Monday, March 2, 2015


Did you ever wish you had your own personal dietitian to tell you what to eat? One who actually understood the science of nutrition and would customize her advice to fit your own personal needs and preferences? Quit dreaming; your genie in a book has materialized. The Low Carb Dietitian's Guide to Health and Beauty will have special appeal for those who care about their health and also want to look their best. Fortunately, what works for one, works for both. 

Franziska Spritzler offers us a choice of three different diets: #1.  A standard low-carb diet, #2. A high-fiber, moderate-saturated-fat, low-carb diet, or #3. A low-carb diet combined with intermittent fasting that allows a once a week treat meal. (Can’t face life without Haagen Daz? #3 is for you.) All three versions have a vegetarian option. She guides you though choosing which is best suited for your needs with lots of diagnostic charts and a quiz to help you decide. There are seven days of menus for each of the three diets and 40 simple, tasty recipes to get you started. The book is targeted specifically for women, but an anti-aging diet has benefits for everyone. Men don’t like wrinkles, sagging skin, or bulging bellies either!

The author covers a broad range of topics and gives you the benefit of her professional opinion, but she also presents the evidence for both sides of the argument on controversial subjects. (I will be checking out some of her many references to see what I can learn and if she manages to change my mind about anything.) I especially appreciated her explanation about Net Carbs versus Total Carbs, which has recently become a hotly-debated issue in the low-carb community. Since Dr. Atkins first coined the term Net Carbs, it has been common practice to exclude fiber and sugar alcohols when figuring nutrition data, since they were thought to have little, if any, impact. She explains that insoluble fiber passes out of the body unabsorbed, but soluble fiber is fermented by colonic bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. One of these is propionate, which can be converted to glucose though a process called intestinal gluconeogenesis but, she says, it doesn’t raise the level of glucose in the blood and may actually lower it.  She concludes that subtracting all fiber is the most accurate way to count carb intake, but that sugar alcohols need to be calculated separately because they vary from one to another. Sounds like a reasonable approach to me!

Low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-carb diets were based on faulty epidemiological studies from the 1950s and even though they have been a total failure, they became standard policy for our government agencies, insurance companies, hospitals, and health care organizations. The American Dietetics Association embraces these outdated policies and any member who objects may be in danger of losing their livelihood. This is a quote from the American Dietetic Association’s website: “The development of a(sic) accreditation process was incorporated into the ADA to serve the publics (sic) best interest by creating and enforcing eligibility requirements and accreditation standards….” (You probably read about the North Carolina branch of this group who threatened to prosecute blogger Steve Cooksey for suggesting that diabetics cut down on carbohydrates. If you missed it, you can read about it here.)

It takes a lot of courage to do the right thing for her patients in spite of being under a great deal of pressure to conform. I urge you to support Franziska's efforts. 

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Monday, February 23, 2015


Illustration by Jeremy Kemp
I’m sharing this story in case there are others of you who are suffering from allergies and looking for answers. No one can deny that allergies and auto-immune diseases are much more common today than they have ever been. Those of us who suddenly develop such conditions are often told, “it’s all in your head.” In my case, that turned out to be true, but I think I’m finally getting to the “root” of the problem.

Since mid-May of 2013, I have had a rash. It started on the toes of my right foot. It quickly spread until my whole foot was red, swollen, itchy, and painful with big blisters. It was diagnosed as an infection. I slept in my clothes for a while because the doctor warned me not to call him, but to go straight to the emergency room if it suddenly got worse. I was treated with multiple antibiotics in increasing doses for several months until a biopsy showed there was no infection and that the symptoms were an immune response.

I consulted with a lot of doctors, allergists, and dermatologists, who all tried to be helpful. The consensus among the doctors was that I should take Prednisone to turn off my immune system. One doctor told me, quite honestly, that they had exhausted their knowledge. He said, “Sometimes we never know. Just take the Prednisone; don’t become a prisoner in your home.”

Thinking that a working immune system might come in handy and being aware of the possible side effects of steroids (weight gain, moon face, fatigue, rash, hives, itching, osteoporosis, cancer, and more), I set out to find the cause rather than just treat the symptoms. Since then, I've had four different kinds of allergy tests. I started with a conventional allergist who told me up front that her tests would not diagnose food or contact allergies. She suggested I go to a naturopath because they used a different method of testing, which I did. The natureopath performed a blood test that showed allergies to chicken and duck eggs, both whites and yolks, and almonds, which I promptly eliminated, to no effect.

Next, I found an allergist in downtown Seattle who specialized in contact allergies. His three-day patch tests showed allergies to lanolin and chromium. I tried to avoid those as much as I could but it is not possible to totally eliminate chromium as it is everywhere. It is in all multi-vitamins, most foods, tanned leather, and stainless steel. I covered my leather furniture and car seats, gave away all my leather shoes, wrapped all the knobs and handles in my house in plastic, switched to glass or ceramic for cooking, and quit wearing all jewelry except my wedding ring, but my condition did not improve. 

