Lowcarbezine! 5 February 2003

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Hey, Gang -

Here you go! This issue is pretty evenly composed of new and recycled materials - another repeat of a Frequently Asked Question for the newbies, and a retread of a Valentine's Day article from our first winter of publishing, plus a new product review, a new recipe, and yet more info on getting the low carb bread recipes to rise.

And now I'm off to Chicago! I'm going to be on the WGN Morning News on Friday, sometime between 8:30 and 9, Chicago time. I know that cable providers all over the US carry WGN, but I don't know if they carry the Chicago local news...

Then I'll be signing books at Borders Books on State Street at noon. On Saturday, I'll be at Borders in Deerfield, Illinois at noon, and at Borders in Evanston at 3. Hope all my Chicagoland readers can come on out and see me!

I'm going to go pack! In the meanwhile, 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.

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What about calcium?

Another Lowcarbezine! Classic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you enjoy canned sardines, they're a terrific source of calcium, because the bones are eaten. The same is true of canned salmon, assuming you don't pick the bones out, but rather crush them up. Since these canned fish also contain heart-healthy EPA oils, and are great sources of carb-free protein, they're some of the most nutritious foods around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We also need to be sure that we get enough of the nutrients that help our bodies use calcium properly - boron, magnesium, vitamin K, and especially vitamin D. In these sun-phobic times, many people avoid the sun altogether, and can become vitamin D deficient. This is especially true, by the way, for folks of African ancestry, whose dark skin apparently evolved to protect them from vitamin D overdose in the sunny regions where they evolved. The less sun you get, the more important it is to take vitamin D supplements, and the darker your skin, the more important it is to take vitamin D supplements.

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

Valentine's Day

Don't look now! Just when you've really shaken that Holiday Five, here comes Valentine's Day! Surely you've noticed the heart-shaped satin boxes piled up at every grocery store, discount store, convenience store, and even truck stop. Yes, it's another all-American Junk Fest!

Okay, so it's not as bad as "The Holiday Season", where you're facing carbohydrate land mines for more than a month. Still, you're likely to encounter at least one open box of chocolates or plate of cookies with fluorescent pink icing sometime this week. It's time to give a little thought to strategy.

First of all, decide now whether Valentine's Day is worth having an official Indulgence for. For those of you who haven't read my book, "Indulgence" refers to a planned, celebratory deviation from your low carb diet. I much prefer this term to "cheat", which A) signals you that you should feel guilty, which is silly, and B) suggests that you're going to get away with something. You never, ever do. Your body knows, and will react accordingly! Me, I always expect to put on 4-5 pounds when I have an Indulgence, and to take the best part of a week getting it off again.

Before you make that decision, though, consider some ways you can celebrate Valentine's Day without eating candy! Your Valentine could give you:

* Flowers!! These are maybe even more traditional for Valentine's Day than chocolates. Or consider a flowering plant that will last longer - a pot of hyacinths would be lovely, or a blooming azalea.

* Jewelry!! Don't you think that you're worth it? (I confess, this is what I'd like this Valentine's Day!)

* Perfume or cologne -- something that makes you feel beautiful or studly, depending on which gender you are.

* A great dinner out. How about lobster dipped in lemon butter? Or a 16 ounce sirloin?

* Slinky lingerie! Think you haven't lost enough weight yet to wear something really sexy? Think again. I was just in Lane Bryant yesterday, and they have some really wonderful stuff that will fit you. Stop thinking of yourself as fat, and think of yourself as curvy for a change! Gentlemen, how about buying your wife some slinky lingerie as a Valentine to yourself? Ladies, if your husband is low carbing too, how about a pair of silk boxers for him? Personally, I'd forego the hearts and get him something classy he'll actually wear.

* Watch a romantic video with your own true love. My personal favorite is a little-known romantic comedy that came out in the 80s called "Getting It Right", with Lynn Redgrave, Helena Bonham-Carter, and John Geilgud -- some cast! Or maybe you'd both prefer something a little steamier. Up to you!

* How about a Day of Beauty (or a half-day if money's tight) at a salon or day spa?

* Or a massage -- great for men and women alike. (As a career massage therapist, I'm very fond of this suggestion!)

* A night at a romantic getaway, whether it's a Victorian bed-and-breakfast, or one of these places like Sybaris, with hot tubs and waterfalls in the rooms. (Don't think my sister's guest room qualifies here, do you?)

Do one or two of these possibilities strike you as more fun than candy? If so, go for it, and don't regret the lack of chocolates!

Maybe, though, you're still shaking your head and thinking, "Nope. Valentine's Day just doesn't make it without chocolates." In that case, you're headed for an Indulgence! But remember, this is an Indulgence, not a complete revocation of all the rules of low carb dieting! Here are a few suggestions to get you through your Indulgence with the least possible damage:

* Your Indulgence lasts for one day and one day only. This means no weaseling a 5 pound box of chocolates out of your Significant Other and then noshing on them for a few days! Far better, buy a half-a-dozen sinfully expensive chocolates of your very favorite kind, eat them all on Valentine's Day, and have done with it. Or go out for dinner somewhere where they serve really decadent desserts, have your Indulgence, and go home to safe low carb territory.

