Lowcarbezine! 2 April 2003

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Hey, Gang -

Stop me before I write more! This is the longest issue of Lowcarbezine! I've put out in quite a while. There's a good reason for this: It's the last issue until I turn in the manuscript for the new cookbook, and it's also the last issue before both Easter and Passover. So there was a lot to say!

I am both thrilled and deeply grateful that I actually have some moderately useful Passover information for my Jewish readers for a change. This is solely due to the generosity of Rabbi Hirsch Meisels, whose name you will see several times below! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A happy and blessed holiday to you all, and belated Happy Equinox to those of you who celebrate it!

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. Advertising inquiries may be directed to advertising@holdthetoast.com

Another Carbohydrate-Caused Health Issue Spotted

The above is, I confess, an egregious pun. The health problem now being linked with carb consumption, and particularly to highly refined starches, is acne.

Remember all that debate about whether or not acne was caused by eating greasy foods? The teen fashion magazines would tell you to avoid chocolate and burgers, your friends would tell you that french fries would make your zits worse, all the while the dermatologists intoned, "Acne has nothing to do with diet. Eating fatty foods and chocolate do not cause breakouts."

Well, turns out they were half right. Once again, the problems caused by eating carbohydrates were blamed on the fats that are often consumed right along with them. Is this song becoming familiar?

The news about carbs causing acne actually came out last December, but I was busily filling the pages of this august journal with holiday survival tips and recipes. So now that we're heading into summer, and increasing amounts of our skin will be on display, here's the deal about carbs and acne:

Dr. Loren Cordain is a member of the faculty of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University. He has written several medical journal articles on the subjects of hyperinsulinemia, and in particular about paleodieting - the increasingly popular idea that we can look to the hunter-gatherer diets of our paleolithic ancestors, and modern day hunter gatherer tribes, to learn what foods make up the evolutionary (and therefore, theoretically, best) diet of humankind. In an article titled Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization (Archives of Dermatology, volume 138, December 2002), Dr. Cordain describes the studies he and his associates made of the current remnants of hunter-gatherer societies, specifically the Kitava Islanders of Papua New Guinea, and the Ache tribe in the Amazon jungles. These populations consume little to no refined, processed foods, and get all of their carbohydrates from low impact sources. And, astonishingly enough, they have no acne. None.

Isn't that astonishing to even think about? No acne, even among teenagers. Among Americans, the acne rate for 18 year olds is a whopping 95%, and a misery it is, too. I didn't have terrible acne (although I certainly didn't enjoy what I had), but That Nice Boy I Married still carries the scars from years of truly horrible acne, particularly on his back. Adolescence is hard enough; adding truly disfiguring acne to the mix is sheer torture - especially when it appears that it is completely avoidable.

But of course it's not just kids who have acne. The ranks of adult acne sufferers are large, and apparently growing. All you have to do is watch Saturday morning infomercials to learn that acne treatments are big business, and they're not just selling to kids: Many people in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s are suffering with acne so bad that it undermines their confidence, damages their social lives, and even makes them hide in their homes. Products like Proactive and Murad find a wide and near-desperate market.

(Parenthetically, I have long wondered what the consequences to the economy would be if everyone just stopped eating garbage. What would happen to the market for both over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals? Skin care products? Make up? Dandruff shampoo? Recreational drugs and alcohol? No doubt there would still be markets for these things, but they'd take a huge hit - not to mention, of course, the demise of the junk food manufacturers. It's sad to think how much of the American economy - and, increasingly, the world economy - is based on malnutrition.)

So how do refined starches cause acne? Dr. Cordain suggests a few mechanisms:

* It is well-established that high insulin levels trigger an increase in androgens - male hormones, like testosterone. This is the cause of poly cystic ovarian syndrome, now widely accepted as a carbohydrate intolerance disease - and one that is accompanied by serious acne. Those androgens, in turn, stimulate the production of sebum - skin oil. Result? Oily skin.

* At the same time that a diet high in refined carbohydrate is stimulating insulin and androgens, it is also stimulating the production of insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1. At the same time, it reduces the level of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, or IGFBP-3, which counteracts IGF-1, which means that IGF-1 becomes even more powerful. I know the jargon is getting deep here, but stick with me; I'm getting to the point: As its name suggests, IGF-1 causes stuff in your body to grow by stimulating the division of cells. (Incidentally, and far more serious than acne, this means that IGF-1 is associated with many kinds of cancer.) When those cells that are dividing and growing are in your skin, they can cause overgrowth of the cells inside the sebaceous (oil) glands on the face. In short, clog city.

