Friday, December 28, 2007

Learning from our mistakes...

I haven't even left for France yet and have already gained back about 20 pounds. I know it's not just water weight because my paints are a little bit tighter. Of course, I have not been eating responsibly. There has been way too much candy this holiday season. It seems that the more carbs that I eat, the more that I crave. It's a vicious cycle that makes it difficult to keep my eating under control.

Next week, I leave for Paris. I will be there for 3 weeks after which I will come home for about a week and return for another 3 weeks. It is possible that I may have to be there 2 or 3 weeks a month until June. I can't afford to keep regaining weight and feel I need to soon shift back to a low carb lifestyle. I'm targeting February as the next start-up date.

I am sure many of you are asking why wait... besides self indulgence, I do have a reason that I feel is legit. Since I have never been outside of the Charles Chagall airport, I'm not sure what to expect from French restaurants. During my first trip, ordering will likely be guess work. I'm going to take the first 3 week stretch and enjoy sampling the local cuisine while also getting to understand the common ingredients and side dishes. By the time I return, I will have had time to learn food names and develop a strategy for low carb eating in France.

My wife and I have been discussing general diet strategies. We have decided to both return to the Protein Power Plan rather than carb cycling. However, we will allow 2 floating cheat days per month. This is what we did the first six months of so of our low-carb "diet" and it worked quite well for us. We hope to begin again sometime in February. So, during my home weeks from February forward, I will be experimenting in my own kitchen and begin posting recipes again. Perhaps even throwing in some low carb versions of French foods that I sample during my working abroad.

Another six months to a year from now, when we finally reach our ideal weights, we'll need a much better maintenance plan than quitting cold-turkey. This last month has proven that cod-turkey is dangerous. Since I find it difficult to cut back a little, I'm afraid that the typical maintenance plan won't work for me. I need to develop a maintenance plan that fits my craving patterns. I'm thinking about perhaps carb cycling for maintenance. The reason for this is that I have no problem going from high carb to very low carb. But I have a terrible time dealing with medium carb as it sets off my cravings.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's been over a year now...

My wife and I have been working on weight loss for over a year now. Long walks, even several miles, no longer winds me. My feet don't hurt. My ankles no longer swell. I no longer have as much trouble with my lower back. I'm no longer tired all of the time. I feel great! Unfortunately, without the aches and pains to remind me, it becomes increasingly difficult to stick with a diet plan. As I approach my goal weight, I find it easier and easier to make excuses to take extra days off of the plan. So, for the last several months, I have perhaps only spent 60-70% of my days doing low carb. As a result, my weight has fluctuated within a ten pound range. The lower end is still 15 pounds away from my original goal of losing 100 pounds (or 18% body fat). I weigh about 260 right now.

My work is picking up this winter. I am told that I must work 3 weeks a month in Paris, France. This intensive travel is fairly certain for January and February but could run through June. I know that in France, I will be doing tons of walking. While there, I'd like to be able to sample and enjoy their local foods. Plus, I'm not sure how easily I would be able to dine out low carb there. I don't know the language and many meals will probably be the result of my guessing at what the menu means. Therefore, I have decided to drop the low-carb "lifestyle" for a while.


I am going to try to eat "normal" food but not binge. I'll commit to doing at least one weigh-in per month each time that I am home in Kentucky. After my first 3 week trip, I should have a better handle on the French foods that I can eat. If my weight has gone up too much (say 20 pounds?) then I will go back on the low carb diet, likely Protein Power Plan rather than carb cycling.

For the near future, I will still be reading various low carb forums. And, I may post occasionally about my status. It is highly likely that I will return to the low carb way of eating. So, I may be back here in a few months actively posting again. In the mean time, I wish you all luck in your personal diet adventures. I have grown vary fond of many fellow weight-loss bloggers. I almost feel like friends with some even though we've never met. I absolutely love the support and camaraderie that the online low carb community has provided. I seriously doubt that I would have lost 80 pounds without this support. Thanks!



Au revoir pour maintenant,
Big Daddy D

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where to buy low carb products online

I have been shopping at Netrition.com for about a year now. And, I have been occasionally bragging on their products and sometimes linking to their site to help fellow low-carbers find hard-to-get items. Without netrition.com, I would be running all over town trying to pick up key low-carb ingredients that are stocked in one local grocery store but not the others. Also, where I live, I don't have to pay any sales tax on my netrition.com purchases. The savings on taxes alone usually covers their low shipping charges.

Well, it finally dawned on me that I should sign up for their affiliates program. As long as I'm sending them all of this business, I might as well get a cut, right? I don't know many of you noticed last month's addition of netrition.com advertisements on the side bar and bottom of my blog. I put them to the side and bottom so that they wouldn't be obtrusive. This month, I earned a whopping $7, nearly twice what I made from google ads in over a year! I'm telling you this because I don't want you to think that I am making a living from blogging. I place a high value on integrity and honesty. If I say something positive about a product, it is because I believe what I am saying. It is not that I am being paid to do so.

Regardless of my affiliation with netrition.com, I will continue to selflessly promote other products and services that I like even if there is no profit in it for me. This is because I feel that too many good low carb products have failed simply because nobody knew about them in time.

Today, I went back through all of my recipes and added links to netrition.com for hard to find ingredients. This is partly in hopes of gaining some profit and partly to make it easier for my readers to find these items.

The following is a list of ingredients from my recipes that I have added links to. Many of these items are indispensable in a low-carb kitchen. I hope you give them a try.

  • Carbquik - low carb baking mix similar to bisquik.
  • Almond Meal - great tasting flour.
  • Hazelnut Meal - another great tasting flour.
  • Aloha Nu Coconut Flour - this ingredient has tons of potential but is a bit tricky to work with. I'd like to see more people to experiment with coconut flour.
  • Flax Meal - flax is all the rage right now.
  • Vital wheat gluton - I consider this a great alternative to flour. But some people have trouble digesting it properly and others have allergies.
  • Soy Protein Powder (soy isolate)- Great substitute for flour. Plain has little to no flavor.
  • Soy Flour - This is simply ground soy beans. It works well as a flour replacement but has a funky soy taste that I consider too overpowering for most recipes.
  • Xanthan gum - Seems to work good making cookies chewie and not crumbly. Some people use to thicken liquids. I'm still experimenting with this ingredient.
  • Splenda Quick Pack - one packet = 1 cup of sugar. This form of splenda does not contain fillers and therefore is much lower in carbs than granular splenda.
  • Da Vinci Syrups - the low carb syrups offer a wide variety of flavors. Online low carbers can't seem to get enough of these.
  • Carb Counter brownie mix - pretty good low carb brownies.
  • Cinnamunch - Cinnamon pork rinds. These remind me of Taca Bell's cinnamon twists.
  • Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup - a little watery but better than no chocolate.
  • Heinz Ketchup reduced sugar or one carb - "one carb" and "reduced sugar" are different names for the same product.
  • Baja Bob's Sugar Free Margaritas and other mixers - Now tequila makes her clothes fall off in more ways than one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hot Chocolate - 5 net carbs per serving

As the days get colder, we need something warm and comforting. Hot chocolate can do the trick. I have found a way to make hot chocolate that is much easier even than the powdered mixes that I grew up on. Simply take one cup of Hood Calorie Countdown Chocolate Dairy Beverage in a coffee cup. Microwave on high for one and a half minutes. Top with unsweetened whipped cream. Yum.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's for Dinner?

Last night, my wife Brandi and I made chicken tenders using Brandi's breading. They were excellent. This breading is good and is liked by even non-low-carbers. With it, we made mashed Foetatoes. Then, we topped it all with Campbell's brand cream gravy which has surprisingly few carbs.

I found the foetatos recipe online. It called for mashed up cauliflower with butter and cream cheese plus xanthan gum. We made a huge batch. The xanthan gum ruined it. Yes, the mixture thickened up nicely but it had an odd gummy consistency. We ended up throwing most of it out. I think if we make fake mashed potatoes again, we'll leave the xanthan gum out and live with slightly soggy mashers. Have any of you found a decent substitution for mashed potatoes?

Also, I'd be interested in hearing about my reader's experiences using xanthan and guar gums. Have you tried using xanthan gum as either a thickener or to duplicate the texture and bonding power of sugar?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Calculating Net Carbs

I received the following e-mail:


I was wanting to know how you calculate a recipe that has carbs. Is there a place that you site you can go type in a recipe and have it calculate the carbs, fats, calories etc..? I have enjoyed your Blog. Thank you for your help...


I have heard many people say that they use recipe net carb calculators. I tried one a while back but found that many of my ingredients were not in their database. This made the tool useless to me. Perhaps our readers have had better luck and can share their experiences with us. I typically look up each ingredient and do my own math.

