Thursday, December 25, 2008

Shifty Eggs, and More Reasons to Eat Your Anti-Oxidants

Check out this article from Dr. Jonny Bowden: Scrambled Eggs at the Buffet? Not So Fast!

Apparently, once you break up the yolks in eggs and expose them to air, the otherwise-not-bad-for-you cholesterol starts to oxidize and turn into actually-bad-for-you cholesterol. And the longer the exposure to air, the worse they get.

Luckily, I eat my scrambled eggs as soon as they're cooked so that they're nice and hot, but this information sorta sucks, since scrambled is the only way I trust restaurants to get my eggs the way I like them. (And even then, I get sick of choking down eggs for breakfast. I was always a bacon and home fries only kinda girl.)

Merry Christmas, everyone! One more thing to worry about!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Politics of Dieting

I realize that I don't blog here very much, and I think one of the reasons for this is that it is really, really hard to reconcile capital-"D"-Dieting with two things I truly believe in: feminism and fat acceptance. And, most of the time, I feel like it's really not worth all the effort it would take to try.

You see, when I read diet-related writing, I often find myself agreeing with a source's premises while disagreeing with its conclusions. Take this Gary Taubes article, for example. I think the research he refers to is crazy-fascinating. When he describes how diverse human bodies are in their calorie-burning/fat-storing abilities, I'm on the edge of my seat and wondering why society can't recognize that we aren't a bunch of predictable calories-in-calories-out machines. But he sort of loses me when he uses this information to prescribe a lower-carb diet for people who are more insulin-resistant in order to regulate blood sugar and prevent fat-storage. In other words, "if you're unlucky enough to be one of those people who easily stores fat, you are doomed to have to suck it up and ditch the bread and pasta." I guess I shouldn't be surprised by it, since it's Gary Taubes and that's what he's all about, but when you try to view the world from a social justice perspective, it just doesn't work.

When I am given information about how naturally different we all are, my brain doesn't translate that information into a belief that some people need to work harder in order to be like everyone else. Instead, I tend to think that there are deeply embedded problems with the ways in which we judge and punish people for not living up to societal ideas of what is and isn't "normal".

I find something SO wrong with our ridiculous cultural expectations: 1) that fat people need to make sacrifices of time, money, energy, and dietary satisfaction in order to become thinner, 2) that fat people must maintain for life whatever strict regimen they adopted to lose weight in order to keep it off, 3) that fat people are always able to lose weight in the first place if they just try hard enough, and 4) that all fat people even WANT to be thin.

I know that there will probably always be concern trolls who yell about how "fat is a health issue!" and "isn't it irresponsible to discourage people from trying to be thin?" I strongly encourage those people to visit here and to start thinking about the complexity of the issue of body size and shape. We are being completely unfair to people when we try to make judgments about someone's health by simply looking at her or his weight.

All that said, are you wondering why the hell I keep a blog about my own low-carb diet? Why do I "diet" in the first place? I often wonder about those same things myself. I think that for me, and for me alone, my personal reasons for doing it are pretty good, but it just bothers me that hardly anyone ever recognizes how completely political fat and dieting can be.

More on this later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great Gifts for Low-Carbers

Examiner Columnist Linda Duffy shares some great gift ideas for your favorite low-carb eaters. Skip the cookies, and bring on the meat! Can I just say that I would be ALL about a stocking full of Slim Jims?

Also, check out Jamie Van Eaton's lists of bacon-related gifts. The items on her list are great and all, but she fails to mention this kickass BACON WALLET that was given to me last year by my best friend, or the maple bacon lollipops I sent her in the mail. We have, however, discussed wearing those bacon tuxedos at my wedding.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Not That Easy


A couple of things about Oprah, because something about the way the low-carb blogging community is using her situation to promote their diets isn't sitting right with me.

I realize that by "coming out" with this story about her weight-gain, it can be said that she's opened herself up to a discussion about her body. But I see this magazine story as her attempt to respond to negative reactions and criticism she has likely received for her weight gain and not as an invitation for everyone to try and diagnose her "problems". I don't really need to drop links here, because it seems like pretty much everyone has weighed in on it, and they all have the same thing to say.

Like other low-carb bloggers, I feel for Oprah, but not because "She's just been on the wrong diets, and she would have it sooooo easy if she just cut out the carbs!", but because it's ridiculous to me that anyone is making this big of a deal out of 200 pounds. And, frankly, I'm not convinced by this implication that it's easy for everyone to be thin if they only cut down on carbs.

Why do we presume we have all the answers? Based on the weights/sizes/photos they choose to share, not a single low-carb diet blogger I have ever read has a body that is thin or perfect enough for the Hollywood standard set for people like Oprah.

And another thing. Low-carb bloggers who also happen to be doctors aren't her doctor, and it bothers me that, through speculation alone, these folks can presume to announce to their readers that Oprah surely suffers from insulin resistance, or she obviously has some sort of fetal whatchamacallit syndrome.

Just. Stop.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Have a recipe you'd like to share with 50,000 readers a month?

Famous low-carb blogger and Examiner columnist Jamie van Eaton wants your recipes:
Instead of constantly trying to reinvent the low-carb cheese wheel, I am going to begin featuring the recipes of people nationally (that's you, adorable dollops of cooking wisdom). My kitchen can only take so much, and my children are having PTSD from the fear that everything I make contains cauliflower or oopsies.

So, if you have a recipe you'd like to share, shoot it my way. I'll gladly credit you for your brilliance and link to your site. With over 2 million readers alone in the last week at's site, your recipes will be noticed!

Contact me at and let me know about what you have going on in the kitchen.

