Friday, March 27, 2015


Even children will love sauerkraut when it is prepared this way. The bacon, apple, and onion make it surprisingly sweet and mellow. Use it as a vegetable or side dish, or layer it with a variety of smoked meats, such as ham, smoked pork chops, hot dogs, or sausages to make the classic French one-pot meal called, Choucroute Garni. If you use sugar-free meats, the carb count will be the same as for sauerkraut alone.

Bavarian Sauerkraut
Real, fermented sauerkraut is a traditional food that deserves its reputation as a superfood. When using sauerkraut in recipes, I reserve some of the liquid. After the dish is cooked and has cooled down a bit, I spoon some of the liquid over the plate to replenish the live microbes before serving. To get the full benefits of the active, live probiotics you must eat fermented foods cold or just warm. 

1 package or jar of fresh sauerkraut (most brands come in 28 ounce jars),* drained, reserving liquid
¼ cup water or white wine
1 apple, cored but not peeled, cut in half
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
¼ pound (4 or 5 slices) bacon

Put sauerkraut in a deep pot, with about half the liquid. Add the water or white wine to the pot and bury the apple, cut side down, and the onion in the sauerkraut. Lay strips of bacon over the sauerkraut. Cover the pan and place over low heat. Cook for about an hour or until the apple and onion are very soft, checking occasionally and adding water if necessary. Remove the apple and onion before serving. If you are careful not to move them while cooking, they can be scooped out with a spoon, even if they have disintegrated. (You can eat them if you choose, they are delicious, but will add carbs to the dish.) Top each serving with some of the reserved juice after placing on plates, if desired.

Makes about 3¾ cups or 7½ servings of ½ cup sauerkraut.

Nutrition Data: 
Most sources list sauerkraut as having 1 gram of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber, giving it a net count of zero, probably because the numbers are rounded and the portions are usually small. The count below includes some of the sugar in the sauerkraut that will have been eaten during fermentation, so it may actually be very close to zero.

Per serving—Total carbs: 3.8g; Protein: 2.3g; Fiber: 3.1g; Fat: 8.8g; Calories: 104; Net carbs: 1.5g 
Total weight: 1 pound 6 1/3 ounces or 631 grams 
Weight per serving: 3 ounces or 84 grams
Preparation time: 10 minutes active, 1 hour and 10 minutes total

Choucroute Garni
For this easy and delicious French one-pot meal, the sauerkraut is layered with a variety of cured or smoked meats and cooked until the meats are meltingly tender. 

Add a variety of cured pork to the Bavarian Sauerkraut recipe above.such as smoked pork chops, sliced ham, hot dogs, and/or sausages. Use white wine rather than water. Place smoked pork chops, if using, in the bottom of a large, greased pot and cook on medium-high until just brown. Add onion and apple as in recipe above and layer with other meats. Cover with sauerkraut and lay bacon strips over top. Cover pot and cook on low heat for about an hour until apple and onion are tender and very soft. Spoon meat and sauerkraut onto plates and top each serving with some of reserved juice.

*Fresh, crisp, sauerkraut can be found in glass jars or plastic pouches in the refrigerated cases at most grocery stores, usually near the fresh pickles. Look for ones that are “naturally fermented,” like Bubbie's. The ingredients list should say only, "cabbage and salt." You can also buy it at a delicatessen. Better yet, you can also make your own sauerkraut from shredded cabbage. There are lots of recipes online for making it. Here's one from Sarah Pope, a fermented food specialist with The Weston A. Price Foundation:

The liquid from naturally fermented sauerkraut can be used as a tonic. Dilute it with water, add a little sweetener, and serve over ice. Think of it as living lemonade! You can do the same thing with the juice from natural pickles or apple cider vinegar.

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Recipe adapted from Nourished; a Cookbook for Health, Weight Loss, and Metabolic Balance.

(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Friday, March 20, 2015


Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL
Socca is a flatbread traditionally made from garbanzo bean flour, the kind used to make Papadams. (Hear me out before you say, “No, no, I don’t eat beans!”) The cuisines of India, Algeria, Italy, France, and most of the countries that border on the Mediterranean all have their own special versions of this bread. 

