Lowcarbezine! 2 August 2003

Return to Archive Contents

To request a full-text version of this issue by e-mail, just send a message to: htt030802@holdthetoast.com (Message and subject can be blank. Back issues are not available in full-text.)

Hey, Gang -

I got it out before the end of the week! I did! Do you have any idea how hard it is to write with workmen around the house all the time? They're lovely people, and my new floors are very nice, but - me? Work? It is to laugh. Or cry.

But here it is, never the less. 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

Ethnic Restaurants 101: Mexican

Last issue I walked you through an actual Italian restaurant menu, with ideas for what you might order in keeping with your low carb way of eating. This issue we're eating Mexican! Once again, I simply did a Google search under "Mexican restaurant menu" and picked one of the first few that came up. Take a look at the menu for Celia's Mexican Restaurant in Berkeley California:


What shall we have?

At the very top of the menu we see guacamole and chips. Guacamole is wonderful for us, but chips, of course, are not. I'd probably find some other way to eat guacamole, but if I was with folks who felt like ordering the guac-and-chips platter, I wouldn't be above eating some guac with a spoon.

None of the nachos will work for us, but again, if others at the table really wanted them, I'd feel free to peel off and eat the toppings, if I could avoid the beans. Indeed, I might request that they order the nachos without the beans, or order the seafood nachos, which don't come with beans anyway.

Ceviche is a Mexican classic, and it's low carb, low fat, low calorie, high protein - eat this stuff and you'll sprout a halo. It will also taste good. Technically, ceviche is uncooked, but the acid in the lemon juice (some recipes call for lime, instead) makes the fish just as firm as if it had been heated. Don't worry about it.

Skip the vegetarian entrees, they're all hopeless. Let's get fajitas, instead! Fajitas are my most common Mexican restaurant pick. I ignore the tortillas, and order an extra side of guacamole. I pile the guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa) right onto the hot skillet with the meat and vegetables, and eat the whole thing with a fork. Delicious and satisfying! On this menu you have an embarrassment of choices, too - steak, chicken, or prawn (shrimp) - or a combo! You will, of course, forgo the rice, beans, and potato wedges.

(If you'd like to be able to explain to a Mexican waiter why you're not eating tortillas, try, "Porque me hacen gorda y cansada" - "Because they make me fat and tired." Gentlemen, that's "gordo y cansado" for you. This answer has never failed to get a grin out of a curious waiter.)

The house specialties at Celia's are making me hungry just reading them! Steak Picado - chunks of rib eye sauted with vegetables in tomato sauce - will have a few extra carbs from the tomatoes, but should still be fine unless you're on Induction. The Steak ala Mexicana also looks great for us - steak with onion, avocado, and tomato slices. Again, dodge the rice and beans, and I'd be careful about that cole slaw. Cole slaw commonly has quite a lot of sugar in the dressing - if it tastes sweet, it's got sugar in it, period.

Chile Verde should also be all right. Salsa verde is made with tomatillos, which are lower carb than regular tomatoes. Do I have to say it again? No rice and beans for you.

With the Chile Colorado, I'd ask if it has beans in it, and also if it's tomato-based. If it has no beans, it should be okay, and if it has no tomatoes, it's probably a great choice.

Next we have "El Tampico" - a combination of steak and prawns (shrimp) sauteed with vegetables. Sounds promising; I'd make sure that none of the vegetables is corn or potatoes. If the veggies are low carb, this is a great choice.

The enchiladas won't do; let's skip on by. Carne asada is basically steak; skip the rice and beans and you'll be fine, but this doesn't strike me as the most exciting menu option. Carnitas are little cubes of cooked pork, and they're terrific, but again, a little plain without the rice and beans. Perhaps you could ask for them served on a salad, topped with guacamole - now that sounds like a meal.

We'll pass up the burrito.

Okay, we've come to Mariscos - seafood! Bet we find lots of possibilities here!

Wow, look the Cancun Platter! Prawns, chicken, and crab, all sauteed together with mushrooms and white wine, topped with cheese, and baked! Low carb fiesta! Go for it! The Camerones a la Ranchera - shrimp with mushrooms, onions, and peppers - would also be fine. Camerones al Mojo de Ajo is shrimp in garlic butter - sort of Mexican Scampi. Also a great choice. The Camerones a la Diabla - shrimp in hot sauce - is yet another great low carb dinner.