The fine print: Make sure you own the rights to the recipes you submit. I always give full credit for intellectual property, and recipes definitely fall under this heading. I do not in any way take your rights to your work, nor will I ever publish anything you have submitted without express consent to do so. If anything, cross-promotion will drive traffic to your site, and that is a bonus. Please ensure recipes are low-carb, and, when possible, include nutritional information and a picture of the recipe.
Details are at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why I Read PastaQueen

This post hit home:
The worst thing about weight loss is that I created a more perfect version of myself. When I reached my lowest weight of 170 pounds and looked in the mirror, my reflection spun herself off into her own world of possibilities where she still exists today. No matter how much I weigh for the rest of my life, I will always know that on one day in November of 2007 I was that thin.

I was never a skinny child. I never had a thin version of me to compare myself too. I only had the morbidly obese Jennette who spun herself into her own world of possibilities, one that exists in a parallel dimension from the skinny version. When I was losing weight, I would compare my current body to the fatter version of me. I could hang out with this fatter friend of mine in my mind where she made me feel skinny in her shadow. Even at 230 pounds I was 140 pounds lighter than the fattest me.

This year I've been dealing with chronic pain, the stress of a book release, and a variety of other happenings that are not ready for blogdom. Eating well and exercising shifted from being my top priority to being number four or five in my top ten life priorities, so I gained 20 pounds. On the way down I compared myself to the fattest version of me, but on the way up I compare myself to the thinnest version of me. Instead of seeing myself as 170 pounds lighter, I see myself as 20 pounds fatter.

I know this is silly. I know I'm not obese. I look in the mirror and think I'm pretty. I'm grateful that I can run and squat and cross my legs. I'm in better health than I've been for most of my life. But sometimes I resent making a slightly more perfect version of myself. I hate that I judge myself against her. I hate that other people compare me to her. I hate that I know I could be her again if I worked harder or cared more. I hate that she's out there, existing as a possibility I one day made flesh, but faded out of reality and into the mirror world of what-ifs.

I was close to putting a bunch of those line in bold type, but I think it all just speaks for itself.

Friday, November 7, 2008

On The Many Uses of Splenda

It's very rare that I find something I can post about both here and my other blog. (Feminism and low carb eating don't seem to cross paths as often as you would think.) But this is just too good to not report.

Have you heard of KY Yours and Mine? In case you haven't, here are the commercials:

What does this have to do with low carb eating, you ask? Apparently one of the ingredients in the "his" lubricant is sucralose!

Do you think the makers of Splenda ever imagined, beyond their wildest dreams, that their product would ever accomplish so much?

(For the rant about why only the men's lube gets to be sweetened, click here.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Delicious Vegan Chicken Conundrum

I realize it's in no way low-carb, but I nevertheless developed an infatuation with the General Tso's Vegan Chicken from Whole Foods after having it at a school event. I went there the other day to buy some, and when they put it in a to-go container for me, they stuck a label on it listing all of its ingredients. Here they are, exactly as they are listed:
Soy Popcorn Chicken (Non GMO Soybean Protein, Condensed Wheat Protein, Water, Soybean Oil, Sea Salt, Vegetarian Seasonings, (Soybean Amino Acids, Dry Mushroom Powder, Vegetable Extract, Sea Salt), Broccoli, Sauce (Shoyu (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt, Brewing Starter (Aspergillus Sojae)), Sugar, Stir-Fry Sauce (Water, Sugar, Soy Sauce (Water, Salt, Soybean, Wheat Flour), Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Yeast Extract, Caramel Color, Flavors (Contains Mushroom Extractives)), Mirin, White Wine Vinegar, Mushroom Soy Sauce, (Water, Soy Beans, Wheat Flour, Salt, Sugar, Extract of Mushroom), Garlic, Onion, Ginger, Vegetable Base (Salt, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dehydrated Vegetables (Leek, Tomatoes, Onions, Bell Peppers, Garlic, Fennel), Natural Flavors, Maltodextrin, Potato Starch, Spices and Natural Coloring (Tumeric), Silicon Dioxide), White Pepper) Garlic, Chinese Cooking Wine, White Wine Vinegar, Sugar, Canola Oil, Chili-Garlic Sauce, Green Onions, Chili Flakes, Cornstatch Contains: Soy, Wheat.

(To put this all into context, my friend and I have started experimenting with expanding our typical low-carb menus to follow a low Glycemic Load plan which allows slightly more wiggle room as far as sugar goes, but still places strong restrictions on starches.)

So here's my dilemma. When I eat the General Tso's Vegan Chicken, I find myself assuming that I'm eating something similar to meat as far as protein and whatnot are concerned. Am I wrong? I have no illusions about how sugary the sauce is, but the frequency of the word "wheat" and the presence of the word "starch" makes me worry that I'm actually just eating meat-flavored carb-nuggets. And the sheer number of weird ingredients is sort of a shock after following a diet where most of the ingredient lists for the items I buy are short and mostly natural.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gherkin Gherkin

Who knew that Vlasic makes "No Sugar Added" sweet pickles sweetened with Splenda?


I picked these little babies up at the grocery store last week and finally popped the jar open last night to enjoy a couple. My observations?

If you're a Splenda enthusiast and tend to enjoy sucralose in all its forms, then these pickles may be a dream come true for you. For me, however, I find that Splenda functions differently on my taste buds in different foods, and the experience of eating these pickles was a little like that of drinking diet soda.

My reaction was not pleasant. Pickles are not supposed to have an aftertaste! I think I'll stick to dills.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Life-Changing Information!


There's a step-by-step tutorial at the blog Polliwog's Cakewalk on how to cut a bell pepper without leaving seeds on the pepper or the cutting board.

