Monday, December 22, 2008

Low Carb Gingerbread House

Photos of my gingerbread house made of slim jims, jack links, and beef jerky are up on my Examiner site here.

Making your own "meat masterpiece"? Send me a photo and I will be happy to post it.

Merry Christmas :D

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gingerbread houses are for wussies!

As part of a Christmas party I am attending on Saturday, there is going to be a gingerbread house contest. Not touching sugar and flour for over 18 months has been very good to me, so I really see no need to start now. While I do admit that sugar and flour are better used as a building material than a food source, there just has to be a better way.

Instead of walls made out of gingerbread, candy trim and peppermint wheel windows, I did think about baking sheets of low carb almond cookies and using sugar-free candies. It would have the appearance of a traditional gingerbread house, but lack the traditional toxic ingredients. The more I thought about it, the more lame it seemed. Why pay tribute to sugar and wheat addiction by making a pathetic imitation? Instead, I decided to pay the ultimate tribute to my low carb lifestyle and make my gingerbread house out of MEAT!

You got it! Sausage logs walls, beef jerky "shingles", circles of summer sausage and any other dried meat that will hold its form. For mortar, instead of frosting I will use cream cheese onion dip fortified with a little palm oil. Decorations and trim will be almond slivers, pecan, macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds. There wont be a single gumdrop, licorice whip, or peppermint anywhere near my masterpiece. I think this will be a fitting tribute to low carb living.

So far all I have is $30 worth of dried meat and several packs of cream cheese and a head full of ideas. Stay tuned to see if I can actually pull this off.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone is having a tasty and fun Thanksgiving. Here is my dinner before it mysteriously disappeared. There is cooked-ahead turkey in Cream of Chicken Mushroom gravy, sausage and squash stuffing, "Jacked-up" cauliflower, a spinach salad and some sharp cheddar cheese. Who needs rolls!?!

I have recipes for most of these over on my Examiner site as well as instructions on what to do with that turkey carcass (you didn't throw it away, did you???). Stop by and check it out as soon as you recover from your food coma :D

Denver's Low Carb Examiner

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sugar-free Halloween

I was able to find packages of Sugar-Free Double Bubble at my local Walmart, so it looks like I am set for my non-poisonous trick-or-treat offering. Not sure how the kids will take it. I guess I will find out at the end of the night. Either my pumpkins will be fine, which means they didn't notice I slipped sugar-free gum in their bags. Or, I will find smashed pumpkins, a burning pile of copies of "Dr. Atkin's New Diet Revolution", and "Death to Low-Carb!" spray painted on my VW Golf. Well, it could also be angry militant vegetarians who caught wind of my propensity to eat meat, but I guess in that case, the pumpkins would have been chewed on instead of smashed. I guess I will have play "Pumpkin CSI" to know for sure.

Along with purchasing non-toxic treats, I have also been going through my music collection trying to find a good mix of music to play Halloween night. I usually hook up some outside speakers and play some of the kid-friendly selections for the munchkins that come to my door. I have been working on building this collection for quite a few years, so it is pretty extensive. I was Facebooking with a friend of my hubby's the other night and mentioned I was jamming to some Halloween tunes. He asked what songs I was playing and I ended up typing up the entire list. Through the magic of cut and paste, I am posting it here in case anyone else is looking for some good music to play for treat-or-treaters or at their Halloween bash. Most music genres are represented, and some are a tad corny, but they sure are fun. Just be sure let me know if I left any good ones out. 

Wifezilla's Ultimate Halloween Party Music List
"This is Halloween" by Marilyn Manson (as well as the original from the movie soundtrack)
"Black Magic Woman" by Carlos Santana
"I put a spell on you" by Natacha Atlas (as well as the CCR and Bett Midler versions)
"Every Day is Halloween" by Ministry
"Voo Doo" by Godsmack
"When You're Evil" by Voltaire (comedy song)
"Oogie Boogie Man" from Nightmare Before Christmas
"Psycho theme song"
"De Ja Voo Doo" by Kenny Wayne Sheperd
"Devil with a blue dress" by Mitch Ryder
Theme from Beetlejuice
Theme from Halloween ala Mike Myers
"Monster Mash"
Theme from the Addams Family
"Magic Man" by Heart
"Runnin' with the Devil" by Van Halen
"Blue Moon" the Platters
"Once bitten twice shy" White Snake
"Nemesis" by Shriekback
"Halloween" by Steven Lynch (comedy song)
"Thriller" Michael Jackson
Amityville Horror Theme
Ghostbusters Theme
Exorcist Theme
Tales From the Crypt Theme
Friday the 13th - Jason's Theme
"Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley
"Highway to Hell" by AC/DC
"Psycho Killer" Talking Heads
"Voodoo Lady" Ween
"Weird Science" Oingo Boingo
"Devil Inside" INXS
"Werewolves of London" Warren Zevon
"Blinded me with science" Thomas Dolby
"Zombie" Cranberries
"I'm Your Boogie Man" KC & the Sunshine Band
"Don't Fear the Reaper" Blue Oyster Cult
"Time Warp" Rocky Horror Picture Show
"Dead Man's Party" Oingo Boingo
"Hell's Bells" AC/DC
"Love Song For A Vampire" Annie Lennox
"The Beast"  Concrete Blonde
"Deliver us from Evil" by Bullet for my Valentine
"Evil Ways" by Carlos Santana
"Dirty Deeds" AC/DC
"Abracadabra" Steve Miller Band
and "Evil Woman" by ELO
"Witchy Woman"--Eagles!
"Somebody's Watching Me" Rockwell
"Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult
"Clap for the Wolfman" The Guess Who
"Feed my Frankenstein" Alice Cooper
"Invisible Man" by Theory of a Dead Man
"Blasphemous Rumors" Depeche Mode
"Creatures" 311
"Live & Let Die" Guns & Roses
"Possum Kingdom" the Toadies
"Bad Moon Rising" CCR
"King of Pain" the Police
"Girls are F*cking Evil" by the Ataris
"They're coming to take me away" Napoleon
"If you want blood" AC/DC
"Dragula" Rob Zombie
"Little Devil" Neil Sedaka
"The Killing Moon" Echo and the Bunnymen
"Race with the Devil" by the Stray Cats
"Counting Bodies Like Sheep" Perfect Circle
"Sell your soul" Hollywood Undead
"Bark at the moon" Ozzy Osbourne
"World is a Vampire" Smashing Pumpkins
"Prince of Darkness" Megadeath
"Bloodletting" Concrete Blonde
"Can't fight the Moonlight" by Leann Rimes
"Vampires in Love" Deadlines
"Neon Moon" Brooks and Dunn
"If I was your Vampire" Marilyn Manson
"Poison" Alice Cooper
"My Boo" by Girlicious
"Hungry like the wolf" Duran Duran
"Animal I have Become" 3 Days Grace
"Cold Hearted Snake" Paula Abdul
"Living Dead Girl" Rob Zombie
"Move your body like a snake" R. Kelly
"I can sleep when I'm dead" Jason Michael Carroll
"Devil went down to Georgia" Charlie Daniels

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Halloween Issues

Apparently I am not the only one who has been agonizing about whether or not to poison the neighborhood children with sugar this Halloween. Columnist Brian Cormier also has it on his mind...

"It's a little-known fact that this is also National Dentists Buy Expensive Cars Week across North America. Wherever children go door to door, dentists will be cackling with glee and their receptionists getting to work extra early tomorrow in order to deal with all those calls from moms and dads (probably mostly dads)."  

Please stop by and check out the rest of his blog post. It's a great laugh :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why I never have any food in the house....


My 18 year-old settling in for a good old fashioned refrigerator raid.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TB: Yet another reason to ditch carbs

Not only is there a tie between type 2 diabetes and heart disease, there is also a link between diabetes and tuberculosis. The University of Texas Public Health team reports;

"-- Type 2 diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes involving chronic high blood sugar, is associated with altered immune response to TB, and this was particularly marked in patients with chronically high blood sugar.
-- Patients with diabetes and TB take longer to respond to anti-TB treatment.
-- Patients with active tuberculosis and Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have multi-drug resistant TB.