In thinking about all the possible things that might have been related, I remembered that at about the time the rash started, I developed a fistula above a tooth that had a root canal performed seven years earlier. I mentioned this to all of the doctors I consulted, but they concluded that it had nothing to do with the allergies. I had complained about pain in that tooth and others to my regular dentist for several years, but his X-rays showed nothing amiss. When I went in for my next scheduled dental checkup, I asked if he thought the fistula could be related to the immune reactions and the rash. He sent me back to the endodontist who had done the original procedure because he had a different kind of X-ray machine that showed more detail. His images clearly showed a gap in the filling and a cavity in the bone beside that tooth. He redid the root canal, cleaned out the infected cavity, and filled it with (chromium-free) cement. I had six other root canals, some from many years ago, that were not checked. 

The rash broke out in other places and moved around but never went away and I continued to feel worse in general. Six months later, at my next regular dental appointment, my dentist told me about a doctor who practices “environmental medicine.” He said he had referred some of his patients who had allergy problems to him with good results, so I made an appointment with doctor #12. 

I was very encouraged to hear that Dr. B* could diagnose many more allergies with his testing system and that most of them could actually be reversed with desensitization therapy. He injects a pure substance under your skin and measures your reaction. Then he neutralizes that reaction and injects something else. I started testing in late April of 2014. Of the first nine foods tested, I reacted to seven of them. Every day of testing revealed more things that I was allergic to. I tested positive to 20 different foods and food groups (dairy, for example, includes milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, and whey). I have been using desensitizing drops and histamine drops every day since then, but the symptoms never went away, so I couldn’t use trial and error to see what caused them to come back. I lost 29 pounds—at 5’6,” I went down from 137 to 108 pounds. I cut out so many things that it was difficult to find enough to eat and almost impossible to eat out, but the allergy symptoms did not go away. 

Dr. B's testing showed that I was allergic to: eggs, dairy, rice, wheat, tomato, potato, pepper, avocado, celery, tea, chicken, shrimp, cod, salmon, bananas, cherries, lamb, baker’s yeast, coffee, and lettuce. I also noticed reactions to crab, lobster, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, apricots, cranberries, eggplant, and carrots, so I quit eating those too, although I wasn't tested for them so I can't be sure.

Other tests showed allergies to a lot of molds, pollens, grasses, insects, weeds, and trees, including cedar, alder, and white birch, which are all around me here. I was also positive for feathers, dust mites, and cockroaches (the nurse said people who showed allergies to coffee and chocolate were often really allergic to cockroaches because crops that grow in tropical areas usually contain cockroach parts).

I also had to cut out a lot of supplements and vitamins. Some contained rice, potato, tomato, and/or fish. Some had oligofructose, tea extract, or nightshades (ashwagandha is in the potato-tomato-pepper-eggplant family called nightshades). All multi-vitamins have chromium. Vitamin D3 is made from lanolin. Krill oil comes from a kind of shrimp. I also quit using some sweeteners—xylitol may be made from birch and many sweeteners are made from chicory, a kind of lettuce. Most gluten-free products contain potato and rice flour. (I did find a vegan DHA made from algae and a vitamin D3 made from mushrooms, but they may not as effective as the animal versions.)

When they told me I was allergic to lettuce (yes, lettuce!), I stopped getting the tests. We realized that just avoiding all this stuff wasn’t likely to help much since they couldn’t test me for everything in the world and if you eat the same foods all the time, you are more likely to develop allergies to them! So the doctor suggested other ways to lower my histamine response. In addition to avoidance and the antigen and histamine drops, here are some other tactics I’m using: I put an Ozone machine in my bedroom and started using a special laundry detergent that kills dust mites. I took a three month course of Nystatin in case the massive doses of antibiotics had led to a yeast infection, and I am currently taking Glutathione and Ketotifen to reduce inflammation and help with histamine control.

When I first told my story to Dr. B, I mentioned the problem with a root canal. He made notes, but didn’t offer an opinion. Then as I was leaving, he came out to the waiting room and said, “Tell me more about the root canals.” He recommended a group of Seattle dentists who practice “mercury-free” or “systemic” dentistry. They performed a digital X-ray and gave me a referral to doctor #13, Dr. P, who looked at my images and pointed out that all of the root canal-treated teeth were accompanied by large cavities in my jaw bones. The solid bone looked pale; the cavities were dark and very obvious. He said it would take drastic measures to repair the damage, but he felt that once the infections that had crashed my immune system were cleaned out, the allergies would get better. I was feeling so bad by that time, that I actually wondered if I would last the two months I had to wait until my first appointment.