We'll by-pass the crab enchiladas - trust me, with all this great food you won't even miss them. Huachinango - fried red snapper - should be fine, but I'd ask to be sure it's not breaded. And right after it we find Ceviche again - but this time served on a tostada. You don't need that fried tortilla, but the other accompaniments look good - mayonnaise, lettuce, and picado sauce. Maybe worth having without the tortilla, huh?

Forget the Fish Burrito, that "giant flour tortilla" is not for you!

Next we have the traditional combo plates, and most of them we'll have to pass up. There are a couple of notable exceptions, though - you might order the huevos rancheros (ranch-style eggs) without tortillas, and the chorizo (sausage) and huevos (eggs) will be great.

The large combos are hopeless; pass 'em up. Indeed, most of the rest of the menu is carb-y. The Spanish omelet sounds good, though.

Finally, we get to the North of the Border section. I have a feeling you're already clear on how to order your burger without the bun, skip the fries - but if that was what you wanted, you wouldn't be at a Mexican restaurant!

Celia's online menu doesn't give the beverage choices, but I'm assuming that, like most restaurants, they would have iced tea, diet cola, a light beer, a glass of dry wine, or, of course, water.

So, once again we've picked an ethnic restaurant at random, and found piles and piles of wonderful food that won't make us sorry in the morning. I hope you enjoyed it - and that you're beginning to realize that you're going to be able to eat well and keep your weight down, for the rest of your life! Remember, as always, your most important skills - the ability and willingness to ask questions, and to ask for your food the way you want it - without the rice and beans, with extra lettuce and guacamole, or whatever other reasonable alteration will give you a meal you love, with a carb count you can live with.

Next issue we'll try a Middle Eastern restaurant!

Product Review

Tired of diet soda and iced tea? Need a new summer beverage? Have you run into Fruit 2 O yet?

No, that's not "Fruit Twenty" - say "Fruit Two-Oh" and you'll get the idea. We're talking water with a touch of natural fruit flavor and Splenda added - just enough to give a light but full-bodied fruit flavor and sweetness, with no calories and no carbs. Fruit 2 O comes in a bunch of terrific flavors, of which I've tried most! Lemon, orange, grape, raspberry, cherry, and peach. Oh, boy, peach! Wonderful. Fabulous. Really tastes like a fresh peach!

Fruit 2 O isn't soda - it's not carbonated, and it's not fake tasting and overly sweet like soda. I really dislike soda; I quite honestly haven't drunk more than a sip of soda in over a decade (I did taste the Diet Rite Splenda-sweetened sodas when they came out, to review them.) It's just too sweet for me. But I've been chugging down a couple of Fruit 2 O's a day, and really enjoying them.

I've also tried using them in cooking, and intend to do so even more. The other day I used the Peach Fruit 2 O to make a peach-orange brine for some pork chops, and they were wonderful! It's so nice to have something carb-free to replace some of the flavors that fruit juices can bring to recipes, without all the sugar.

All told, Fruit 2 O is my favorite new find of the summer. Look for it in the water aisle of your local grocery store!

Reader Success Story!

Reader Laura "Gooch" Sircher sends this ebullient success story:

Say! I don't think I told you my Low Carb success story, so, bear with me! Here I go:

In 2000 I nearly died from Lupus Nephritis! I had to get a kidney biopsy (with the 6" scar as proof). I've struggled with illnesses since '77! I first decided to challenge my willpower late '76 when I graduated High School (yipe!). I'm 5'9" so weight wasn't really a big deal. I started at 146. I went down to 109! First and only time I was in a Juniors.size 7! When my Doc saw me, he suggested I "put on a few pounds" & I went back to 150! I had anorexia before it had a name. Lived on 500 calories a day. But anyway:

In '94 I had Lupus of the joints. Do you think the anorexia nervosa did this?? Who knows? I was okay for a while even though my life was in turmoil. - I got divorced in'97, my Dad got ill and I had to put him in a home.