* IGFBP-3 levels are apparently interconnected with your body's ability to use various relatives of vitamin A, called retinoids. This part of the article involved some serious med-speak, but what I got out of it was this: Those retinoids help reduce the growth of those cells inside your sebaceous glands. This is no doubt why Retin-A and Accutane, the most-used prescriptions for acne, are powerful vitamin A-like chemicals. Anyway, eating junk carbs suppresses IGFBP-3, which in turn means your body can't use the vitamin A right to keep your skin clear.

In the meanwhile, halfway 'round the world, a team of researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia are planning a 3 month test of a low carb diet for acne treatment, using 60 teenaged boys as subjects. It will be one of the first clinical tests of the carbohydrate/acne theory.

If you have a teenager suffering with bad skin, you need to explain all this to him or her now. As bad as it is to be an obese kid, being a kid with cystic acne is no easier. I know kids are peer-driven, and therefore want to eat what their friends eat - but they also want desperately to look good. It's worth a shot trying to get through to them.

Astonishing, isn't it, the number of problems that are now tied to junk carbs and the insulin they trigger?

Upcoming Public Appearances

It's the Southern California Tour!! Come out and see me! Set your VCRs!

Monday, April 14th

7:45 am on KUSI Channel 9 News, in San Diego.

12 noon, a booksigning is tentatively scheduled for the Borders Bookstore in the Gaslamp District.

6 pm, I will be teaching "De-Carbing Your Recipes" at the Learning Annex San Diego - sign up at http://www.learningannex.com

Tuesday, April 15th

8 am, Fox 6 Morning News

7 pm, a booksigning is tentatively scheduled for the Borders in Mission Valley

Wednesday, April 16th

6 pm, I will be teaching "De-Carbing Your Recipes" at the Learning Annex Los Angeles - sign up at http://www.learningannex.com

Thursday, April 17th

6 pm, booksigning for the Grand Opening of the new Carb Smart retail store, 19142 Beach Boulevard, Suite Z, Huntington Beach CA 92648 (corner of Beach and Garfield)

Then I'm going home to rest!! (and finish the cookbook.) If there are any changes in this itinerary, I'll put out a Special Notice and let you know.

Regarding Easter

This, I confess, is a retread of an article from a couple of years ago. I've updated it a little, but let's face it - for the most part, Easter hasn't changed much in two years time!

Easter is coming! As you have no doubt noticed, Easter moves around every year - it can come as early as the end of March, or as late as the very beginning of May. The actual date is derived from a formula settled on by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD - the first Sunday after the first

full moon after the vernal equinox. But forget the formula, or even the calendar; you can tell that Easter is here by the vast piles of bunny, egg, and chick shaped candy in the stores.

When did all this happen? When did the highest holy day of the Christian church become nothing but another marketing opportunity? I find it distressing. Most distressing is how this holiday has become yet another excuse for feeding children unlimited sugar.

I remember Easter when I was a child. We always went to church, and I sang in the choir; we practiced for weeks for Easter service. Yet the most important thing to me, the cause of the greatest excitement, was all that chocolate. I strongly suspect I'm not alone on this one. I

have a feeling that more than a few of my readers, when they hear the word "Easter", think of Cadbury Butter Cream Eggs and Marshmallow Peeps before they think of the spiritual meaning of the day.

Now, I'm not here to preach; your religious faith, or lack thereof, is entirely up to you. But your carb consumption is of concern to me, and to you too, if you're reading this. So let's talk about the Easter Feast, shall we?

Once again -- and those of you who have read my book, or have been subscribed to this ezine for a while have heard this before, but I get many new subscribers every week, so bear with me here -- you need to decide whether Easter is going to be an Indulgence Day for you. For my

new readers, an Indulgence is a planned deviation from your low carb diet -- I much prefer this term to the word "cheat", which implies A) that you're going to get away with something; you never, ever do, and B) that you should feel guilty about it, which is senseless and counterproductive. Only you can decide if Easter is a holiday so grounded in food and food traditions for you that it's worth the trouble of gaining five pounds of water and taking several days to a week to get back on track.