The World Health Organization estimates that 180 million people in the world have diabetes, and that number is expected to double by 2030. Also, according to the WHO, each person with active, untreated TB infects on average 10 to 15 people per year. "You do the math and it adds up to a major public health threat," McCormick said. "If you have Type 2 diabetes in an area with high rates of TB, your chances of getting TB goes up. In countries where a third of the population is infected with TB, this becomes a real issue."

In a recently published study in linical Infectious Diseases, researchers reported that the immune systems of patients with Type 2 diabetes and tuberculosis respond differently compared with patients with TB alone. "This immune impairment may be what makes patients with diabetes so susceptible to TB," said Fisher-Hoch, whose career as a scientist was recently honored with a Hall of Fame Award from Women In Technology International. " (full article)

Controlling blood sugar is about more than just treating diabetes. Unstable blood sugar seriously effects the immune system and can set you up for many different chronic disease (check my Examiner post on Diabetes and Heart disease for one example). One of the best ways to get your blood sugar under control is to follow a low carbohydrate diet. Check out the websites for Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Briffa and Dr. Mary Vernon to learn how you can avoid additional illness risk if you are already diabetic....or even if you aren't!

Sugar High Brings Heart to New Low

From my latest Examiner post...

"Diabetics have always been at a much greater risk of heart disease than non-diabetics. According to the American Heart Association, approximately three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. The exact mechanism by which diabetics succumb to heart disease was not totally understood. A new study by US and Australian researchers sheds light on the process that can lead a diabetic to a coronary incident.

"...short-lived sugar highs can trigger changes in gene expression that lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques - the build-up of white blood cells on artery walls that causes the narrowing or 'furring' of arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart."

Full Story

I also posted my Mozzarella Salad recipe, so if you missed it the first time, be sure to check it out...

Recipe


Another post from last week is a quick story about a research student who figured out that high carb + disease makes you even sicker...

Full Story


On a personal note, I got hit on last weekend. I don't get hit on often so it kind of took me by surprise since I am:

1) way taller than most people

2) have been overweight since my early 20's

3) I'm 45 and have been married forever

4) Still need to lose 18 pounds

It was kind of a good news/bad news thing. It is nice to know that someone finds you attractive...but the person hitting on me was a lesbian. Now, this isn't the first time I have gotten hit on by lesbians. It happened quite a few times in college. I must say though, I seem to be attracting an entirely different type than I did in the past. In my younger, fatter days, it was the mullet-wearing, flannel-sporting, Wrangler-wearers with huge belt buckles that thought I was interesting. Last week, it was a tall, cute blonde. I am moving up in the world apparently. Low carb seems to have helped me in a very unexpected way. Even though I am quite happy with my husband and will always have a preference for boys, it's nice to know I have options.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Halloween Dilemma

Halloween is coming up and I have been off sugar and refined carbs for almost a year and a half now. The candy displays at the grocery store are almost impossible to avoid and I am so torn about what to do when the neighborhood kids come to my door Halloween night. Do I stick to my low carb convictions and give the kids Slim Jims instead of candy? Do I give them dark chocolate, reducing the amount of sugar I am giving them yet still give them candy? Do I give them little toys or coupons? I could get all evangelical and stand on the porch with my copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" and read passages from the chapter on sugar, but I don't want my pumpkins smashed or a quick trip to the local mental health care facility courtesy of their parents.

I firmly believe that sugar is destroying the health of adults and children around the world, but I also believe that kids should be kids and Halloween comes but once a year. Too bad I just know these little rug rats are going to be eating sugar in the form of cereal, sugar in the form of pasta, sugar in the form of rice, and sugar in the form of drinks loaded with high fructose corn syrup for the rest of their lives. Then their parents and school officials will try to make these poor kids lose weight by making them run, take exercise classes and give them low fat foods. More than the thought of ghost, vampires, zombies and politicians bent on "helping" me, this is my biggest nightmare.

Oh well. I can only do so much, and I am having enough trouble with my oldest son. I've been trying to convince my slightly chubby 20 year old that low carb is what he needs to drop the 5 lbs the Army wants him to lose before he enlists. If I can't convince my own stupid kid to drop the sugars, how can I expect to save the entire neighborhood?

I guess I will go with the dark chocolate option. At least if nobody shows up, it is something I can eat myself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sugar isn't the only problem with breakfast cereals

Here is a new article I wrote for the Examiner about breakfast cereals...

"Consumer Reports released an article today stating that many breakfast cereals are more than 50% sugar.

"The bad news is that 23 of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only Good or Fair for nutrition. There is at least as much sugar in a serving of Kellogg's Honey Smacks and 10 other rated cereals as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts. "
Examiner Article: Sugar isn't the only problem with breakfast cereal

While it's very easy to get upset about added sugar in cereal, nobody seems to notice all the damn CARBS in that crap!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Who needs noodles when you have low carb 'cabboodles'?

Here is my latest examiner post with a handy noodle replacement... shredded cabbage noodles, or, as I like to call them, "CABBOODLES"!

Low Carb Noodles


I also reposted an old recipe of mine for Almond Ricotta Pancakes. Check it out if you missed it the first time...
Low Carb Pancake Recipe

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dr. Sears' New Theory

Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone Diet has a book coming out in which he proposes a new theory on obesity.

"Rather than looking at obesity as a condition of sloth and gluttony, Dr. Sears shows it is much more productive to think of obesity as a form of cancer that is driven by silent inflammation. Furthermore, the epidemics of weight gain and diabetes in America are primarily caused because the genes in susceptible individuals are being activated by recent changes in the American diet. Once those genes are turned on, obesity and diabetes are the inevitable outcome. The cause of those genes being turned on is the rapid increase of arachidonic acid (i.e., toxic fat) in our bodies." (Full Story)

The theory may sound a bit far-fetched, but after recently learning that Alzheimer's Disease may actually be a form of diabetes of the brain, it doesn't seem so wacky after all. With many random diseases (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer) turning out to be generating from the same cause (excess carbohydrate consumption), Dr. Sears may actually be on to something.

Once I get a copy of his book, I'll read in to it further and let you know what I think.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Reasons to Start a Low Carb Diet

I have a few new Examiner posts you might find interesting. One that I think came out rather well was "Best Reasons to Start a Low Carb Diet". I wrote that as part of the Examiner's BEST OF project and it was published yesterday. Links are below. I've marked the articles I published earlier on this blog as RERUNS so you can skip over those if you caught them the first time. All other posts are new.

Best Reasons to Start a Low Carb Diet

Are Diabetics Suffering for No Reason? (rerun)
Don't Have a Heart Attack. Dark Chocolate is Good For You!
Carbohydrates Clog Your Brain (rerun)
A Day At The Farmer's Market
Vitamin K(ale)

Fellow low carber and columnists Jamie Van Eaton has a new "best of" post too...
Five Best Low Carb Breakfast Ideas
Happy Reading :D

Meet "Space Doc"

I stumbled on a very interesting website today. Created by Duane Graveline, MD, MPH, Former USAF Flight Surgeon, Former NASA Astronaut, and Retired Family Doctor, it documents his disastrous experience with statins along with his take on low carbohydrate diets.

"No more than 40-50% of our daily caloric intake should be from carbohydrates and it should be from the complex variety and for fats we must return to the natural fats that were the foundation of the American diet five decades ago.

We also should remember that our strongest antagonists in what I chose to call "back to basics" diet will be the food industry for there is relatively little profit in basic foods. I fondly remember the words of Doctor Paul Dudley White, cardiologist to the presidents back in the mid-fifties. When pressed to support the politically motivated "prudent" diet of fat and cholesterol restriction replied, "See here, I began my practice as a cardiologist in 1921 and never saw a myocardial infarction patient until 1928. Back in the MI-free days before 1920, the fats were butter, whole milk and lard, and I think we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had when no one had ever heard of corn oil."

Today most people have forgotten all about Dr. Dudley White and his prophetic words of advice. If Dudley White had been in control of our dietary destiny then, cardiovascular disease would probably not be the immense problem it is today."
http://www.spacedoc.net/heart_disease_carbohydrate.htm

When you get a chance stop by this interesting and informative website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Better Use for Sugar: Gasoline!