I remarried my best friend, and things were good. Then the 2000 attack! Kidneys only functioned at 10-15%. I was placed on aggressive meds, blood and "pee" tests and 12 chemos to boost my immune system. As a result, there were side effects: edema, high blood pressure and fatigue, plus I lost my hair, my mind and my self esteem. I went into early menopause as well. To top it off, I shot up to 199 lbs! EW! (1X-16-18) Gross!

Well, after my last Chemo/Doc visit, I decided to begin my version of Atkin's. Cleared out the pantry (no white flour or sugar in there!) Read and altered recipes, and today it is 71 weeks since I started. Proud to say I lost 80 lbs. and I'm in a Juniors .9! My Hubby is so happy for me, and HE's cutting his carbs even though he doesn't need to! He lost 2 pant sizes!

I still have residual effects (tired/can't drive-depression), but I've come a long way, and Ed is a saint for putting up with me! To make a long story short, I'm on maintenance! I've experimented with food show recipes and I made a TERRIFIC LC Worcestershire Sauce which I altered from the Burger Meister! Yesterday I made a LC Hawaiian Salad and it turned out fabulous!!!

Well I rambled enough! You take care! Even though you're busy I hope to hear from you soon! All the best.

"Gootch" Laura Sircher

PS: Saw the Rheumy on a follow up & he was amazed! Blood pressure is great! Kidneys are back to normal (that's about the only NORMAL thing about me) LOL!

So glad you're better, and thanks for sending in your story!

Speaking of success stories, folks, we're looking for folks who will send in their success stories, and share their before and after photos, so send 'em in! You may see them here, or on the website, or even in a national magazine or two! Mailto:feedback@holdthetoast.com

The Robin's Website Fiasco

Last issue we published a really wonderful success story, and included a link that we thought was to the reader's website, showing her before and after photos, and giving more detail about how she'd done it. Unfortunately, Robin had sent us a wrong link by mistake.

So we got the right link from Robin, and sent that out - and 15,000 readers all tried to go look at Robin's before-and-after photos, pretty much at the same time. However, Robin's website was posted at a free server with limits to how much traffic is allowed at any site in any given time, and we crashed Robin's page but good! I don't even like to think about how many disappointed people emailed us in 48 hours time. However, a few days later Robin's site was up and running again.

So our apologies, both for the wrong link, and for not realizing that the right link couldn't handle the sort of traffic we would generate. If you held on to the corrected URL, you might check it.

But not right this second. I mean, there are still 15,000 of you. Just sneak it in sometime in, oh, the next three or four days, and maybe everyone can get to see Robin's before and afters without crashing her website.

If it does crash, though, please, please, please don't email me and ask me to do something about it. There's nothing I can do.


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.

To read this and other reader reviews of 500 Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931412065/lowcarbohysoluti

Much as we love Amazon.com, you need to know that the book is available at bookstores everywhere!

Crunch Time!

Any other Janet Evanovich fans out there? I'm a huge fan of her Stephanie Plum series, and just finished the latest installment, To The Nines. (The series started with One For The Money, and has counted up.) For the uninitiated, these are furiously paced and truly hilarious mystery novels, starring Stephanie, a Jersey girl with big hair and an attitude, who works as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie, the bail bondsman. Highly recommended.

Where's the low carb connection? Stephanie's best friend and partner in bounty hunting is a wise-cracking ex-prostitute named Lula. Lula is a plus-sized black woman who is unafraid to be - and to dress - sexy. (I always picture Queen Latifah.) Lula's sporadic attempts to lose weight are a running gag. And in To The Nines, Lula goes low carb!

Of course, this being a Janet Evanovich novel, she goes low carb hilariously, carrying around pork chops in her purse, running to the corner deli for two pounds of bacon, and fighting the neighborhood dogs for it on the way back, carrying around a cooler full of meat in the car while on stakeouts (Steak-outs?), and worrying that her canine teeth are starting to grow. And, being Lula, she pretty rapidly gives up her diet altogether, although she loses 10 pounds eating vast quantities of meat before throwing in the towel. I was pleased that Evanovich didn't dismiss the idea that a low carb diet - however exaggerated for comic effect - can actually work. I find it very cool, too, that we've cracked the public consciousness to the point where we've been enshrined in pop culture.