I’ve had five surgeries so far with one more to come. He started with the area that looked worst, which turned out to be much worse than he expected. (He repeatedly said, "Oh my God!," to his assistant as he was working on me and used a camera to record what he was seeing.) The infection had invaded the nerve canal that runs along the bottom of the jaw and the nerve was covered with cysts that had to be removed one by one. He described the nerve as looking like the stem of a rose covered with thorns. It took him 3½ hours to clean up that area. It will take many more to restore it. 

When I had the second area operated on, there was more bad news. There were pieces of mercury embedded above one of the root-canal treated teeth. He removed as much of it as he could, but couldn’t get it all out. The mercury had eaten away one side of the bone and it required a mesh retaining wall to hold the bone putty in place. The area had to be opened up again to remove the mesh and re-stitched after it healed for a while. (How did the mercury get there? The only possible way that I can think of is that when the root canal was done, some of an old mercury filling was accidentally left in the tooth. When the new filling was pushed up into the nerve canal, the old metal filling was forced out though the opening at the top. I clearly remember that after that tooth was treated, it became extremely painful. Now I know why.)

After learning about the mercury, I asked to be tested for heavy metals. I expected that my mercury level would be high, but was shocked to see that I was off the chart for lead as well. A normal lead level would be 2; I registered 30, which was as high as the chart measured. I’m currently in the middle of a detox regimen with DMSA to get the metals out. I’m also taking chlorella and cilantro to help eliminate the heavy metals as they are released.

Each time I had more work done, more horrors came to light. Dr. P took biopsies from the infected bones that showed exactly what had been festering there all those years, while my former dentist and hygienist were patting me on the back and congratulating me for taking such good care of my teeth. (The term, “whited sepulchers,” used to describe the hypocritical Pharisees in Matthew 23:27, comes to mind; they looked good on the outside, but inside, they were “full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”)

I still have a long way to go, but I am finally starting to see some improvement. I have gone without new symptoms for as much as two weeks at a stretch a couple of times now. 

Below is some of the material about root canals from the systemic dentists' website. 

“The nerve of a tooth occupies the main chamber inside the root. Attached to the main chamber is an intricate network of microscopic tubules within the root that allow nutrients to flow in and out of a living tooth. Each tooth contains 1.5 million tubules, which end to end would extend for about 3 miles.

When a tooth dies, the living cells in these tubules rot and they become infected. It is impossible to fill these tubules when completing root canal treatment. Thus, microbes continue to live trapped inside the tooth, emitting harmful toxins and causing a chronic infection. And chronic infections are associated with chronic diseases. Most root canals remain functional on average only 7 years before recurrent infection becomes a problem again.

When endodontic (root canal) treatment first became popular, in the early 1900’s, one researcher, Dr. Weston Price, did extensive work measuring the toxicity and effects of root canal treatment. Some of his findings included: a resultant calcium/phosphorus imbalance,* lower pH, higher blood sugar, higher uric acid, altered total protein (blood), and white blood cell alterations (depressed PMN’s and elevated lymphocytes). Dr. Price concluded that these disturbances could be contributing to future degenerative diseases long before any clinical symptoms become evident. Current research confirms that bacteria and their byproducts are present in root canal teeth.”

A phosphate imbalance* is the cause of fibromyalgia according to Dr. Paul St. Amand. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue years ago. It is always a default diagnosis—if nothing else fits, that’s what’s left. I now wonder if it could all have been the result of conventional dental treatments, and if so, I wonder how many other people have been afflicted with fibromyalgia, auto-immune diseases, cancer, MS, and other conditions that may have been caused by the standard treatments recommended by the American Dental Association. My dentist of the last 15 years apologized to me and said that he only knew of one other case like mine. But how would anyone know? It was a fluke that I made the connection. Most people would probably die not knowing. 

*Because some treatments used by the doctors that actually helped me are not sanctioned by the medical establishment, I am not using their names. (See below if you need help finding an environmental doctor in your area. I'm working on finding info about Systemic Dentists too, so check back later. In the meantime, any doctor of environmental medicine might be able to recommend someone near you. ) The American Dental Association denies that infected jaw bone cavitations exist and any dentist who disagrees with that may be downgraded by credentialing organizations or targeted for criticism or legal action. Some dentists have even been censured and denied the right to practice for opposing the use of toxic mercury fillings! The endodonist who did two root canals on one of my teeth (yes, TWICE on the same tooth!) also diagnosed and filled the infected cavitation it had caused, but he still insisted that root canal therapy is very safe and that such cavitations (almost) never happen, in spite of my having it happen seven out of seven times and showing him the images and biopsies that proved it.

To find a Doctor of Environmental Medicine go to:
American Academy of Environmental Medicine Look in the left sidebar where it says AAEM Referral to find a doctor in your area. 

To find a Systemic or Mercury-free Dentist: Below are some suggestions from readers for systemic or mercury-free dentists. If any of you know of others, please leave a comment on this post and I will add the names to the list. 

Be aware that I cannot personally vouch for all of these dentists, so I urge you to do your own research when selecting a dentist.