While not ready for prime time, new technology is in the works that can convert sugar to gasoline at an efficiency rate of 65%. It works by passing the sugars over nano-sized metal catalysts and requires very little energy input to run unlike current fermentation processes. Better yet, this method results in gasoline, NOT ethanol, which can be damaging to metals and rubbers used in car parts.

"An alloy of the precious metals platinum and rhenium triggers the first step of the conversion. Dumesic and his colleagues deposited 2-nanometer-wide specks of this alloy onto surfaces made of pure carbon. When a liquid mixture of water and plant sugar flows over the platinum-rhenium particles at the right temperature and pressure, the metal atoms act as catalysts to cleave chemical bonds in the sugar, releasing oxygen and leaving behind a mixture of molecules containing carbon and hydrogen — the principal elements in gasoline and diesel."
Full story

There is still a lot of work to do on this process and catalyst costs may be an issue, but hopefully this line of study will result in getting sugars out of American's diets and in to something much more useful that wont cause obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cancer Support Event Fail

The Denver Zoo was host to the recent "Paint the Zoo Pink" event to support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. According to a 9 News article, "The Denver Zoo's hippos, Bert and Mahali, eagerly supported the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Sunday afternoon. Their jobs during the event were very important: they had to open their mouths wide and eat two pink sponge cakes which were dropped in whole." (Full Story)

While fund raisers like this are very helpful in raising money and awareness about the cancer battle, there is a slight problem with this particular event detail. Sponge cake is made from refined flours and sugars, which are the two of the leading suspects in the rise in cancer rates over the last 20-30 years. Refined carbohydrates are behind all the diseases of civilization...heart disease, diabetes, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and yes, even cancer. Gary Taubes in "Good Calories Bad Calories" carefully outlines the available information on tribes of people in various corners of the world who were observed during a switch from their native diets to Western foods. Things went from cancer being so rare that in the few instances it did occur, it was seen as very remarkable and was closely studied by health care workers to having obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease being common, and even rampant in populations who didn't even previously have words for these diseases.

As long as the medical community seems to be steeped in denial about the cause of diseases of civilization (including cancer) I fail to see how throwing cake at innocent herbivores is supposed to help. The 9 News story provided this quote...
"Breast cancer survivor Hollen Ferrendelli said she hopes the hippos' afternoon dessert will push our legislators to make health care a top priority during the coming legislative session."

So who exactly do I have to throw pink-tinted baked goods at to get people to realize that the very food they may be eating is increasing their risk of getting cancer? I don't have any hippos handy, and I wouldn't want to harm my cats by having them eat garbage after all the time and effort I took getting them on their own version of the Atkin's diet. I guess I could throw Zingers at the squirrels, or better yet, some anti-low-carb doctors and a politician or two.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Food Pyramid

BlueSojrn from the Active Low Carb forum has come up with a great new food pyramid for low carbers. View it on my Examiner post here.

It's perfect for Barry Groves "Natural Health and Weight Loss" fans since it lists FAT at the base. Unlike the USDA grain-based food pyramid, following this one wont make you SHAPED like a pyramid :D

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Best of the Forums: Why There is Resistance to Low Carb

Those of us who have had success on a low carb diet are often confused when we see so much resistance to this way of life. It is hard not to be confused when so many of us lose weight, control our blood sugar, reverse heart disease and more. Forum poster Advantagec recently put his feelings about the situation on the Active Low Carb Forum.

"LC provides an effective way for most people to lose weight and maintain the loss with relatively little effort or discomfort. There is plenty of evidence that it works. There is plenty of evidence showing that flour, sugar and starches are detrimental to health.

So why is LC not the gold standard of weight loss? Why does the recommended "balanced diet" still include loads of carbohydrates?

Money.

Who profits financially when someone buys an Atkins or Protein Power book for 25 cents or a few bucks, signs up on a free message board and then embarks on a new way of eating? Nobody makes any significant amount of money from it.

On the other hand, look at the money involved in WW, Nutrisystem, weight loss clinics, and weight loss surgery. How about the lobbies for sugar and HFCS? All of that is big money. For those with financial interests aligned with these companies or industries, ineffective weight loss efforts are the gift that keep on giving. When WW helps a 25 year old lose those 30 pounds they have gained a customer for life.

The financial interests of a relatively small number of people stand in the way of the health interests of a huge number of people. It's a shame."


My comment to his post?

"The breakfast cereal industry alone is worth billions. I think they will do anything to keep people hooked on their tasty poison."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Quickies

After the scale not budging for months, I got on the scale this morning to discover I unexpectedly dropped 3 pounds. Woo hoo!
***
I had temporarily lost "custody" of my youngest cat Xena. Technically she is my oldest son's cat, and while he was going to college, moving, deciding not to go to college, etc... she stayed at our house. A few months back, he finally decided he was in a nice apartment and wanted his baby. That lasted a little while before he went out of town with friends and needed us to kitty sit. Now he has decided to join the army. Not only do we get to keep Xena, he just asked us if we can keep his OTHER cat, Zeus. Cookie will not be happy, though Xena will enjoy having seeing her buddy again.

Xena is now 13 pounds. Up a little since living with Calvin. While I told him she needed to be low carb to keep off the weight, I have no doubt she was eating pizza and french fries right along side him. Grrrr.
***
Speaking of Cookie, she turned 19 a couple of days ago. She is pretty darn spry for the cat equivalent of 88. Here is a cool age chart I used to come up with that number. CHART
***
We put our youngest son on low carb over the summer. He has adapted well to the "legal" food choices and lost 20 pounds. He will still eat chips, pizza, and drink sugary sodas if given the chance, but I just don't keep those items in the house. Fortunately, Sam's sells big tubs of pork rinds and hot salsa by the gallon...Max's new favorite treat.
***
My skinny vegetarian friend went to her doctor lately complaining about weight gain. Sure, she still looks plenty skinny to me, but I guess if you are normally very skinny, blimping up to just skinny would be annoying. Anyway, he doctor told her that at 40, weight creep was common (especially around the middle) and if she wanted to combat it, she needed to CUT HER CARBS. I guess I shouldn't have laughed, but she thought I was insane when I went on a low carb diet. Now her much respected doctor is telling her what I have been for the last year. I am just glad to know the good news is getting out the the GP's.
***
I have a couple of more posts up on the Examiner site. One is a recipe I posted on this blog last year for Chicken and Squash Stir Fry. The other is about common salad mistakes. Stop by and check them out. As always, your feedback is much appreciated.

I will be posting some old recipes as well as new content in the upcoming months both here and on the Examiner site. I will post links so they are easier to find.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gary Taubes Strikes Again

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories has made quite a splash in the dietary world since unleashing his research volume on diet and exercise. He vindicates Dr. Atkins by showing the science behind low carbohydrate diets and even points out that exercise doesn't make you skinny - just makes you hungry. His latest article appearing in Mother Earth News reiterates some of the dietary wisdom from his book. It turns out this is information our grandmothers knew all along...

"If you’ve been trying and failing time and time again to lose weight by dutifully eating less and exercising more, perhaps its time to try your grandmother’s diet instead. Stay away from the fattening carbohydrates, stop worrying about how much fat you eat and see what happens. Let your weight and your waist circumference tell you whether the diet you’re now eating is a healthy one."
Full Article

This is a great article and those who don't have the time to dive in to Good Calories Bad Calories might want to check it out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wifezilla becomes a columnist!

I am proud to announce that I will be joining fellow blogger, forum junkie and low carb writer Cleochatra as a columnist for the Examiner!

My first article is already up thanks to Cleo's patience. (link below)

As always, I look forward to your feedback.

Thanks!

Denver Low-Carb Examiner

First Column: Fair food is often foul.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Notable Quotable

As I struggle to figure out why so many medical professionals spout off dietary advice (eat less fat, cut calories, eat more soy, eat less meat) that does not help their patients, and in fact causes them further harm, it looks like novelists Leo Tolstoy understood all along...

”I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Crazy Exercise Update

I blogged earlier about my history with exercise and how I went 2 years working out 1 hour a day, six days a weeks and never lost a single ounce. Then I quit working out (but kept my 1 hour a week dance class) started low carbing and dropped 40 lbs. When I tell people this story, they often treat me like I am insane. "It's impossible!" they say, or "maybe you needed to cut back your calories" or " I bet your fat level was still too high". They can't understand how someone can work out, always feel hungry, cut their fat levels way down, cut calories, and not lose weight while feeling miserable the entire time. In their minds, maybe I was stupid, couldn't count, or outright lied about my works outs and food intake.