There are tons of good carbohydrate and fiber reference books that you can purchase at just about any bookstore. Just about any one will do that lists both carbohydrates and fiber. Some, such as the protein power guide simplifies this by listing "ECC" which is another way of saying "net carbs". I use these books when on the road. But, at home, I use calorieking.com to look up nutritional information. Calorieking.com has information about fresh foods, commercial products, and even many popular restaurant's menu items.

Regardless of where you look up the nutritional information, you are going to have to do some math! Because the serving size may not be in the units of measure that you are using, you will have to learn cooking measurement conversions!

I calculate net carbs by taking the total carbohydrates minus fiber minus 1/2 of carbs from sugar alcohols.

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that move food through the digestive system. Some people call it "nature's broom". Humans, unlike cattle can not metabolize the energy bound up in fiber. This is why cows can survive on eating grass but we can't. And, because our bodies can not utilize this energy, those of us doing a low carbohydrate diets do not need to count fiber because we can't burn fiber for energy.

Sugar alcohols (also known asa polyol, polyhydric alcohol, or polyalcohol) are often used as artificial sweeteners. Your body can metabolize 1/3 to 1/2 of the carbohydrates from sugar alcohols. This is why I count half of these carbohydrates when calculating net carbs. Unfortunately, most packages for foods containing sugar alcohols make very low net carb claims by not counting any of the carbohydrates. I guarantee you that if you eat a substantial amount of sugar alcohols, you will not lose weight regardless of the net carb claims on the package. For this reason, always do your own math! Usually, but not always, sugar alcohols are listed on the dietary label under the heading "carbohydrates", just below the fiber. But sometimes, you only know that it is used if you read the actual ingredients. If you calculate the carbs based on the nutrition panal and it doesn't match the net carb claim on the front of the package, 9 times out of 10, you'll find sugar alcohols in the ingredients. Sugar Alcohols can also have laxative effects and cause excessive farting in some individuals. The following are some common sugar alcohols:

Glycol
Glycerol (glycerine)
Erythritol
Arabitol
Xylitol
Mannitol
Sorbitol
Isomalt
Maltitol
Lactitol
Some "Atkins" products also contain something called "polydextrose". This is some sort of soluble fiber. I am not sure how much of this can be metabolized. Perhaps another reader can comment. I usually play it safe by ignoring the package claim about polydextrose not affecting blood sugar levels.

The following is a simple example, Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Meal/Flour. The total carbs are 5 minus the 3 fiber equals 2 net carbs per serving (5 - 3).


Serving Size: 1/4 Cup (28g)
Servings Per Container: 14
Amount Per Serving:

Total Carbohydrates 5 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 1 g

Ingredients: Hazelnuts.


The following is an example with sugar alcohols listed on the nutritional panel. This is from a label on Chocolate Dreams and Wishes Dark Chocolate Cups with Coconut. The total carbs of 16 minus 8 fiber and minus 1/2 of 6 sugar alcohols equals 5 net carbs (16 - 8 - 3).


Serving Size: (28)g, 1oz, (1/2 Cluster)
Servings Per Container: 2

Total Carbohydrates 16 g
Dietary Fiber 8 g

Sugars 0 g
Sugar Alcohols (Polyols) 6 g

Ingredients: Chocolate Liquor, Inulin, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Desiccated coconut, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin (an emulsifier), Acesulfame-K, Artificial Flavors and Sucralose.



The following is an example that even I need help on. This is from the label on Atkins NutritionalsAdvantage Bars, Caramel Chocolate Peanut Nougat. The front of the package claims only 2 net carbs. I calculate it as 8. And, it claims 0 sugar alcohols but clearly contains glycerine which is a sugar alcohol.

Total Carbohydrates 17 g
Dietary Fiber 9 g
Sugars 1 g
Sugar Alcohols (Polyols) 0 g

**Polydextrose and glycerine, while included in the 'Calories' count, have been omitted from the 'Total Carb' count as their impact on blood sugar/insulin levels is negligible.

Ingredients: Protein blend (whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen), polydextrose, glycerin, peanuts, palm kernel and palm oil, inulin, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), natural and artificial flavors, coconut oil, non fat dry milk, butter, soy lecithin, salt, citric acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium. Vitamins and Minerals blend: Calcium (tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate), Magnesium (magnesium oxide),Vitamin A (vitamin a palmitate),Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate), Vitamin B-1 (thiamine mononitrate),Vitamin B-2, (riboflavin), Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), Vitamin B-12(cyanocobalamin), Vitamin E (DL Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), vitamin B-3 (niacinamide), biotin, pantothenic acid (d-calcium pantothenate), zinc (zinc oxide), folic acid, chromium (chromium chelate), vitamin K, (phytonadione), selenium (sodium selenite).


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Write-Up on 'Weight Loss Tips' Website

About a month ago, I was asked to complete a survey for http://www.wltips.com/. My story can be found here, listed under "General Weight Loss". I appreciate their interest in me and hope it brings additional readers to my site. I also hope it inspires more people to try carb cycling so that we'll gain better knowledge of this weight loss strategy. Please check out their website and read the other success stories that they have gathered.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Status Update

After another 2 weeks off plan, I had regained a whopping 15 pounds! 3 days into low-carb resulted in a loss of 10 pounds. Now, I know that this weight loss is too rapid to include much fat. I can only assume that the primary difference is either water or how much food was in my digestive track. So, while I can't say that I have just lost 10 pounds of fat, I also can not say that I had gained 15 pounds of fat while off plan!

Today, the beginning of day 5, I weighed 260 pounds. This is still about 9 pounds more than I weighed 3 months ago. But, over the last three months, I only completed one full 11 day carb-down. So, it's not surprising. Regardless, I still weigh 76 pounds less than I weighed when I started on a low-carb plan. And, I am finally back on track.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nutrition Label on "Diet" Orange Crush

I am sitting at my desk, on a business conference call... I pop open a can of diet orange crush. Mmmm, it tastes pretty good. I had not yet tried this particular diet beverage. As my mind wonders away from the conference call, I turn my can and begin reading the label. Crap! Total carbs = 5. I then scan the ingredients. Number two on the ingredients list is "high fructose corn syrup". How in the heck did a "diet" beverage end up with HFCS? I have become so accustomed to picking up diet drinks under the assumption that they were sugar-free. I should have taken the time to read the label at the grocery store.

Hamburger Buns - 0.4 net carbs

This recipe is not a "Big Daddy" original. I got it from Cleochatra of cleotratra.blogspot.com. She called them "Atkins Revolution Rolls". Does anyone know if this is truly an original Atkins recipe or has the name "Atkins" simply been attached due to their being low-carb?

Cleochatra states the net carbs as 0.7 per round. I calculate this to be 0.4 per round. The difference in carbs is probably due to my using sweetzfree instead of splenda. If using as a hamburger bun, you'd use two (0.8 net carbs). Her version simply called for a "pinch" of cream of tartar. I used 1/4 t. and it worked well.

Now... about taste and texture. While these taste pretty good, they are a bit too light and fluffy. They also make a sort of quiet squishy noise when you bite into them. Regardless, they are a nice change from other low carb bread recipes that tend to be either heavy or have a funky after taste. I personally prefer these over any other low carb hamburger buns that I have tried. I'd give it a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10.

Ingredients:

3 T. cream cheese
dash of salt
1 t. equiv. to sugar (I used 1 drop sweetzfree)
3 eggs
1/4 t. cream of tartar


Instructions:

You will need two mixing bowls, a cookie sheet, and some parchment paper. Put cream cheese in first bowl and nuke for 30 seconds to soften. Add salt and sweetener to cream cheese. Separate eggs, putting egg yokes in with cream cheese and egg whites into the second bowl. Whisk the egg yoke mixture and set aside.

Add cream of tartar to egg whites. With an electric mixer (easiest with whisk attachment), whip until stiff. The whites should form a peak when you pull the mixer out.

By hand, gently fold egg yoke mixture into egg whites. Be careful not to break down the egg whites.

Place parchment paper onto cookie sheet to prevent sticking. Spoon mixture onto cookie sheet, making six mounds. Flatten each slightly to resemble a hamburger bun size and shape.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 300 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cooking Low Carb Comfort Foods

Last night, I was in a cooking mood. I made my favorite, Cinnamon Flax Muffins (2.5 net carbs). Having some of these on hand really helps satisfy cravings for starchy snack-cakes. If you haven't tried them, you don't know what you are missing.

I also tried a new way to make hamburger buns. We used a recipe from cleochatra of cleotratra.blogspot.com. She calls them Atkins Revolution Rolls. She says that she got it from www.low-carb-diet-recipes.com. Due to the name, I doubt that the latter is the original source either. I will make another post with my version of the recipe. It's mostly egg-whites and is extremely light and fluffy. When eating them, my wife made two comments... the first comment was that if we added sweetener, it would make a good strawberry shortcake base... and second, that they were kind of like ladyfingers.