What was it that finally drove the fictional Lula off of her low-carb diet? Well, aside from the all-too-familiar folly of going on a diet with the idea that the weight will drop off nearly overnight, and then the dieter can happily return to a life of french fries and donuts, the big problem Lula cited was a lack of crunch. She was craving an apple, a chip, anything that was crisp - and noted, sadly, that meat simply doesn't crunch.

Clearly, Evanovich has been paying attention - indeed, I wondered if she had tried a low carb diet herself. A lack of crunch is one of the things that low carbers regularly complain about. So, to keep your diet from going the way of Lula's, let's talk a little about what crunchy things we can have without scarfing down carbs:

* Pork rinds - Everybody's clear that pork rinds are low carb, right? Heck, these are perhaps the most-cited item by low carb diet detractors - "Oh, that's that diet where you eat lots of pork rinds, right?," with the implication that pork rinds are just one rung above cyanide on the food-value ladder. Actually, pork rinds are better for you than chips on just about any scale you'd like to use - they're not only higher in protein, they're lower in fat, too. No, really! An ounce of potato chips and an ounce of pork rinds have a nearly-identical calorie count - but the pork rinds have 1.5 grams of fat, while the potato chips have 9.8 grams of fat, plus, of course, 15 grams of carbohydrate. Far and away the biggest component of pork rinds is protein - 17 grams of protein in an ounce. And of course, most pork rinds are carb-free. (I have seen BBQ-flavored pork rinds that had 14 grams per bag, though, so the READ THE LABEL rule applies, even to pork rinds!)

Now, I was never a big pork rind fan; I have ever said that I reached my pork rind limit at about four. That was before some of the new, fabulous pork rind flavors hit the market! My three favorites are Salsa and Sour Cream, from Katiedid's Pork Rinds (I think of these as "Porkitos", because they remind me of Doritos), the Cheddar Cheese Crunchies from Gram's Gourmet that I reviewed a few issues back - these are a lot like Cheetos, and my husband is in love with them! - and Cinnamon and Splenda pork rinds, whether from Katiedid's or from Gram's Gourmet. Many low carb retailers and etailers carry Gram's Gourmet products; you can order Katiedid's pork rinds direct at http://www.geocities.com/lcporkrinds/ I also have gotten emails from readers who have found microwaveable pork rinds in their grocery stores; they all claim these are very much better than your average pork rind - but for me, it's the flavors that make pork rinds interesting.

Idea: if you miss croutons on your salad, take a large sharp knife and dice some pork rinds.

* Chicken chips - you can't buy these, but they're easy to make if you have chicken skin on hand. (If you don't, and you like crispy chicken skin, you might ask the nice meat guy at the grocery store if he could get you some chicken skin - heaven knows they take it off enough chicken breasts.) Spread the chicken skin out flat on your broiler pan, and bake it at 375 for 10 or 15 minutes, or until it's golden and very crisp. Sprinkle with salt and eat like chips. Unbelievable!

* Fiber crackers - Bran-a-Crisp or Fiber Rich, they're virtually identical - basically just wheat bran stuck together. And they're crunchy for sure. Not very interesting by themselves, mind you, but crunchy.

However, fiber crackers get a lot more interesting when you put something on them. Butter and a little salt is nice, or brie. Spreading them with mayo, adding a few sliced scallions, and running them under the broiler or into the toaster oven till the mayonnaise sizzles is pretty tasty, too. They're wonderful with things like hot artichoke-parmesan dip! And me, I love them with liverwurst, but I understand that that's a harmless perversion of my own. Chopped liver or pate would be nice, too, and of course fiber crackers are a natural with tuna, egg, or chicken salad.

There was a time when it appeared from the nutrition labeling that fiber crackers were carb-free, once we subtracted out the fiber. However, it turned out that this was because of a difference between American nutrition labeling and European nutrition labeling: On European labels, fiber is not included in the total carb count the way that it is on American labels - so, by subtracting it from the total carb count, we actually subtracted it twice, yielding a falsely low carb count. Now the labels have been corrected, for Fiber Rich, at least, and we can get a true carb count.