If that really were the case, then how would they explain the past two months? I started picking up the amount of work outs I do, gone back to walking once or twice a week, and added back in one of my water aerobics classes while still continuing my weekly dance class. The amount of weight lost in 60 days? Zero.

I track my food intake on fitday.com and it varies from 1700-2000 per day. There was no increase in overall calories, and no change in the macronutrient composition, just adding several extra hours a month of working out. The result was no change in my weight at all. Now, obviously I see reasons to exercise or I wouldn't waste my time with it. I do it for the socialization, for the increased flexibility, not to mention that release of nice brain chemicals you get from a good work out, but I certainly don't do it for the weight loss.

Good thing people like Barry Groves and Gary Taubes exist or my friends would have had me hauled off to the loony bin for insisting that exercise doesn't mean weight loss. I have sent several dozen people links to Gary's Scientist and the Stair Master article, though I doubt many read it. They just can't wrap their heads around the fact that exercise makes you hungry instead of skinny, or that you would have to climb 20 flights of stairs to burn off the calories in a single slice of bread. The few that have read it don't think I am crazy (or a liar) anymore. They just think I am some kind of genetic freak. Brain washing by the fitness industry is very effective apparently.

I guess I shouldn't mention to them how I jump started my weight loss again the other day. I accomplished it by doing something so far removed from what they believe causes weight loss that bringing it up may inspire my craftier friends to sew me my own designer straight jacket. I started drinking a low carb beer at night. Oh, and also eating lots of cream cheese. So a full 8oz of cream cheese with coconut cream, cocoa powder and some liquid splenda whipped with a hand mixer in the morning, some kind of meat and salad at lunch, maybe some coffee with coconut cream in the afternooon, a little grazing at dinner, and then just one low carb, icy-cold Michelob Ultra about 7pm. Three days later, I break a 5 month long weight loss stall* by dropping a full pound. No sweating or grunting required.

Ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Don't tell anyone. Especially my friends. On second thought, a designer straight jacket might be a good idea. My husband can use from now until November to keep me from bashing the tv in with a baseball bat just so I don't have to listen to another political speech. Just tell them remember to allow some extra room for my wide shoulders and to stick to cool colors....it brings out the green in my eyes.

*Even though I haven't lost weight since Spring, I was still losing inches, so technically it wasn't a stall

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Killer Carbs: Scientist Finds Key To Overeating As We Age

An interesting article from Science News gives clues as to why some people develop appetite problems...

"A Monash University scientist has discovered key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potentially weight-gain as we grow older. The research by Dr Zane Andrews, a neuroendocrinologist with Monash University's Department of Physiology, has been published in Nature.

Dr Andrews found that appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and said the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars."
Full Article

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spaghetti Squash and Low Carb Lasagna

As much as I hate to admit, Fall is on the way. While Fall does mean colder temperatures, it also means an inexpensive abundance of squash at farmer's markets and in the grocery stores. Fortunately, squash can be great nutritional bargain. With a low cost, high vitamin content and low carb count, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and other varieties are frequently on my menu.

One of my favorite varieties is Spaghetti Squash. It gets its name from the tendency of the flesh to come apart in noodle-ish strings when cooked. It does make a pretty good spaghetti replacement and I use it for just that purpose. After you cut it in half and seed it, the squash can be baked, boiled or (if your microwave is big enough) steamed. Once the squash is cooked, you just take a fork and drag it across the flesh (long ways) and fluff it to get your "spaghetti" strands. (Instructions for preparing here)


At that point you can just use your spaghetti like you would for any regular spaghetti recipe. Top with pesto, a marinara sauce with meat balls, or even a tasty chicken alfredo. Another option is to use your spaghetti as a replacement for lasagne noodles. There is no law that says you HAVE to use a flat pressed noodle to make your lasagne, and I have (in my high-carb days) used spagetti noodles instead of lasagne noodles before. Making a switch to spaghetti squash works just fine.

To make your own Spaghetti Squash lasagna, you can use any favorite lasagna recipe and just swap the spaghetti squash for the noodles. Easy! The recipe below is based on the one mom used and it was always a family favorite.

Wifezilla's Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 1/2 lbs. Italian Style Turkey Sausage (or ground beef, or ground turkey or any combination of the three)
1 (26 oz.) Hunt's No Sugar Added Spaghetti Sauce (or other low carb sauce...meat flavored is often your best bet.)
4 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 (8 oz.) container of Ricotta (or cottage cheese - drained)
1 large spaghetti squash
1 cup chopped red onions
2 tsp dried basil (or 4 tsp fresh minced)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp minced fresh)
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese (ok...use dry if you must!)
Olive Oil to grease pan
Optional: 2 cups sliced mushrooms

• Prepare spaghetti squash and flake in to "noodles". (Instructions here)

• While the squash is cooking brown the ground beef. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are clear. (You can also add the mushrooms at this point.) Pour off any excess fat.

• Add your spaghetti sauce and spices to the ground beef. Simmer for 15 minutes.

• Preheat oven 350 degrees.

• Spread a generous layer of olive oil on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

• Add a layer of spaghetti squash noodles.

• Next, cover with a layer of meat sauce.

• Add a layer of ricotta cheese

• Then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

• Repeat layers of noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella. You should end up with 3 layers.

• Sprinkle the top layer with Parmesan cheese.

• Bake in oven 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.


TIME SAVER: Mom was smart...since making lasagna can take a bit, she would make several pans of lasagne at one time. Once they were assembled, she would par-cook 3 or 4 of them and then throw them in the freezer after wrapping them in tinfoil. For just a little extra work and about the same amount of mess, she several dinners done in one shot. So, don't be afraid to triple or quadruple this recipe.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One More Reason To Avoid Fruit Juice

Since becoming a low carb practitioner, I have avoided fruit juice. Sure it tastes good, and yeah, there are some vitamins in it, but let's be serious. It's basically just sugar water. A single cup of apple juice has 29 carbohydrates...over half of the total carbs I eat in a typical day. Once you remove the juice from the fruit, you turn it in to a blood glucose raising, rapidly digested liquid that heads straight for the liver where it is easily converted to body fat. As for the vitamins, if heat was used in processing the juice, most of those vitamins are destroyed anyway. It really gets me that parents give this stuff to kids because it is "healthier" than soda. I know my parents thought that. My mouth full of fillings hint at how "healthy" all that juice can be.

If you're a grown adult, and if you want to drink sugar water, go right ahead. Just don't give it to your children on a daily basis and don't kid yourself that juice is healthy. Besides, now we learn that juice isn't just a potential source of cavities and a contributor to obesity, it can seriously screw up your medications. The general population seems to understand that grapefruit juice can be a problem when taking blood pressure pills, but grapefruit juice isn't the only problem....

"...grapefruit, orange, and apple juices decrease the absorption of several important medications:

The allergy drug Allegra, available generically as fexofenadine
The antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and itraconazole (Sporanox)
The beta-blocker blood pressure drugs atenolol (Tenormin), celiprolol, and talinolol
The transplant-rejection drug cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
The cancer chemotherapy etoposide (Toposar, Vepesid)"

Full Story

David G. Bailey, PhD, one of the people who originally discovered the connection between medication problems and grapefruit juice in the 90's goes on to say, "This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure we'll find more and more drugs that are affected this way".

While the substance in grapefruit and orange juice that interferes with medications has been identified, it still isn't known exactly what in apple juice is causing all the problems. Since apple juice is often used as a mixer for other fancier juice blends and cocktails, if you are a juice drinker, it can be pretty hard to avoid.


If you are taking medication, just skip the juice. All that sugar isn't good for you even if you aren't sick. Drink water and eat your fruit whole and fresh in limited quantities. Who knows, by doing just that you might not need the medication in the first place.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Quick Breakfast

Breakfast can be a bit of a pain. First of all, you are TIRED in the mornings, you would rather be asleep anyway, and standard morning fare can get a bit boring. Seriously, how many ways can you cook eggs before you decide you need a change? My latest quickie breakfast is easy to whip up and it tastes more like a dessert than a breakfast, but with a low carb count, a good fat and protein ratios, and a nice shot of calcium, who can resist?