My life just got a lot easier.

(Via CRAFT Magazine)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Write Letters

Dear Subway,

Thanks a whole heck of a lot for switching ALL of your packeted salad dressings to fat free. Was that really necessary? That tiny packet of ranch you tried to give me for my grilled chicken salad today had fourteen grams of carbs in it. Fourteen! It should have been obvious from the bacon and cheese on my salad that I'm not afraid of a little fat. I don't need or appreciate your futile attempts to keep me "healthy" by offering me a gross-tasting, sugar-filled version of my dressing of choice. I'm cool with you offering more choices of dressings to satisfy consumer demand for lower calorie options. I understand that customers like me who refuse your crackers but want extra bacon and full-fat dressing are rare. But come on! What kind of establishment stops keeping around good old trusty full-fat ranch dressing?!

And that little flimsy plastic side-cup of usually-for-sandwiches ranch you ended up giving me? The one you assured me was regular ranch? It popped open and spilled all over the inside of my to-go bag before I even made it to the car.

You suck.


(In other news, I did I quick Google Search to see if I could easily find a Subway picture or logo to put with this post, and I found this. Is it weird to anyone else that this exists?)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lazy Sunday

My lunch:

-4 slices of summer sausage
-2 sharp cheddar cheese cubes and 2 pepper jack cheese cubes (1 oz. total cheese)
-green pepper slices
-wedge of raw cabbage
-baby corn
-a pickle spear
-2 WASA fiber crackers (each 4g net carbs)
-ice water to drink
-a piece of sugar-free chocolate candy for dessert

My fiance's lunch:

-a big bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese
-a can of Pepsi

My plate was fresh, colorful, nutritious, delicious, and incredibly filling. For once, I wasn't jealous of Dan's carb-filled meal. I won't say that there aren't times when I wouldn't prefer mac and cheese to fresh veggies, but today, my meal was exactly what I wanted.

Besides, I learned this about Pepsi this week. So even though it's pretty much my favorite liquid, that image will hopefully make me think twice before downing a can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Why must I live in a culture that stuffs fattening foods down my throat, yet mistreats people who are fat?"

-Jennette Fulda, at her blog Half of Me

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In case you were wondering...

My eating choices last night resulted in some sluggishness and extreme shortness of breath (reactive hypoglycemia, anyone?), and a ragin' case of indigestion when I woke up this morning.

My body hates me so much more than it did ten -- even five -- years ago. Either that, or it's having some sort of awakening of consciousness and starting to speak up for itself when I treat it poorly.

Sigh. Time to go out to breakfast and begin to undo the damage with a nice omelet and lots of water.

Mmmmm. Cardboard.

A reflection on a night of carb-consumption:


Committed low-carbers often write in their books and blogs about how, after eating mostly whole low-carb foods, processed starchy foods (like the chicken alfredo pizza I had for dinner and the Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies I had for dessert) taste like cardboard.

And you know what? They're right. After just over a year of experimenting with this way of eating, I'm starting to notice that, too. It's mostly in the texture, and sometimes even in the taste, but pretty much anything made with refined white flour just seems, well, cardboardy. I can't think of any better way to describe it.

But here's funny thing. This obvious cardboardiness doesn't make me stop wanting those foods, and it still doesn't keep me from finding them completely and utterly delicious when I eat them.

Will I ever get to the same point as the die-hards who can actually turn up their noses at sugary, floury, pre-packaged chocolate chip cookies? Maybe it's something that will come with more time, or maybe eating them here and there is a habit I will never fully break.

I mostly wonder if this new food-awareness will lead to my eventual distaste for starchy foods, or if it means I'm meant to start finding actual cardboard more and more delicious.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Which Starbucks Misses Its Chance to Make Me Happy

Question for fellow low-carb enthusiasts:

Do you hate coffee shops as much as I do?

Maybe I shouldn't be so bitter about them, considering how much I used to love them. I spent an obscene percentage of my undergraduate career at a coffee place where I enjoyed sugary mocha beverages and giant everything bagels at least three times a week.

But these days, I avoid coffee shops like the plague. Even though I can tolerate the hassle of confusing the barista by asking for coffee with heavy whipping cream and Splenda, there's never a single food item I can order without blowing my carb allowance for the entire day. (Unless I want to lick cream cheese off a spoon, which I am not above doing.) For me, making the switch to low-carbing pretty much meant kissing coffee shops goodbye.

Which also meant kissing convenient and casual meeting/chatting/time-killing places with friends goodbye. I've said it before, and it bears repeating: The world is NOT friendly to low-carbers.

I didn't get my hopes up too much when I heard that Starbucks had decided to introduce new food items to their menu to try to pull themselves out of their sales slump, but I was secretly hoping that they would read my mind and start serving sausage, bacon, and western omelets. It turns out that they failed to take me into consideration at all. Their new, "healthier" breakfast menu includes oatmeal, apple bran muffins, and fruity granola bars. This USA Today article lists all the new stuff, along with each item's calories, fat, fiber, and protein, but numbers for sugar and overall carbs are nowhere to be found. Wonder why! And don't bother trying to find that info at the Starbucks website, either. All they do when you click on "food" under "nutrition" is list the items.

The only new offering that initially caught my eye was the "Power Protein Plate", but then I read the description:
An on-the-go snack of Cheddar cheese, fresh fruit, hard-boiled cage-free egg, whole-wheat bagel and peanut butter.
Depending on what kind of fruit it is and if the peanut butter is natural, I suppose if I was in a pinch I could order that and toss the bagel, but it's still not quite impressive enough to lure me to Starbucks. It's a step in the right direction for sure, but just misses the mark.