Hmmm, I thought... ladyfingers are used in tiramisu. I then broke out a few cookbooks, looking at lady finger and tiramisu recipes. Sure enough, the recipe is surprisingly similar to ladyfingers. As for the tiramisu, I am not sure if I can make a custard without sugar. But, I found one recipe that calls for instant pudding instead of custard. This substitution also cuts down substantially on the prep time. The custard (or pudding) is then mixed with whipping cream and cheese. Layers are created with a sprinkling of instant coffee, etc. I have written up my version of low-carb tiramisu on paper. As soon as I have a little time to experiment, I'm going to give it a shot. My gut tells me that it will be superb! If it is as good as I think, I will post the recipe here. So, keep an eye on my site for my low carb tiramisu!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm back...

While off the diet, the most interesting phenomena is that the more carbs that I eat, the more that I crave. When you have a craving, you would suspect that once you ate it that you'd be satisfied... but it doesn't work this way with me... I simply crave more. It's a vicious cycle that I need to come to terms with when I finally reach my goal weight.

My weight has really shot up the last 2 weeks... I'm shocked by the weight that I have gained in a very short time period. So... it's back to low-carb.

I've not yet made up my mind about future "carb up" days. I know we'll work Thanksgiving Day in there but am uncertain of whether or not I'll return to the every-other weekend off the diet. I'm leaning toward 2 or 3 floating days per month. The carb cycling worked great the first few months. For me, it seems that my body (or metabolism) takes about 3 months to find a balance. This means that it is extremely hard to make any long-term plan work well continuously. I find that I need to keep shaking things up to make the diet keep working. I'm not sure of the best approach for continued weight loss. I'm sure that exercise would help but I'm not willing to take that step just yet. With regards to cycling or planned cheat days, my wife and I will have to discuss and agree on an approach that we can both live with...

BTW, I'm in town this week, so keep an eye open for new recipes...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Slipping...

I have experienced very little weight change for 3 months.... This is partly because I have not been very true to my plan. It's become increasingly frustrating as I have had a hard time losing the final 15 to 20 pounds. As such, I've let myself slack on the plan. The fact of the matter is that I love food. And, when dining out, it's been very nice to order what looks best rather than the one or two menu items that with substitutions would meet my diet needs. I realize that I can't continue like this or else I likely will re-gain the 80+ pounds that I have lost. I need to take a little time to re-evaluate my current state and intentions. And, I hope to get my mind back in focus. It's too easy to tell myself that I can go back on the diet after the holidays... this, I know is procrastination which could lead to infinite delays. Hopefully, I'll be back on track soon.

I'm not telling you this in hopes of pity or understanding. I think what I am going through is natural and quite common. It's a constant battle to keep my mind on track. It's much, much harder when progress is slow and when you are no longer feeling aches and pains related to being grossly overweight.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Cauliflower Salad - 2.9 net carbs per serving

My wife and I have been making this dish for quite some time. I don't know why I didn't think to post the recipe sooner. I think you'll find variations of this moc potato salad all over the low carb community. This dish is very similar to potato salad and tastes just as good. I seriously doubt that you will miss the potatoes.

8 Big Servings @ 2.9 net carbs per serving.

Ingredients:

1 head of Cauliflower...15 net carbs
5 eggs...2.8 net carbs
2-3 T. dill relish or diced dill pickles...3 net carbs
2 green onions...0.2 net carbs
3-5 T. mustard...2.0 net carbs
6 T. Mayonnaise...0 net carbs
Salt to taste...0 net carbs

Instructions:

  1. Chop up cauliflower into pieces at about 1 inch or so in size. Place in pot of water along with eggs. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
  2. Drain in colander and place cauliflower in mixing bowl. Peel eggs and dice up. Add remaining ingredients and stir.
  3. Serve warm or chilled.



Thursday, October 4, 2007

Strawberry Lemon Pie - 7.5 net carbs per serving

Dessert is no longer "pie in the sky". I intend to show you that comfort foods can contribute to your low carb lifestyle. Here, I am introducing yet another fabulous low carb dessert... Strawberry Lemon Pie.


This recipe is loosely based off of another high-carb recipe from my "Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cookbook". I have changed it enough that I don't really need to site a source. The reason I mention it here is to encourage more of you to experiment with converting standard sugar based recipes into delicious low carb recipes. If you are creative and determined, then you can do it.

The entire pie's crumb crust has about 12 net carbs. The pie crust recipe can be found by clicking here. Counting the crust, the entire recipe has 60 net carbs.


8 servings @ 7.5 net carbs per serving.


Ingredients:

9 or 10 inch Crumb Crust in Pie Pan....12 net carbs
1/2 package (4 oz.) Cream Cheese (softened)....4 net carbs
1 T. equiv. to sugar*
2 t. lemon zest (grated lemon peal)....0 net carbs
1 T. lemon juice (about half a lemon)....1.4 net carbs
1 c. heavy whipping cream (liquid)....6.6 net carbs
1 pint strawberries....20 net carbs
2 cups Hood Calorie Countdown dairy beverage**....6 net carbs
2 pkgs (4-serving size) instant sugar free LEMON pudding....10 net carbs


Instructions:

  1. Put cream cheese, sweetener*, lemon zest, lemon juice in mixing bowl. Mix until smooth, preferably using a whisk attachment. Add heavy whipping cream. Beat on high until mixture thickens into a creamy, yummy fluff. Spread mixture into bottom of pie crust.
  2. Trim green tops off of strawberries and slice in half. Press strawberries into cream cheese layer.
  3. Pour 2 cups of Hood Calorie Countdown** into mixing bowl. Add pudding mixes. Beat for one minute. Spoon over strawberry layer in crust.
  4. Refrigerate 4 hours to set.
*For the sweetener, I used 1 T. of Sweetzfree which has no carbs. If you use granulated splenda, add 1.5 net carbs to the entire recipe which amounts to about 0.2 net carbs per serving.

**If you do not have hood, you can substitute 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of water but add an additional 6.6 net carbs to the entire recipe which amounts to about 0.8 net carbs per serving. If you prefer, you could also substitute 2 cups of whole milk but this adds 22 net carbs to the entire recipe which amounts to about 3 net carbs per serving.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Simply Scallops - 10 net carbs per pound

For this recipe, I'm not listing exact measurements. It doesn't really matter how much or how little of each ingredient you use. What does matter is that scallops have more carbohydrates than most meats. One pound of scallops has about 10 net carbs. Regardless, this dish tastes wonderful and is very easy to prepare. Please calculate your own net carbs taking into consideration the amount of each ingredient you use.

Ingredients:

Olive Oil
Butter
Red bell Peppers (diced)
Garlic (minced)
Scallops
Green Onion (chopped)

Instructions:

Put butter and olive oil into skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced red bell peppers. Saute until tender. Add scallops. Cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped green onions. Serve.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Crumb Crust for Desserts - 12 net carbs entire recipe

What do you do when your recipe calls for a graham cracker pie crust? The answer is make your own low carb version using nuts and flax. The following is a simple recipe for a crumb crust that can be used for cheesecakes or pies. You can leave it uncooked or bake it with fillings.

Entire recipe is 12 net carbs, divide by number of servings.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. hazelnut meal*
1/2 c. flax meal
1/2 c. equiv. to sugar**
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter melted

Instructions:

Mix hazelnut meal, flax meal, and 1/4 c. equiv. to sugar (8 drops sweetzfree). A pastry cutter works best. Once well mixed, press into bottom of casserole dish, pie plate, or spring form pan.

*You can substitute almond meal and add an additional 8 net carbs to total recipe.

**If you use granular splenda and add an additional 6 net carbs.

Strawberry Delight - 7.2 net carbs per serving

I have a Philadelphia Cream Cheese cookbook that has tons of recipes that I find easy to convert to low-carb. This one they call "Berry Delight". The following is my low-carb version of their high-carb dessert. My entire recipe has 86 net carbs (12 servings at 7.2 net carbs each). Strawberry Delight tastes so good that it's hard not to feel guilty about eating it. I have had 4 servings in 2 days and am still in ketosis. My wife absolutely loves this stuff. By the way, if you can't find the hazelnut meal or hood calorie countdown beverage, refer to ingredient substitutions listed at bottom.

12 Servings @ 7.2 net carbs each.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. hazelnut meal*
1/2 c. flax meal
1/2 c. equiv. to sugar**
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter melted
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
3 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream (liquid)
16 oz. strawberries hulled and halved
3 c. Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy***
2 packages sugar free vanilla instant pudding


1st Layer Instructions:

Mix hazelnut meal, flax meal, and 1/4 c. equiv. to sugar (8 drops sweetzfree). A pastry cutter works best. Once well mixed, press into bottom of a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish or cake pan.