According to my very own box of Fiber Rich Crackers, which I ran and got from the pantry (personal side note: I get a non-trivial amount of exercise writing this ezine, since my desk is at one end of the house, and my kitchen and pantry are at the other end...) a "serving" of Fiber Rich crackers contains 12 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 7 grams. This, of course, begs the question, "How big is a serving?" The box says there are 8 servings in a box. Since a box contains 18 crackers, this gives us a serving of 2.25 crackers, or the sort of thing that makes me want to whack food processors upside the head. A little elementary math tells us that 2 crackers contain 6.2 grams of usable carbohydrate, and one cracker has 3.1 grams - but I'm figuring 3 is near enough for government work.

It's good to note that the high fiber count and the rye content means that those 3 grams are likely to have a very low blood sugar impact. Depending on how carb intolerant you are, you may be able to tolerate 3 or 4 at a time - or not. But they are nice, biggish crackers, and I find them to be a good "crunch" addition to the diet.

There's a recipe for fiber crackers in 500 Low-Carb Recipes. They're thinner, crisper, and lower carb than the commercial fiber crackers, if you want to take the time to make a batch.

There are some other low carb crackers on the market - I've had some from Cheeter's Diet Treats that were quite good. If you don't have a store near you that carries low carb specialty stuff - here in Bloomington, Indiana the source is a great Mediterranean/international/health food grocery store called Sahara Mart - check the low carb etailers to find a source.

*Psyllie Snax - These are the oddest entry in the low carb crunch list, but don't let that put you off. Psyllie Snax are a chip made out of psyllium fiber, the same sort of fiber found in Metamucil. Yeah, I know you're thinking, "Right. Laxative chips." And I'm sure if you ate a pile of these, they'd have that effect, as would any high-fiber food. But these are crispy and light, with a great texture, and they taste good. They look funny, but hey, with all their other virtues, surely you can get past that. Psyllie Snax come in four flavors: Onion with Sesame and Flax Seeds, Garlic Parmesan, Spicy Sesame, and "Psyllie Snaps," which have a sweet butter-and-spice flavor. If you're craving a chip-like snack, you owe it to yourself to at least try Psyllie Snax. Here's their website: http://members.tripod.com/~PsyllieSnax/ , but some of the low carb etailers carry these, too.

* Nuts and seeds - One of the real shames of low fat diets was that they banned nuts and seeds, because of the high fat content. Nuts and seeds are not only tasty - and crunchy! - but remarkably healthful foods. Several medical studies have shown that nuts improve heart disease risk factors like LDL and HDL cholesterol, and demonstrate an association between eating nuts and a reduced incidence of heart disease.

However, it's important to keep in mind that nuts are not only not carb free, but are also very calorie-dense - and despite popular wishful belief, we cannot eat unlimited calories on a low carb diet and still lose weight. A "serving" of nuts is just one ounce, really quite a modest amount. You don't necessarily have to weigh or measure, but do keep in mind that a half a can of mixed nuts at a sitting is too much!

Here's a quick rundown on various kinds of nuts:

Brazil nuts: One ounce of Brazil nuts is roughly 6-8 nuts, and has 3.5 grams of carbohydrate, with 2.1 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 1.4 grams. 186 calories.

Almonds: One ounce of almonds is about 22 kernels, and has 5.5 grams of carbohydrate and 3.3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2.2 grams. 169 calories.

Cashews: Cashews are one of the higher carb nuts. 1 ounce, or about 18 cashews, has 8.5 grams of carb, with only 0.93 grams of fiber, or 7.6 grams of carb. 164 calories.

Hazelnuts or Filberts: 1 ounce of hazelnuts - my book doesn't give a quantity! - has 4.9 grams of carb, and 2.7 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2.2 grams. 183 calories.

Macadamias: One ounce of macadamias is about 10-12 nuts, and has 3.8 grams of carbohydrate and 2.3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 1.5 grams. 203 calories.

Pecans: One ounce of pecans is about 15 halves, and contains 3.7 grams of carbohydrate and 2.7 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of just 1 gram. My favorites, too! 203 calories.

Pistachios: One ounce of pistachios is 49 pistachios!! 7.6 grams of carbohydrate and 2.9 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 4.7 grams. 161 calories.

Walnuts: One ounce of walnuts is about 14 halves, and contains 3.9 grams of carb, and 1.9 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2 grams. 185 calories.

Peanuts: Peanuts aren't really a nut, of course, but a legume. They have 6.1 grams of carb per ounce, though my book doesn't say how many that is. 2.3 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3.8 grams. 165 calories.