I think I'm just going to continue avoiding coffee shops while I'm trying to stick to my eating plan. I don't know if I can imagine a suckier scenario than sitting in a Starbucks with a sugar-free coffee and hard-boiled egg when there are giant pastries and pieces of cheesecake staring back at me from the display case.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Advertising Fail

You know, if the best thing you can say about the product you're trying to sell is that it's "Fine in Moderation", I think you've got some problems. Check out this new ad campaign that's actually promoting high fructose corn syrup:

High Fructose Corn Syrup: It May Not Kill You Immediately, So Go Ahead and Eat Some!

Easy Lunch: Chicken Stir-Fry in Cabbage Cups

I'm totally lazy when it comes to cooking meals, so I tend to eat a lot of quick stir-frys made with frozen vegetables and chicken or steak you can buy already pre-cooked. Heat some oil in a skillet, throw in the veggies and meat, add some garlic powder, a few red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and maybe a little bit of soy sauce, and that's it. It's not gourmet, but it's really quick, easy, and yummy. And, depending on which frozen vegetable mix I use (I usually allow some carrots and a few peas despite their starchiness), a big serving is always less than 10 carbs.

I was in the mood for one of these easy stir-frys the other day when I remembered I had a head of cabbage in the fridge. It only added a couple of extra minutes to my "ccoking" time to wash and half the cabbage, remove the flimsy leaves, and find some nice, firm bowl-shaped leaves in the center perfect for filling up with my chicken and veggies.


The result was a deliciously crisp lunch I could hold in my hand and munch on while I watched TV. I kept a fork handy in case of spillage, but it turns out I didn't even need it.


I use Oscar Meyer's Grilled Chicken Breast Strips, by the way, and I dice it up to make it easier to eat. The Oscar Meyer is much more tender than Tyson's version, which always seems kind of slimy and unappetizing to me. I like Tyson's pre-cooked steak strips just fine, though.

Creepiest Low-Carb Dish Ever?


A blogger at created this Jar Jar Binks Salad, sculpting Jar Jar's head entirely out of jicama, dying it with food coloring, and using it as the centerpiece for a shredded veggiesalad.

My first thought was: Why Jar Jar? Of all the cool Star Wars characters to choose from (my personal favorite was always this one, who can be seen in cake form here), Jar Jar Binks is totally the most annoying one. But the blogger explains:
Like just about every other kid growing up in the late twentieth century, I could never get enough of Star Wars. So it’s no surprise that a grown-up Jedi-wannabe with a knack for the culinary arts would turn to Star Wars food carvings for entertainment.

There was just one problem… after hours of carving, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to destroy my handiwork. After all, who wants to squash a sweet potato that’s been lovingly crafted to look like Admiral Akbar? Or demolish a Daikon radish in the form of cult hero Boba Fett? Not me, that’s for sure.

But what if I could create a Star Wars figure that I wanted to destroy? Surely then I’d be able to slice into it without remorse. Choosing a character did not turn out to be difficult.

Jar Jar Binks was easily the worst thing about The Phantom Menace. If I could create a scrumptious salad out of him and serve him up with a tasty crostini, perhaps I might have my revenge.

Jicama proved to be just the right medium for my sculpture — it’s a tuberous root vegetable that is perfect for food carvings. It’s crisp, cuts easily and doesn’t dry out quickly. Jicama doesn’t taste like much but readily absorbs the juices and flavors of a marinade or sauce.

Oh, now I get it. I don't think I'd want to spend hours carving one myself, but I suppose if a jicama Jar Jar Binks was presented to me, I might also find a little joy in slicing into his head and eating some. It's low carb, after all!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Goodbye, Water Weight!

Want to know what you can eat to keep yourself from feeling bloated?

Hint: It ain't low fat, and it ain't grain.

After being on a bit of an eating bender over the last couple of weeks, I was really starting to feel the effects of all of the pizza, cookies, potato skins, cheesecake, and Pepsi. So now that my vacation is over, I decided to go back to a strict version of my low carb way of eating. Here's what I ate yesterday:

-a low-carb, no sugar breakfast shake (specifically, an Atkins Chocolate Royale shake)

-some pepperoni slices (with no fear of nitrates!)

-2 bunless grilled hamburgers, topped with full-fat provolone cheese and thick-sliced bacon and some edamame

-a bunless grilled all beef hot dog, topped with full-fat shredded cheese and a salad with full-fat ranch dressing

-a coconut & coffee flavored iced smoothie made in the blender with sugar-free chocolate protein powder, cocoa, and some full-fat heavy whipping cream

I also drank water with my meals instead of soda and had a few extra glasses of water throughout the day.

When I woke up this morning, I weighed five pounds less than I did yesterday morning. FIVE POUNDS. I'm not even exaggerating.

For those of you who are reading this and thinking to yourselves, "So what? It's just water weight!" I only have this to say: "WHO CARES?! I still dropped five pounds in one day! Without limiting calories! While getting plenty of energy from protein and veggies and not starving myself in any way!"

I always hate it when people try to dismiss the amazingly quick results of low-carb diets with their snooty "It's just water weight" comment. It's not like I really believe that I magically lost 5 pounds of actual body fat just by cutting out sugar and bread yesterday, but those five pounds still make a difference in the way I feel today and in the way my jeans are no longer cutting into my midsection. They still mean something. And while these five pounds may be from my body getting rid of excess water, the naysayers can't tell me the other forty-five pounds I've lost on Atkins were "just water weight".

