Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Switzerland is known for watches, knives, chocolate, banking, and because it is a mountainous country better suited for grazing cows than farming, it is also famous for its marvelous cheese and butter. Writer, Alexandre Dumas, said that Neuchatel looked like a city that was "carved out of butter" because of the soft, yellow limestone used for its buildings. Below is a picture that shows how well his description fits.
It is only 12 miles from the French border so most of the people speak French and the cuisine reflects the French influence. Every meal was phenomenal.
Two other wives came along on the trip and the three of us were free to explore while our spouses attended meetings. We were lucky to have Sophie Baudrin-Alogogiannis, who lives in Neuchatel, to act as our guide for a tour of Neuchatel and Bern, a short train ride away. The picture below shows my new freinds, Teresa, Sophie, and Kay in Bern.
We spent the day sightseeing and shopping and had lunch in a quaint cafe in Bern, then we took the train back to Neuchatel for dinner at a restaurant that specialized in regional dishes. I ordered trout with butter and almonds while Sophie explained to the waiter that I wanted vegetables instead of the potatoes listed on the menu. They brought me the most amazing plate; a fish fillet in butter sauce surrounded by an array of roasted vegetables and purees, including celery root, artichokes, bok choy, beets, celery, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, and several others that I didn't even recognize. All were much more interesting and delicious than the fries they replaced.
On our last night in Neuchatel, we were treated to dinner at La Maison du Prussien, ranked as one of the top four restaurants in the city. We arrived at 7:30 and left after midnight! The extensive menu was in French; the waiter said they had tried to translate it but that there were no equivalents for too many words, so our host had the daunting task of repeating the waiter's descriptions in English. We all decided on one of several set menus as a way to simplify the choices. D and I chose a menu with a wild game theme. Everyone else in our party picked one that featured truffles in every dish (even the dessert).
I lost track of the number of courses we had; I think it was at least ten, each one an exquisite work of art and an experience in culinary innovation in the modern style called molecular gastronomy. I would love to have photographed every plate, but didn't want them to think I was trying to steal their ideas. I will try to describe a couple of the courses to give you an idea of what they were like:
An oblong plate had a tiny, stemmed glass in the middle that contained crunchy black currents in jelly. The waiter topped the jelly with a pink foam from an aerator. Four spoon-sized scoops of ice cream fanned out like petals on one side of the glass, but this was not a dessert. Each one was a slightly different color and made with a different kind of mushroom. One was porcini and one was chanterelle, but I couldn't identify the other two.
The dessert was especially entertaining. The waiter set a rectangular plate in front of each of us. On one end there was a small, round dish with a domed lid. Swirls and puddles of various sauces decorated the plate and a single dot of chocolate perched on the lip of the dish. On the other end of the plate was a spoon containing an oval scoop of rose-flavored ice cream garnished with a crystallized rose petal. The waiter lifted the lid off the tiny pot to reveal cubes of stewed quince. "This is a puzzle," he said. "You must find the chocolate." D found it first. He picked up the lid that the waiter had set aside and looked underneath. It was filled with chocolate mousse, held in place by a layer of hardened chocolate poured over it.
At the other extreme of the food spectrum, street vendors and fast food shops in the pristine cities and rail stations sold sandwiches, pizza, pastries, and pretzels, which the pedestrians ate out of hand. The restaurants served rosti (hash browns) or fries as a side with most of the main dishes and yet the Swiss, like most Europeans, are as slim and healthy as we were 30 years ago. As we were sitting on the train waiting to depart for the return trip to Zurich, I decided to do a random survey of the people who passed by my window. Out of 53 passers by, only one was overweight and one more was slightly pudgy. (Five were smoking.) It has to be the butter.
There is an old joke about national stereotypes that goes like this:
Heaven is where the French are the cooks, the English are the police, the Germans are the mechanics, the Italians are the lovers, and the Swiss organize everything.
Hell is where the English are the cooks, the Germans are the police, the French are the mechanics, the Swiss are the lovers, and the Italians organize everything.
In my opinion, the Swiss excel at all of the above, certainly cooking, and from the number of kanoodling young people we saw, I'll bet they are no slackers in that department either.
