Lowcarbezine! 23 February 2004

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Hey, Gang -

Here it is! Once again, sorry it's late, but I'm not promising I'm going to get a lot more prompt about it; my life's just too crazy for that.

I've been scheduled on QVC again, and this time I won't be on in the middle of the night! I'll be on selling 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes on March 5th, on the show that starts at 1 pm, Eastern Standard Time, though I don't know exactly when during the show I'll be on. Hope you'll tune in!

The most important part of this issue is the first article. If you don't read anything else, please read it. I'm heartsick about the press Dr. Atkins has gotten recently, so I want you all to know the truth behind the ugly rumors. But if you try the side-dish recipe in Cooking Low Carb! too, you won't be sorry.

Read on!


Reader Review of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes

Simple, straight-forward, and oh so yummy!

I hate to cook, but eating out 2 and 3 times a day finally took its toll on my health and my pocketbook. So I picked up Dana's book figuring that if it only took 15 minutes I'd have less of a chance of burning down the kitchen. ;-)

I have several recipes I love, but the absolute worth-the-price-of-admission one is her "Honey" Mustard Dipping Sauce. I am getting SOOOOO addicted to it that I'm finding myself picking my meals based on whether or not they include things that I can put it on! It's so easy to make that it adds a negligible amount of time to the prep of any of the other recipes.

And they really are 15 minute recipes. (And since I hate to cook, 15 minutes is about all the time I'm willing to spend on it.) The recipes usually only have a few ingredients, they are real easy to make, and so far I've only run into one that I don't like (but I think that's just because I don't like curry powder).

I even had to go out and buy a big bottle of Brandy so I can indulge regularly in Shrimp in Brandy Cream -- it is positively decadent. (Now if I could just find a place online to buy guar/xanthum I'd be set!)

jneefer from California, February 20, 2004

Thanks, jneefer (is that J. Neefer? Or a funny way of writing "Jennifer?" Hmmm.) And you can get xanthan gum from the nice folks at Carb Smart - http://stores.yahoo.com/carbsmart/

To see this and other reader reviews of 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/159233041X/lowcarbohysoluti

Please know, however, that you can get 15 Minute Low-Carb Recipes at any bookstore!

Dr. Fatkins?

On February 10th, the Wall Street Journal ran the story that Dr. Atkins's final medical records showed that he weighed 258 pounds when he died. The story also mentioned that Atkins had heart problems, and speculated that these two facts were evidence that Dr. Atkins's diet was dangerous. This has lead to ugly stories about "Dr. Fatkins" and the like, and some people deciding that a nutritional program that has manifestly improved their health is actually a threat. I think it is vitally important that Lowcarbezine! readers know the truth about this story - both about Atkins's condition when he died, and where the story came from.

It is true that Dr. Atkins weighed 258 pounds when he died. This does not, however, mean that Atkins was, as implied, obese. Dr. Atkins was a very public personality, appearing on television several times in his final year; had he been obese it would have been impossible to hide it. When he entered the hospital eight days before his death, having suffered a head injury from a slip-and-fall accident, he weighed only 195 pounds - hardly obese.

So how on earth did Dr. Atkins gain 63 pounds in just 8 days? Here's where his heart problems come in.

It is true that Dr. Atkins had heart problems; he had suffered a cardiac arrest just about a year before he died. However, his cardiac arrest was not caused by coronary artery disease. Rather, Dr. Atkins had a viral infection of his heart muscle, also known as viral cardiomyopathy, weakening his heart and causing congestive heart failure. When Atkins had his cardiac arrest, he was given an angiogram, and his coronary arteries were found to be normal.

It wasn't only Dr. Atkins's personal cardiologist, Patrick Fratellone, who said so. Dr. Clyde Yancy, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a member of the American Heart Association's national board of directors, said, "Despite the obvious irony, I believe there is a total disconnect between the cardiac arrest and the health approach he (Atkins) popularizes." Since the American Heart Association has long pushed a low fat diet, and been skeptical of the Atkins approach, I find Dr. Yancy's statement particularly compelling.

Cardiomyopathy causes water retention; indeed, edema is often the symptom that leads to a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. As Dr. Atkins lay unconscious, his body slowly failing, the intravenous fluids he was given collected, bloating his body mercilessly - and resulting in that final weight of 258 pounds. This is heart-rending and tragic, but it is not an indictment of Dr. Atkins's diet.

So why the ugly stories? To understand that, you need to know where the story came from.