For me, it's not. I have been known to Indulge on Christmas and Thanksgiving, but Easter doesn't make the Indulgence list for me, partly because candy isn't anything I miss, and partly because I find it sooooo easy to put together a terrific low carb Easter dinner.

But hey, that's me. Maybe Peeps are nirvana to you; what do I know? (I never liked Peeps, even when I was a kid. Always preferred chocolate.) So once again -- at the risk of belaboring a point -- here's a quick rundown of damage control tips if you feel that Easter is a really important Indulgence Day for you:

* Eat your high protein breakfast! Always, always, always, but especially on an Indulgence Day. It will be a strong protection against over indulgence.

* Pick and choose what sweets and other carbs are worth it to you, and have only those sweets. Maybe your family has always eaten homemade hot cross buns for Easter breakfast, since you were a tiny child. That might be something that was really worth it to you, while cheap Easter

candy was not. (Of course, you'd have at least two eggs with that hot cross bun, right?) Maybe you adore Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, but don't care about jelly beans. Whatever. I just want you to be wary of eating a single bite of sugary or starchy stuff that isn't exactly what you want.

* The worst candies for your blood sugar are the Peeps and other marshmallows, jelly beans, malted milk eggs, and other stuff that's almost all sugar, with very little fat. Eating these is very much akin to sticking a needle in your arm and infusing pure glucose. Butter cream eggs are very nearly as bad. Milk chocolate is a little better, and dark chocolate, since it has less sugar, is a bit better than that. The Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs are a little better, as well, because of the

fat content, which buffers the sugar rush. None of them is good for you, but you'll get less of a rebound blood sugar crash from the less sugary, higher fat candies. (Dark chocolate covered nuts are a pretty low impact candy. Still sugar, so don't go overboard, but certainly easier on your body than Peeps.)

And remember, your Indulgence lasts for one day and one day only. Come Easter Monday, keep your mitts off the leftover candy. Better yet, only buy enough for one day.

* The variety of sugar free candies available is now nothing short of mind boggling, and while this stuff - being sweetened with polyols - is not entirely carb free, it's worlds better than the sugary stuff. Furthermore, the quality, overall, is excellent. No, you can't get sugar free Peeps, but I have had sugar free marshmallows, and can testify that they did, indeed, have the texture and flavor of marshmallows. You can't get sugar free Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, but there are several brands of sugar free peanut butter cups on the market - including Reese's!

Carbolite makes sugar free jelly beans and gummy candies. I have also learned that the Jelly Bellies - long considered the finest jelly beans in the world - come in a sugar free variety. According to http://www.jellybelly.com, the Jelly Belly Sugar-Free flavors include Juicy Pear, Sizzling Cinnamon, Tangerine, Crushed Pineapple, and Green Apple Personally, I could care less about jelly beans, never did like them, but some people are devoted to these things.

Please keep in mind that polyol sweetened candy, while easier on your blood sugar and waistline than sugary candy, is still nutrition-free junk food, and as I recently heard it succintly put, "Low carb junk is still junk." Furthermore, eat more than 3 or 4 low carb jelly beans, or a single sugar free peanut butter cup, or 1 or 2 sugar free marshmallows at a time, and you will regret it. As you drive away family and friends with truly offensive and prolific gas, or run for the john, you will definitely regret it.

I love sweets that enforce moderation!

*Want a fun project to do with/for the kids? Blow some eggs (poke a hole at both ends with a big needle, piercing the yolk, and blow out the insides; save for scrambled eggs; then rinse the inside well.) Make sugar free Jell-o using only half the amount of water in the package directions. Then tape over the little hole in each egg shell (rinse them well, first!), and using a small funnel fill each egg with "finger Jell-o". Chill, then crack, for wobbly, bright colored Jell-o eggs!

* May I also suggest that you substitute a cute stuffed bunny, chick, or duck in your child's Easter basket, in place of a lot of the sugary garbage? Not only is it better for your child, but they'll have it for months or years to come. (PLEASE don't get a live chick or duckling. Assuming they survive getting mauled by a small child, they'll grow up to be chickens and ducks, neither of which make good pets unless you own a farm. Rabbits make somewhat better pets, but still take work and care -- and have sharp claws. Animal shelters are swamped with abandoned animals a few weeks after Easter; just heartbreaking. Stuffed is good!)