Note: A 10-year study done by the World Health Organization called, Multinational Monitoring of Trends in the determinants in Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA), last updated in 2005, found that the Swiss have the highest average levels of cholesterol of any population or country in the world, yet their heart disease rate is 1/3 that of the United Kingdom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=i8SSCNaaDcE). Astonishingly, every single country in the top eight of saturated fat consumption had a lower rate of heart disease than every single country in the bottom eight of saturated fat consumption.
© 2010, Judy Barnes Baker; Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat
Thursday, November 25, 2010
"There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. ... Thanksgiving Day ... is the one day that is purely American."
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"Reverse the Rising Tide of Blood Sugar FAST!...Check out page 246…"
"…People who walk at least a certain distance every day are fully one-third less likely to have trouble sleeping!..See page 242 to learn just how far you have to walk…"
"Type 2 diabetes disappears in 78.8 percent of people who do THIS!...See page 294….."
On page 9 of the booklet, there was a clue about what you can expect to find in Outsmart Diabetes. An article called, "Low Carbohydrate Diets Can Make You Sick!" contained the following advice from someone identified as, "an MD, PhD specialist in cardiology and nutrition." Here is what Dr. Anonymous MD, PhD had to say: "Low-carb diets are dangerous because they put you in ketoacidosis (a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma or even death)." His Advice? You need a "balanced diet," which you can read about on page 249.
It's not surprising that Dr. Anonymous MD, PhD didn't give his name. He has mistaken ketosis for ketoacidosis. Perhaps he was napping during his classes on human metabolism. (Perhaps he should read page 242 so he can get more sleep.) Benign, dietary ketosis is not only harmless but it is a highly desirable state. It means the body is burning fat for fuel. Ketones are produced as a result of the breakdown of fat. The alternative to ketosis is burning sugar and storing fat, something most of us try to avoid. Keto-acid-osis is an entirely different thing.
Dr. Mary Vernon explains it this way: Benign, dietary ketosis occurs whenever the body is burning fat for energy in the presence of normal amounts of insulin; diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when insulin is low or absent, preventing the body from removing glucose (blood sugar) from the blood. Since the sugar is not available for use without insulin, the hormone glucacon is released to initiate fat burning to provide ketones for use as an alternate fuel. Unopposed glucacon promotes rampant fat burning and ketone production, while the lack of insulin keeps the glucose level in the blood elevated. Glucose and ketones together cause severe dehydration when they are excreted by the kidneys and water is lost along with them.
There may be some perfectly dandy tips in Out Smart Diabetes, 1-2-3, but if Dr. Anonymous is typical of their experts, I wouldn’t expect much help in out smarting anything, certainly not diabetes.
And the come-on about how type-2 diabetes disappears in 76.8% of people who do THIS? No doubt a promo for bariatric surgery. Aren't we lucky to have the smart people from Prevention Magazine to keep us from doing anything foolish or dangerous? Like not eating sugar?
© 2010, Judy Barnes Baker; Carb Wars; Sugar Is The New Fat
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Technically, any part of a plant that contains seeds or is involved in reproduction is a fruit. Leaves, stems, and roots are vegetables. But, in common usage, we classify plant foods based on sweetness. If it is sweet, we call it a fruit; if it is not, we call it a vegetable. Most of us can tolerate a few berries, but if we want to cut down on carbs, we must limit or avoid some fruits. When we eat too many of the sweet ones, such as bananas, grapes, mangoes, and pineapple, we get a big dose of sugar, much of which is fructose, the most dangerous of all the sugars.
However, you'll have no trouble getting your recommended two servings of fruit a day while sticking to your low-carb eating plan if you remember that an eggplant is a fruit. Avocados, zucchini, green beans, and olives are fruits. Pumpkin and cucumbers are fruits. A tomato is a fruit. And there is no end to the things you can do with these "vegetable" fruits. It seems perfectly normal to have pumpkin pie made out of a "vegetable" fruit, but you don't need to stop there. I also make avocado ice cream, chayote squash apple pie, and black bean cake. I've even made "raisins" out of olives (still working on that one).
Green tomatoes and tomatillos are my new favorite "vegetables" to use as fruits. When they are still crunchy and tart, green tomatoes make a perfect substitute for apples in jams, chutneys, sauces, and pies. Tomatillos, familiar to most of us as the main ingredient in salsa verde, are the little green fruits encased in a papery lantern commonly used in Mexican cuisine. While green tomatoes are only available in late summer, and then only if you have access to a local garden, tomatillos are easy to find fresh and canned year round in many groceries and ethnic markets. They are also known as husk tomatoes or jamfruit; the name "jamfruit" inspired my recipe for the sweet/hot tomatillo jam in Carb Wars.