I think it's valuable information (for dieters and non-dieters alike) that a little low-carbing is the perfect cure for bloating. It's knowledge that can come in handy when you've got something important coming up and you don't want to feel there's an inflated balloon in your stomach.

Case in point: Even though I plan to enjoy pasta and sugary cake at my wedding in a few months, you'd better believe that I'll be skipping the bread at the rehearsal dinner the night before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



Or just sweeten it naturally and calorie-free, while still managing to taste delicious.

My free box of Truvía arrived last week, thanks to the fabulous Amy Dungan (who is now the new low-carb colunmist for the St. Louis Examiner), and I'm excited to confirm the opinion she gave in her review of the stuff. It tastes great, even right out of the package. Now it just needs to come to supermarkets so I won't have to order it online all the time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On "Extreme" Dieting

US Magazine has a slide show up of their named "Weight Winners", a group of female celebrities who have lost pounds over the past year.

None of the weight changes were extreme (or in any way necessary), unless you count the three women who were pregnant in their before pictures (Gee. Wonder why they got slimmer!) The only one in the group who is not overtly praised for weight loss is actress Hillary Duff:

At the age of 15, press criticism drove the actress to drop an estimated 30 pounds on an extreme no-bread, no-sugar diet. After learning to be healthy, Duff, 20, is back to 109 pounds. "I'm happy with my body," says Duff.

I agree with the sentiment here that it's sad when criticism of someone's weight drives them to diet, especially when that someone is a teenager, but there is absolutely nothing "extreme" about a "no-bread, no-sugar diet". Statements like this imply that sugar is something our bodies require to function, when this is entirely not true. Our bodies have requirements for protein, fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, but there is NO bodily requirement for sugar, or even carbohydrates in general. Just because the typical American diet has become completely saturated with refined carbohydrates does not mean that this is what is best for us. Healthy diets should not be called "extreme" just because they differ from the norm.

Granted, I don't know all the details of Hillary Duff's "extreme" diet -- she could have also been severely limiting fat and calories and starving herself for all I know -- but if all it entailed was giving up sugar and bread, there's really no cause for alarm. Whatever "learning to be healthy" meant for Hillary, we don't get to find out. It could mean eating more whole foods, adding protein, or simply not starving herself, but this short statement implies that she got healthier by adding sugar and bread back into her diet. And that's a bunch of crap, if you ask me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

NITRATES! Booga booga!


(I really just wanted an excuse to post this rad picture.)

Don't you love it when you find out that something you thought was unhealthy is actually not nearly that bad for you after all? Sandy Szwarc at the blog Junkfood Science has a super-long and detailed post debunking the myth that the nitrates and nitrites found in most processed meats are the cause for alarm they've been made out to be. Especially since there are tons more nitrates in leafy green vegetables than in meats, anyway, and even our own bodies produce far more nitrates than we would ever be able to consume from eating cured meats.

The article is long, but totally interesting, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever wasted precious time picking up every package of bacon in the supermarket to check the ingredient list for nitrates or wasted precious money buying a more pricey (and sometimes less tasty!) brand just because it said "nitrate-free". Low-carbers have it hard enough without facing limits when it comes to meat, so I propose we drop nitrates from the list of things to worry about.

Bring on the hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, salami, sausage, and beef jerky! Whee!

I'm a Winner!

I just found out that I'm one of the winners of low-carb blogger Amy Dungan's drawing for a FREE box of the brand new natural no-calorie sweetener Truvía.


This is especially awesome, since the sweetener is not yet available in stores (it can only be ordered from their website), and I'm so finicky about non-sugar sweeteners that I was reluctant to spend money on an order with shipping costs. In her review of Truvía, Amy called it "I-could-eat-it-straight-out-of-the-package-good," so I'm totally excited to try it.

Check out Amy's blog Healthy Low-Carb Living for more info on Truvía and for a great resource for low-carbing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wendy's FAIL


(Via FAIL Blog)

KItchen Adventures: The Jicama, Pt. 2

I did some poking around, and it seems that jicama is normally consumed raw and chilled -- sliced or julienned and eaten in salads, slaws, and salsas. The most common recipe I found is to just enjoy slices drizzled with lime juice and chili powder. Easy enough. I might dedicate about a fourth or fifth of the monstrous jicama I bought to this to give it a try. I'm also pumped to see if raw jicama slices please me as something to dip in guacamole in place of tortilla chips.

I also saw in a couple of places that the jicama's apple-like texture lends itself well to recipes that would normally call for apples. Just sweeten it a little more with some Splenda and use it in a nice low-carb "apple" dumpling or something.

While all of this sounds promising, what I've really been craving is something hot, crispy, and salty. Something all-American that can be the ultimate low-carb side dish to the easy bunless hamburgers and hot dogs I eat a few times a week out of convenience. What I really want is something to fill the void left in the absence of french fries, potato wedges, and baked potatoes. And (for me, anyway) cauliflower does NOT fill this void. Am I expecting too much of the jicama?

I remembered that Jamie had posted this jicama hash brown recipe at the Low-Carb Examiner, and I'll probably try it, but I'm skeptical, because I tried something similar with zucchhini once and found it totally repulsive.

And then there's THIS, which looks completely, amazingly, mouth-wateringly delicious, but with 48 grams of sugar per serving, is not quite practical for my purposes. Anyone know of a no-carb substitute for honey?

Kitchen Adventures: The Jicama


I bought my first ever jicama at the gocery store last night. It was even uglier than I imagined it would be.

Time to figure out what the heck to do with it. I'm fantasizing about low-carb french fry substitutes, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much. I'm sure I'll be reporting back what I find out.