2nd Layer Instructions:

Beat cream cheese, remaining 1/4 c. equiv. to sugar (8 drops sweetzfree) until smooth. Add 1 c. heavy whipping cream. Beat on high (whisk attachment preferred) until thick, light, and creamy. Spread over crust. Top with Strawberry halves.


3rd Layer Instructions:

Pour 3 cups of hood into mixing bowl (can use same bowl without cleaning). Add pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk for 2 minutes until smooth. Pour over cream cheese and strawberry layer. Chill for 4 hours. While chilling prepare 4th layer.


4th Layer Instructions:

Rinse mixing bowl. Put 2 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl. Beat on high (wire whisk preferred) until light and fluffy. Set in refrigerator while waiting. Once the 3 layer dessert has set and chilled for 4 hours, top with 4th layer whipped cream.


*You can substitute almond meal and add an additional 8 net carbs to total recipe (0.7 net carbs per serving).

** I use 16 drops of sweetzfree that has zero carbs. You can substitute granular splenda and add an additional 12 net carbs (1 net carb per serving).

***Can substitute 1 1/2 c. cream with 1 1/2 c. water and add 7 net (0.6 net carbs per serving).


Monday, October 1, 2007

Pancakes - 1.75 net carbs ea.

My wife and I experimented with pancakes this weekend. On Saturday, we tried Niki's "Oh.2.B.Fit" flax pancake recipe (click here). They tasted awesome but were a bit more like a crape in that they weren't very fluffy. Sunday morning, I read through a few different recipe books trying to figure out how to make pancakes and I came up with my own hybrid recipe. While Niki's taste a little bit better, my version had the pancake texture that we expect. The recipe follows.

These high protein, low carb, fluffy, melt-in-your mouth pancakes aren't much more difficult to make than using a commercial high carb mix. The entire recipe has only 21 net carbs and produces 12 pancakes at 1.75 net carbs each. If topping with sugar free syrup, be sure to add those carbs. Note that most sugar free pancake syrups often contain sugar alcohols. I suggest counting 1/2 of the carbs from sugar alcohols regardless if the front of the bottle says zero net carbs.

Ingredients:

8 oz. package cream cheese
4 eggs
1/2 c. soy protein powder (plain)
2 t. baking powder
4 T. oil
1/3 c. equiv. to sugar*
1/2 c. cottage cheese
dash of cinnamon


Instructions:

Preheat griddle to 300 degrees or pre-heat skillet. Nuke cream cheese on high for 1 minute to soften. Whisk until smooth. Add all other ingredients and whisk until well blended. The cottage cheese lumps will go away when cooked. Add a little oil, butter, or cooking spray to cooking surface. Pour 1/3 c. of batter per pancake. Cook on first side until tiny air bubbles pop leaving small holes in their place or as edges begin to show a hint of dryness. Then, flip and cook until other side is done.

*I used sweetzfree that has no carbs. If using granular splenda, add 8 net carbs to the entire recipe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Carb Blocker Supplements

All of the recent hype about the Alli fat blocker has me thinking once again about carb blockers. Back in January, I made a post about carb blockers, also called starch neutralizers. Typically, these are amylase inhibiting compounds extracted from "phaseolus vulgaris", a kind of kidney bean. They are supposed to prevent a portion of incoming starch from being broken down by the natural enzymes of the digestive system and turned into sugar. This blocks only starch carbs, not sugar. Theoretically, while on the blocker, we could eat pasta but not dessert. Even so, because they only block a portion of your starches, it would be impossible to know how many carbohydrates were actually metabolized.

I have not tried carb blockers myself. Before buying some, I want to know if any of my readers have had any experience with them? Are there any side effects? Do they actually work?

If my readers respond with no significant negative side effects and some reports of success, I think it may be worth buying some to experiment with. I think my first experiment may be to enter ketosis, take the inhibitor, eat a bowl of pasta and see if ketosis stops. Another good test would be to use a diabetic kit to see if blood sugar increases when eating starchy foods while on an inhibitor. Do any of you have other ideas of how to test the effectiveness of carb blockers?

I have not found very much quality information about these products. The following text is from a research paper titled, "A Dietary Supplement Containing Standardized Phaseolus Vulgaris Extract Influences Body Composition of Overweight Men and Women". The entire text can be found at http://www.medsci.org/v04p0045.htm.

How do the amylase inhibitors work? Before crossing the intestinal wall, all complex carbohydrates (i.e., starches) must be hydrolyzed to their monosaccharide units, in most cases glucose [14]. There are several enzymes involved in this process: a-amylase present in saliva and pancreatic juice, which converts complex carbohydrates into oligosaccharides, and various other enzymes (maltase, lactase, etc.) present in the brush border of the small intestine that convert these oligosaccharides to monosaccharides that can then be absorbed. Glucose and other monosaccharides generated through this process are transported via the hepatic portal vein to the liver. Monosaccharides that are not immediately utilized for energy are stored for future energy needs as glycogen in the liver or as fat (triglycerides) in adipose tissue, liver, and plasma [14].


We believe the mechanism behind the weight loss relies on the reported a-amylase-inhibiting activity of the Phaseolus vulgaris extract [15-19]. Phaseolus vulgaris
extract has been shown in vitro to inhibit the activity of a-amylase and may help promote weight loss by interfering with the digestion of complex carbohydrates to simple, absorbable sugars, potentially reducing carbohydrate-derived calories [30,31]. Also, slowing of the rapid absorption of carbohydrates would favorably influence the insulin system that could, in turn, lead to lesser fat accumulation [27]. We have previously shown in a rat model the ability of so-called “carbohydrate blockers” to prevent early absorption of rice starch and sucrose and prevent insulin resistance [32].


Even after reading this, I am not clear on how the carb blockers affect the pancreas and whether or not this is a health risk. Before trying carb blockers, I want to better understand how they work and the level of risk.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ketosis and Calories

Does anyone know if ketosis results in weight loss regardless of consumption of calories from fat and protein? It would seem that when in ketosis that the old adage of "calories consumed vs. calories burned" doesn't apply. I'm ultimately trying to figure out whether or not it is really beneficial to count calories while doing low-carb.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Altering Cycle Lengths

For those of you who are new, I do a form of carb cycling. I do 11 days of very low carb followed by 3 days of normal/high carbs. The total cycle repeats every 14 days. The intent is to keep the body's metabolism from adjusting to a constant low carb intake. Cycling makes life more pleasant. You usually circumvent cheaters syndrome and the guilt and negative self talk that go with it. This likely decreases the chances of quitting.

Recently, I have been reading about various carb and calorie cycle programs. And many people seem to think that the body's metabolism adjusts to anything you do consistently. So, the body may even grow accustomed to and resistant to carb cycling. For this reason, some people (mostly body builders) mix up their cycle lengths to "keep the body guessing".

Along these lines, I am contemplating officially changing my plan so that it is more flexible. This might entail that all carb ups must be 2 days separated by a minimum of 5 days down but no more than 21 days down. It would give me some opportunities to be more spontaneous. The variability would help keep my body from adjusting to a consistent plan. No decision has been made. I'll keep you posted if I change my plan to something along these lines. I'll have to run it by my wife and see if she'd like this better. The risk is that all cycles might wind up being on the short end of the spectrum. I am afraid to not have a fixed number of carb up days as it would open the doors to never returning to carb down days.

Recently, my weight loss has slowed substantially. There are a number of reasons for this. But, chiefly, it's because I have not yet gotten back into my regular cycles since returning from my 1 & 1/2 month leave from the diet plan. This leave was the result of staying with extended family followed by a beach vacation which was followed by my wife's birthday and a bad cold, etc. etc. I am sure I can think up a few dozen more excuses. I had expected my most recent cycle to be my first full 14 day cycle since returning. However, it got cut short due to... well... temptations...

Wednesday night, I was in Nashville. 15 co-workers decided to go to my favorite pizza restaurant, Mellow Mushroom. This is my favorite and hard to say no to, especially if it would mean eating alone or watching them eat it. The next day, I was to attend a catered business event where nothing on the menu was carb friendly. So, I decided to cut my 11 day down cycle short at 9 days. And to compensate, I did just one and a half days of carbing up instead of 3. Today, I am home and starting my next carb down earlier than I had anticipated.

However, I don't feel guilty. I was thinking about shaking up the cycles anyway. It's just a matter of figuring out a framework to give structure to a more flexible plan. And then to monitor closely to insure that it is working.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dreamsfield Pasta

On various discussion forums and blogs, I have seen discussions about Dreamsfield pasta. Recently one of my readers asked me to try it. I looked up the label for their spaghetti and replied that it was too high in carbs (37 net carbs). He said that only 5 g. was digestible. The label reads per serving:


"Total Carbohydrates 42 g.
Dietary Fiber 5 g.
...Soluble Fiber 4 g.
...Insoluble Fiber 1 g."


