven't managed to de-carb apple pie yet - I'll keep working on it - but low carb pumpkin is not only possible, but wonderful. Here, with permission from my publisher (thanks, Ken!) is the recipe:
Pumpkin Pie With Pecan Praline Crust
I'm very proud of this recipe. Serve it at Thanksgiving Dinner, and no one will guess it's made without sugar.
Preheat oven to 350
2 cups shelled raw pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons Splenda
1 1/2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
Put pecans and salt in processor in a food processor, with the S-blade in place. Pulse until pecans are chopped to a medium consistency. Add Splenda, molasses, and butter; pulse again until well blended. Add water, pulse again, until well combined. You'll have a soft, sticky mass. Spray a 10" pie plate with non-stick spray, or butter it well, turn the pecan mixture into it, and press firmly into place, all over bottom, and up the sides by in inch and a half or so. Try to get it an even thickness, with no holes. You may want to run a finger or a knife around the top edge, to get an even line, just to make it look nice. Bake at 350 for about 18 minutes. Cool.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Preheat oven to 425
15 ounce can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup Splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Simply put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well. Pour into pre-baked and cooled Pecan Praline pie shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350, bake for an additional 45 minutes. Cool. Serve with whipped cream. 8 servings, each with 14 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of which are fiber, for a usable carb count of 11 grams. 6 grams of protein. A slice of Mrs. Smith's frozen pumpkin pie has 37 grams of usable carb, or well over three times as much.
(Reprinted by permission from 500 Low Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, Fairwinds Press 2002)
By using these strategies, you should be able to keep the usable carb count of your Thanksgiving Dinner under 50 grams - more than you'd usually eat, of course, but a heckuva lot less than you'd get otherwise!
More Thanksgiving Survival Tips next issue!
$10 OFF On Your Order Of $100 Or More - at Carb Smart!
That's 10% - pretty sweet! But it gets even better. Because every bit of our huge selection of low carb products - from protein powder to tortillas, from cookbooks to candy, is discounted already! You can't afford not to CHECK IT OUT!
Plus, we have Dana Carpender's How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds! for just $11.49!
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!
Reader Review of 500 Low-Carb Recipes
Informative and Delicious
As is characteristic of Dana, this book is well researched and explained. I actually sat down and read it like a novel. So far, one of the dishes I have made is the meat chili and it was so wonderful that there were no leftovers when I served it at a party. The recipes are easy to follow and cover every food you could ever imagine. This is by far going to be the favored cook book in our house and my children like the recipes too.
Sheila B., Bloomington, IN
Thanks, Sheila! Being a hometown sort, I hope you got an autographed copy!
See this and other reviews of 500 Low Carb Recipes at Amazon.com
To order 500 Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon Canada, visit:
From The "We Just Can't Win" File
Today my internet news service featured these two headlines:
Alcohol and Breast Cancer Linked
Wine Drinkers Less Likely to Suffer Dementia
Well, shoot. Now what do we do?
Me, I'm likely to stick with my couple-of-glasses-of-red-wine-per-evening habit, partly because I like it, partly because I believe that the rest of my diet is protective against breast cancer - since breast cancer has been strongly tied to hyperinsulinemia/carbohydrate intolerance - partly because heart disease is a far stronger risk in my family (and we all know about heart disease and red wine, right?) and partly because there are a whole lot more effective treatments for breast cancer than there are for dementia.
Still, it's discouraging and confusing, isn't it?
Low Carb On The Road
Thanksgiving is the biggest travel weekend of the year, and I'm no exception - I'll be driving to Southern Alabama to see my father-in-law. This means that many of us will be at the mercy of truck stops, or worse, airlines. Here are some suggestions for making it through the flights and the road trips without carbing out:
* Eat your high protein breakfast, and maybe even a little bigger breakfast than usual. This will help prevent sudden attacks of hunger that kill will power and make you prey to junky road food or expensive airport cookies. It will also help stabilize your blood sugar all day, and keep you calm and cheerful - which, if you're traveling with family, is an advantage not to be underestimated. Make sure the kids eat their high protein breakfast, too - if you feed them Pop Tarts or Lucky Charms before loading them into the car, you will be sorry!
* If you're flying, take food with you. Most airlines no longer offer meals on flights under two or three hours, and even on longer flights will probably not offer a low carb meal option. A couple of protein bars, a bag of pumpkin or sunflower seeds, some individually wrapped string cheeses, a hard boiled egg or two, all will travel well in your carry on bag or purse, and will keep you from breaking down and buying a overpriced scone at the airport Starbucks. Remember, too, that your wait in the airport is likely to be longer than it used to be, and plan accordingly.