Update: See Kitchen Adventures: The Jicama, Part 2 for more.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recipe: Broccoli-Tofu Casserole

This is a dish I came up with by modifying a recipe from the back my frozen broccoli package to make it lower in carbs and by adding tofu to make it more substantial. (I started using tofu in casseroles because of Karen Barnaby's Tofu-roni and Cheese recipe from her book The Low Carb Gourmet.) I had a helping of this casserole today as a side-dish to a couple of grilled pork fillets. It was a delicious lunch!

Broccoli-Tofu Casserole

1 package frozen broccoli
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into tiny cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 stick of butter (4 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup soy flour
3/4 cup Calorie Countdown (or other milk substitute)
garlic powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
french fried onions for topping (I use French's cheddar-flavored fried onions.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare broccoli according to package directions. Drain broccoli and spread into a greased casserole dish with tofu cubes, distributing the broccoli and tofu evenly in the bottom of the dish. In a saucepan, melt the butter on medium-low heat and mix in the soy flour, stirring constantly as a paste forms. Add the Calorie Countdown and cheese and stir until cheese melts. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Pour over broccoli and tofu in casserole dish, and top with a layer of french fried onions. Bake for twenty minutes. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

This is a totally customizable recipe. It can be made with or without the tofu, with or without the broccoli, with vegetables other than broccoli (cauliflower or green beans come to mind), or with different cheeses, and you can experiment with different low-carb toppings. I like the strong taste of the french-fried onions, but crushed pork rinds could be used to save some carbs. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Low-Carb Desserts Taste Good. No, really!

First off, I have to admit that it has taken me -- and is still taking me -- a LONG time to get used to artificial sweeteners. Just a year ago, that little Splenda logo on sugar-free stuff at the grocery store caused me to sigh with defeat and put it back on the shelf. Even worse was when I would get some exciting new sugar-free product home only to try it, find it disgusting, and then notice a tiny Splenda symbol hidden somewhere on the back of the packaging. I just hated the aftertaste. Items made with sugar alcohols (like malitol, xylitol, etc.) tasted so much more normal to me, but eating them in more than teeny tiny amounts can cause some really interesting digestion problems, from strange stomach gurgles to frequent trips to the bathroom.

I don't know if I'm just finally warming up to it or if I'm slowly learning which foods I can handle it in, but I don't have such an aversion to Splenda anymore. The turning point for me was trying Breyer's Carb Smart ice cream. I don't say this very often about low-carb products, but this amazing stuff is every bit as good as regular, sugar-filled ice cream. From there, I started to overcome my fear of low-carb dessert recipes that use Splenda, and life has been much better ever since.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to share that I just made low-carb guru Dana Carpender's Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownies, for which she shares the recipe in this post on her blog. I'm so glad she posted it there, since I apparently hadn't looked closely enough through her book 500 More Low-Carb Recipes to notice it on my own. I'm inspired now to look through all of her books and try more of her desserts.


The texture is somewhere in between being cakey and fudgey, which I love. And instead of being chewey like typical brownies, they almost melt in your mouth. Dad and I were totally in love with these brownies right out of the oven and plain, but Mom thought they needed something to tone down the rich, dark chocolately taste, so she topped hers with a little whipped cream and she was good to go.

For this first attempt, I did everything exactly by the recipe, except I added walnuts to the batter instead of sugar-free chocolate pieces. I have a much higher tolerance for sugar alcohols than my Dad does, and since I knew he was going to be sharing these with me, I decided against using the Hershey's Sugar-Free dark chocolate bars I had on hand. When I make them just for me, I'll definitely cut up the chocolate bars and throw them in, too.

I'm also interested in trying them without the tablespoon of instant coffee. I wonder if the coffee helps the recipe by masking the flavor of the protein powder and the almond meal, or if it's just to make them interesting. I'm excited to experiment with substituting or combining it with other flavors like coconut extract or DaVinci's sugar free syrups.

I challenge anyone to actually cut this batch into 25 tiny squares like Dana recommends and still only enjoy one at a time, but the carb count is still pretty low even if you eat two or three little ones or cut them bigger. And having a low-carb dessert this delicious to look forward to makes mealtime way more exciting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What's for Dinner? Sausage and Cheese "Biscuits"

Who says you can't enjoy delicious breakfast sandwiches for dinner? These took me a little more time than a trip through a McDonald's drive-thru, but they were WAY more delicious, nearly ZERO carbs, and since I'm rarely up early enough to make the fast food breakfast cut-off time anyway, I've got nothing to complain about.

First, I took a little time this afternoon to whip up a batch of blogger Jamie Van Eaton's now-famous Revol-Oopsie Rolls. (Long story short: a mistake she made in the recipe for Atkins' Revolution Rolls ended up producing these durable and delicious "buns" which have answered the prayers of sandwich-yearning low-carbers everywhere.)

While the Oopsies were baking, I fried up a couple of Bob Evans sausage patties (the sandwich-sized patties are the perfect size for Oopsies, by the way), and after giving the Oopsies some time to "rest", I assembled a couple of sandwiches, each complete with a slice of cheddar cheese. (I considered adding egg to the sandwiches, but since the Oopsies are mostly made of eggs in the first place and that's never been my favorite breakfast sandwich ingredient, I decided not to go to the trouble.) Each sandwich went into a ziplock bag and into my lunch box for dinner, and all I had to do was pop them in the microwave for about twenty seconds for overall warmth and delightfully melted cheese.

As I suspected, these things were so FILLING that one was plenty for one sitting, but I like to always be prepared with extra food in case I need it, especially during the first few days of being back on my low-carb plan, when hunger and cravings are more likely to strike. And part of the beauty of this diet (compared with reduced-calorie/reduced-portion diets) is the freedom to always eat when hungry and to eat until full.