Dr. Atkins's medical records were given to the press by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. If this name sounds familiar, it may be because I wrote about them in December. ( http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/031217.html ) To recap: Despite its name, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, 95% of whose members are not physicians, is an animal rights organization with deep and inextricable ties to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) - they get most of their funding from PETA, have shared offices with them, and Dr. Neal Barnard, the psychiatrist who is the director of the PCRM, is staff medical advisor to PETA.

Despite posing as a non-partisan organization concerned only with human health, Barnard and the PCRM are instead radical vegan activists. They have long done their best to denigrate the animal food-rich Atkins diet, and Dr. Atkins himself. An example: The PCRM solicited stories of people who had been harmed by the Atkins diet, then presented those stories as conclusive evidence that despite all of the clinical studies showing the Atkins diet to be safe and effective, it was actually terribly dangerous - with no evidence that the stories were true, that the "harm"was actually caused by the diet, or even that the people who wrote to them were following the Atkins diet as prescribed in Atkins's book. And of course, they didn't talk to the millions of people whose health has actually improved on Atkins or other low carbohydrate diets. This approach goes beyond unscientific to downright dishonest.

In this light, it is not surprising that the PCRM tried to spin Atkins's weight at death and viral heart disease into some sort of "Atkins was fat and had clogged arteries!" scandal, though it is surprising that the Wall Street Journal picked up such a scandal-rag type story. I'll never see the Journal in quite the same way again.

Where did the PCRM get Atkins's confidential medical records in the first place? Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York City office of the chief medical examiner, said the records were erroneously sent to Dr. Richard M. Fleming of the Fleming Heart and Health Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Fleming is a member of the PCRM, and is currently promoting a book of his own, advocating a low fat, high carbohydrate, vegetarian diet. Having requested and obtained the medical records, Fleming saw fit to turn them over to his pals. Fleming claims he had no idea that the PCRM would go public with Atkins's medical records, but given the history of both the PCRM and PETA, such a statement marks Fleming as stupid, painfully naive, or disingenuous. You may take your pick.

I cannot begin to express how revolted I am by the PCRM's ghoulish behavior, but I cannot say I am surprised. After all, they're hand-in-glove with PETA, the organization that exploited Rudolph Giuliani's prostate cancer for their own political gain, handed out flyers on college campuses urging students to drink beer instead of milk, and asked Timothy McVeigh to become their poster boy from death row.

Since this story broke, a few people have said to me, "Well, if Dr. Atkins's diet didn't kill him, why hide his medical records? What's the big deal?" Ignoring entirely that Dr. Atkins and his family are entitled to the same confidentiality of medical records as you or I, the answer is two fold. First of all, Veronica Atkins, widowed less than a year, should not have been subjected to this sort of ugliness and pain; that she has been is nothing short of vicious. My heart goes out to Mrs. Atkins, and I sincerely hope she sues Dr. Fleming and the PCRM for everything they're worth. A win in court won't heal her grief, but it would go a long way to preventing this sort of behavior in the future.

Secondly, having seen the media feeding frenzy after Dr. Atkins's cardiac arrest, I can't blame Mrs. Atkins and the Atkins Center for not wanting to share Atkins's medical records with the press. They had already demonstrated that the facts about Dr. Atkins's heart problems needn't stand in the way of a juicy story, why expect them to care about truth over trumped-up scandal this time around?

I hope that you, as a low carb dieter, have not been taken in by this fear-mongering. Not only is there no reason to believe Dr. Atkins died from the effects of his low carbohydrate diet, there are several recent, well-conducted medical studies backing up everything Dr. Atkins claimed for his diet: That it was effective not only for weight loss without hunger, but for improving cholesterol and triglyceride numbers, too.

If you still have any lingering doubts, ask yourself: Am I more or less healthy since I started my low carbohydrate diet? Have I lost weight? Do I feel better? Do I have more energy? Does my blood work look good? Is my blood sugar stable? Because that, my friends, is the bottom line.

What About Low Carbers Short On Time and Money?

After my recent article regarding low carbing on a budget, I got a plaintive question from one reader - how was a low carb dieter with a tight schedule to save money? It's all well and good, she pointed out, to suggest that people do more prep work on their own, to save money, but where was everyone to find the time?

I, of course, work at home, so this has not been my problem. However, my friends and family are like everyone else, and of course I hear from my readers.