Socca is naturally gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free (unless you use ghee for the fat), and sugar-free, but it occurred to me that if I substituted besan flour made from chana dal for the garbanzo flour, I could make socca that was lower in carbs and further down on the glycemic index as well. Chana dal are already the most digestible of all beans and preparing them in the traditional, slow-food way, neutralizes most of the toxins and anti-nutrients found in all grains and legumes. 

The recipe for socca is very simple and easy, but it takes a while to prepare the beans if you want your bread to be as healthful as possible. See instructions below* for soaking chana dal and making besan flour. Remember too, that the batter has to sit for 2 hours before cooking, so allow time for that.

1 cup chana dal flour (also called besan flour), homemade preferred, see directions below.*
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 and 1/2 tablespoons high-heat oil or melted fat, plus more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
Spices and/or herbs, if desired: cumin and black pepper are traditional additions

You will need a 9- or 10-inch, oven-proof baking dish or pan. An iron skillet is ideal.

This recipe makes enough for one thick or two thinner flatbreads.

Prepare the chana dal flour by directions below* or use purchased besan flour made from chan dal.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, oil or fat, and salt. Add spices and/or herbs if using. Let batter rest, covered, in a warm place for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Heat the Broiler and put the pan in the oven until hot, about 5 minutes.  

Remove the hot pan from the oven using hot pads or mitts. Coat the pan with 2 teaspoons of oil. Stir the batter and pour the amount for one flatbread into the hot skillet, tilting the pan quickly to cover the bottom. If making two flatbreads, use half the batter for each and add more oil to the pan before cooking the second one.

Broil the Socca about 6-inches from the heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until it is firm and the top begins to blister and brown. (In the Old World, they prefer it smokey and slightly charred.) If the top browns before the batter is set, move the skillet to a lower rack and continue to bake until done. The socca should be flexible in the center but crisp and dark brown on the edges. Repeat with remaining batter if making two.

Loosen the socca from the pan with a spatula. Slice it into wedges, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little good quality, extra virgin olive oil. Use it as you would any flatbread, as a base for appetizers, or as a crust for pizza. Socca is best fresh out of the oven, but it can be refrigerated and re-crisped for a few days.

Alternate Cooking Methods: Socca can also be baked in a hot oven or cooked in a skillet on the stove top.

To Bake: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 9- to 10-inch, heat-proof baking dish or pan in the oven for about five minutes or until hot. Remove the pan from the oven (use hot pads or mitts). Quickly coat the pan generously with 2 teaspoons of high-heat oil or melted fat and pour in the batter for either 1 or 2 breads. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes until it is cooked then run it under the broiler to brown the top.

To Cook on the Stove Top: Set pan over medium-high heat. When pan is piping hot, add 2 teaspoons of high-heat oil or fat to the pan and pour in the socca batter for either 1 or 2 breads. After about 3 minutes, when the edges are set, loosen the bread and flip it over. Cook the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides are firm and well browned.
Makes 1 or 2 breads.

Below is the the nutrition data for 1 or 2 soccas as calculated by the data base I use, but it is almost certainly wrong because of the amount of resistant starch in chana dal. If I can find a way to calculate it more accurately, I will revise it. JBB

Nutrition data if recipe is used to make 2 soccas, cut into a total of 16 slices
Calories: 54g; Fat: 2g; Protein: 2.3g; Total Carbs: 7.2g; Net Carbs; 5.2g.

Nutrition data for 1 socca, cut into 8 slices
Calories: 106g; Fat: 36g; Protein: 4.5g; Total Carbs: 14.5g; Fiber: 4g; Net Carbs: 10.5g.