Back At It

The vacation's over, and today (admittedly a couple of days after I had originally planned), I'm diving head-first back into low-carb eating. After some consideration, I decided not to start at square one with Induction, this time, because I've found that I can be much more successful with the freedom to eat certain foods (like berries, unsweetened cocoa powder, nuts, seeds, and low-carb breads and tortillas) in limited amounts. I'll probably keep the carb count to induction levels, but the variety keeps me interested in what I'm eating. Plus, it was too hard to get excited about this way of eating when I was faced with sacrificing my beloved chocolate raspberry breakfast smoothies. And -- no lie! -- I really am excited about getting back to this way of eating. It felt good to stock up on fresh, healthy foods at the grocery store yesterday, and it felt good to be back in the kitchen this afternoon preparing a super low-carb dinner to take with me to work.

I was away from low-carbing for almost three weeks, which is longer than I hoped to let myself languish in my old eating habits, but I'm optimistic that my return will not be too painful. I'm expecting to feel some dulled senses and maybe some headaches as I detox from sugar and caffeine (often known among Atkinsers as the "induction flu"), but there's been no sign of those feelings yet today. Instead I just feel like I have more energy, which could be either due to my extra water consumption, the coconut oil in my breakfast shake, or it's totally in my head.

Maybe I'll finally feel like giving this little blog some attention now that I'm back on the bandwagon. Expect posts about the foods I'm eating -- both old favorites and experiments with new recipes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mixing It Up

Well, I started this blog in the hopes that I would feel motivated to stick to and write about my low-carb ways, but the way I've been eating lately has done anything but motivate. I guess I can describe it as sort of a hybrid diet -- one in which I've been alternating between eating really low-carb, moderate-carb, and high-carb meals and snacks. I'm feeling occasional (but not out of control) cravings, and I'm only eating until I'm full and not going overboard into that stuffed territory I know all too well. I'm finding that I'm not getting as hungry as I normally do when I allow myself to eat high-carb foods, because I'm not eagerly stuffing myself full of all of the foods I've been missing. It's probably the closest to Intuitive Eating I have come in a long time. I certainly can't say that I've been losing weight or that I feel my absolute best when I'm mixing it up like this, but I'm not gaining any weight, either, and it sure does feel nice to enjoy some of my old favorites without stressing about what I'll be able to find for my next low-carb meal.

Whether or not this will turn out to be a legitimate reason, my main justification for eating this way for right now is that on Saturday I leave for New York City, where I will be visiting my best friend for an entire week. I'm sure I could stick to a low-carb diet while I'm there if I really wanted to, but ummm, yeah. I don't want to. One of the main attractions for me in NYC is the food, so I want to allow myself to enjoy Yankee Stadium concessions, Gray's Papaya hot dogs (bun and all), desserts at Serendipity, burgers and curly fries at Cozy, and whatever other wonders the best friend wants to introduce me to.

So why should next week's planned carb-fest give me license to nibble on concentrated carbs this week? I have two reasons. One is that I am afflicted with the tragic flaw of being a bit of an "all or nothing" kind of person. I can't get excited about sticking faithfully to my low-carb eating plan when I know I'm just going to mess it all up while I'm on vacation, but I'm assuming I'll be incredibly gung-ho to get back onto it hardcore once I'm back. The other (and probably better) reason is that I've learned from experience that when I go from eating very few carbs right into eating lots of them, my body really does not like me for it. I would rather not spend my vacation feeling tired, bloated, and plagued by indigestion and gastrointestinal distress. So I'm sort of experimenting with adding carby foods little by little this week so that my body won't revolt against me on my vacation, and I'll be sure to report back on how well that worked for me.

I still have plenty of low-carb stuff to report on -- like a couple of product reviews and recipe stories -- so look for those to come soon. You can also expect to see a low-carb blogroll emerge on the right side of the screen in the next few days. There are a number of great sites I subscribe to and check daily, and I don't want to keep them all to myself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finding a Balance

The way I feel today is precisely why I fare better when I'm able to avoid carby foods. I had a super-indulgent lunch today of breaded chicken tenders, french fries, and non-diet Coke, and even though it was way more food than I usually feel the need to eat all at once, I feel anything but full. There was plenty of fat in my meal to fill me up, but all the sugar and starch have just left me craving more of the same stuff.

When I can stick to low-carb eating, I don't even really think about food until the next meal, but right now, all I can think about is how much I want to go down the hall and buy a candy bar and another Coke. Low-carbing really does prove to me (over and over and over) how sugar and starch really do have additctive qualities. There may be plenty of people who don't experience symptoms of addiction when they eat carby foods, but I am definitely not one of those people.

That said, I really don't regret the lunch I had today. It was delicious, I didn't overeat, and I can overcome the effects of this meal with relatively little discomfort.

As you can tell, I'm not the strictest low-carber in the world -- sort of an on for a couple of weeks, off for a couple of days, then back on eater. I feel like I'm constantly re-evaluating how strictly I want to adhere to any particular way of eating. Only a year into this, I still don't think I've struck a good balance between eating what I want to eat and eating what makes me feel the best. (And the foods that make me feel the best emotionally are usually not the foods that make me feel the best physically.)

When I read books and blogs by folks who have been doing low-carb or sugar-free eating for a long time (like four or five years or more), I'm always struck by how confident and committed they seem to their particular ways of eating. I sometimes wonder if it's because they've just been doing it long enough to have really found what works for them, or if they're just trying so hard to sell others on their "lifestyles" that they end up convincing themselves that they've got it all figured out.