Now, anyone used to counting net carbs can quickly determine that 42 minus 5 is 37 net carbs per serving, right? So, then how come the front of the package claims 5 g. per serving? If you read the ingredients, you'll find that this product contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. I advocate following the American Diabetic Association's recommendation of calculating net carbs by counting 1/2 of the sugar alcohols as this is how much is digested on average. But, given that the label does not tell us how many of the carbohydrates come from the sorbitol, it is difficult to tell what the true effective carbohydrate count is!

It is likely that the sugar alcohol count per serving may be 32 (that is 42 total carbs - 5 fiber - 5 "net carbs"). If this is the case, I would calculate the effective carbohydrate count of one serving to be 21 (that is 42 total carbs - 5 fiber - 1/2 of 32 sugar alcohols). There is a huge difference between 21 net carbs and the 5 net carbs claimed on the package.

I personally feel that any product that boasts a low net carb count by excluding ALL of the carbs from sugar alcohols are intentionally being deceptive or else demonstrate the ignorance of the manufacturer. I abhore this practice as their claims could seriously hurt or kill some diabetics.

Now, the dreamsfield website does claim a glycemic index of 13, which is lower than normal pasta. So, it's not necessarily a bad product. I am unsure of how this relates to the true net carbohydrate count. But, it does mean that they are trying to be at least somewhat sensitive to people who need to keep an eye on their insulin. But, I still don't buy the claim of only 5 net carbs. What I am saying applies not only to their pasta but also just about every low carb product on the market that contains sugar alcohols.

A good fact sheet about sugar alcohols can be found on the following web site: http://www.ific.org/publications/factsheets/sugaralcoholfs.cfm. On it, they say:


An American Dietetic Association publication recommends that persons with diabetes managing their blood sugars using the carbohydrate counting method 'count half of the grams of sugar alcohol as carbohydrates since half of the sugar alcohol on average is digested.'


There is also a good article on http://www.lowcarb.ca/tips/tips010.html about sugar alcohols and their affects on low-carb dieters.

In August, 2005, Dr. Eades (co-author of Protein Power) posted a blog entry regarding sugar alcohols (http://www.proteinpower.com/drmd_blog/?p=8). In the blog entry, she stated:


"Our sort of ballpark standard means of calculating their effective contribution to a low carb diet, crude at best, is to count as usable about one-third to one-half of the sugar alcohol grams in a recipe or food. For instance, say the nutritional label of a protein bar proclaims 20 total grams of carbohydrate, 5 of which are fiber, 3 of which are starch and 12 of which are sugar alcohols. The label will likely state--usually in a big red or yellow starburst--contains only 3 grams net carb! Really? Depending on which sugar alcohol(s) contributed those 12 grams, some portion of them will be absorbed to contribute calories at the very least and raise blood sugar in sensitive individuals at the very worst. And, of course, what's not absorbed contributes to the gastrointestinal symptoms that occur with some of them. It would be more correct (not to mention more prudent for people struggling to lose weight and for the diabetic population) to count at least 4 and possibly 6 of those sugar alcohol grams as having an effect, for a total of 7 or 9 net grams. Just doing that little bit of math may help keep your weight loss going or your blood sugar in better control. "


There is another problem with Dreamsfield Pasta having sorbitol. This is that sorbitol has some rather nasty side effects. I haven't seen an actual Dreamsfield Pasta box up close. Can anyone tell me if it warns of diarreah or other side effects caused by the ingredient sorbitol?

Wikipedia has this to say about Sorbital:


Sorbitol can be used as a non-stimulant laxative by either in oral suspension or suppository form. The drug works by drawing water into the large intestine, thereby stimulating bowel movements.[2] Sorbitol has been determined safe to use in the elderly. [3]

and


Ingesting large amounts of sorbitol can lead to some abdominal pain, gas, and mild to severe diarrhea. Sorbitol can also aggravate irritable bowel syndrome and fructose malabsorption.


So, now you know my opinion. And, this is why I have not tried the pasta. I typically avoid sugar alcohols. There are a few products with them that are in my diet. I calculate my own "net carbs" and ignore the claims on the front of the package. As a matter of principle, the few of these products that I do allow in my diet come in packages that do not hide behind questionable claims and that clearly state the laxative effects. They don't seem to have a laxative effect on me, personally. So, this more of a matter of principle in supporting only companies that are honest and upfront with their consumers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ohio Renaissance Festival

This weekend, we went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, just North of Cincinnati. I was delighted to find their concessions to be very kind to my diet. Most meals consisted of things like turkey legs, "steak on a stake", chicken on a stick, etc. These items are perhaps not the most balanced meals but very low-carb and high in protein.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blog Tag

A while back, I was "tagged" by Breadless Mrs. B. This is a meme game that bloggers are playing where each person who is "tagged" is supposed to tag several other people. This chain asks that I post 8 interesting facts about myself. I'm not real fond of chain mails. But at least this one didn't threaten me with all kinds of terrible things that would happen if I were to break the chain. And, since I am starting to feel that I know many of my fellow diet bloggers, I guess it wouldn't hurt to share a little about myself.


  1. Back in college, I was a strict vegetarian for over six months. During this time, I was careful to get the proper nutrients and felt great. Sometimes I contemplate this while I am enjoying a nice big Atkins friendly steak.


  2. I have 3 more blogs that are not as active as this one: My Old Kentucky Homepage (photos of Kentucky), The Sky is the Limit (our son Skylar), and The Expecting Father (a pregnancy journal).


  3. We have a chocolate Labrador named Johann Sabastian Bark. He lives in our house and has severe allergies. After having tests run on him, we found that he allergic to just about everything that is commonly used to make dog food (corn, beef, dairy, fish, rice, etc.). He is also allergic to most insects and pollens. For a while, we gave him allergy shots but now control it mostly through a very strict diet. Regardless, he is constantly scratching and sheds more than most dogs.


  4. Our box turtle, Yertle, is named after a Dr. Zeus character. We have had it since he was the size of a quarter. I feel a bit guilty about keeping him in captivity. But, we can't release it to the wild as he might not know how to survive. The life expectancy of turtles is so long that future generations of my family will likely have to care for him.


  5. I consider myself a "neuronaut" and enjoy exploring and altering my perception of reality. As such, I frequently read books on philosophy, spirituality, psychology, and metaphysics. I am fascinated by dreams and meditation. Along these lines, I also believe that our expectations are a very powerful force influencing the world around us.


  6. I am a certified supply chain professional employed by an enormous manufacturing company. For the last two years, I have been working on a immensely complex global system implementation project. The project will impact over 30,000 users and has a budget of well over a billion dollars. Unfortunately my salary hardly amounts to a drop in this bucket. I love this line of work because I get paid to think and interact with interesting people.


  7. Years after the death of Jerry Garcia, I still listen to the Grateful Dead. Back in the 90's I often attended "rainbow gatherings". These gatherings basically amounted to dead heads hanging out in forests awaiting the next Grateful Dead tour. I have a great deal of respect for the rainbow tribe and aspire to be a bit more care free myself.


  8. I have visited 14 countries. Someday, I hope to have set foot on all seven continents.

As for tagging 8 more people, I am the weak link, the end of the road. Sorry to be a party pooper. I don't perpetuate chain mail.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lemon Birthday Cake - 7 net carbs

Today is my birthday. My wife made this awesome low-carb lemon cake. The frosting is light and fluffy. The cake tastes great and is similar to a pound cake in texture. I can't believe I stuck with my diet and still was able to eat birthday cake!

10 Servings at 7 net carbs each.


Cake Ingredients (47.7 net carbs):

2 sticks butter
5 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar equiv. *
1 T. vanilla extract
1 t. lemon extract
2 c. soy flour
4 t. baking powder
1 c. Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy **
1/4 c. vegitable oil
4 T lemon juice


Cake Instructions:

  1. Extract 4 T. lemon juice for batter.
  2. Beat butter. Add eggs and splenda. Beat in remaining ingredients.
  3. Coat cake or loaf pan in cooking spray.
  4. Add batter to 2 nine inch cake pans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.




Frosting Ingredients
(21.3 net carbs):

8 oz. cream cheese
1 t. lemon extract
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. sugar equivelent.***






Frosting Instructions:

  1. This frosting is easiest to make if you have a whisk attachment for your mixer. Whisk softened cream cheese until light and creamy.
  2. Add lemon zest, heavy whipping cream, and sweetener and whisk until light, fluffy, and thick.
  3. Once cake is completely cool, spread frosting.

*She used 36 drops of Sweetzfree. If you use a splenda quick pack, add 4 carbs to the entire recipe. If you use 1 cup of granular splenda, add 24 carbs.