*Preparing Chana Dal and Making Besan Flour:
Rinse and pick over chana dal to remove dirt, loose hulls, and stones. Place in a pot and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar for each cup of beans. Let stand in a warm place (about 140 degrees) for 8 to 48 hours, changing the water and adding more acid medium every 8 hours or prevent fermentation. Drain and rinse beans and blot on paper or cloth towels. Place in a warm oven or a dehydrated until dry, stirring occasionally. When dry, use a food processor, coffee grinder (a burr grinder is best), a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), or a flour mill to grind the beans into a soft flour. Sift the flour after the initial grinding and regrind or discard any hard particles. Read more about soaking beans here:

Grains and legumes contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that can be neutralized by soaking them before cooking. Traditional societies who depend on such foods as dietary staples have learned how to prepare them so they can be eaten safely. Soaking may not be essential for chana dal if you only eat it occasionally, but I think it is worth the effort. It’s easy; it just takes longer.

Since it is difficult to drain the soaking water from ground flour, I start with the dried split beans and soak them, dry them, and grind them to make my own besan flour. Another reason to make your own flour is to be sure that it is really made from chana dal and not regular garbanzos or yellow split peas, which are sometimes mislabeled as chana dal. Why does that matter?  Chana dal beans are split, baby garbanzos. They are not a different variety or species, but they have a much lower glycemic index  and glycemic load than garbanzos. Garbanzos have a GL of 8; chana dal’s GL is ONE!

If you only look at the nutrition data for chana dal, you would think they are not  very low in carbohydrate, but a low glycemic rank indicates that they contain a lot of resistant starch, which is not digested by human enzymes. It survives to reach the lower digestive tract where it is broken down by gut bacteria and turned into beneficial fatty acids. Because chana dal beans are digested very slowly and help stabilize blood sugar, they have become a diet staple for many vegetarians with diabetes, and certainly a better choice for a source of protein than soy or wheat.

Nutrition data sources do not agree on the carbohydrate and fiber counts for chana dal. However, there have been a number of studies (see Footnottes, 1, 2, 3) that confirm that they have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. If you regularly check your blood sugar levels, check to see how you react to chana dal. (Leave a comment to let us know.)

David Mendosa,, is the go-to-guy for everything about chana dal. Here is a quote from his site: 
“It’s a miracle food for me now. It keeps my glucose readings so steady and reliable! In fact, last week I ran out of the chana dal I had cooked and in two days time my glucose readings were all over the chart." – Alef Grey, a diabetic vegetarian

1.       Dilawari, Jang B., et al. “Reduction of postprandial plasma glucose by Bengal gram dal and Rajmah.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 34, Nov 1981.
2.       Dilawari, J.B., et al. “Exceptionally low blood glucose response to dried beans.” British Medical Journal, Vol. 281, Oct 1980.
3.       Walker, A.R.P., and B.F. Walker, “Glycaemic Index of South African Foods Determined in Rural Blacks—a Population at Low Risk of Diabetes.” Human Nutrition: Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 38C, 1984.

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

Monday, March 9, 2015


You may have heard that ninety percent of the cells in our bodies do not share our DNA. We are mutually dependent on the billions of microbes that live in us, on us, and around us. We were never meant to live in a sterile world. These friendly aliens must be nurtured, tended, and replenished if we want them to stick around.

Many foods contain a kind of starch that is not digested by human enzymes so it survives until it reaches the colon, where it is broken down by bacteria and turned into short-chain fatty acids that feed the gut lining, improve overall health, and prevent and treat a number of diseases. Beans are notoriously high in resistant starch (RS). It is also in some other foods. including potatoes, rice, tapioca, green bananas, and plantains, but most of them contain a lot more plain 'ole digestible starch than RS and when they are eaten hot or reheated, it all becomes digestible. Most advocates of RS supplementation prefer to buy flours that are just the extracted RS; the most popular one to use is raw, unmodified potato starch (RUMPS) from Bob's Red Mill. Note: The downside is that eating the same kind of prebiotic fiber regularly may cut down on the diversity of your inner microbe community so it would be wise to explore some other sources in addition to potato starch, You want to keep your intestinal tenants happily evolving, interbreeding, and inviting their pals to the party.