Many busy people on budgets, low carbers or not, depend heavily on their slow cookers - and indeed, I am working on a low carb slow cooker book, due out next winter. Slow cookers are an example of the most important time-crunch kitchen technique: Time-shifting. It's not that you don't have to cook, but you can shift your cooking to more convenient times, so that you don't have to scurry to get dinner on the table when you get home. Indeed, with a slow cooker you can cook dinner after dinner - that is, you can come home, eat whatever is in the slow cooker waiting, and then do your cooking, putting together your dinner for the next night, and getting it ready to slow-cook in the morning.

You can, however, time-shift in all sorts of ways. NMy sister Kim, who runs a killer schedule and makes do on a very tight budget, does a lot of time-shifting of her cooking, some of it with a slow cooker some without. Kim cooks on the weekends. Every Sunday she takes a few hours to make a double batch of soup, chili, or the like, and a double batch of some other entree. These, then, form the mainstay of her and her husband's dinners for the rest of the week. This is a time-honored technique, and still a good one.

If you like, you could also make a couple of "deli-style" salads - cole slaw, cucumber salad, bean salad, or the like - while your main dishes are cooking. These salads keep well for at least a few days, and let you put dinner on the table right away, with no work at all. If you want a hot vegetable, microwaving them is by far the fastest way to cook them, and preserves a lot of nutrients, too. Most frozen vegetables now come with microwave directions on the box or bag.

If you prefer tossed salads, consider making your own "bagged salad." Wash and dry salad greens and break them up, then stash them in zipper-lock bags in the fridge. This gives you the convenience of purchased bagged salad without the price.

Or you can ditch the salad all together. Instead, cut up peppers, celery, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and the like, and keep them on hand, again in those zipper-lock bags. This lets you put out vegetables and dip for the ravening hordes, to appease them while you take more than fifteen minutes to put supper together. Using vegetables and dip as a "put-off" this way also means that the family is confronting those vegetables when their hunger is the sharpest. This is a Very Good Thing.

Another great idea is to revive the Sunday roast. When I was a kid, some sort of roast - a big ol' hunk of protein, cooked simply in the oven - was the centerpiece of nearly every Sunday meal. Roasts are very easy - for the most part, you just stick them in the oven for the requisite period of time. And if you make a large roast, you'll then have pre-cooked meat on hand for the rest of the week. Of course, if you're on a budget you won't be roasting a prime rib of beef, but other roasts are often far cheaper. Again, I realize my local prices aren't representative of the whole country, but I have seen whole or half-hams for 99c a pound, leg of lamb is usually $2.99 a pound, and drops to $1.99 a few times a year, and turkey is economical all year round. Oh, and I got whole boneless pork loin on sale for $2.29 a pound just last week, not a bad price for lean, well trimmed meat with no bone.

Make leftovers of everything! Never roast just enough chicken or make enough meat loaf for one meal. Making a vegetable side dish you love? Make extra, for zapping in the microwave later in the week. Who needs frozen dinners? Indeed, you can buy Gladware plates with covers, that let you dish up a meal, cover it, freeze it, then put it directly in the microwave. Since these plates are washable and reusable, they're not much of an extravagance. If you've been frozen dinner dependent, this might be a useful path to follow.

In short, do your cooking when your schedule permits, so that you aren't stuck with playing short-order cook and/or depending on expensive pre-prepped convenience foods when you get home.

I suggest pressing the family into service to help. No child should grow up ignorant of basic cooking; that way lies junk food addiction. It's easy for me to make parenting suggestions, having no kids and all, but consider rotating sous-chef duty. If you give the child whose turn it is to help considerable say in what the next night's dinner will be, you may find them more interested than you thought.

Finally, I'd like to recommend a great book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (that's pronounced "decision," as in "She made a decision to marry a man of Ukrainian ancestry.") A compilation of virtually all of the articles that went into Dacyczyn's ground-breaking newsletter, The Complete Tightwad Gazette is bursting with terrific ideas on how to pinch pennies in every possible way; I guarantee you will find at bare minimum a half a dozen money-stretching strategies that never occurred to you.

The book is also compulsively readable, and tons of fun. My only word of warning: Dacyczyn recommends cutting way down on meat intake, and eating lots of grains and legumes, to save money. Obviously, we won't be doing that. But even ignoring her dietary advice, there is plenty in The Gazette to help eke out even the toughest budget, and a good dose of creative bootstrap philosophy to keep you from feeling sorry for yourself while you do it. And the money you save on other things can go toward inexpensive cuts of meat, and low carb vegetables, and the like.