* Again, when it comes to Easter dinner, decide which carbs really matter to you. Maybe you love potatoes, but don't care so much about rolls. Be picky, and eat plenty of protein and vegetables along with your carbs.

* If, like so many folks, you're planning to have ham for Easter dinner, shop carefully. All ham has some sugar added, but they vary a great deal in how much. I've seen ham with as little as 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving, and I've seen ham with as much as 6 grams of carb per serving.

That's a 600% difference! Buy the ham with the least sugar. And if your traditional way of roasting a ham is to glaze it with brown sugar, consider cutting that sugary outside crust off of your portion.

* How about some really wonderful vegetables at your Easter feast? Asparagus is the ultimate spring vegetable, and it's very low carb. Further, you can have it with lemon butter or hollandaise sauce with no pangs of guilt! And believe it or not, it is proper to eat asparagus with your fingers! Even Miss Manners says so. You can shock the other people at Easter dinner, only to be able to show them you were correct all along. A big, wonderful salad is another good addition to the Easter feast.

* One last lecture/plea: If Easter has religious meaning for you, please try to rein in the consumer frenzy/junk food mania that has grown up around it; it's getting to be nearly as bad as Christmas.

More focus on the message, and on family, and less focus on chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks is not only good for you, but very, very good for your children.

Happy Easter!

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Plus, check out our newsletter, recipes, success stories, and more!

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Regarding Passover

Once again, I'm cheaping out and reprinting an article from a previous year - partly because I'm scrambling for deadline on this cookbook, and partly because I haven't really thought of anything new to say. However, as you'll see, I have some terrific new stuff that's been sent to me that follows, including email lists you can join if you like!

Boy, if you want to feel at a loss, just find yourself needing to write about something about which you have virtually no first hand personal knowledge, for an audience of a few thousand people! That's what is up with me this week. We're closing in fast on Passover, and not being Jewish, my knowledge, and therefore ability to advise, is pretty darned limited.

However, I've done some research, always a good idea when one is feeling hindered by ignorance. I've come to the conclusion that a low carb Seder is a pretty unlikely event. There's no way I can think of to make low carb charoset (a fruit compote that is an essential, traditional part of the Seder) or matzoh, also a food required by ritual, and there are many other traditional Passover dishes that simply do not have low carb equivalents -- kugel (a casserole/pudding like dish that is often made from noodles -- and even when it's not, it generally includes matzoh meal), latkes (potato pancakes), matzoh brie, and many other dishes simply are what they are, and I don't see any good way to de-carb them without changing them beyond recognition -- some recipes adapt, some don't. (Also, since -- according to the "Jewish Cookery" chapter of my Encyclopedia of Cooking -- beans are forbidden during the eight days of Passover, you can't just substitute soy flour in place of matzoh meal in a recipe that calls for it.) For that matter, wine is a very traditional part of the Passover celebration, and in my (admittedly limited) experience, traditional Passover wines are quite sweet, although I don't know if this is required.

Seems to me that for my Jewish readers, Passover is looking like an Indulgence for sure! Food is such a major part of the traditional celebration that I simply can't see it otherwise. After all, we'retalking about a religious event with a history something like 6000 years old, coupled with a life long memory of what mama and grandma served every year. Powerful, emotional, important stuff.

However, as always, the holiday Indulgence tips will help prevent major post-holiday-scale-trauma. Here's another rundown:

* Eat your usual high protein breakfast. This will moderate your appetite for the whole day, and help prevent over-Indulging.

* Eat plenty of protein at the Seder, along with whatever carb dishes you choose. (By the way, can someone tell me why virtually every Jewish family I know eats brisket for Passover? It would seem to me that roast lamb would be more in keeping with the Exodus story, but then, I'm

inordinately fond of roast lamb. No matter, brisket is a fine protein food.) This will help prevent a major blood sugar crash, with its nasty cravings, bad mood, and other attendant holiday spoilers.

*Pick and choose which carbs at the Seder really matter to you! You may adore latkes, but be less enthralled by, say, kugel or matzoh brie. Indulge in the carbs that matter to you! Then go easy on, or even skip, the ones that don't. (Charoset, I have gathered, actually serves a

symbolic function in the meal, so of course you'll have some, but unless you really love it, you could limit your portion, I'd think.)