~Los Angeles, CA and Bellevue, WA:  Dr. Alireza Panahpour, DDS, 2701 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa monica, CA 90405 and 12826 40th Lane, Bellevue, WA, 98006,,

~Franklin, Tenn: Thomas J. Lokensgard, DDS, NMD, ABAAHP, 151 Rosa Helm Way, Franklin, Tennessee 37067

~Dallas, Texas: Gary Alhadef DDS, in University Park area of Dallas.

~Dallas, Texas: Philip Kozlow D.D.S. 5050 Quorum Dr. Suite 340, Dallas  Texas  75254-7039, Phone: 972-458-2464

~This site has a directory by state for finding mercury-free dentists:

~This site has a form you can fill out to find a doctor trained by the late Dr. Hal Huggins, who lost his license to practice dentistry for speaking out against the use of mercury in fillings:

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Root Canal Illustration with Molars by Jeremy Kemp (2005-03-22)

(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


What if I told you that one of the most popular breads in the world is gluten-free, grain-free, and low in carbs? And that it can be purchased in stores or ordered online? All of that is true if you get the right kind.

If you've ever eaten in an Indian restaurant, you have probably had these big, crackly rounds called papadams. (They may also be called: papadum, popadam, poppadam, puppodum, pompadum, pompaum, pampad, papad, happala, and on and on--so be flexible if you search for them online.) They are usually made of lentils, chickpeas, or black gram flour, but may also be made of rice, jack fruit, or potato. In Northern India, they are most often made with lentils. Lentils are fairly low in carbs for a legume and they are high in resistant starch, which is an added bonus. I know many of you avoid all legumes, but these are very, very thin so there's only a small amount. Purists my disapprove, but I think they are fine as an occasional indulgence. (They might be even better if they were made of chana dal, a kind of chickpea that is so low on the glycemic index that many low-carb and diabetic vegetarians use them as a staple food. The problem is that the ingredient lists on package labels are not clear about what kind of chickpea flour is used.)

I prefer to buy plain papadams because they are so versatile, but you can also get them flavored with herbs and spices. They are traditionally served as an appetizer in Indian restaurants with mango chutney, lime pickle, or raita, and they often come with curry dishes to use as a utensil for scooping them up.

While preparing to write this post, I ordered a package of each brand sold on Amazon for comparison. Weeks later, I found a very beat-up package plopped on my doorstep. It had been mailed from India! I shudder to think how much I paid for shipping--and they were so blazing hot that I couldn't even eat them. I will pay more attention when placing orders, in the future!

The two pictures above show you how different they can look depending on how you cook them. They can be thick, pillowy puffs, or flat, bubbly disks. They can be folded like tacos, formed into cones, or shaped into bowls. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to fold them or make cones--I tried moistening and molding them, but never got them hold the shape when I cooked them. I did make a "bowl" by placing one over a small pie pan in the toaster oven. Maybe they have to be shaped when they are freshly made. Perhaps someone out there can enlighten me about that. If you want to make Papadams from scratch, there is a recipe here.

When purchasing papadams, be sure to check the label and get one made from lentils, but even some of those may have other ingredients and some are coated with rice flour which adds a lot of carbs. I liked the Indialife brand and they had the lowest carb count of all the ones I tried. (See post script at the end of this post for where to order.)*

Nutrition data for each 10 gram Indialife papadam: Calories: 
9; Fat: 0g; Protein: 2g; Total Carb: 4g; Fiber: 2g; Net Carbs: 2g.

I experimented with several different cooking methods. The directions on the IndiaLife box said,
"To fry: cook one at a time in 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches of vegetable oil. They will puff up in a few seconds if your oil is hot enough. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels....To microwave: Lightly coat each side with vegetable oil, place in microwave and cover with a paper towel. Cook in high for 45 to 60 seconds until expanded. (The papadum may need turning for even cooking.) Do not exceed recommended cooking time." 

Some other brands suggested grilling them over an open flame or cooking them in a dry skillet.

My results:
I couldn't get mine to cook evenly in the microwave. There were always spots that didn't puff. Holding them over a gas flame on my cooktop didn't work out well either. I would get uncooked areas and burned areas (and fingers). I tried frying them in a skillet but didn't want to waste that much oil since I don't like to reuse oil, certainly not polyunsaturated oils, and good fats that can take high heat are expensive.

I had the most success with a counter-top toaster oven. The oven broiler would probably work as well, but it would be harder to see what was happening since mine is below eye level. You can brush them with oil or melted butter if you like, but it doesn't seem to make any difference in how they cook. Heat the toaster oven to 375 to 400 degrees and place one papadam under the heating element. After a few seconds it will sound like corn popping. You have to watch closely and be ready with tongs in hand to snatch it out because it goes from done to burned in a flash. You can turn it if necessary for even cooking.