Mixed Nuts With Peanuts: One ounce of mixed nuts with peanuts has 7.2 grams of carbohydrate, and 2.6 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 4.6 grams. 168 calories.

Mixed Nuts Without Peanuts: One ounce of mixed nuts with no peanuts has 6.3 grams of carbohydrate and 1.6 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 4.7 grams. 174 calories.

Sunflower Seeds: These are somewhat higher in carbohydrate than nuts, but they're also higher in minerals. A whole cup of shelled sunflower seed kernels - quite a lot! - contains 27 grams of carbohydrate, with 15 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 12 grams. 820 calories, so eat less than a cup! A truly great idea is to buy sunflower seeds in the shell. Having to crack each one separately before eating it slows you down to the point where it's nearly impossible to eat too much. The perfect low carb, high nutrition munchie food. I sneak them into the movies!

Pumpkin Seeds: Like sunflower seeds, these are higher in carbohydrate than some nuts, but also more nutritious. The zinc content make pumpkin seeds an especially good bet for men - zinc is good for the prostate. I'm crazy about pumpkin seeds, and buy them at convenience stores and truck stops all the time. Yum. One ounce of pumpkin seeds, or 142 kernels, contains 5 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 4 grams. 153 calories. Again, buy your pumpkin seeds in the shell, and you'll have a natural brake on your consumption. If you're looking for pumpkin seeds at a convenience store or truck stop, be aware that David brand is lower carb than Planter's - but only if you eat the shells (as I sometimes do.) David's shells only have salt on them; Planter's have flour, as well. It adds a surprising quantity of carbs.

* Sunkist Almond Accents - I reviewed these back in May. These are sliced, toasted almonds in a bunch of great flavors, like Bacon Cheddar, Italian Parmesan, Ranch, and Roasted Garlic

Caesar. Really, really tasty, and crunchier than your standard almond. Worth seeking out - I find them in the produce department of my local grocery stores.

* Celery - There's a reason celery has always been the ultimate diet food - it's basically crunchy water. (No joke. In 100 grams of celery, 95 grams consists of water.) Low carb, low calorie, low everything. You could go through a whole bunch of celery without seriously blowing your carb count for the day - one large celery stalk has a big 2 grams of carbohydrate, and a gram of that is fiber, so 1 gram usable carb per big stalk, less in a small one. And only 9 calories. Now, I know some people don't like celery, or think of it as "rabbit food" but it sure is crunchy, and personally I'm very fond of it. Especially celery hearts, which I can simply devour with a little salt. If you feel like I do, you've found your best crunchy food.

* Crunchy Cheese - Didn't know that cheese can be crunchy? Oh, my, yes. You can fry a big handful of shredded cheese in a little oil, in a non-stick skillet, until it's golden on the bottom, then flip it carefully and fry the other side. Drain and eat for a crunchy treat that will drive all thoughts of Cheetos and Cheez-its out of your mind. You can also spray a microwaveable plate with non-stick spray, put that same handful of cheese on it, and microwave it on high - start with one minute, and go from there; one minute is about right in my microwave. The cheese will melt to cover the plate, and become crunchy as it cools.

Or you can buy Just the Cheese Chips, which are - as the name strongly implies - chips made nearly entirely from cheese, baked until quite satisfyingly crunchy. Why "nearly" entirely? Because they have interesting flavors added - herb and garlic, nacho cheese, that sort of thing. Worth seeking out. (These make terrific emergency food, by the way; I like to carry them while traveling. A few Just the Cheese Chips will kill my hunger for an hour or two, and they're easy to stash in a purse or carry-on bag.)

Crunchy cheese is high calorie, too, but for some reason I find myself far less likely to over-eat on it than I am on nuts - some combination of the strong flavor and the terrific filling-ness of cheese, I suppose. It is, of course, very nearly carb-free.

* Protein Chips - These are a specialty low carb item. They look like tortilla chips, but are made from protein powder. They're plenty crunchy, come in several flavors, and are quite low carb. They're my least favorite of the choices - not bad, but not good enough for me to bother seeking them out. However, if you're really craving chips, they're worth trying. I'd rather have Psyllie Snax, myself.