You can get The Complete Tightwad Gazette at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0375752250/lowcarbohysoluti , where you can also read many rave reviews. But I'd be untrue to the true spirit of the thing if I didn't recommend that you borrow it from your public library first! (Me, I renewed the first Tightwad book three times, and then decided I needed to buy. And I bought The Complete Tightwad Gazette at a used book sale! Amy would be proud.)

Reader Review of 500 Low-Carb Recipes

Try the Olive Soup

This cookbook has a permanent place in my kitchen, if only for the miracle of olive soup.

There is so much more, though. Her Cajun Skillet Shrimp, Heroin Wings and Kay's Crab Stuffed Mushrooms have become stardards in my home.

There is real treasure to be found in the desserts, too. You might not find your ingredients in the baking aisle, but if you know where to look, your supermarket has them. The results are very much worth it. Try the Chocolate Mousse or the Cheesecake with fruit...

If you're counting carbs, this is a simply terrific book to buy.

Reviewer: lesmond24 from Alpha, NJ, February 7, 2004

Thanks, lesmond! Jersey Rules! And olives, of course, are Food of the Gods.

To see this and other reviews of 500 Low-Carb Recipes, visit Amazon.com:


However, if you simply must have a copy today, right this very minute (and I certainly hope you feel that way!) be aware that you can run right out and buy a copy of 500 Low-Carb Recipes just about everywhere - heck, it's even been spotted at Target and Costco!

Important Point to Ponder

Reader Terri Miyamoto writes:


I want to bring to your attention an editorial published in the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger February 13 that I believe deserves some attention. The author is David L. Katz, "associate clinical professor of public health and medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and author of "The Way to Eat" (Sourcebooks 2002). His essay first appeared in the Hartford Courant."

Dr. Katz makes excellent points in this essay, essentially pointing out how market demand drives the foods available to us in stores, and arguing that if we, as consumers, demanded more healthy food choices we would get them. The point I believe your readers should contemplate is in this paragraph:

"'When we focused solely on dietary fat, the food industry gave us more calories in the form of Snackwell cookies and the like. Of course, we kept gaining weight. We are now inviting those same, eager-to-please food manufacturers to serve up excess calories in low-carb rather than low-fat packages. It is just a matter of time before we can cut the carbs and keep the calories, too. So long, weight loss."

I think he is right on target. Keep encouraging your readers to save the low-carb, sweet specialties for occasional use. We low-carbers have to focus on healthy, simple meats, veggies and fruits. I believe we also have to anticipate the day when "low carb" will be ridiculed, because so many people try it without understanding it, and fail.

Thanks for your newsletter. I always enjoy it. I started Atkins a year ago and have lost 90 pounds, have 10 more to go to get to my goal. Plus low-carb helps control my skinny husband's diabetes. We're convinced, but I can easily get sucked into the low-carb chocolates and mousses, even though I can see from the scale that they affect my weight loss if I do more than a tiny bit!

Thank you, Terri, for bringing this up. Yes, I am seeing the Snackwellification of the low carbohydrate diet, and I do not think it bodes well for people's success. I was reminded of the problem yet again when, after my article on brown bag lunches in the last issue of Lowcarbezine!, one reader wrote to say that with low carb bread on the market now, we could all start taking sandwiches for lunch again. While I have no problem with the occasional low carb sandwich - I like a good grilled cheese myself from time to time - I think it is, for most of us, a bad idea to start eating low carb bread - or low carb pasta, or low carb cookies, or low carb cereal, or low carb candy, or low carb chips - as daily staples of our diets.

The "low carb bread" I find hereabouts generally has at least 5 grams per slice. That's 10 grams in a two-slice sandwich. For 10 grams, I could have a very big salad instead, and it would be both more nutritious and more filling than those two slices of bread, and likely cheaper. It would also be free of soy, an ingredient I try to limit in my diet, but that is very common in low carb specialty products.

So I will repeat what is becoming my constant refrain: Do not make low carb specialty foods a major part of your low carbohydrate diet. Do not try to make your low carbohydrate diet look like your old, high carb diet, by simply swapping high carb processed foods for low carb processed foods.

Always, always, always, the heart and soul of a low carb diet should be meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, vegetables, low sugar fruits, and healthy fats, not packaged low carb stuff designed to cash in on the popularity of the diet. Low carb specialty products should be relegated to a support position - as occasional treats or to fight cravings.