Here are some ideas for what you can do with your papadams. I'm sure you can think of more. Just don't get them very wet or they will go limp and don't try to use them with a stiff dip, like cold peanut butter, or they will break.

~Drizzle them with melted chocolate and/or xylitol "honey."

~Brush them with melted butter while hot and sprinkle with a mixture of granular sugar-free sweetener and cinnamon.

~Break them up to make chips. Serve with salsa, guacamole, melted cheese, sour cream and chives, hummas, or any soft dip or top them with shredded cheese and bake to make Nachos. See below for directions for nachos.

~Serve them the classic way with chutney as part of an Indian meal. I've included my favorite, low-carb chutney recipe.

Papadam Nachos
About 4 cooked papadams, broken into chips
2 ounces shredded jack or cheddar cheese, more to taste
Salsa, guacamole, cubed avocado, chopped tomato, green onion, sliced black olives, diced green chilies, and/or Sour Cream for topping as desired

Spread papadam chips on a large oven-safe baking dish or sheet pan and sprinkle with cheese. Put in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and chips are very crisp. Add desired toppings and enjoy!

Per Serving of 1/4 of recipe (papadams and cheese only):
Cal: 62, Fat: 4.3g; Protein: 5.5g; Total Carb: 5g; Fiber: 2g; Net Carb: 3g 

Shallot and Peach Chutney
3 cups fresh peaches, peeled and chopped. Frozen peaches, thawed and drained, can be used instead.
1/2 cup sugar-free dried cranberries
2 shallots (about 2 ounces), peeled and finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Sugar substitute to equal 1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the fruit, shallots, vinegar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes more. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 3 cups. Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Cal: 9, Fat: 0g; Protein: 0.1g; Total Carb: 1.7g; Fiber: 0.4g; Net Carb: 1.3g

*Post Script: 
Some of you have reported that you can't find a source for the brand I recommended. Amazon is not currently listing Indialife papadams, but you can order them by mail from Uwajimaya by contacting them here:

Other stores that sell them: 
Some Whole Foods stores in the US and Canada 
Stores like New Leaf and New Seasons in  Oregon
Some Safeways in California, on the ethnic foods aisle

Please leave a comment if you have found them at other stores.

Photos from Wikipedia. Top photo by Charles Haynes. http://www,

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Monday, February 2, 2015


And in case you missed it, this is a TED talk by Alan Savory, "the man who killed 40,000 elephants," in a misguided attempt to save the grasslands.

"There is ONLY ONE OPTION left to climatologists and scientists...and that is to do the unthinkable and to use livestock bunched and moving as a proxy for former herds and predators and mimic nature. There is no other alternative left to mankind," ~ Alan Savory

Red Meat is Green!, Peter Ballerstedt

Beef: The REAL Health Food, Peter Ballerstedt

Friday, January 30, 2015



How many times have you heard the argument that rice and noodles can't be bad for you because those who live in Asian countries eat them as a staple food and they are slim and healthy? Read Kelly Peterson's story and you will learn that a healthful diet is the same the world around. 

When Kelly found herself putting on weight, she sought advice from the experts. She was told that eating less and moving more was the key to staying slim and healthy.  Although she was one of the few who actually had the determination and will power to stick to a plan of semi-starvation and exhaustive exercise, she had very little success. Convinced that she had to choose between good food and good health, she resorted to eating one small, low-fat meal a day and working out three times a week. This austere regimen left her tired, depressed, constantly hungry, and suffering from hypoglycemia; still she lost only 11 pounds. Food, which had been one of her greatest sources of pleasure, became a source of pain and frustration. 

Kelly’s memories of childhood and happiness revolved around the foods she shared with her family in her homeland of Singapore. To her, food was love and it was love that would rescue her from a life of deprivation and misery. When she met her future husband, Dr. Dan Peterson, she discovered that rich, indulgent food can be compatible with radiant health of both mind and body.

Kelly wanted to share what she had learned by giving her native comfort foods a low-carb make-over. I was hooked the first time I visited her blog, Cooking Inspired by Love, and saw her version of her mother’s Butter Cake that calls for 9 eggs!

Kelly and her husband, Dr. Dan Peterson, co-wrote, The Asian Low-Carb Secret. It contains a wealth of information and inspiration for those who want to experience delicious and sumptuous food while enjoying the abundant energy and glowing health that come from this way of eating. 

Here’s a small sample of what awaits you in this book: Braised Pork Belly, Chocolate Lava Cake, Marcona Butter Prawns, Steamed Egg Custard, Creamy Mayonnaise, and Signature Slow-Roasted Pork Ribs.

 The Asian Low Carb Secret, Kindle edition, is due out on February 6, but you can pre-order it here. The book is also available in Mandarin. I know you'll love Kelly's story and her recipes look fabulous!