* If you like them as well as any other kind, dark chocolate covered nuts will mess up your blood sugar less than, say, caramels or chocolate covered cherries. Why? They have less sugar, and more protein and fat, of course! Still, it's your Indulgence, so if you really have a strong preference, I'd say run with it.

*Eat your chocolates after you've eaten a meal of protein, fats, and veggies, rather than by themselves as a snack. They'll affect your blood sugar far less -- and you'll be less likely to overeat on them.

*Don't go eating sugary stuff you don't really care about just because it's Valentine's Day and you've decided that this is an Indulgence Day for you. There are likely to be cookies or cupcakes or cheap chocolates in the break room at work -- are they the really, really good kind that's worth the four or five days you'll spend getting them back off again? Or are they cheap, cheesy grocery store cookies that don't even taste very good in the first place? Be very, very choosy about your Indulgence foods!

* Related to that last tip: Whether you plan an Indulgence for Valentine's Day or not, it's a very good idea to take a low carb treat to work with you on Valentine's Day. Pack up some Sugar Free Chocolate Mousse To DIE For! (recipe at http://www.holdthetoast.com ) in a snap-top container, and take it along. Or make some of the Chocolate Walnut Balls that I gave you the recipe for at Christmas -- I've repeated it below -- and take them along. Either way, you'll find resisting the break room junk far, far easier!

* When I first wrote this article, I said that sugar free chocolates weren't that great. Boy, have I changed my tune! All the sugar free chocolate I've tried in the past couple of years has been great. Pure De-Lite is my favorite brand, but Carbolite, Low Carb Chef, Ross - all of 'em are good. Many good candy shops also carry sugar free chocolates - Fanny May, Fanny Farmer, and the like. Remember that these are not carb free, and that eating too many can cause gas and/or diarrhea - not romantic! So go easy.

So, Indulgence Day or not, have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Here's hoping Cupid shoots you, but good!

Beautiful Low Carb Valentine Gift Baskets!

Check out our Valentine Gift Baskets, chock-full of sugar free chocolates and candy! Available in large and small sizes, they're the perfect gift for that low carb loved one who you want to treat to health!

While you're at the site, check out our interviews, recipes, newsletter, and more!

If you're low carb and smart, you'll shop Carb Smart! http://www.webbalah.net/carbsmart.html

Bread Success!!

Here's another installment in the ongoing saga of who can get my bread recipes to rise, who can't, and how. Cynthia Trottier writes:

I was successful the first time I made your bread using Hodgson's Vital Wheat Gluten with my old Welbilt (but my girlfriend was not). Then I went out and bought a brand new Breadman Plus TR845 and bought the bulk vital wheat gluten from the health food store. And down went my bread!

Thereafter, I have lived and breathed working on perfecting my bread and I finally did it. Here is what I had to do:

1. Used Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten - I think this is it - apparently, their vital wheat gluten is 80% protein while the rest are about 75% and with fiber. I remember reading from Jennifer Eloff's cookbooks that it has to be 80% protein or else low carb bread will not rise. Also, there has to be NO fiber. Hodgson's has fiber - that's probably why my girlfriend's bread did not rise.

2. I used distilled water (I have a well and have hard water) and microwaved it for 1 minute on full power. By the time I have added all the ingredients, the water was the perfect temperature.

3. I added oil, then water, then salt and then sugar and cinnamon (if required). I then added the "flours" with the vital wheat gluten on the very top. I have also tried another recipe which asked for mixing the flours and that worked, too. I never allow salt and sugar to touch the yeast.

4. I then sprinkled the yeast evenly on top and completely ignored Breadman's recommendation of making a well in the middle and putting all the yeast in there. I tried this and it did not work at all!

5. When the bread was done kneading (about 40 - 45 minutes on my machine, right before the RISE), I opened my machine, pulled out the dough, took out the paddle so as not to overwork the dough, put back the dough sans the paddle and allowed it to rise and bake. During the rise cycle, my machine would knead very briefly but apparently this is not good for low carb bread.

I read this in a Keto newsletter. I called Breadman to make sure I was not hurting my machine, and they said it was perfectly all right to do this.

After I did all of the above, your breads rose so beautifully. As a matter of fact, I doubled your cinnamon raisin since I have a 1 1/5 to 2 lb. bread machine, and when my 12 year old checked on it, he yelled, "Mom, the bread is trying to get out of the machine!" It got so big during baking that I had to make a note NOT to double this recipe. (My husband said it looked like the breads the Romans used in their parties.) I have also tried bread recipes using rapid rise on lowcarbluxury and they also came out beautifully. Bottom line, I believe it is the vital wheat gluten (only use Bob's Red Mill), the order of the ingredients and removing the paddle right before RISE. Hope this helps your other readers - I was just about ready to throw my bread machine!

Thanks for awesome books and websites!