Below is my recipe for Tomatillo Sauce. It makes an interesting alternative to cranberry sauce for your holiday table or a dessert topping for ice cream or puddings. If you cook it down until it is thick, you can use it like jam or as a filling for pies and tarts.
1 pound of tomatillos
Sugar substitute equal to ½ cup sugar, preferably a sweet fiber*
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
Remove husks from tomatillos and wash off sticky residue. Chop into small pieces, reserving juice and seeds. Mix the fruit, the reserved juice and seeds, and the sweetener. Let stand for 24 hours to draw out the juices.
Place fruit and juice in a heavy saucepan. Grate the thin, yellow part of the lemon rind into the pan and add the lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Remove cinnamon. To thicken, puree some of the mixture in a food processor or press through a sieve and return to the pan.
Use like cranberry or apple sauce, as jam, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, or spread it in a low-carb tart crust. See variation below for Pocket Pies. Refrigerate or freeze.
Recipe makes 1 cup of sauce or 16 servings of 1 tablespoon each.
Total carbs in whole recipe—9.2 grams; Fiber 2 grams; Net carbs: 7.2 grams
Carbs per tablespoon—0.57 grams; Fiber 0.12 grams; Net carbs: 0.45 grams
*Sweet fibers are sugar substitutes with bulk, such as Sweetperfection©, Just Like Sugar©, or stevia blends with oligofructose or erythritol. You could also use xylitol or maltitol.
VARIATION: POCKET PIES
Joseph's brand pitas are very thin and make a crisp, pastry-like crust. They have only 2 net grams of carbs in each half for a total of 3.8 net per pie (excluding the ice cream).
Cut a low-carb pita pocket in half. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add one pita half and fry until brown and crisp. Turn over. Carefully open the pita with a fork or spatula and spread ¼ cup of drained Tomatillo Sauce inside. Continue to fry until second side is brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon and more granular sweetener and serve hot with a scoop of low-carb ice cream. Wipe out the pan and repeat with other half.
© 2010, Judy Barnes Baker, Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat
Monday, November 1, 2010
When I ask, "Could you do it if you had really good food that didn't leave you feeling deprived?" they always answer, "Yes, of course!"
There is nothing wrong with the human digestive tract. It's what we put into it that needs to be redesigned. And I have some really good news to report about someone who is doing just that.
Glen Frederich's struggle with weight led him to try dieting and exercise and to start a food company that specialized in low-fat snack foods. Although his company was very successful, Glen's weight continued to climb. He eventually reached 375 pounds eating his own products. He had high blood pressure, sleep apnea, knee and back pain, and other health problems. He was miserable and hopeless, but rather than give up, he set out to learn why his previous efforts to lose weight had failed. He read more than 12 books on nutrition, picking up bits of information from each, "like putting together a puzzle," until he could see the big picture. He says, "…so I dug and dug till I had new truths no one would tell me. Not the doctors, not the diet plans, not the pharmaceuticals, and for heaven's sake not the food industry."
With his new understanding of how fats, proteins, and carbohydrates effect the body, and how insulin, released in response to dietary sugar and starch, is the hormone that drives fat storage, he set off to the grocery store to buy the food needed to implement a new lifestyle. "And guess what?" he says, "It was not there." This is when his "relentless, focused, A-type" personality kicked in and LC Foods was born.
I was thrilled when Glen contacted me to tell me that my book had helped him lose 108 pounds on a low-carb diet (without surgery or starvation dieting) and start his new low-carb food company. He has worked tirelessly with scientists, baking companies, and food manufacturers and packagers to bring a wide range of low-carb products to market. He started with a line of flour replacements; it took a year and half to perfect his five different blends, one for every specific baking need.
Next came sugar replacements made with natural fibers and sweeteners, and then low-carb cereals. The line now includes milk, syrups and sauces, chocolates, frostings, potato mixes, dried fruits, jams and jellies, ready-made breads, crackers, and brownies, and much more. You can see the list here: http://lcfoodscorp.com/products.