Kelly's book was dedicated to her father who died of type 2 diabetes. She has offered to donate 50% of the profits from the Kindle version of her e-book to the Nutrition and Metabolism Society to fund our research projects. She chose NMS after researching other groups and finding that none of them advocated low-carb diets for diabetics. 

Kelly's blog: 

Kelly's facebook page:

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Support Truth in Science: If you are not already a member of NMS, please consider joining today! 
(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Friday, January 23, 2015


An article titled, "Endangered Cuban Cuisine Preserved by Cooks in America," by Colleen O'Conner was in the Denver Post today. I thought all three of the featured recipes looked like they would be easy to convert to low carb. Hmmm, somehow they looked strangely familiar--Oh, wait a minute, I already did that! A quick look though my recipe files turned up this one for Picadillo. (I have a flan recipe in Carb Wars too and I'm sure I also worked on a Ropa Vieja at some point. Still looking for that one.)

We may be able to travel to Cuba soon, but until then, we can celebrate our new Amigos by enjoying a taste of their distinctive cuisine.

This traditional Latin American stew is perfect for parties or buffets. I like to double the recipe and serve it from a slow cooker so it stays hot. Picadillo can also be used as a filling for empanadas, tamales, and fritters. (My recipe for Pumpkin Tamales, pictured above, is in Carb Wars.)

1 tsp bacon fat, lard, or light olive oil
1 lb grass-fed ground beef or pastured ground pork
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion, or green onion, white part only
1 large Turkish bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground true cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup freeze-dried, sugar-free cranberries
2 tbsp water
Sugar substitute of choice equal to 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce*
1 chayote squash or 1 medium rutabaga, peeled, chopped, and cooked**
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup sliced black olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Sour cream, chopped green onions, and chopped jalapenos, if desired, to garnish

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add fat to pan. Add ground beef or pork, breaking it up with a spatula. Allow meat to brown without stirring, about 5 minutes. Mix in bell pepper, onion, bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic and continue to cook 2 minutes more.

In a small dish, place freeze-dried cranberries, water, and sweetener. Microwave until softened.

Add sweetened cranberries plus any liquid and tomatoes to ground beef mixture and simmer on low 20 to 30 minutes. Add cooked chayote or rutabaga, parsley, black olives, salt, and pepper and cook until heated through. Top with almonds and serve with sour cream, chopped green onions, and chopped Jalapenos, if desired.

Notes: *Choose tomatoes or tomato sauce in cans that state: “No Bisphenol A (BPA) in can lining.” (Cans that contain BPA are white on the inside.) Muir Glen's® cans are not lined with the endocrine-disrupting plastic. The Kirkland® brand sold by Costco® comes in glass jars or you can substitute chopped, fresh tomatoes.

** To precook chayote, cut in half along the puckered seam and remove seed and core. Cut vertically into wedges and peel. Place wedges in a dish, cover with water, and microwave on high until soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Alternately, cook in a saucepan with water to cover until soft.

**To precook rutabaga, trim, peel, and dice. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes, or microwave with a little water on high until soft.

Makes 6 servings
1 serving contains: 258 calories; 14.7g protein; 19.2g fat; 2.5g fiber; total carbs: 6.8g; 4.3g net carbs 

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Sunday, January 18, 2015


SAAG PANEER, by Quadell 
Spinach with paneer cheese is one of the most popular dishes in Indian cuisine and one that is naturally low in carbs. It's not very photogenic, but tasty!

Saag Paneer would normally be served with warm naan, a puffy, oven-baked flat bread. Check out my recipe for a low-carb, gluten-free version here

1 10-oz package frozen spinach or 2 cups cooked fresh spinach
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and seeded
2 tbsp light olive oil, coconut oil, or butter
2 leeks, white and light green part only, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic, about 3 cloves
1 to 4 seeded green chilies or to taste, optional
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 cup water
8 oz paneer cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 and 1/2 tsp garam masala**
1 to 2 tsp fresh lemon juice or to taste
Salt to taste

If using frozen spinach, thaw completely. Drain spinach and press out the water. Place spinach in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Add red pepper to processor and blend until finely chopped but still visible. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks to the pan and fry over a low heat for about 6 minutes or until softened. Add the ginger, garlic, and chilies and cook and stir for another minute. Add the turmeric and salt and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in spinach and red pepper puree and water. The mixture should be loose, but not watery. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Add the paneer cubes, cream, and garam masala to the pan. Stir and cook for a few minutes, or until the spinach is creamy. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to a warmed dish and serve as a side dish or over cauli-rice as a main dish.

Makes 6 servings.
Each serving: 278 calories; 13.3 g protein; 21.2 g fat; total carbs: 9.9 g; fiber 2.1 g; 7.8 g net carbs

*Paneer is a fresh cheese that can be found in many groceries or in Indian or Asian markets.

**Garam masala is a spice mixture that can be bought ready-made in regular or ethnic stores. My recipe for Garam Masala is in Nourished if you prefer to make your own.