Almond Butter & Chocolate Yogurt

1 cup full fat Greek style or plain yogurt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp natural, unsweetened almond butter or peanut butter
Da Vinci Simple Syrup to taste (or other sweetener of choice)

Stir everything together and enjoy! If you have time, throw the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes to make it even thicker. Yum!


Nutrition Breakdown

Made with Almond Butter and Greek Yogurt
Calories: 425
Fat: 33.9
Carbs: 19.7
Protein: 19.4

With Greek yogurt
Calories: 534
Fat: 40.4
Carbs: 18.9
Protein: 17.0

With plain whole milk yogurt
Calories: 384
Fat: 25.4
Carbs: 23.3
Protein: 10.5

If you use sweetener packets, you will need to add a few more carbs to the total. Whether or not this is a good option for you will depend on your particular low carb plan.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carbs Clog Your Brain

Sure, my title is a little sensational, but according to Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, eating foods that spike your insulin levels can encourage the development of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is associated with the build up of toxic beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. If your brain is full of insulin from bread, rice, potatoes, sugar or other carby foods, the enzymes responsible for getting rid of those toxic proteins can't because they are too busy trying to get rid of the excess insulin. So, in a sense, your brain gets clogged.

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who lost his own father to Alzheimer's, believes that carbohydrates are about as healthy as cigarettes. "Binging on carbs is like smoking cigarettes each time we do it; it leaves a residual “amyloid” deposit on the brain like a cigarette leaves tar on the lungs."

Considering all the carbs I ate up until one year ago, the brain cells I killed during my misspent youth, and a family history of Alzheimer's, ingesting carbohydrates isn't something I can afford to do.

Dr. Fortanasce recommends a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars, but still advocates whole grains. Taking the doctor's analogy a bit further, refined carbs can be considered an unfiltered Camel cigarette and whole grains would be a filtered Virginia Slim. No thanks! At least he recommends lots of anti-inflammitory fish, nuts, berries and vegetables and states that you should eat proteins and fats first. His recommended anti-Alzheimer's diet might not have a low enough carb level for me, but you have to admit it is far superior to the standard American diet.

So next time you consider scarfing those cupcakes, drinking that sweet tea, or even eating whole wheat pasta with a side of multi-grain garlic bread, think about what it will do to your brain. Can you really afford the cost later in life? I already lose my purse and keys on a regular basis, forget birthdays or meetings, and leave my cell phone in the refrigerator (still not sure how I ended up doing that, but yeah, I really did do that). It may already be too late for me, but for goodness sake...save yourself!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wifezilla vs. Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld

Doctor Isadore Rosenfeld is a frequent guest on Fox New Sunday. According to his Fox News bio, "With nine best-selling books to his credit (as well as a textbook for doctors), Dr. Rosenfeld is one of the leading and most effective proponents of the medical enlightenment of the American public. He is a contributing editor of Parade Magazine, with 82 million readers." http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34772,00.html

I find him to be very likable, and I enjoy his news segments. Fortunately I have learned to take his recommendations with a grain of salt. Sunday morning, for example, he had an interesting segment on eggs. Once believe to be a contributor to heart disease, Dr. Rosenfeld pointed out a study that showed eating eggs did not raise cholesterol and can actually contribute to weight loss. No big surprise to us low carb fans, but it was sure nice to hear that reported in the main stream. However, a few seconds later he uttered this little sentence..."Saturated fat raises cholesterol levels."

This is a widely held belief, and it is something that is a cherished view of vegetarian activists.

"Saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is present in animal foods but not plant foods. It is essential for metabolism but is not needed in the diet as our bodies can produce all that is needed. Raised blood cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease."
http://www.vegsoc.org/info/fats.html

"Well-planned vegetarian diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products." http://www.goveg.com/healthconcerns.asp

The whole animal fats bad/plant oils good idea ignores the reality that not only are animal fats NOT bad for you, not all animal fats are even saturated. "The reality is that both animal and vegetable fats and oils are composed of many different kinds of fats, each with it's own chain length and degree of saturation, and each with a different effect on cholesterol. Half the fat in beef, for instance, is unsaturated, and most of that fat in the same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil. Lard is 60% unsaturated; most of the fat in chicken is unsaturated as well." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

But before you drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what percentage of each animal product is unsaturated, you should realize, that despite spending millions trying to prove that animal fats, saturated or otherwise, as well as plant based saturated fats like coconut and palm oils are bad for you, the evidence just doesn't pan out.

"The longest, most prestigious and widely quoted long-term study on CHD (coronary heart disease), the Framingham study, clearly shows that those who eat the most saturated fat have the lowest cholesterol levels."
http://www.thincs.org/Malcolm.choltheory.htm

"Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization." - Gary Taubes, "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

So, despite popular wisdom and the words of kindly but misguided Dr. Rosenfeld, saturated fats, though they may or may not raise cholesterol, aren't even bad for you. At worst, they are neutral. At best, they may even be protective.

"We have all been brainwashed into believing that eating foods with any type of fat is a heart attack on a plate, despite the fact that saturated and mono-unsaturated fats have never been shown to cause heart disease, but have been shown to protect against this and many other serious diseases...

Before the twentieth century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from animal fats such as butter, lard and beef and mutton dripping. In those days, fewer than one in twenty-seven people got cancer and heart disease was so rare that very few doctors had even heard of it, let alone seen a case. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated from vegetable oils, and cancer now affects one person in two and heart disease is a major killer." - Barry Groves, "Eat Fat Get Thin"

Dr. Rosenfeld is a great example of why people need to do their own research. Despite what we are often told in the media, the evidence is out there that saturated fats aren't bad for us, cholesterol isn't the cause of heart disease, and people who do intentionally lower their cholesterol don't necessarily live longer. The culprit in the whole heart disease issue is, instead of saturated fat, carbohydrates. I will leave it up to you to dig up the carbohydrate information on your own. Getting a copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" will give you a good start.

The funniest thing about the Doctor Rosenfeld segment wasn't his obviously wrong interpretation of what constitutes a bad fat, but what happened later in the segment. Someone had written in about cocoa butter and wondered if she should stop eating it for health reasons. Doctor Rosenfeld said there was no reason to stop since cocoa butter was really good for you and he spent quite a bit of time singing its praises. While I agree that cocoa butter is good for you, obviously Doctor R. didn't realize that cocoa butter is comprised primarily of...you guessed it...saturated fat. Yet, saturated fat is the very thing he warned against just minutes earlier.

This story is a good illustration of why your shouldn't let a kindly face and an authoritative voice on TV, or even a blogger like myself, sway you too much when it comes to something as important as your health. Take everything you hear or see with a large grain of salt and do your own investigation.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A picture is worth 1000 words...


It is all fine and good to talk about low carb, but I realized I hadn't posted pictures to SHOW what low carb has done for me. While I still have a ways to go, I think the progress is pretty visible. Hopefully you will find this inspirational.

44lb Cat Goes Low Carb

When a 44lb cat ended up in a Camden, NJ shelter two weeks ago, he made headlines because of his enormous size. Nicknamed "Prince Chunk", he is making news again after getting a new home and clean bill of health. Other than his obesity, he is a perfectly healthy cat. According to news reports, he is now being placed on a high protein/low carb diet to get off those excess pounds.

"Chunk has been put on a weight loss and exercise program by his vet. The animal doctor also prescribed a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet."
Full Story

Knowing how well low carb has worked for me as well as my cats, I am betting Prince Chunk will have to get himself a new name in no time flat.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Diet Fail

The general public really doesn't seem to get the destruction that refined carbs and sugars can do to people, particularly to people with diabetes. Restaurants don't either. Of course, that doesn't stop them from trying marketing to this segment of the population....sometimes with hilarious results. Take this sign appearing in a recent FailBlog.org post for example...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Soon everyone will be fat

A government-funded study is reporting that in 40 years all U.S. adults could be overweight. It's not that hard to believe either considering 2/3rds of the population is already considered obese.

From Reuter's... "some groups of U.S. adults have extremely high rates of overweight and obesity; among African- American women, for instance, 78 percent are currently overweight or obese.

The new projections, published in the journal Obesity, are based on government survey data collected between the 1970s and 2004.