* Make sure there are some traditional foods that you love that are low carb at the meal! Chopped liver comes to mind (I may be as WASPy as they come, but I love this stuff). I also found some recipes that were at least moderately low carb at http://www.koshercooking.com -- take a look at Low Cal Zucchini Quiche, Broccoli Carrot Vinaigrette, Cottage

Cheese Loaf, Spinach Casserole, and Meat Beet Borscht.

* You need to be aware, if you're hoping to cut the carbs in some of your family's traditional Passover recipes, that Splenda, while it does carry the "U" kosher symbol, does not appear to be kosher for Passover. I'm guessing that this is because of the malto-dextrin in it, which is

derived from a grain source. (By the way, Splenda is parve -- neither meat or milk, so it may be consumed with either.) Likewise, my box of aspartame has the K symbol, but does not say "kosher for Passover"; again, it contains malto-dextrin. My box of SweetLeaf SteviaPlus says

nothing at all on the subject. Stevia is derived from a shrub, and FOS from various fruits and vegetables; this product contains no malto-dextrin, but I don't know where it stands as regards Jewish dietary law.

* Regarding the question of diet soda, I here quote the website http://www.bethamtemple.org : Pepsi and Diet Pepsi are pretty easy. They have a KP on the top of the bottle cap. Coca Cola and Diet Coke are much more difficult. On either the cap or the top of the bottle there is a product number. If it ends in the letters OUP, it is certificated by the OU to be kosher for Passover. I am told that there was kosher for Passover 7UP this year, but I did not see it.

* Try to limit your Indulgence to the Seder, although if you're strict it seems that this will rule out anything sweet for 8 days, because of the status of artificial sweeteners. Still, 8 days of Indulging will leave you bulging, not to mention tired, hungry, craving, and cross. At least you'll have a week in which you won't be tempted by any bread, cakes, cookies, or other leavened products which may be around the house! (For my non-Jewish readers: It is required by Jewish law that

no leavened products, or products made of grains or legumes, aside from matzoh, be consumed during Passover. Further, the home is ritually cleansed of these foods. I learned about this the hard way back in high school, when I baked my friend Rich Morris a surprise birthday cake

during Passover!)

* As always, look for the lowest carb option. For instance, my food count book gives a range of carbohydrate counts for different varieties of gefilte fish, ranging from 3 g. per serving all the way up through 10 g. per serving. For that matter, it seems that a lot of brisket recipes I've run across call for ketchup and other sugary ingredients. Surely you can find some way to cook a brisket that doesn't call for sugar! (On the other hand, you may be going to mom's place...)

I hope this has been at least a bit helpful. I would really appreciate it if my Jewish readers could send me any recipe or menu planning suggestions, so I can pass them on in the future!


A Reader Responds

Rabbi Hirsch Meisels, who has become a true cyberpal and invaluable resource, reprinted my Passover article with my permission. One of his readers, named Barbara, sent this well thought out and very helpful response:

As someone who has been on Atkins for many years, I respectfully disagree with Dana's contention that a lowcarb seder is a problem.

Eat the minimum required amount of matzoh, drink dry wine (add sweetener if you must), and make lowcarb versions of everything else. For lowcarb charoset, we use lots of nuts and just one apple, moisten it with dry wine and then add sweetener to taste. It's not as good as DH's high-carb

version (which we still make for the non-lowcarbers), but I'd rather save my carbs for other things

Gefilte fish can easily be made lowcarb, or use a commercial version as most are lowcarb. I find the texture of the fish packed in big cans to be better than the stuff in jars, and actually prefer them to my own. (The family says otherwise, but they don't have to do the work.)

It's possible to make a version knaidlach using ground almonds. They are not pretty -- the boiled version doesn't hold its shape, and I'm not about to add deep-frying to my Passover workload -- but they are tasty enough to keep us from eating the high-carb kind. For the rest of the year, a

little ThickenThin not/Cereal thickener makes a big difference in holding their shape.

IMHO, the hardest part is after the seder. Not that it's hard to plan lowcarb meals, because they aren't much different from the rest of the year, but they aren't special and also because we miss the traditional foods. So we try to make things that satisfy these tastes like chicken or turkey brie (particularly good for those of us who always preferred it soft); cheese crisps instead of matzoh.

Also, while our products are not certified for Passover, keep in mind that you can have better-than-the-real-thing lowcarb pecan "matzoh" after the holiday.

Uh, Barbara? Where can folks get the pecan matzoh, or a recipe? I may be so WASPy it's painful, but I like matzoh! Thank you very much for your response; I know you've helped a lot of folks today.