I don't pretend to know a lot about RS, so I'm going to hand you off to the experts to do your own research. You can read about the pros and cons via the links at the bottom of this post. Most, but not all, of them think that there are advantages to using it, although Jimmy Moore cautions that RS set off such cravings for him that he had to quit eating it and Dr. Norman Robillard, author of Fast Track Digestion, suggests caution for those with gut or auto-immune issues until their symptoms are under control. He says that for healthy people, it may be beneficial as long as it is not eaten in excess. Here's a quote: "To be on the safe side, people with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)-related digestive illnesses such as GERD, IBS and Celiac disease, to name a few, would be best served by consuming lower levels of resistant starch because it behaves much like fermentable fiber."

As you can see, there may be digestive repercussions to eating indigestible starches. Mark Sisson recommends starting with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of RS potato starch and working up to 20 to 30 grams from there. Dr. Eefeldt suggests working up to 2 tablespoons a day. There are about 8 grams of RS in a tablespoon of Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch, so 2 and 1/2 tablespoons equals 20 grams. If you use my soup recipe as a base, you can add as much RS as you like (or as much as you can tolerate) to individual servings and ramp the dosage up gradually. Remember to add it just before serving and after the base is cooked and cooled. You may need to stir it occasionally between spoonfuls so the RS doesn't settle out. If you decide that RS supplementation is not for you, you can still enjoy the soup; if you only heat it once and then eat it warm or cold, some of the regular potato flour will become resistant, which will have the added bonus that the carb count will be even lower than what is shown.


A major problem with eating raw, indigestible starches is that all of them taste horrible. I thought it would be convenient to dehydrate some plantains so I could easily grab a few slices to get my RS quota. The ones in the picture are still sitting in my cupboard because they taste so BAD.

Sure, you could just stir your daily dose of RS flour into a glass of water, hold your nose, and gag it down, but it seems a shame to waste a chance to cheat without enjoying it!

Vichyssoise seemed like the obvious place to start when looking for a recipe to hide the taste of raw potato starch. I kicked up the flavor in my low-carb Potato Soup from Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat to use as the base. After it is cooked and cooled until just warm, you can stir in however much you want of the raw potato flour. (But keep the temperature below 140 degrees or the starch will become digestible.) If you want to serve it cold, you may need to use a liquid fat like olive oil rather than butter, which might harden in the soup when it chills. 

2 cups chicken broth (more if needed to thin soup after adding RS)
2 Turkish bay leaves
1 celery stalk with leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 whole cloves
3 whole peppercorns, crushed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil*
3 tablespoons regular potato starch (not RS) for thickening
1/2 teaspoon or more Bob’s Red Mill raw potato starch, added just before serving** 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled crisp bacon, grated cheese, and a sprig of thyme for garnish, if desired.

Place the broth in a medium saucepan with the bay leaf, celery, onion, cloves, peppercorns, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Return to the burner and heat just to a simmer; remove the pan from the heat  and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt the butter, if using, on low heat. If using olive oil, add it and the regular potato flour to the pan. Cook, stirring, for a minute or so, but do not let it brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Strain the warm cream mixture and add it slowly while stirring to the pan containing the fat and potato flour. Place the pan back on the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened, stirring frequently. Add additional salt and white pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Let cool until just warm or refrigerate until cold. Stir in raw potato starch just before serving. Stir often as starch may settle out on standing. Thin soup with a little extra broth if it is too thick after adding RS. 

Makes about 3 servings of 1 cup.

Nutrition Data for soup only:
Calories: 447; Fat: 45g; Protein: 2.5g; Total Carbs: 10.6g; Fiber: 0.6g; Net Carbs: 10g***

*Use a liquid oil if soup will be served chilled.

**The counts do not include the RS since the amounts will vary. It will have no carbs because it is all fiber, but the fats produced when it is fermented in the digestive tract will add a few calories. 

***The regular potato flour in the base, used to thicken it, will contain a some resistant starch if it is only heated once and then cooled, making the carbs lower than the nutrition data shows.

For more info on RS: 

Mark Sisson’s, The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch is here: 

Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt:

Richard Nikoley probably has more information about RS than anyone, with 90 posts on the subject, His Resistant Starch Primer for Newbies is here.

Tom Naughton's take is here:
Part 1
and here:
Part 2

Dr. Norman Robillard suggested caution when using RS in his first post, especially for anyone who suffers from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
His followup post is a little more supportive:

(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker,

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,

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