If the trends of those years continue, the researchers estimate that 86 percent of American adults will be overweight by 2030, with an obesity rate of 51 percent. By 2048, all U.S. adults could be at least mildly overweight."
Full Story

While the story does admit that this prediction is based on the big assumption that the trend will continue, as long as health officials recommend eating plenty of carbohydrates and reducing saturated fat intake, I see no reason to believe it wont.

The only thing that will reverse American fattening is an admission that the official diet advice handed out over the last 30 years has been complete crap. Since those giving advice have multi-million dollar revenue streams dependent on people eating lots of carbs and contracting long-term health issues requiring loads of prescription medicines, I wont be holding my breath waiting for the retraction.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mainstream Gets a Clue

It has taken them over 30 years, but the mainstream is reporting good news about low carb diets. Better late then never I guess.


"Critics have long acknowledged that an Atkins-style diet could help people lose weight but feared that over the long term, it may drive up cholesterol because it allows more fat.


But the low-carb approach seemed to trigger the most improvement in several cholesterol measures, including the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, the "good" cholesterol. For example, someone with total cholesterol of 200 and an HDL of 50 would have a ratio of 4 to 1. The optimum ratio is 3.5 to 1, according to the American Heart Association. "

Full Story

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cooking with Banana Leaves

We recently had a Mexican grocery store and an Asian market open in the area. My visits have exposed me to a variety of interesting foods and new ingredients. I make an effort to try something different every time I go. Since both of these new stores carry banana leaves, that got me curious. What do you do with banana leaves? After all, they are inedible. Turns out you use them as an organic form of tinfoil. Instead of wrapping food for the grill in silvery packets, you wrap them in the banana leaves which allows the food inside to gently steam while giving it subtle flavor and aroma.

My first experiment with banana leaves involved several pieces of marinated swordfish. The swordfish was covered in lime juice, ginger, garlic, pepper and soy sauce and left to marinade overnight. The next day it was gorgeous outside and perfect for grilling. I preheated my gas grill and pulled some banana leaves out of the freezer to thaw. I place a marinated swordfish steak in the center of a banana leaf round smeared with a thin layer of coconut oil. I then folded up the edges and tied it in to a neat little package with some kitchen string.

These fish pockets went on the grill along with a couple packages of chicken I needed to cook. Fish cooks pretty quickly, so they went on the top rack. I wasn't really sure exactly how long to leave them on, but with the gas on low, I thought 15 minutes would work fine.

Turns out I was right. The fish came out perfectly. While it was steaming on the grill, I took the remaining marinade, added some butter, hot pepper, and some pieces of finely chopped fresh cherries and use it to cook up a batch of beech mushrooms that I also got at the Asian market. I poured the sauced mushrooms over the fish, leaving it all on the banana leaf which now served as a plate liner.

It was delicious. I ate my swordfish sitting on the back patio in the sun. The food was good and the setting relaxing, though I did lack a drink with an umbrella in it. I will be using banana leaves again when my book club comes over in a couple of weeks. Instead of swordfish, my next experiment will be with mahi mahi. I think it would also work quite well with vegetables, so I will have to come up with some side dishes to try as well.

Banana leaves are inexpensive and handy...no need to worry about fish getting stuck to your grill grates. Plus it gives your food a nice decorative touch. While I mainly go for ease and flavor, there is no reason it can't look interesting as well. And next time I wont forget the umbrella drink.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vitamin D and Leptin

Here is an interesting article brought to my attention by Demi at www.lowcarb.ca. Scientist have known for a while that vitamin D levels in obese people and type 2 diabetics are low. Here is a clue or two as to WHY...

"Researchers at Aberdeen University found that obese people produced 10 per cent less vitamin D than people of average weight. The study also found that excess body fat absorbs vitamin D, stopping it entering the bloodstream."

Here is also some insight in to why a lack of vitamin D can help lead to obesity...

"The study found that low levels of the vitamin in blood interfered with the function of a hormone called leptin, which tells the brain when the stomach is full."
Full Story

Remember, the Sun is your friend!

As I have done my own experimenting with vitamin D over the Summer, I have noticed improvements in my skin and mood when I get my daily dose of sunshine. While my weight hasn't changed, my body composition is still changing and I am still losing inches. I have not really noticed a difference in appetite , but I really wasn't paying attention and it fluctuates wildly anyway. These clues about the interaction of vitamin D and leptin are very interesting.

According to metabolic specialist, Dr. Ron Rosedale, author of The Rosedale Diet :

"Leptin is the way that your fat stores speak to your brain to let your brain know how much energy is available and, very importantly, what to do with it. Studies have shown that leptin plays significant, if not primary, roles in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself."

By following standard medical advice to eat plenty of carb and stay out of the sun, we set ourselves up for a lot of diseases, like heart diases, diabetes, obesity and more. Good thing I choose to ignore people who seem hell bent on keeping me fat and sick. As more information comes out about the role of vitamin D in health and obesity, I will be sure to post it. In the mean time, I will be out in the sun, without sun screen, reading a good book. It's for my health ya know!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Price Watch: The Meat Market

As prices for food have risen over the Spring and early Summer, one price is on the decline. The cost of meat has taken a downturn and sales on hamburger, chicken, and pork are showing up at the super market. The good news is there is still time to stock up because the BAD news is these good deals wont be around for long.

There is actually a logical reason for the price downturn on meat and it has to do with the price of feed. As prices on corn, soy and other feed grains skyrockets, it becomes too costly for farmers to feed their cattle. Rather than waiting for them to get larger like they typically do, farmers cut their loses by taking them to market. This results in a temporary flood of cheap meat.

From NewsandTribune.com

“There’s definitely liquidation of livestock happening,” and that will cause meat prices to rise later this year and into 2009, said Brenneman, who is also the vice chairman of the American Meat Institute." Full Story


According to Joelle Cremeen, manager of a Colorado Springs, CO bakery surplus store frequented by area ranchers, they are dumping their cattle as quickly as possible.

"All of them are telling me the same thing. They had to get rid of their cattle NOW and the prices they are getting just aren't very good. " said Joelle, "They also all told me to stock up while the meat is cheap because low prices are not going to last. I am going to start pricing chest freezers."

I already have my freezer and have been filling it with 99¢/lb ground beef and 99¢/lb chicken breast. As I see sales on chicken, pork and beef, I will buy as much as the weekly grocery budget allows so I can ride through the prices increases to come. I suggest you do the same.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

Happy 4th of July everyone. Hopefully you are all out eating some great low carb grilling. For today, instead of a low carb tirade or a recipe, I am including a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Captain Capitalist. Enjoy and have a safe holiday. - Wifezilla



"Tis the season to reflect on what it means to be an American. What is it we’re so proud of? What makes this country unique in the world?

Is it our “shared values”? That hardly seems possible since we so often and so vehemently disagree on so many of them. Is it capitalism, democracy? No, those are great things, but not unique to America.

So what can we point to and say “That’s what being an American is all about.” I would submit that America’s greatest asset is not its capacity to induce conformity to a common way of thinking, but its capacity to enable hundreds of millions of individuals with a wide variety of opinions, viewpoints, perspectives and values to live, work and play together in relative peace. Our uniquely American common value is the recognition that so long as we agree to a few fundamentals rules of engagement among individuals, we don’t need to all have the same values.

When I see political opponents going at it tooth and nail one minute and making fun of themselves and each other the next, that’s America. When I look around the grocery store and see whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, and arabs browsing and greeting each other and nobody’s throwing rocks or blowing anything up, that’s America. When I’m at a social gathering and an openly gay person is debating a fundamentalist Christian about gay rights and they agree to disagree just before moving on to discussion of the Bronco’s prospects for next year, that’s America.

In other countries around the world discontent and dissent are expressed with violence and a seeming urgency that if one group’s view doesn’t win out over the other group’s view, life as we know it will come to an end. The emphasis is on the group, whether it be a political party, a religion an ethnicity or some other entitity that has been raised above the individual.

What has made the American experiment a success is the recognition that the core of independence, the foundation of freedom, is the individual. That doesn’t mean we all agree with each other. It doesn’t mean we all accept the validity of other’s choices. In fact the word “tolerance” has become widely misused and misunderstood. If you agree with or accept something, you’re not tolerating it. When you disagree with something or someone, but allow them to be as wrong as they want to be so long as they do you no harm, that’s tolerance.