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Rabbi Hirsch Meisels

Jewish Friends With Diabetes


More International Low Carb Resources

We recently published all the international low carb resources sent to us by our readers. Reading this, Rabbi Meisels, bless his heart, emailed me and told me that he had a list of low carb resources in Israel; would I like to have them? Would I like to have them!! All resources gratefully accepted. So this list comes from one of Rabbi Meisels' posters, identified only as Vered in Tel Aviv Obviously, some of the store names and such will only be familiar to Israeli readers:

Splenda is available in Israel. It's called Sucra-Diet and costs 30 something shekels for

120 little sachets. I found it at the Super-Center and also somewhere else, don't remember :).

In the past few months I've found low carb protein bars at most health food stores, all GNC stores, and sometimes at the SuperPharm. I don't remember the brand name right now, something with Protein... <g>. I'll look next time I buy one. They cost around 17 shekels each, and have

between 3 and 7 net carbs each depending on the taste. I like the blueberry one. You have to be careful not to get the sugar-filled ones sitting right next to these. And if you've never tasted a protein bar, you may not like it - it's an acquired taste.

Also, have you seen the sugar free sesame seed snacks? They're yummy. They're made with maltitol, beware of excess consumption :). I've seen them in supermarkets, health food stores, and superpharms. They have peanut treats too, and sunflower seed treats and even soybean treats, all with maltitol. Again, right next to them are the ones made with honey - you don't want those.

And more on the sweet stuff - sugar free halva - there are two kinds - One by Elite and one by Ahva - the Ahva one also comes in individually wrapped snack sized pieces, better for portion control. Found in any supermarket. Also made with maltitol.

There are lots of sugar free chocolates out there - again, in health food stores. There are praline filled chocolate bars made by Cavalier, they're very good. Don't get the Elite sugar free chocolate - the kind you can find in supermarkets - it has too many carbs asides from sugar alcohol carbs (which supposedly you are allowed not to count).

I've found protein powder at health food stores - but they're very expensive. I'm lucky that my brother lives in NY and comes to visit twice a year so I have him get me cheaper protein powder (I order from www.proteinfactory.com and have it shipped to him). A smallish tin of Solgar 'Whey to Go' protein powder costs around 200 shekels here. Ouch. Soy protein powder is cheaper - but less tasty. I don't mind using soy protein powder in savoury things, but in sweet stuff whey is the way to go :).

I've found guar gum at some health food stores. It's in a pretty large plastic bag and says guar gum - in hebrew (yes, not 'gumi guar', really 'guar gum' in Hebrew letters - weird). It's right next to gluten-free bake mixes some health food stores have.

A couple of weeks back I went to Nitsat HaDuvdevan - a health food store chain. To my surprise there was a guy there selling low carb baked goods! They were made with soy and sweetened with sucralose (splenda) and maltitol. The savoury stuff wasn't sweetened, of course. He was touting them as flourless and sugarless, not as low-carb, but when you looked at the carb count - it was indeed low. I talked to him, turns out he had lost 70 kilos doing Atkins a few years back and has kept them off. He had breads and cakes and savoury 'cakes'. They were pretty good. Last week I was there again and saw they now sell them frozen. Again, I don't remember the brand name but I can look next time I'm there.

I've found lots of nut butters at health food stores - peanut, almond, sunflower seed, cashew, hazelnut, etc.

I buy the crushed almonds by "Shkediya" at the supermarket and use them for baking (almond 'flour'). They're found with all the baking stuff - you know, the baking powder, gelatin, etc.

And of course you can find flax seed at all health food stores. I grind my own in a small coffee grinder.

Anything else? There may be some obvious things I've forgotten, so just ask if you think of something. We don't have all the stuff the Americans have but we do have some unique things... like halva!

And this American envies you the halva, and the sesame candies, too. Yum. Thanks, Vered, and thank you, Rabbi Meisels! Please, please, all my readers outside the United States, let me know about any low carb resources you've found in your country, either retail stores, mail order, or online. I'll tell the world!!

Product Review

HELP! Stop me before I eat more! I've discovered Judy's Sugar Free Coconut Almond Brittle, and it may well have possessed me.

No kidding. This stuff goes into the same category as the Edy's/Dreyer's No Sugar Added Ice Cream - sugar free stuff that I really shouldn't allow in the house, because I find it near-impossible to be moderate with it. It's that good.