**If substituting half and half, add 7 carbs.

***She used 24 drops of sweetzfree. If you use a splenda quickpack, add 4 carbs to the entire recipe. If you use 1 cup of granular splenda, add 24 carbs.

U.S. & Metric Measurements



The blue dots on the picture to the above represent the location of my blog readers on a typical day. Today's visitor locations can be seen at the bottom of my blog. Occasionally, I see viewers on 6 of 7 continents. The seventh continent is Antarctica where almost nobody lives.

Because of the international nature of my real job, I have recently become more aware of the fact that the United States (my home), Burma, and Liberia are the only three countries that have not yet accepted metric.

To assist those of you who are not familiar with U.S. (Imperial/English) measurements, I am posting a cross-reference guide. Even those of you who are familiar with U.S. measurements might find the "U.S. equivalents" section useful as it shows the fractions for converting from one U.S. unit of measure to another (teaspoons to tablespoons, tablespoons to cups, etc.). I am also including a brief list of common abbreviations that I often use on this blog. I hope you find this useful.


U.S. Cooking Measurement Abbreviations
c. = cup
T. = Tbs. = tbsp. = tablespoon
t. = tsp. = teaspoon
pkg. = package
lb. = pound
qt. = quart (4 cups)
lg. = large (often 29 oz.)
oz. = ounce
sm. = small
pt. = pint
med. = medium
gal. = gallon
sq. = square
approx. = approximately
min. = minutes
equiv. = equivalent



U.S. Cooking Measurement Equivalents
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 2/3 cup
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
6 tablespoons = 3/8 cup
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 1/6 cup
1 tablespoon = 1/16 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
2 pints = 1 quart
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
48 teaspoons = 1 cup



U.S. to Metric Capacity
1/5 teaspoon = 1 ml
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml1 fluid oz. = 30 ml
1/5 cup = 50 ml
1 cup = 240 ml
2 cups (1 pint) = 470 ml
4 cups (1 quart) = .95 liter
4 quarts (1 gal.) = 3.8 liters



U.S. to Metric Weight
1 oz. (ounce) = 28 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces
1 pound = 454 grams



Metric to U.S. Capacity
1 mililiter = 1/5 teaspoon
5 ml = 1 teaspoon
15 ml = 1 tablespoon
30 ml = 1 fluid oz.
100 ml = 3.4 fluid oz.
240 ml = 1 cup
1 liter = 34 fluid oz.
1 liter = 4.2 cups
1 liter = 2.1 pints
1 liter = 1.06 quarts
1 liter = 0.26 gallon



Metric to U.S. Weight
1 gram = .035 ounce
100 grams = 3.5 ounces
500 grams = 1.10 pounds
1 kilogram = 2.205 pounds
1 kilogram = 35 oz.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas - 3.7 net carbs each

After a year of experimenting with low carb cooking, I have come to realize that my wife and I are both getting pretty good at determining what will work and what won't. The result is better and better food all of the time. This might be one of my new favorite low carb meals.

We made chicken enchiladas. In place of corn tortillas, we used low carb crepes. And, they turned out fabulous! The entire recipe has 22.8 net carbs and makes 8 enchiladas. That is 3.7 net carbs per enchilada.

When we initially cooked these, I had thought that it was only 2 carbs per enchilada. But, when looking up the ingredients, I found quite a few "hidden" carbs in the the eggs, baking powder, and cheese. These are not ingredients that you typically think of as having carbs. But, they do add up.

We served our enchiladas with gensoy tortilla chips (5 net carbs for 10 chips) and Baja Bob's sugar-free zero carb margaritas. Fiesta time!


Makes 8 enchiladas at 3.7 net carbs each.


"Tortilla" shell ingredients:

4 eggs
2 egg whites
1 T. water
4 oz. cream cheese (nuke 1 min. to soften)
3 T. soy protein powder (plain)
1/2 t. baking powder
Butter for pan.


"Tortilla" shell instructions:

  1. Whisk the eggs and water by hand. Add cream cheese. Whisk. It may have little clumps, this is okay. Add soy protein powder and baking powder. Whisk until well blended. Using an electric mixer or over whisking may produce foam that is undesirable.

  2. Heat skillet on medium low setting. Add butter and swirl around until melted and coating the pan evenly.

  3. Each "tortilla" consists of 3 T. of batter. Pour into pan in a spiral motion, starting from the middle, working your way out. The entire "tortilla" should be 8 inches in diameter.

  4. Cook until edges start looking dry and "tortilla" is firm enough to flip. Cook on other side for a few seconds then remove from pan.

  5. Repeat steps 3 to 4 until all batter is used up.


Enchilada Ingredients


8 "tortilla" shells (see above)
3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
13 oz. can chicken
10 oz. can enchalada sauce
4.5 oz. can green chilis



Enchilada Instructions


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Coat casserole dish with cooking spray.

  3. In bowl, combine 1 cup of cheese, chicken, 1/2 of enchilada sauce, and green chillies.

  4. Wrap 1/8 of filling into each "tortilla". and place in casserole dish. Be sure to place the overlapping edges face down.

  5. Spread remaining enchilada sauce evenly over top.

  6. Top with remaining 2 cups of cheese.

  7. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Baja Bob's Sugar Free Margaritas

Tonight, we tried Baja Bob's sugar-free original margarita and strawberry margarita. I was pleasantly surprised. They're actually pretty darned good. I wouldn't hesitate to serve guests whether they are on a diet or not. These mixes make wonderful zero carb margaritas.

I suspect using rum instead of tequila would result in great daiquiris as well!

Hey, even if you don't want to drink alcohol, try making virgin ones. Or add some berries to make a low carb smoothy.

I am very happy to have discovered this mix am going to try the powdered version next. I bought it from netrition.com. I find myself buying a large number of specialty products there.

While we are on the subject of alcohol, does anyone know if alcohol could halt ketosis? I have read articles that claim alcohol slows weight loss and I have read articles that say there is no impact. Obviously a little won't hurt. But does anyone know if a night of heavy drinking might kick you out of ketosis? It's hard to tell for sure by analysing my food journal because alcohol causes dehydration. Therefore, the more I drink, the less I weight. But since this is a loss of water, I'm not sure of the impact on burning fat. Any words of wisdom will be appreciated.

I am hoping that I can honestly say that country music line, "Tequila makes my clothes fall off."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Status Update

As you may recall, I took a break from the diet from about mid-July to early August. And, I gained 15 pounds during the leave. This is what got me thinking so much about maintenance. I had really expected it to quickly melt off. But, it didn't come off quickly. I still have seven more pounds to lose before I am back where I was before I took the time off.

This weekend, I have been feeling a bit under the weather. I have a chest cold and quite a bit of congestion. Last night, I was at my in laws house and they had cooked chicken and dumpins'. Since I was feeling a bit ill, I thought that perhaps I could fight it off better if I altered my carb-cycle and made sick days normal carb days rather than low carb days. It makes sense to me that I should provide the nutrients when my body needs it most.

And, there's another dilemma. My wife and I both have birthdays coming up this week. So, I have not yet made up my mind how to time my carb-cycles around everything.

I'm still 80 pounds lighter than I was a year ago. And, I am way too close to my original goal of losing 100 pounds to give up. I think that these last 20 pounds are going to be very difficult to lose. I'm afraid that I might have to actually (gasp!) exercise to lose it. I had been hoping to avoid this...

So, for the next couple of months, I'm going to be studying various exercise plans. I'm not starting with an exercise plan until I feel I have a better understanding of which exercises will work best for my goals and lifestyle. It would seem that weight training would be the ideal for weight loss. But it's the lifestyle part that gets in the way. I travel with work. And, when on the road, I typically work late and have limited access to exercise equipment. I think I may be able to come up with some resistance training that doesn't involve weights (push ups, etc.). For now, I'll keep on studying. And, hopefully within a month or two I'll have a good idea of how to tackle the task.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Just received a low carb shipment!

My most recent order from netrition.com has just arrived! My grocery list is as follows:

  1. Da Vinci sugar free syrups -- Everyone keeps telling me to try these. So, I bought a few flavors to test out. I hadn't expected such huge bottles! I popped open the cherry one a moment ago. It tastes like grenadine. So, I poured some into a diet Pepsi. Not bad. I think I'll try to use the cherry to make snow cones.
  2. Splenda Quick Packs -- These have suddenly disappeared from the shelves in all of the grocery stores I frequent. So, I had to order through the mail.
  3. Xanthan Gum Powder -- This is a thickener. I decided to try it because it's the main ingredient in another product called "not sugar". It's not a sweetener, but some claim it creates a sugar-like texture. I'm hoping this will be the key to making better sugar-free cookies. Many people also use it as a thickener for gravy and jellies.
  4. Baja Bob's Sugar Free mixers -- Original margarita, strawberry margarita, and sour apple martini.
  5. Hazelnut Meal -- Good price, cheaper than buying at the local food co-op. You can use this for anything calling for almond meal and it's lower in carbs.
  6. GeniSoy Tortilla chips -- ripped this open as soon as it arrived. They're pretty good but a little higher in carbs than the other low carb chips I've tried. Why is taste and carbs always a trade-off?