Cynthia, thanks so much for all this detailed information!! Hope it helps some of the folks who have been frustrated by the bread recipes. By the way, I've had my bread try to escape from the bread machine, too! That's why I was so surprised to learn that folks were having trouble getting these recipes to rise.

Just one thing - I mostly have used bulk vital wheat gluten from my health food store! Perhaps they carry a different brand than your store? Whatever. Thanks again for the help!!

The Easy Way To Eat Flax

Surely everybody knows by now that flax seed is terribly nutritious - a good source of soluble fiber, heart-healthy EPA (the same oils found in fish), protein, and such. Indeed, if you're low carbing to lower your cholesterol, or you're in the minority whose total cholesterol has gone up on a low carb diet, flax is one of the best things you can add to your diet. It's also great for preventing or treating constipation, and it's even good for your skin!

But how to eat it? I've been known to just put a spoonful of flax seed meal (flax seeds ground up in the blender or - far quicker and easier - a coffee grinder saved for the purpose - Thanks, Carol!) on my tongue, and wash it down with a big glass of water. This is okay, but a bit gritty. I can bake it into bread, but I don't bother making bread very often, and the amount of flax in a single slice isn't that high.

Well, I've finally been getting my flax, and enjoying it, too! I've discovered Cream of Flax, a brand-new hot cereal, from Gram's Gourmet. This is a high protein, low carb hot cereal, simply loaded with golden flax seed meal. Made with all natural flavors, Cream of Flax also includes virgin dried coconut. This may not mean a lot to you, but coconut, and coconut oil, are great sources of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a fat which can be used directly for fuel by the muscles, and that stimulates fat burning. Add to that some whey protein powder for high quality protein, and we're talking serious nutrition, here. I also like the fact that Cream of Flax, unlike some other low carb cereals on the market, has no soy.

In a hurry in the mornings? Cream of Flax takes next to no time to make. You put a half a cup of the dry cereal in a bowl, add a half a cup of boiling water, and stir. Add a little Splenda and some cream, and breakfast is ready! Fast and easy. I also find that it makes a great late afternoon snack.

But how does it taste? Cream of Flax tastes great. It comes in Cinnamon Toast and Vanilla Almond flavors, and I'm hard-pressed to decide which I like better. The flavor is great, the texture is great - heck, I can't think of anything bad to say about this cereal.

If you're missing hot cereal in your life, Cream of Flax is a product you really want to buy. Sadly, you're going to have to wait a week - it's just shipping now to the first etailer to stock it, my pals at Carb Smart. So wait a week, and then go to http://www.webbalah.net/carbsmart.html and order some Cream of Flax! It's far and away the easiest and most pleasant way I know to get the benefits of flax into your diet.

Reader Review of 500 Low-Carb Recipes

Kenneth Johnson, from In My Kitchen, writes:

I have several low-carb cookbooks on my shelf. This cookbook is the most comprehensive, varied and is the easiest to use. 1. There are many recipes for delicious meals, snacks and desserts that I'd never thought of. 2. The ingredients are not hard to find to make these dishes. It is important not to keep eating the same low carb foods over and over again, because it can lead to boredom, and that can lead to slipping. In this sense this recipe book can get the low-carber to think "outside of the box," when it comes to what we eat. For the number of recipes and the price, this can't be beat. Here are some examples of great tasting meals for you and your family that are in it: mouth-watering marinades, vegetable lasagna, pizza with without the crust, all-meat chili, cheesecakes, and even coffee cakes. Spaghetti squash to chicken wings, it's written in a friendly easy to read style set in the kitchen. Pick up the book, then head to the kitchen.

Read that and other reviews of 500 Low Carb Recipes at Amazon.com or Amazon Canada.

See 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!

I've been doing lots of different kinds of burgers lately, because they're fast, easy, and infinitely variable. Here's a new burger that my husband rated a 10 on the 1-to-10 New Recipe Scale:

Apple Cheddar Pork Burgers

2 pounds boneless pork loin
1 Granny Smith apple (or other firm, fairly tart apple)
1/2 medium onion
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal
1/4 cup oat bran
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

If you have an electric tabletop grill, start it heating.

Cut pork into cubes about 1", and put in a food processor with the S-blade in place. Pulse a few times to start chopping the meat. Add the apple and the onion, cut in largish chunks, in the food processor, and pulse until the meat is finely ground. Add the eggs, salt, oat bran, and horseradish, and pulse to combine. Add the cheese, and pulse just enough to mix in the cheese, but not enough so that the shreds of cheese disappear.

Form into eight patties - mixture will be soft - and slap 'em into the electric grill. Cook for 7 minutes. (My grill won't fit eight burgers. Feel free to halve this recipe if you like.) If you don't have an electric grill, you can cook these in a skillet you've sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over medium-high heat, it'll just take a few minutes longer. Turn carefully!

Eight burgers, each with 5 g. carbohydrate and 1 g. fiber, for a usable carb count of 4 g per serving. 25 g. protein.

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


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To request a full-text version of this issue by e-mail, just send a message to: htt030205@holdthetoast.com (Message and subject can be blank.)