I found Judy's Sugar Free Coconut Almond Brittle at my beloved Sahara Mart, Bloomington Indiana's best source for all things low carb, and looked so good I just had to try it. I'm here to tell you it's way, way beyond "good". Big flakes of coconut and whole almonds, held together by a thin, crunchy layer of mildly vanilla-y brittle. Crunchy, sweet-but-not-sickly-sweet, with the full flavor of the nuts shining through. I defy anyone to find a better candy, sugar free or not.

Indeed, this candy actually inspired me to ignore all my own warnings about excessive polyol consumption, with mildly uncomfortable results. I've been a bit more moderate since, but it's taken all my considerable self-discipline.

Judy's Sugar Free Coconut Almond Brittle comes in a generous 10 ounce tub, which counts as 9 servings, if you've got greater powers of self-restraint than I. Each serving has 15 grams of carbohydrate, of which 1 gram is fiber, and 12 grams are maltitol, for a usable carb count of 2 grams per serving. Because of all those nuts, this also has 2 grams of protein per serving - not a lot, but more than most candy. Some natural, untampered fats, too. Indeed, so long as you can actually stretch this out to 9 servings, it's a better nutritional bet than a lot of sugar free candies, which - as noted above - may be sugar free junk, but are still junk.

By the way, Judy's Candy Company also makes sugar free peanut brittle. I put some of this in my husband's Christmas stocking this year, and just recently got around to asking him what he thought. He thought it was fabulous.

Deep and Painful Humiliation

I always knew that writing was potentially more humiliating than public speaking. Public speaking scares me not at all; indeed, I've never understood why so many people are so terrified by it. After all, if you misspeak, most of your audience will never catch it, and those that do, well - it's just them. How many can there be?

But writing? Once you make a mistake in print, it's there forever, just waiting for another person to discover it, a perpetual monument to your carelessness.

There are errors in 500 Low-Carb Recipes. Dammit. Just annoys me no end. So far I've had 6 errors pointed out to me. My editor assures me that the average book has 15 errors in it, so I'm actually ahead of the curve, but it doesn't make me any happier.

Anyway, many of you have kindly purchased my book - for which, believe me, I thank you every day in my heart - and some of you have even come to this ezine because you bought 500 Low Carb Recipes. So it's incumbent upon me to give you the corrections. So if everyone would please get out their copies of my cookbook, and a pen, I'll tell you where the errors and omissions are. Please be aware, though, that we've corrected these mistakes as we've found them, as new printings were done, so you may find that your copy only has some of these:

Kali's Eggs need 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

Mulligatawny needs 1 clove of garlic, crushed

Italian Bean Bake needs an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, not a 4 ounce can. Indeed, there are no 4 ounce cans of tomato sauce, so if you find I called for one elsewhere in the book assume I screwed up again.

Grasshopper Cheesecake: the oven temperature is 325 degrees F.

Coconut Shortbread should only bake for 7-10 minutes, not 20-25.

Zucchini Carrot Cake needs 2/3 cup of Splenda.

Speaking of that last item, I've learned, belatedly, that Splenda in the packets is more concentrated than Splenda in the bulk box; I didn't know because I never bought the packets. Be aware that all the Splenda measurements in 500 Low-Carb Recipes are for bulk Splenda in the box.

Regarding Mockahlua

Leah in Tampa, Florida emailed me, asking how long the Mockahlua (see 500 Low-Carb Recipes) keeps - after all, she points out, the recipe makes a liter and a half of the stuff, and there's a limit to how much a girl should drink and all. She thought that if it didn't have much of a shelf-life, she'd halve the recipe.

Well, this was a question that concerned us here at Hold the Toast Kitchens, because we made 1.5 liters of Mockahlua last winter, not to mention another 1.5 liters of the closely related Mochalua (the chocolate/coffee variant), and - owing to a devotion to light beer, dry wine, and good tequila - we have yet to consume them. So we pulled them down off the pantry shelf to see how they were doing - drinking in the evening is a hard job, but nothing's too much for my readers.

I'm pleased to announce that after more than a year on the pantry shelf - with the occasional trip down to put a shot in a cup of sugar free cocoa - both the Mockahlua and the Mochalua are doing fine. Just another tribute to the preservative powers of 100 proof vodka.