* That being said, I have found edible low carb food at airports - I had a wonderful chicken caesar salad at the Dallas airport last time I was through, and any airport McDonald's can make you a bunless burger or a scrambled egg for breakfast. Even at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, which was torn up at the time, I was able to get a couple of hot dogs, which I shamelessly ate without the buns - not a gourmet treat, but it kept me from sin.
* If you're going to be on the road, you'll be stopping at gas station and truck stop mini-marts, which are invariably a festival of junk carbs. However, in my experience, there is almost always something we can eat. Look for peanuts, pork rinds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, beef jerky (read the labels - jerky always has added sugar, and the amounts vary tremendously), and occasionally even hot dogs, boiled eggs, and pre-packaged salads. If they have a deli, you can ask for sliced meat and cheese without the bread. Of course, you'll find coffee, diet soda, and bottled water at almost any mini-mart - if you luck out, you'll also find iced and hot tea. If you're getting coffee, and like it light, beware of the "cream" - non-dairy creamer contains plenty-o-sugar, especially the flavored kind. It's also loaded with hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is horrible for you. If they don't have real cream or half-and-half, consider buying a little carton of milk to lighten your coffee - it has some naturally occurring lactose, but it's far better for you than fake creamer.
* Truck stop restaurants are no problem at all. You can invariably get a steak, and while it probably won't be USDA Choice, it will be edible and low carb. They often have a salad bar, too, and if not, I've found truck stop waitresses to be very nice about bringing me an extra salad in place of the potato. Depending on the truck stop, you may find broiled pork chops and un-breaded chicken, too. And many truck stop restaurants serve breakfast 24 hours, which is always a good bet for the low carber.
* You might want to take a look back at the fast food article I wrote a couple of months ago, so you have a better idea of what's available to you in the way of fast food meals. Here's a link: http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/020826.html#1
* If you'll be traveling where the weather is likely to be good, you might consider taking along picnic fare instead. With a cooler full of sliced turkey, ham and roast beef, some mayonnaise and mustard, plus bread for the carb eaters in the family, you're ready for a quick lunch at a rest area. Bring a Frisbee, and the kids won't even miss the McDonald's play land. Cheaper, too. This, however, is unlikely to work out for those of us in the Midwest and points north!
* I like to carry a jar of instant tea in the car. That way I can get a cup of ice water at a gas station mini-mart, and have nice carb-free iced tea. Most convenience stores don't have iced tea, and if they do, it's often the bottled stuff, and sweetened - or if it's at the fountain, it's often "raspberry iced tea" - again, with sugar in it. If you want to do this, it's not a bad idea to get one super-sized iced tea at a fast food joint, in one of those plastic cups with the narrow bottom, to fit in the cup holder, and with a lid and a straw. These will generally hold up for a whole trip's worth of refills.
That's about it! Have a safe and happy trip, you hear?
Reader Review of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!
Easy to follow, entertaining to read.
This diet may not be for everyone, but I feel like a million bucks on it. This food-o-phile has thoroughly researched many low carb diets and presents the pros and cons of many. She also presents in layman's terms simple principles of nutrition and anatomy. I found her book to be very inspirational and I can't wait to get her cookbook. Carb addicts - there is hope, and this book can help show you the way.
Tracy Dee, Watsonville, CA
See this, and other reader reviews of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds at Amazon.com
And in Canada: Amazon.Ca
Cooking Low Carb!
From Lowcarbezine! reader Ken Offer comes this tasty treat:
Ken's Low-Carb, No-Bread "Portabella Pizza"
5 to 7 Large Portabella Mushroom Caps (approx 4-6" diameter)
Package of Pepperoni slices
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Pace Picante Sauce OR your favorite spaghetti sauce
(Caution to low-carbers: even no-sugar-added tomato sauce may stall
weight loss, so use sparingly)
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Remove stem of mushroom caps
3. Douse caps with olive oil
4. Cook mushrooms for 7 minutes
5. Remove mushrooms from oven
6. Add sauce of choice, cheese and pepperoni
7. Cook mushrooms for an additional 7 minutes
8. Remove and allow to cool
Serves 5 to 7, less if they are really hungry...
Carb count will depend largely on how much sauce you use, and what its carb count is. Everything else here falls into the "very low carb" category - figure that these will have no more than 4 - 5 grams of usable carbs apiece.
That's it for this issue! See you next issue!
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