* Homemade Root Vegetable Chips - Okay, you won't do this unless you really like to cook, and own a deep fat fryer. But I just recently acquired a deep fat fryer (for a big $35 bucks, brand-new, in the box, from Goodwill. It pays to shop around.) so I thought I'd try making chips out of something other than potatoes. So I acquired a jicama and a couple of turnips, and made some chips. I peeled my off-brand root veggies, cut them in chunks that would fit in the feed chute of my food processor, and ran them through the slicing blade. Then I heated canola oil to 375 in my deep fat fryer, and fried me some odd-ball chips.

Both the jicama and the turnip took longer than potatoes would have to become browned and crisp - almost 15 minutes. Both failed to reach the same degree of perfect crispness that potatoes reach, although I suspect part of the reason may be that commercial potato chips are sliced considerably thinner than my slicing blade can do. But both turned out chips that were tasty, especially with a little seasoned salt. The jicama chips, in particular, had a nice, slightly sweet thing going on.

So if you're the sort who likes playing around in the kitchen, you might try this. You'll certainly get chips that are lower in carbohydrate than potato chips - a whole large jicama has 105 grams of carbohydrate, with 58 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 47 grams for the whole darned thing, and trust me, a whole jicama will make a lot of chips. (I just did the math. Jicama has roughly 1/3 the usable carbohydrate that potato does.) Turnip comes to roughly the same carb count - about 1/3 that of potato chips - but turnips are smaller than jicamas, so you'll get fewer chips. If you fry all the chips from 1 large turnip, the whole batch will have about 8.5 grams of usable carb in it. Not a free food, but an interesting thing to try should you have the equipment and a free hour.

Reader Review of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds

Reviewer: A reader from Minnesota

I am a born sceptic. I also have been obsessed with food for my entire adult life. When I am going to eat, what I am going to eat, where I am going to eat, if there will be enough food left by the time I get to the front of the line... Not a very nice way to live. This book HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! So far, everything she has said has been true. Everything that she said would happen, has happened. And it's not hard to do at all! Sure, the initial adjustment to serving a meal with no potatoes or bread is a little odd, but you get over it pretty fast. Somehow, this diet just clicked with me. After reading her book, I have at least 6 more reasons to eat this way than just to lose weight. That's not even my focus any more! She explained all the different approaches of all these other authors and shows you how to pick and choose which aspects of which approaches will work best for you. It's remarkably easy to read, too!

I used this book along with Lauri's Lo-Carb Cookbook and the Greg Smithey "Easy Toning" tape, and I lost 10 pounds the first week and, I don't know if my initial measurement was wrong or what, but I lost and INCH off my waist! I have ordered the rest of Mr. Smithey's "Easy" videos now, and use Lauri's cookbook everyday. I have not yet found a recipe I or my husband didn't like.

I hope you find something that works for you. But for my money, this was the best that was out there for me.

To read this and other reader reviews of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, go to Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1592330401/lowcarbohysoluti

You can also get How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds through your local bookstore, though some may have to special order it.

Cooking Low Carb!

This pie pushes the edges of acceptable carb count, but it's so easy, and everybody at my party the other night liked it so much, that I thought I'd better include it. It's a great ending for a cookout!

Peanut Butter Cup Pie


1 1/2 cups almonds

1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder

1/4 cup butter, melted


1 package, 4 serving size, sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup water

3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I used creamy)

Preheat oven to 350.

Using your food processor with the S-blade in place, grind your almonds to a consistency similar to cornmeal. Add the protein powder and butter, pulse to combine well. Turn out into a pie plate you've sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and press firmly and evenly into place building up around sides. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are starting to brown lightly. Remove from oven and cool.

In a large bowl, combine the pudding mix and cocoa powder. Pour in heavy cream and water, and beat with electric mixer to combine well. Then beat in the peanut butter until everything's well combined. Pour mixture into cooled crust, scraping it all out of the bowl with a rubber scraper. Spread evenly in crust, and chill.

8 to 10 servings. Assuming 8 servings, each will have 16 grams of carbohydrate, and 4 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 12 grams. 14 grams of protein - filling!

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


Return to Archive Contents

To request a full-text version of this issue by e-mail, just send a message to: htt030802@holdthetoast.com (Message and subject can be blank.)