So go ahead and make the full recipe, folks. It'll keep.

Yet One More Thing About My Cookbook...

A few people have written me about 500 Low Carb Recipes, and asked, "How big is a serving?" I have a confession: I didn't measure. I just looked at the dish, or at the nutritional breakdown for the dish, and decided how many people it would reasonably serve - and that's how many servings it is. If you make a recipe from the book and divide it into however many equal-sized portions the recipe states, you'll have the right serving size.

You Asked For It, You Got It!

The Lowcarbezine! Archives are now searchable!! Many, many thanks to the webmaster, aka That Nice Boy I Married, who worked long and hard on this project. Check out the new, searchable archives at: http://www.holdthetoast.com/html/

Cooking Low Carb!

Here's a side dish for your Easter Supper! This actually combines two recipes from 500 Low Carb Recipes (reprinted with permission from Fair Winds Press) This will go well with your ham, and whatever else you're serving (me, I can't imagine Easter without asparagus with lemon butter...)

Cauliflower Rice Deluxe

The wild rice in this adds a grain flavor to the cauliflower that makes it quite convincing. Plus, wild rice has 25 percent less carbohydrate than most other kinds of rice.

3 cups Cauliflower Rice (cauliflower put through the shredding blade of your food processor)

1/4 cup raw wild rice

3/4 cup water

Cook your cauliflower until it's tender, but not mushy - you could steam it, or you could put it in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover it, and microwave it on "high" for 6-7 minutes.

Put the wild rice and water in a saucepan, cover it, and set it on a burner on lowest heat until all the water is gone - at least one-half hour, maybe a bit more.

Drain the cauliflower, and toss with the wild rice.

Now you're ready to make:

Company Dinner Rice

Also reprinted with permission from Fair Winds!

1 small onion, chopped

1 stick butter, melted

1 recipe Cauliflower Rice Deluxe

6 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Saute the onion in the butter until it's golden and limp. Toss the Cauliflower Rice Deluxe with the onion, bacon, salt, pepper, and cheese, and serve.

8 servings, each with 8 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 6 grams. 5 grams of protein.

Passover Spinach Squares

This recipe was sent to me by Rabbi Meisels, and is the creation of Risa Silverglate. Thank you both very much!

1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach, stemmed and washed

1 1/2 tsp canola oil

1 leek, thinly sliced

(white part only)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp lemon juice

3/4 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

3 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8" X 8" no-stick baking dish with pareve no-stick spray and set aside.

In a large pot, bring a small amount of water to a boil. Add the spinach, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Squeeze the spinach dry, chop and place in a large bowl. In a small, no-stick skillet over low heat, warm the oil. Add the leeks and garlic. Saut? for 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the leek mixture to the bowl with the spinach. Stir in the lemon juice, oregano and pepper.

In another clean large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Fold into the spinach mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Cut into 16 squares and serve warm. Each square will have 3 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2 grams. 2 grams of protein.

Cauliflower Kugel

Being, as I mentioned, unbelievably WASPy, I am unsure how close this comes to a traditional Jewish kugel. It's good, though, and certainly low carb, although, of course, you won't eat it with a meat meal if you keep kosher. This makes a nice vegetarian main course, should you need one. Cauliflower Kugel comes from 500 Low-Carb Recipes, and is reprinted with kind permission from my publisher, Fair Winds Press, who are really nice folks.

2 packages, 10 ounces each, frozen cauliflower, thawed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt or Vege-Sal

14 teaspoon pepper


Preheat the oven to 350.

Chop the cauliflower into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine with the onion, cottage cheese, Cheddar, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl, and mix very well.

Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, and spread the cauliflower mixture evenly on the bottom. Sprinkle paprika lightly over the top, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the kugel is set and lightly browned.

9 servings, each with 5 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams, and 10 grams of protein.

Also, for those of you who wrote and inquired about the Low Carbohydrate Hamantaschen recipe: I don't know how much cinnamon! I'd start with 1/2 teaspoon, and then taste as I went, if I were you. But I did run the nutritional stats. If you use Nancy Pascal's recipe for Raspberry Filling, you're looking at 393 grams of carb in the whole batch, with 30 grams of fiber, and 413 grams of protein. Your figures per cookie will depend, of course, on how many you make from the recipe. Assuming 6 dozen, each will have 5 grams of carb, a trace of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

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


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