Be aware that I have heard from more than one person who has found that so long as they stick to whole, unprocessed low carb foods, they lose weight, but when they add the specialty products with any frequency, they stall, or even start to gain.

You have been warned.

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

Atkins with all the right tweaks. This is THE book to buy!,

This book is the best summation I've seen on low-carb. It combines the contents of Atkins, Zone, and other low-carb diets with some tried and true wisdom. I first tried Atkins a few years ago on the advice of my doctor. After hitting 40 and being reasonably active, the pounds started to creep on. I lost about 25 pounds in 6 weeks and felt great, plus all my blood work results improved. Subsequently though, it seemed less effective. Cutting back on dairy and nuts and staying away from aspartame, as espoused in this book, led to better results. There are also other helpful suggestions for when you hit a plateau. Everyone's body chemistry is different, and the value of this book lies in the many 'tweaks' listed to make it work best for you. The author has done her homework and then some. You will also enjoy her breezy, witty conversational writing style as well. WELL worth the full...cover price.

jeanne425 from Sammamish, Washington, November 9, 2003

Thanks, Jeanne! Glad it's been helping.

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

However, be aware that your local bookstore probably has it, too.

Reader Success Story!

Several months back, at the request of a journalist, I asked for stories from those of you who had successfully controlled diabetes with a low carb diet, and was absolutely flooded with great stories in response. I published a few, but have been meaning to publish more. So here's a success story for you!

Hey Dana:

I'm a low-carbing diabetic, female, age 44. I was diagnosed in November 1999, and it's not like I was borderline. My fasting blood sugar was 245, and went up from there after the drinking the glucose solution. I had had gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies, so it wasn't a total

surprise. I was prescribed Glucophage, plus Synthroid for a hypothyroid condition diagnosed at the same time.

I read every book in the library about diabetes, and researched the heck out of the Internet. The only plan to control it that made sense to me was Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's "Diabetes Solution". I started low-carbing then, and have continued to this day. I also do weight training, as recommended by Dr. B.

I lost 35 pounds in three months, and keep my blood sugar readings between 80-100. My doctor says my blood sugar is lower than his, and he's not diabetic. In addition, my gums, which had been in dreadful condition, rallied so much after surgery, that the periodontist was astounded. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, too, so this is important. Yeast infections are a thing of the past. Colds, which before diagnosis would invariably worsen into sinus infections, now last 3 light-sniffling days, less than once per year. No more late-afternoon slumps, either.

I know that low-carbing has brought me all these benefits, and it amuses me when people feel sorry for me, because I can't have some carby goody they're having. Meanwhile, they will take all kinds of scary medications, or undergo radical surgery for things that I believe would clear up if they would only try low-carbing. (Sorry for the rant, I'm a little militant about LC, and now I have a forum!)

Please pass on my story to the journalist, and my e-mail address if they want it. Keep up the good work, and I look forward as always to to the next Lowcarbezine.


Jeannie Aromi

Bay Shore, NY

Great story, Jeannie! It did, indeed, go to the journalist, and here it is to inspire your fellow Lowcarbezine! readers, as well. Thanks!

Get Ready For Summer!

Okay, so it's not even March yet, but around here we've already had a day or two that has gone up to 50, so how far away can spring be? Get ready for summer by pre-ordering The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, and you'll be all set with over 200 recipes for your low carb summer fun.


Cooking Low Carb!

Jansonn's Temptation

This Swedish favorite is traditionally made with potatoes. I have no idea how this decarbed version compares, but it's utterly delicious in its own right. Don't be afraid of that anchovy paste, by the way. There is no fishy flavor in the finished recipe, it's just rich-tasting and wonderful.

2 turnips, cut in strips

1/2 head cauliflower, cut in strips

1 onion, sliced thin

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1/4 teaspoon salt or Vege-sal

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Peel your turnips and cut them into smallish strips -- about the size of fast food french fries. Cut up your cauliflower, too -- cut it in strips as much as possible (include the stem), but of course, being cauliflower, it'll crumble some. No biggie. Combine the turnips and cauliflower.

2. Slice your onion quite thin. Melt the butter in your heavy skillet, over medium heat, and saute your onions until they're limp, and turning translucent.

3. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Then layer the turnip/cauliflower mixture and the onions in the baking dish.

4. Measure your cream, and stir in the anchovy paste, salt, and pepper, until the anchovy paste is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the vegetables.

5. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes.

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: htt040223@holdthetoast.com (Message and subject can be blank.)