I do not have it all figured out. But I think it's definitely worth it to me to keep trying.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Favorite Thing About Cookouts:


Being able to enjoy KETCHUP on my bunless burgers and hot dogs. Thank you, Heinz, for making a ketchup with only 1 carb (and no high fructose corn syrup) per tablespoon, and thank you, local Wal-Mart for carrying it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Introduction: About Me and About This Blog

I'm a Midwestern jeans and t-shirts girl in my twenties who ventured into a low-carb eating experiment in June of 2007 that has become more than an experiment. Based on the health benefits I've gotten out of this way of eating and what I've learned about the human body since starting to eat this way, I'm hoping to make low-carbing my continued way of eating.

This blog is a way to record this journey for myself, share what I've learned about low-carb eating with others, and to help keep me motivated to continue this way of eating in a world that is anything but low-carb-friendly.

Before I started the Atkins diet in 2007, I had never been on a diet in my life. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, which included breakfasts of ice cream or leftover pizza, 3-5 cans of non-diet Pepsi a day, and fast food "value meals" 2-3 times a week or more. Plenty of breaded and deep-fried stuff, and always in large amounts. While other people seemed to be able to sense when they were full and stop eating, I could always keep going - cleaning my plate and going back for seconds or thirds - and I'd inevitably feel really sick soon after the meal. I'd recognize that I had totally overeaten and resolve never to eat that much at once again, only to go back and do it over and over again. That sickeningly heavy full feeling (a feeling as though food is lodged throughout my body, from my stomach up through my chest) eventually became normal to me, making it hard to feel satisfied with anything less.

Although I haven't been a "skinny" girl since age six or seven, I managed to eat this way well into my twenties without gaining a significant amount of weight, hovering just above what's considered "average" for my height. It was about a year or so after I graduated college that I hit the dreaded metabolism change and began to pack on pounds like crazy. It happened so fast, I barely noticed it until I was starting to burst out of my largest clothes, and I noticed that I looked like a complete stranger when I saw pictures of myself. I was feeling more and more strain on my knees when I walked or stood for a while, and I was starting to get some pretty severe heartburn and indigestion after meals.

I had never owned a scale in my life (considering them tools of the devil) but after stepping on one at a friend's house, it finally hit me that I had gained a lot of weight in a really short time. I was faced with rapidly declining health and having to buy a whole new wardrobe, and I have to admit it was a little scary. I mentally resolved to try exercising more and giving up soda and deep-fried breaded foods to improve my health, and when my best friend announced to me that she was going to attempt the Atkins diet, I reluctantly decided I might give it a try along with her.

A year later and forty-five pounds lighter, my heartburn and indigestion are gone, my body doesn't ache like it used to, and I fit into my clothes again. I'm not going to lie and say that I have stuck to this eating plan perfectly for the entire year, and I won't try to convince anyone that eating this way is always easy. I didn't, and it's not. I'll be blogging about some of the challenges involved with low-carb eating, my experiences with deviating from the plan, and how I try to stay on track.

I have to admit that blogging about diet is sort of a fraught act for me, and my ambivalence about it will probably come through pretty often on this site. Because what and how we choose to eat is related to way more than just health and weight. The ways in which we eat are connected to our social identities, our emotional identities, our ethnic identities, our gender identities, our class identities, and even our senses self-love and self-worth. The act of dieting has the potential to be an intensely political act, and I want to be careful about what types of statements I make by choosing to follow a particular eating plan.

Honestly, even though I know I didn't exactly eat healthfully before switching to a mostly low-carb lifestyle, I'm pretty proud that I never dieted as a girl or young adult. I don't feel any shame over that at all, considering that:

1) American culture slowly and continuously poisons women to worship a thin ideal. Living in this world is like being set up with a constant IV-drip of images and ideology that encourage us to equate thinness with beauty, femininity, and value, while the slightest presence of fat on our bodies makes us worthless. Eating is supposed to be an act that sustains us and nourishes our bodies, and yet I have never met a woman (myself included) who does not have food issues with which she constantly struggles. Eating disorders are widespread and a major symptom of a society that sends the wrong messages about food and eating.

2) If I had tried dieting before learning about carbohydrate restriction, I most likely would have done it all wrong. By drastically (and unhealthily) lowering my fat and calorie intake and eating tons more carbs, probably screwing up my body's insulin responses even more than I'm sure I already did. I'm also glad I don't have memories of a childhood of disappointment, self-hate, and hungry deprivation.

3) Diet culture is gross. All of this attention the media spends on covering the OMG-scary "Obesity Epidemic" would be much better directed toward criticism of the overblown and creepy diet industry. The way our culture covers and examines health, nutrition, and weight-loss is in need of a major overhaul.

Throughout my journey into low-carb eating and learning about nutrition, it has been my goal (and it will be a goal of this blog) to NOT emphasize weight-loss in a way that puts value judgments on myself or anyone else for what we weigh or how we eat. I completely agree with the ideology of Fat Acceptance in that eating food is a morally neutral act. What you eat, how you eat, when you eat, or how much you eat is never an indication of how good you are as a person. When I discuss the benefits of low-carb eating on this blog, know that I will NEVER judge individuals for choosing to eat high-carb foods. Most of my criticism will be directed at how our world is set up for high-carb eating and works to keep people ignorant about nutrition, despite evidence of the benefits of low-carb eating. In other words, I plan to try my best to not describe sticking to my eating plan as "being good", and to not refer to eating something carby as "cheating". And feel free to call me out on it if you ever catch me doing it.

Prejudice against fat and size discrimination are very real and damaging things in this world, and this blog will in NO way participate in the judgment or shaming of fat people of any size. Period.