The $4.95 for shipping is offset by not having to pay local sales tax. My total is $71.62 and I still have nothing in the house to cook for dinner.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Panera Bread Company Gives Up

I have been a huge fan of Panera Bread Company's low carb bread. It's the best tasting low carb bread I have ever had. And, I love that they will allow this as a substitution on any of their sandwiches! This is one of the only places where I can go out for a quick lunch and actually eat bread!

Well, I went to Panera today for lunch. And, they told me that they quit selling their low carb breads yesterday! The store manager told me that they simply didn't sell enough of it. She also told me that she thought that this applied to the entire chain and not just this one location.

I don't feel that they ever gave the low carb breads a fair chance. They listed them at the very bottom of their bakery menu. There was no mention of it on their sandwich menu. And, they never advertised the product. Most people on low carb diets typically avoid bakeries. So, without getting the word out, almost nobody on a diet would even know that it existed.

I would appreciate it if you would write Panera and ask for the return of low carb breads. Tell them that the product would not have failed if they had advertised it appropriately and displayed the option in a more prominent place on the menu. I don't know how much good contacting the company will do. But, it can't hurt. I absolutely loved their bread and the sandwiches options. I'm so saddened by this loss.

Write them using this form: http://www.panerabread.com/about/contact/

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Maltodextrin, Splenda, and the Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels. The higher the GI, the faster and bigger the corresponding insulin spike and thus potential weight gain.

Granular Splenda has 24 carbs per cup. I know that the label says "less than 1 g" but that is assuming a 1 teaspoon serving size. Sucralose is what makes Splenda sweet and it has virtually no carbs. The carbs from Splenda come from a filler called maltodextrin. This is used to give Splenda equal measure to sugar. The danger is that maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index of 105. This is 5 points higher than glucose which is 100. And, it is almost double that of table sugar which is around 59.

Don't get me wrong. Sugar has more than 8 times the carbohydrates of granulated Splenda. So, you are still better off eating granular Splenda. But carb-for-carb sugar is perhaps less unhealthy.

Splenda Quick Packs however are a special type of Splenda designed to quickly dissolve in liquids. Typically it is available in the KoolAide section of grocery stores. Splenda Quick Packs have less maltodextrin and only 4 net carbs per pack which is the equiv. to one cup of sugar. Therefore, if you are making a dessert that calls for one cup equiv. of sugar, using a quick pack instead of granular splenda spares you 20 carbs that would have had a high GI.

An even better alternative is Sweetzfree. Sweetzfree is a highly concentrated solution of sucralose in water. It has no filler other than the water and therefore has no measurable carbohydrates and no glycemic impact. This is what I use most often in my own kitchen. The price sounds high, $18.00 for a one ounce bottle. But keep in mind that this is the equivelent to 24 cups of sugar. It comes in a little dropper bottle. One drop equals a teaspoon of sugar. 1/4 teaspoon equals an entire cup of sugar. My wife sometimes keeps a small bottle of this in her purse. A single drop instantly turns tea into sweet tea. The downside is that Sweetzfree is only available online and due to limited supplies is only sold on certain days of the month. I'd love to see this product available in stores.

I wonder how long it will be before Splenda wisens up and sells concentrated sucralose? It seems that they are taking the other direction, combining granular splenda with regular forms of sugar marketed toward good tasting baked goods rather than the lowest carb diet baked goods. I would suspect that if they'd sell little dropper bottles that there'd be one heck of a market.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Favorite Low Carb Recipes

I have been experimenting in my low-carb kitchen for a year now. Here are my top ten low carb recipes in order of preference:

  1. Fettuccine Alfredo Impasta (3.5 net carbs)
  2. Brandi's Breading for Frying (1 net carb)
  3. Cinnamon Streussal Flax Muffins (2.5 net carbs)
  4. Kentucky Hotbrown (8 net carbs)
  5. Classic Cheesecake (6 net carbs)
  6. Buffalo Chicken Dip (4 net carbs)
  7. Bulgarian Shopska Salad (2.5 net carbs)
  8. Guacamole Dip (3 net carbs)
  9. Rainbow Slaw (4 net carbs)
  10. Corn bread (5 net carbs)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Carb Cycling Diet

With all of the attention we place on reducing carbs, it's easy to forget that carbohydrates are actually good for you! I have found carb cycling to be much easier from a will-power perspective and as a lifestyle change because we have opportunities to indulge every once in a while without feeling guilty. From my personal experience, cycling seemed to result in equal weight loss as low-carb every day.

I have just started reading "The Carb Cycling Diet" by Dr. Roman Malkov. So far, it is an excellent weight-loss book. The author, Dr. Malkov is a physician and exercise physiologist. He was a nutritional consultant for the Russian National Rowing team and now practices in New York City. His book provides several approaches for different lifestyles. While he clearly states that exercise will dramatically improve results, there are even instructions for those of us who are not combining the diet with exercise. I have been doing carb-cycling for several months now without exercise. My results have been pretty good. This book supports my theory that mixing in some normal or high carb days prevents a slowdown in your metabolism. The carb cycling diet approach aims at preventing the adaptation changes that occur when someone's behavior becomes repetitious.

Excerpt from book:


The Carb Cycling Diet rests on these four simple concepts:
  1. Your body's metabolism consists of two pathways: anabolism, in which you build muscle; and catabolism, in which you burn fat. You cannot do both at the same time.
  2. Therefore, you need to alternate between normal-carb days (which promote anabolism) and limited-carb days (which promote catabolism). Keep in mind that when we talk about limiting carbs, we're talking primarily about refined (bad) carbs.
  3. However, when you consume carbs on your normal-carb days, you also open the door to fat deposition, which usually takes place within the first few minutes of eating refined carbs.
  4. In order to prevent that fat deposition, on normal-carb days, anaerobic weight lifting exercises are most effective. On limited-carb days, aerobic exercises are most effective.

I will have to do a little more research on number 1. I had always thought that protein would build muscle regardless of carb intake. He basically says that if you are taking in less nutrients than you are consuming, that your body can't efficiently put these nutrients to use building muscle. I 'll have do some additional reading on protein and muscle growth.

Number 3 above shocked me. I'd like to know what studies back up this statement. It's just so hard to imagine that fat is deposited within a few minutes of eating! For this reason, it is suggested that you exercise before you eat, not after. Apparently doing so will cause the nutrients to be deposited in muscle rather than fat storage.

There's also quite a bit of talk in this book about slowing down the aging process and making the skin more elastic. The theory is rather complex involving triggers for the release of various hormones. I may post on this topic later, once I have read more and had time to think it over.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Over Ten Thousand Visitors

Today is a milestone for my blog. I have had over 10,000 visitors resulting in over 25,000 page views. At this time, I am getting close to 400 visits from unique IP addresses per week. When I started this blog one year ago, I never expected this many people to actually read it. I'd like to thank each of you for reading and commenting. And, I especially want to thank those of you who have put links out there that lead others to my site!

My hit counter keeps track of referrals. This basically gives me a list of the web sites that people were on when they clicked on a link to my site. Because of this, I know how many of you first stumbled upon my blog. The top sources of hits are:

  1. Google searches. The most common search is for "buffalo chicken dip" followed by numerous searches for "low carb" combined with various ingredients.
  2. Linda's Low Carb Menus and Recipes, a very good source of low-carb recipes and information.
  3. Low Carb Mania, a low carb blog feeds site run by PJ of The Divine Low Carb blog.
  4. My own Low Carb Blogs feeds site.
  5. MySpace.com news.
  6. Links from posts in lowcarber.org forums. Sometimes these are my posts, sometimes they are posts from people who are talking about me.
  7. Jimmy Moore's Low Carb Links site.
  8. Blog Lines. I'm not really sure what this site is. It looks like a way to setup personal lists of blog feeds.
  9. Yahoo.com searches on "low carb" combined with various ingredients.
  10. Various other low-carb blogs. As a matter of fact, I have discovered many great blogs by following my hits back to their referring URL's.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How did I get to be more than 100 pounds overweight?

I have been dieting for over a year now. During this time, I have experienced substantial weight loss. As I near my goal, I am contemplating maintenance plans. To figure out what maintenance plan would work best for me, I thought that I should ask myself, "How did I get more than 100 pounds overweight?" I think that I need to answer this question in order to insure that it doesn't happen again.