Photo: "Saag Paneer" by Quadell - Self-published work by Quadell. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I'm taking about bacon and fish, in case you didn't guess. If you have family members who don't like fish, this might just convert them. (Squeeze the lemon over it before serving and tell them it's sea bacon.)

Kippered Herring
Imagine bacon made of fish; that’s kippered herring. The whole fish are split from head to tail, soaked in brine then smoked. Scrambled eggs and broiled tomatoes are traditional accompaniments. 

If kippered herring is purchased frozen, follow thawing and cooking directions on package. Recipe can be halved or doubled using appropriately sized pan.

2 kippered herring, about 1 pound total
1 tablespoon butter
Sliced lemon
2 halves, Broiled Tomato, recipe below

Preheat broiler. Rinse herring and pat dry. Leave tail intact to facilitate boning, but head can be removed if it is included.

Place butterflied herring, skin-side-down, on well-greased broiler pan.  Dot with butter.  Broil about 5 inches from heat source for 2 to 3 minutes or until brown. Turn skin-side-up and broil for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until brown, for a total of 4 to 6 minutes. Cut each fish in half to make 4 servings and top each with a slice of lemon.

Makes 4 servings of ½ kipper each.
Per serving—Net carbohydrate: 0.8 grams; Protein: 40.5 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Fat: 29.7 grams; Calories: 440

Total weight, including skin, bones, and tail: 13 ounces or 369 grams
Weight per serving: 3¼ ounces or 92 grams

Preparation time: 5 minutes active, 10 minutes total

A broiled or grilled tomato is part of a full English breakfast (a fry-up), which might also include fried eggs, fried mushrooms, fried potatoes, rashers (that’s Canadian bacon to Americans—American-style bacon is streaky bacon to Brits), kippered herring, sausages, baked beans, and fried bread, served with hot tea. If you want it all, order a Full Monty.

Broiled Tomatoes
A fabulous side dish anytime, but especially good with eggs and sausage or kippers for breakfast. Prepare them in advance and just tuck them under the broiler when you put the kettle on.

2 ripe tomatoes, about 10 ounces total, as purchased
Dash salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1/8 ounce) clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons white wine
More salt to taste
Dash black pepper for each tomato half
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, chopped, or basil, shredded, for garnish

Grease a small broiler-safe pan. Cut tomatoes in half vertically. Cut out stem button and make several slashes across the core but not into the wall of the tomato. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Invert on paper towels and let drain for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Place tomatoes, cut-side-down, in the hot pan. Let tomatoes cook without moving for about 5 minutes or until brown. (You can tell when they are brown by looking at the edges.) Remove tomatoes from skillet and place cut-side-up in prepared pan. (Can be prepared to this stage in advance and refrigerated. Broil just before serving.)

 Preheat broiler. Put minced garlic in the hot skillet and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Add white wine and cook and stir for about 3 minutes or until most of the wine has boiled off. Pour liquid from skillet over tomatoes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste and fresh black pepper. Top with grated Parmesan. Place tomatoes under broiler for about 5 minutes or until top is brown. Transfer tomatoes to serving dish and spoon drippings from pan over them. Garnish with fresh basil, and serve hot.

Makes 2 servings .
Per serving—Net carbohydrate: 4 grams; Protein: 2.6 grams; Fiber: 1.6 grams; Fat: 8.2 grams; Calories: 110 Total weight: 8½ ounces or 237 grams

Weight per serving: 4¼ ounces or 118 grams

Preparation time: 5 minutes active; 25 minutes total

“Your rainment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffon. Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper.”
– Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907)

(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker, Photo from Singletrack Forum.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


2014 has been a remarkable year--the message about what constitutes a healthful diet has finally made it into mainstream media! I tip my hat and raise a toast to all of you who made it happen: to the researchers, teachers, nutritionists, and doctors who risked careers and incomes to tell the truth; to the bloggers, authors, film makers,and all of you who saved lives by simply sharing your own success stories. The war on fat is almost over. Keep up the good work! 

By the way, sometime a while back when I wasn't looking, the page views here on the Carb Wars Blog passed one million and are now closing in on one and a half million! Thank you all so very much for your support!

Wishing you all a happy, prosperous, and healthful 2015!

"Life is not a path of coincidence, happenstance, and luck, but rather an unexplainable, meticulously charted course for one to touch the lives of others and make a difference in the world."
--Barbara Dillinham

Several readers requested that I post my fruitcake recipe even though I didn't get it up in time for Christmas. (It is still "the holidays" until after New Years Day, right? So here you go.) This is the fruitcake from Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat, slightly updated. I added a gluten-free version and options for some new products that are now available.

Did you see the 83-year-old man on Leno who claimed to have a fruitcake baked by his great grandmother in 1878? Every Christmas brings a new crop of fruitcake jokes—obviously, a lot of people have never tasted a good one! Too often what passes for fruitcake is a dry, brown brick with a few nuts and raisins. My version is halfway between fruitcake and fruit bread. It is mostly fruit and nuts with just enough batter to hold it together. 