It’s an odd dynamic. We are a diverse group held together by the will to preserve our individuality. That’s what makes us strong. That’s America. That’s what our men and women in uniform put themselves in harm’s way to protect and preserve every day.

I hope we never lose sight of that. Happy Independence Day!" - Captain Capitalist

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free Zevia Sample

More than one of my blog posts contains the phrase "check it out yourself". When it comes to products I review and recommend, I say the same thing. No reason to just take my word for it. After all, I am just some ADD infested weirdo on a website with an advanced case of sarcasmitis. What do I know anyway?

After my recent review of Zevia soda, I ran in to one of the founders of the Zevia company on an online forum. He has generously offered a free sample for readers of my blog so they can check it out themselves and not have to rely on the ravings of a 6' tall red-headed reptile. Here is his message and instructions on how to get your sample...

"Hi,

I am Ian one of the founders of Zevia.

We want you to KICK THE DIET SODA HABIT!

I did and I feel great! Zevia is all natural and has no artificial ANYTHING!

For a limited time I will give out free samples od Zevia to readers of Wifezilla's blog.

If you like it just promise to print out our GET YOUR ZEVIA form (available at http://www.zevia.com/retailer_request.html )and take it to your local retailer.

You can email me at ian at zevia dot com."

Thank Ian for making this offer. I am sure my highly-intelligent, good-looking, and discriminating readers will be glad to try your product and get back to you with their well thought out opinions.

Monday, June 23, 2008

REVIEW: Zevia Diet Soda


Artificial sweeteners seem to be both a blessing and a curse. As it helps some people break their sugar addiction, others report using things like Equal and Splenda cause headaches, nausea, joint pain, monsterism and the condition known as 'hotdog fingers'.

Alternatives to mad scientist inspired sweetener products are sought after by low carbers, diabetics, and parents who don't want to pay a plastic surgeon to remove their child's chemically induced 3rd ear or finance a dentist's vacation home. They all want to avoid the evils of sugar and high fructose corn syrup without accidentally turning themselves into a newt. One natural sweetening option is Stevia.

Stevia is an herb known as "sweet leaf", and, while it is sweet, it also can be bitter and has a bit of a licorice aftertaste. Stevia products I have tried in the past have been hit or miss. One of the most vile being a Kool-aid type powder (who's name escapes me at the moment) that tasted like a combination of ground anise seed, pixie stix and shredded bicycle tire.

With that previous experience, I was a bit nervous about trying the can of "Zevia - Sweetened with Stevia" I saw on my last trip to Vitamin Cottage. However, I did promise my son a soda if he would quietly stay in the car dismantling my dashboard instead of coming in to the store with me and dismantling all of the store displays. Plus a single can was only 85¢. Well worth the 2 minutes of peace and quite it would buy me as a rummaged for Greek yogurt in the dairy section.

They had the orange and twist flavor cold and I picked the orange. Once I got back to the car and redid the headlight wiring, I popped open the can and cautiously took a sip. It reminded me a bit of a flavored seltzer more than, say, a diet Orange Crush, but it was good.

My son Max, who is a bit picky when it comes to soda, also didn't seem to mind it. He didn't inhale it like he would a can of Diet Pepsi, but he did finish the can and didn't tell me it was yucky, so I guess we can count him as approving too.

I want to give the other flavors a try, and based on the orange, I can say they are definitely worth a shot. The flavor was crisp and clean with a nice amount of sweetness and no bicycle tire after taste. The Orange was closer to a tangerine flavor than what you would expect from an orange flavored drink, but that isn't a bad thing. It was rather nice actually.

I give Zevia a thumbs up. I think it is a good alternative for those who want to avoid chemical sweeteners, but are bored to tears by just plain water. Stop by their website to see if they carry it near you, or check out their online order option.

Zevia

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gettin' Squirrely

I noticed today I was getting really squirrely lately. No, I'm not losing mental stability (you have to have some in order to lose it), but I am beginning to hide stores of supplies in odd little places like a squirrel stashing acorns.

In my purse, I have several packets of splenda and some sugar free gum. In my desk drawer at work I have more splenda, a dropper of liquid stevia, a packet of almonds, some unsweetened cocoa and a small jar of coconut butter. In the mini-fridge, I have a batch of almond bark, some leftover grilled chicken, a container of greek yogurt, a small assortment of condiment packets and a container of cream. I also have in the cabinet by the coffee maker, a jar of coconut milk, a large container of Da VInci Sugar-Free carmel syrup, an assortment of artificial sweetener packets and a can of tuna.

In my black catch-all bag, I also keep a small zip-lock full of splenda packets, a pack of Walnuts, and some pumpkin seeds. Like a squirrel, I like to be prepared for an eventual shortage. Instead of preparing for winter, I am just preparing for those occasions when low carb eats are not readily available. The world remains, for the most part, low carb hostile, and not being ready can lead to serious temptation.

The other day, I was supposed to be in the office for an hour while my husband went on a sales call. His meeting ended up running long, and other clients called and he had to go visit them at their offices. As can happen, my 1 hour turned in to more like 6, and rather than starve or sneak accross the street to 7/11 and fall face first in to a bag of Doritos, I was able to ride out the day enjoying some fabulous low carb treats.

First, I mixed the unsweetened cocoa in to the Greek Yogurt, added a few Splenda packets and had some rich, creamy chocolatety goodness. A few almonds on top were just an added bonus. A hour or so later, I made myself some coffee and added the heavy cream and the sugar-free carmel syrup. How can you not love low carb when the coffee with cream is so filling it can almost count as a meal? Seriously! As it came time to lock up, I had a few more things to finish before I could head out the door, and I also knew that waiting till I got home to eat would be a mistake. If I got too hungry when I got to the kitchen, it would be way too easy to go over board and stuff my face. So I heated up a bit of the chicken I had in the fridge and munched on that while wrapping up my projects.

I didn't cheat, I didn't binge, and I didn't feel deprived for a single second-all because I was following the example of some rather fuzzy and clever little rodents. Sure, I still hate squirrels. After all, these are the creatures that cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage to my garden each year by destroying bedding plants, eating my veggies and tearing up my lawn furniture cusions. Despite their destructive nature, they did teach me to be prepared...which is why I now keep a loaded pellet gun near the patio door. I'm just paying back the squirrels by teaching THEM something this time.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Supermarket Cart Snooping

I admit it. I am a cart snooper. I take sneaky glances at other people's shopping selections as I pass them in the isles. Sometimes it is to remind myself of the stuff I used to buy and how unhealthy it made me (cereals, whole grain bread, low fat products...eww!). Sometimes I look for clues as to why someone's kids are bouncing off the walls and acting like little jerks (Oh goody! Mountain Dew, Little Debbie's Snack Cake and Macaroni and Cheese! I hope they put money aside for Ritalin and fat camp!). Other times I look to see what a thin person is eating and how can they possibly look that good trudging through a Walmart at 11pm (Maybe there are secret clues to thinness, longevity, and full pouty lips? Fat-free yogurt, tofu burgers and Zima? Never mind...I'll stay chubby and poutless.)

I also get a good laugh playing "Spot the Bachelor". A married man shopping alone will buy milk, bread, cheese, vegetables, and even, if he thinks nobody is looking, feminine hygiene products for his wife and/or daughter. A bachelor heads right for the frozen food section, grabs anything with the name "Hungry Man" on it, adds a 12 pack of soda and bolts out the door as fast as he can. Maybe I need a new hobby, but for me, this qualifies as entertainment.

As much as I snoop at other people's carts, I am actually shocked if I notice someone else giving my cart the eye. Sometimes "the eye" comes with "the smirk", as in "No wonder you are fat lady! You have MEAT, CREAM and CHEESE in your cart!" Yeah, whatever bitch. I used to weight 280lbs. Now I weight 210. Bite my shrinking ass. I have also noticed a few looks of longing lately, usually from some poor man who, I assume, has been placed on a low-fat diet by his vegenazi wife. The accompanying whimpering and drooling are heartbreaking to say the least. One thing I never noticed before was a look of admiration...until the other day.