  1. Ballooned in 2005 and 2006 due to eating large dinners after 8:30 PM and then going directly to my hotel to sleep.
  2. Used vending machine snacks to boost energy during work day. The fatter I became, the more I needed sugar and starches to wake me up.
  3. Moved away from diet soda and started drinking regular Coke and Pepsi.
  4. Lunches usually came from fast food restaurants. French fries and sandwich buns became a staple in my diet.
  5. Had pizza for dinner more than once a week. Leftovers usually became breakfast.
  6. Had bread or pasta with just about every meal.
  7. Love to cook desserts and cookies. Loved eating them even more. The more sweets I ate, the more I craved.
  8. Often ordered dessert following dinner.
  9. Periods of depression did not necessarily result in eating heavier but definitely caused my metabolism to slow down.
  10. Especially on weekdays, I had little to no exercise (still true).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Low Carb Yum Yum Salad - 6.25 net carbs per serving

The other day, I made some of Niki's low carb frosting (4 oz cream cheese, 1/2 c heavy cream, and sweetener). It reminded me of a number of fruity salads and marshmallow dips. I thought this would make a good base for a number of low carb desserts.

One of my wife's favorite desserts is what she calls "yum yum salad. And, today, we made a low carb version. It's not quite as fluffy as the high carb version but it's still very good.

When buying your can of crushed pineapple, choose one that is in juice not syrup.

The entire recipe is 50 net carbs and makes 8 servins at 6.25 net carbs per serving.


Ingredients:

2 packages sugar free lime jellow
1 c. water
8 oz. crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup)
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. equiv. sugar (I used sweetzfree, zero carb)
1/4 c. crushed pecans

Instructions:

  1. In sauce pan, combine water and pineapple, including can's juice. Bring to boil.
  2. Stir in lime jello. Place in refrigerator. Allow to cool until syrup like but not solid.
  3. Meanwhile, put cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and sweetener in mixing bowl and beat on high. Use a whisk attachment if you've got it. Whisk until thick.
  4. By hand, stir together the cool but liquid jello with fluffy white mixture. Stir in nuts.
  5. Put into serving bowl and chill for at least one hour before serving.

Mount Olive No Sugar Added Pickles

A few weeks ago, I posted about my garden cucumbers. I was thinking about making low carb bread and butter pickles before I left town so that they wouldn't rot. Well, I must confess that I never got around the making them.


However, today, at the grocery store, I stumbled across Mount Olive No Sugar Added Pickles. These are pickles sweetened with sucralose. They actually make bread and butter chips, strips, and sandwich stuffers! And, while they're not quite as good as my home canned pickles, they're still pretty darned good. They also make sweet pickles and relishes.



Friday, August 17, 2007

Low Carb Blog Feeds

Are you looking for more blogs about low carb? I have recently added several sites to my low carb blog feeds site: http://lowcarbblogs.blogspot.com/.

Do you have your own low carb blog that has been up and running for at least a few months? If so, let me know about it and we'll add the feed.

Pastry Cutter, an Essential Tool

Typical pastry cutter.

I have come to realize that many of my readers don't have a pastry cutter and some don't even know what a pastry cutter is. This is a very cheap hand tool that can be found in just about any store that carries kitchen gadgets. I consider this tool essential for many of my low-carb dishes such as cheesecake crusts, crumbly topics, and biscuits. If you don't own one, you can use a food processor on pulse mode. But when using a food processor, it is very easy to over-do it. And, a pastry cutter is much easier to clean.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chipped Beef - 4.5 net carbs per serving

Here's another breakfast item. The irony is that there are thousands of good low-carb breakfast dishes out there but almost none of them are fitting when you're on the run... So this weekend, when you are not working, try this recipe. Or, fix it for dinner as my wife and I did last night. Sorry, but I didn't snap a picture before eating.

Each serving is enough to amply cover two slices of toast or 4 biscuits. Don't forget to add the carbs for whatever bread you are using.

Serves 2 @ 4.5 net carbs per serving.

Ingredients:

1 package dried beef (not jerky)
4 oz cream cheese
1 c. Hood calorie countdown
pinch of cayenne pepper
Pepper (to taste)

Instructions:

Put cream cheese, hood, and spices in sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until melted. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Chop up dried beef and add to mixture. Change temp to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until thick. Serve over low carb toast or low carb biscuits.

Sugar Alcohols

Vickie at Kickin' Carb Clutter has recently made a great post regarding sugar alcohols (click here to read her post).

I haven't discussed this topic here in quite some time. I often see people doing low-carb diets who are eating thes "low carb" products unaware that the sugar alcohols will sabatage their diets. They see 0 or 1 net carbs and think that they can eat as much as they want.

You'll find that most products advertised as low carb will boast the "net carbs" on the front of the package. This is very misleading as they typically subtract sugar alcohols from the total carbs. Sugar alcohols are partially metabolized by the body. Therefore, you should not subtract all sugar alcohols all from your net carb count. A good rule of thumb is to calculate net carbs by subtracting fiber and only 1/2 of the sugar alcohols. Regardless of the government's stance on sugar alcohols, advertising these products with a very low net carb is deceptive and bordering on fraud. And, it could be life threatening to those with diabetes.

Typically low carb ice creams boast about 3 net carbs per serving, but I usually count them as 5 or 6 net carbs due to the sugar alcohols. Candy boasting 1 net carb, I often count as 3 to 5 net carbs. Don't let the package fool you! Always do your own calculations!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Carb Cycling Benefits

As I have said before, I have no formal education in the area of nutrition. Like many of you, I fish through tons of diet information on the Internet looking for what seems logical. The following information is from the website of a Dr. Malkov, author of "The Carb Cycling Diet". I have not read his book (yet) and am not following his plan. But, the website does a good job of explaining the basic concept of carb cycling.

According to CarbCycling.com, there are four key benefits of a carb-cycling diet (CCD):



CCD reduces refined carbohydrate consumption. That alone gives your pancreas the luxury of a well-needed rest and prevents diabetes and cardiovascular complications.

After sessions of hormone releasing exercise, CCD boosts the level of anabolic hormones — HGH, and testosterone; and that's exactly what you need! When the diet is followed faithfully, it provides powerful anti-aging and health protecting
benefits.

CCD prevents rapid slowdown in metabolism associated with dieting and aging.

CCD prevents loss of muscle and bone.

Carb Cycling Question

I received the following e-mail from a reader:

All I can say is WOW. Your story sounds alot like mine- except- I am
female and 48 years young.

Would you mind explaining the CARB
CYCLING and how it works? I am very frustrated and do not want to stop
eating low carb but when you do not lose any weight for
weeks...

Thanking you for your wonderful stories of
inspiration. You and your wife are my new HERO'S. You both are proof
low car works.


My response follows....

No problem. And, thanks for the compliments. First, let me say that I am not a professional nutritionist nor doctor. All I know I have learned from books, online, and experimentation.

With regards to cycling. Usually carb cycling is used by body builders. They alternate low carb and high carb with the high carb days corresponding to their heavy workouts. These cycles are typically very short, often just a few days. They often refer to the carb-up days as "re-feeds". Even though I don't work out with weights, I looked at the body builder diet methods because these people typically have extremely lean bodies with lots of muscle and little to no fat.

I have also been reading online diet logs and discussion forums. I have noticed that most people doing Atkins and Protein Power lose a tone of weight the first few months and then the weight loss slows substantially and often results in stalls of weeks or months. It seemed to me that the body adjusts to the diet and the metabolism slows down to conserve energy and hang onto fat storage. Carb Cycling seemed like a logical means to keep the body from conserving energy.

My first experiment was about a month long and used a cycle of low-carb weekdays and high-carb weekends. I'd quickly gain 5+ pounds on the carb-up days and it'd fall off very quickly on the carb down days. I attribute this to water retention as carbs seem to make your body hold more water. I'm not sure if this is the carbs or the salt content in carby foods. I did not gain any weight but lost very little. It took my body about 3 days to slip into ketosis which only left 1 or 2 days for real fat loss.

Next, I adjusted the cycles. I wanted more time in ketosis, so I went to a two week cycle. This cycle consisted of 11 days low carb followed by 3 days high carb. Essentially, my wife and I took every other weekend off the diet. On the carb-up days, we ate whatever our bodies craved and often ate decedent desserts. My results doing this was a loss of about 5 pounds per month, the same as I was losing doing low-carb-all-the-time. One interesting difference is that I consistently lost almost exactly 5 pounds a month where-as on low-carb-all-the-time (excluding the first few months), I sometimes lost 10 pounds and sometimes lost nothing. But the average monthly weight loss was the same.

In conclusion, I can't tell you that carb-cycling works better. My personal experience is that my average weight loss is the same as on low-carb-all-the-time. But, it allows me more flexibility. If a diet is to be a way of life that you stick to forever, I need a lifestyle with flexibility. Carb cycling gives me this flexibility.