2 cups, total, nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, and/or macadamias

1 cup, total, sugar-free dried fruit: cranberries, rhubarb, (Carb Wars has recipe for dried rhubarb), currents, cherries, prunes, apricots, and/or peaches, etc.

1 cup, total, sugar-free candied fruit: cranberries, watermelon rind, citrus peel, cherries, peeled and diced fresh ginger root, and/or kumquats (See following recipe.)

1/4 cup whey protein powder (2 net carbs or less per serving), plus an additional 2 teaspoons

2 eggs, separated

Sugar replacement to equal 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Brown Sugar Replacement to equal 1 tablespoon brown sugar (such as Sugar Twin Brown, Just Like Sugar Brown, Sweet Perfection Brown, LC-Sweet Brown, etc.) or 1 tablespoon black strap molasses

2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons cream or coconut cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup almond flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour or Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Flour Blend* plus 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum*

A pinch of cream of tartar (Omit if beating in a copper bowl.)

Preheat the oven to 325ยบ F.

Butter an 8½- by 4½-inch loaf pan and a piece of foil to cover the top. Line the pan with another piece of foil across the bottom and up the two long sides, leaving a little hanging over the sides to help with removing the cake from the pan. Butter the foil lining also.

If your dried fruit is moist and chewy, you can use it as it is; if it is dry and hard, you will need to soak it in a little hot water or microwave it, covered with water, until it is plump. Taste and add a little sugar substitute to the water for fruit that is very tart, such as cranberries. Drain well on paper towels.

Combine the fruit and nuts in a bowl with the ¼ cup of whey powder. Toss to coat, separating the pieces by hand if necessary.

Put the egg yolks, the sugar substitutes, and the additional whey powder in a mixing bowl. Beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, cream, and extracts. Whisk the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and whole-wheat flour or gluten-free bake mix and xanthan gum together in a separate bowl and stir into the batter. (If using xanthan gum, add a little extra cream or water here if batter is too thick.)

In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foamy; add the cream of tartar (if using), and beat to the stiff-peak stage.

Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the batter to lighten, and then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour the batter over the fruit and nut mixture and stir until evenly coated. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with the piece of buttered foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cake is firm in the middle and brown on the edges.

Place the pan on a rack to cool. Remove the cake from the pan, peel off the foil, and cut into 16 slices. Store cake in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil. To freeze, separate the slices with sheets of waxed paper before wrapping.

Servings: 16
Total Carb: 9.5g; Fiber: 2.8g; Net Carb: 6.7g
Data is for cake when made with dried cranberries and rhubarb; candied cranberries; lemon, orange, and kumquat Peels; and equal amounts of walnuts, pecans, and almonds


You may need extra liquid if you use the gluten-free flour and xanthan gum option. Add a little more cream or water gradually until mixture is the proper consistency for cake batter before folding in the egg whites or adding the dry ingredients.

*I used the Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Four that lists garbanzo flour as the first ingredient. Ii is lower in carbs that most others. Any low-carb bake mix should work as well.

I found that I could purchase unsweetened, dried peaches, apricots, and cherries, but I had to dry the cranberries and rhubarb and make all the sugar-free candied fruit and peels myself. Make your fruitcake with candied watermelon rind, citrus peels, candied or dried cranberries, dried rhubarb, and nuts for the lowest carb count, but since this is a special occasion cake, you may want to add a few sugar-free dried cherries, peaches, currants, and apricots. I had all the fruit and peels ready before the day I made the cake. Was it a lot of effort? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes! (I might even make it when it isn’t Christmas!)

This is part of the Prosciutto Rosebuds recipe.

Fruit to be candied, such as citrus peel, kumquats, cranberries, watermelon rind, starfruit slices, etc.
4 tablespoons polydextrose
4 tablespoons of an erythritol blend
A few grains of salt
1 cup water

Lightly grease a piece of waxed paper or parchment to drain fruit.

Prepare the fruit to be candied. Puncture any whole fruit so syrup can penetrate.

Stir the polydextrose, erythritol blend, and salt together thoroughly (to prevent lumping) in a skillet or saucepan just big enough to hold the fruit in a single layer. Stir in the water. If pan is too big, you may need more syrup.

Set pan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until liquid thickens to form a syrup. Add fruit and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is thick and the kumquats darken and become translucent. It may take about 30 minutes, but time may vary, so go by how the kumquats look--they should look candied. Add more water if necessary.

Turn off heat. Dip fruit out with a slotted spoon or sieve and let excess syrup drain back into pan. Spread in a single layer on waxed paper or parchment and let stand to cool and dry out. Sprinkle with granular sweetener if desired.

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(c) 2014, Judy Barnes Baker,

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