I went to my local Safeway to take advantage of a weekly sale on London Broil. At $1.98/lb, it was a great deal. I often braise this cut in a small amount of white wine or beer, add California blend vegetables, and then mix sour cream right before serving. ...delicious! So when it goes on sale, I stock up. I also had a rain check for cheap chicken since they ran out the last time I was there plus I always troll for other discounted items and manager's specials. What I ended up with is over 15 pounds of London Broil, 4 family packages of chicken thighs, 2 big bags of chicken wings, 2 1lb packages of beef liver, 5 Cervelat Summer sausages ($2.98 each manager's special....usually $5.98) and 3 huge packs of 99 cents/lb beef ribs that looked like the brontosaurus ribs right out of the Flinststones cartoon. Then I headed to the dairy section and added 2 quarts of heavy whipping cream, a large brick of pepperjack cheese, and a large tub of sour cream.

As I walked out of the dairy section, I passed a young man who, not so inconspicuously, glanced in my cart, then looked at me, smiled, then gave me the ultimate sign of male approval...the upward chin snap. You know... that slight upward tilt of the chin one guy gives to another guy. It is usually reserved for acknowledgment of important things like cool motorcycles, impressive tool collections, or riding lawn mowers with flame graphics on the side. Yet here I was, a girl, getting this high mark of honor and recognition. All I could do was grin as I walked toward the check out. I honestly think that if I asked him to marry me at the moment, he would have cheerfully followed me home.

This got me thinking. I have a friend who is smart, cute, has a good job, her own home and a fun personality, yet she can't seem to find a descent boyfriend. Maybe it is because she is a vegetarian. If a handsome single man saw her walking through the store with a cart full of Boca Burgers and Tofu, he would run in the other direction lest he end up like some of his starving, whimpering brethren. I tried to tell her about my experience the other night and suggested she try slipping a few packages of chicken or steak in her cart for show if she sees a cute guy at the Safeway, but she just gave me a nasty look. I guess telling someone they should do the dating equivalent of tying a pork chop around their neck to get someone to pay attention to them wasn't a good idea. If I keep this up, I might not have any girlfriends left. At least I know I can load up a cart full of meat and make new guy friends. Good thing I don't mind talking about lawn mowers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Weight of the Evidence: Battling Dogma

One of my favorite health and low carb blogs is "Weight of the Evidence" by Regina Wilshire. Her recent blog post about a study on the Masai people of Africa points out how entrenched dietary dogma prevents officials from seeing the incredibly obvious.

The Masai have very little heart disease or diabetes despite a diet high in animal fat. Researchers concluded that is because they get a lot of exercise. Of course, once you understand that the energy TO exercise comes from a good, nutritious diet with high fatty acid content and plenty of protein, it is easy to understand that a low carbohydrate diet is what is helping the Masai have all that energy in the first place. So, it isn't the exercise that makes them healthy and energetic , but their natural high fat diet. Of course, the mainstream will never report it this way...so it is a good thing we have Regina around!

"I would contend that while it's ideal to be active, that is not the driving force in 'health' or lack thereof - it's dietary habits that dominate our health outcomes, our level of activity may be important too, but activity in and of itself is no solution to a piss-poor diet.

We need, before activity, a proper diet to enable us to perform phyisical activity, not the other way around! So while the researchers here could not bring themselves to even consider that the habitual diet of the Masai - high-fat and low-carbohydrate - was the driving force in their good health and enabled high levels of activity, I'll say it!"
Weight of the Evidence

The original study (and stupid conclusion) here

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Nutrisystem Revisited

Back in April, I blogged about Nutrisystem and their latest spokesmodel, Jillian Barberie. She was touting a 41 lb weight loss in a series of TV ads and I made the observation that her clothing in the before photo appeared to be maternity wear. From the information I could gather at the time, Jillian had lost weight after giving birth even though she was crediting the Nutrisystem program. (See initial post here)


Thanks to an anonymous commenter, we now have a photo of the before and after featured in the Nutrisystem ads. It clearly shows a maternity dress and it even appears to show her baby bump. Thanks to me having a short attention span, we also now have a post about the same commercial on a consumer affairs website confirming that she is wearing maternity clothing.

"Debbie of Perris CA (05/05/08)
I think the public needs to know that the Nutrisystem commercials are very deceptive. Their latest ad with Jillian Barbari is a great example. I watch her on a local morning TV show a few days a week. The before picture they show of her in the commercial was taken when she was pregnant! I even saw her in the same dress on the morning show -- and she was pregnant at the time! Of course, she lost a lot of weight after her baby was born! This is very deceptive and misleading."
ConsumerAffairs.com

Along with this comment are several posts about the bad taste and smell of the Nutrisystem meals, the gas caused by the "food", the expense of the program as well as how much of your own fresh produce and dairy you have to buy along WITH the program food, and a litany of people having a hard time getting a refund despite Nutrisystem's advertised 30 day refund policy. Check it out yourself.

I was already pretty outraged by lying celebrity tools like Jillian Barberie as well as, apparently, Marie Osmond, who once credited her weight loss to training for Dancing With The Stars, but now says it was Nutrisystem (no doubt after being presented with a large check with her name on it). Now I am even more outraged after reading so many examples of refund, billing and shipping shenanigans. I can say with total conviction that Nutrisystem is a complete rip off. It looks like it is time to take some action. Reporting them to the FTC? Calling networks to complain?? Getting consumer advocates on board? I will be formulating a plan of action and will let you all know what steps you can take if you are interested.

Butternomics: The Economics of Making Your Own Butter

A while back on one of the heath forums I frequent, someone asked what they could do with excess whipping cream. They had bought too much and did not want it to go to waste. It only took seconds for that poster to flush out all the Midwesterners, who cheerfully posted, MAKE BUTTER!

Apparently, in 1st or 2nd grade, every kid living within smelling distance of a dairy farm does "the butter project". Each kid gets a small baby food jar with a splash of cream in it and the teacher has the kids shake the jars (most likely in a futile attempt to burn off excess 6 year old energy) until each jar is filled with butter and a little bit of buttermilk. Then the butter was spread on crackers, which, of course, are loaded with carbs, and would counteract any tiredness incurred from the butter making activity (stupid teachers). I guess the forum poster was an under-privileged city kid who had to learn important survival skills like how to flag down a taxi in the rain or how to secure a rent-controlled apartment and missed out on the Dairy Studies portion of her education.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how easy it was to make butter, and I wondered if it made sense for me to start making my own. I have done it on occasion when I ran out in the middle of a recipes and really did not feel like trudging to Walmart in my jammie bottoms, tie dyed t-shirt and flip flops (standard chef's uniform at the 'Zilla household). Sure I saved myself the embarrassment of running in to an important client or friendly city official who might not be impressed with my "Family Guy" Brian Print wear, but did it economically make SENSE for me to do it.

I decided to find out.

1 half gallon of regular (not heavy) whipping cream weighs about 2 1/2 lbs. I weighed out 1 lb of the whipping cream and put it in my food processor. After about 3 minutes, I managed to turn that cream in to butter and buttermilk. I took out the butter and then weighed that on the scale. My 1 lb of cream was now 10oz of fluffy butter once the liquid was poured off. So if I were to whip up the entire half gallon, I would have 25oz of butter from my $5.86 container of cream. Since most butter is sold by the pound, doing a little math, my butter weighed 1.5625 lbs. making it $3.75/lb. Not exactly a bargain with retail butter prices being somewhere around $3.25/lb (even cheaper on sale, or at Costco). Making my own butter actually cost me more than getting it at the store.

At first glance that might make you decide not to try and make your own, but if you consider time and gas going to the store JUST for butter, I call it a wash. If you actually use the buttermilk it can even become good bargain, plus you should definitely make your own butter rather than let cream go to waste. The final decision on weather or not to make your own butter on a regular basis is going to be an individual thing. If you live far away from a store, no access to a Sam's Club or Costco, or have access to cheap fresh cream, making it yourself is a great idea. It can also be a good idea if you want more control over what goes in your butter and want it to be as fresh as possible. After all, who knows HOW long that stuff at the Super Center sat on the shelf? Just carefully weigh all the factors (including weather or not you have access to a hyperactive grade schooler and some baby food jars, which takes access to electricity out of the equation) and go from there.