Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Suite Dreams

I'm sitting here in my snazzy suite on the 44th floor of the Chicago Marriott, pretending I have a different life. 'Cause this one doesn't seem like mine.

So the deal is, I helped plan this big national conference to be held here in Chicago the last three workdays of March, and I didn't get paid by my professional organization. I get paid now, with perks, I guess. So I'm in my honkin' big suite, looking out over a chilly Chicago as a thick fog rolls in off Lake Michigan. I was supposed to be taking one of my favorite authors, Rick Bragg, to dinner tonight but his flight was delayed, so dinner was also delayed. I head out for late dinner at 8:30.

BUT I was happy to see a "carb conscious" menu here at the hotel. Yay! There are steak & eggs for breakfast. Spinach salads. Shrimp Cocktail. Pan-seared Ahi Tuna with vegetable caponata, and more. Nice touch, Marriott.

Of course, I DID see that french toast on the menu...

More later.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Feast or Famine?

Well, the serious packing has commenced, the house-cleaning has begun so the dogsitter doesn't get too grossed out, stress has finally reached the point where it's too overwhelming to even stew over--add to the flying stress and the public speaking stress the newest kink: my elderly mom has fallen and suffered a lumbar fracture and is afraid to stay in Crime City Central alone, so I'll drive her six hours in her back brace and vicodin stupor to stay with a relative before catching my flight to Chicago.

Now, what does all this have to do with diet and weight loss? Uh, can you say "stress eating?" Not to mention "vacation diet?"

Actually, the stress is almost incidental. Always in the past, leaving my home routine for any length of time has meant I'm going from "famine" (diet) to "feast"--pigging out on anything not nailed down in a debauchery of cheesecake and Blue Bell ice cream and anything with caramel in it. In other words, uncontrolled abandon involving foods that I can't have again when I come home and go back to "famine."

I'm going to seriously try not to do that this time. For one thing, I've been trying to accept slower weight loss in exchange for not feeling like I'm in a famine. Now, I can hear it, the voice of my buddy Jimmy Moore in my head. Yes, low carb diets do let you eat more and lose weight faster, but for me personally, I cannot eat with abandon, even consuming no or very low carbs. Sad, sad, sad. But true. But I digress.

I'm trying to shed the "all or nothing" mentality that has sidetracked me so often in the past.

I'm hoping that will allow me to eat out at the dinners and luncheons in Chicago with some degree of self-control. Enough to keep me from feeling sorry for myself watching everyone else eat "normally"; not so much that when I get home I have three months' work wiped out only to have to lose all over again. It took me two months to lose the 10 pounds I gained over my seven-day Christmas trip. Ain't fair, is it?

I'll be posting during the week but will be spotty, so keep checking back!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Buzz: Probiotics

Probiotics seem to be one of the big buzzes going on in the food industry these days. Some yogurt has them, the new Kashi Vive cereal has them, and the "World's Healthiest Pizza" I'm having for lunch--it's the name of a local company--has them in its crust.

Of course, in the case of yogurt, you also have to do some label reading to make sure you're not taking in a lot of sugar with your probiotics, and since Kashi was bought out by Kellogg's--boo hoo hoo--it's easier to find their products but there's more sugar creeping in, too. (I've tasted Vive, by the way. It tastes kinda like a graham cracker and, yes, it has sugar in it.) Yeast is another probiotic we're all familiar with--that would be live yeast cultures.

So, what are probiotics, and why do I need them?

According to the handy-dandy Physicians Desk Reference, probiotics are microorganisms that can help balance our intestinal microflora. In other words, help our digestive systems run more smoothly.

And it's nothing new. The Bible (Old Testament, no less) makes reference to probiotics. Genesis 18 finds Abraham feedings his guests yogurt. Yogurt appears in several other Old Testament references.

Recent research suggests ingesting dietary probiotics could have anti-cancer properties and reduce systemic inflammation.

Antibiotics are the opposite of probiotics. When you have an infection and take antibiotics, it kills off the good bacteria along with the bad. Probiotics puts it back.

Which makes me wonder. At the risk of sounding too hippy-dippy-chick, could there be a cause-and-effect relationship going on? Could the antibiotic residue we ingest in our meat, poultry and eggs be contributing to the rising rates of chronic inflammation (which in turn is believed to contribute to heart disease, among other things)? If so, perhaps probiotics could tip the scales back in our favor.

Oh well, that's too deep a subject for a Friday morning when I'm stressing out over my upcoming trip, anyway.

Insanity Report 3.22

Usually this space is reserved for idiotic new food products--you know, like Life cereal with "chocolatey" bits or strangely colored, sugar-free Peeps.

But today I want to talk about a new cell phone. Specifically, the sleek and attractively slim Philips 598.

Designed for women, the phone has all the features we modern women like to have at hand 24/7: shopping lists, discount sale organizers, body weight index....


Yes, the phone has BMI and basal metabolic rate measurements built in.

I'm envisioning it all now. I've downloaded the old Dave Edmunds song "Girl You Let the Knife and Fork Dig Your Grave" and am using it as my ringtone. As the song's verse intones "...wearing a size 44, you have to turn sideways to get through the door" my new phone flashes my BMI just in case I forgot since my last phone call.

And, I have to wonder, what is the male version of this? Prostate dimensions? Beer gut measurement?

I mean, really. Who thinks of this stuff?

Somebody Has WAY Too Much Time

I couldn't resist passing along this photo. It's supposed to be a window display at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London. The store's website says it's hosting a "Surrealism and the Shop" exhibition at the store through June 24--I don't know if this is part of the exhibit but it's definitely surreal. So if you have a lot of jellybeans lying around that you didn't eat up before starting your low-carb diet...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

And Speaking of Speaking

Cindy's comment on the last post (thanks, Cindy!) was so on target for me. I hate hate hate speaking in front of a group. I'd rather have teeth pulled. I'd rather have teeth pulled without anesthesia. I'd rather re-enact Dustin Hoffman's dental scene from "Marathon Man." I'd rather...well, you get the idea.

The only thing keeping me from freaking out about the public speaking on my upcoming trip is my dread of the airplane flight to Chicago. As soon as that plane lands, baby, I'm all over that nervous breakdown.

Seriously, though, it made me start thinking about why-oh-why I keep accepting "invitations" to do things like this speaking engagement/conference planning thing. It always sounds like fun at the time but, even when I accept, I know it's going to be sheer misery when the time arrives.

Could it be I have a problem saying no? Well, yes.

I recognize this problem in myself. I guess I am pathetically anxious to please. People might not like me if I say no. Is it because, as someone with a lifelong weight problem, I always felt I had to try harder and be more accommodating in order to be accepted? Or am I just a weak-willed wuss?

Probably a little of both. And some of that leftover Puritanical "I should do things that are good for me even if they're unpleasant" karma. I'm a lot better at saying no than I used to be, believe it or not. By the time I'm 80 I should have it nailed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pigs on a Plane

Well, make that singular. That would be ME on a plane, actually. I leave next Monday for a trip to Chicago where I have to do a number of things that really stress me out: Fly, speak in front of a group of 400 peers--several times, fly, help keep a huge four-day event I co-chaired running smoothly, and fly. Did I mention I hate to fly?

It isn't a fear the plane will crash, though I surely hope it doesn't. It's the old fat-person's fear and loathing of squishing into an airplane seat. Should I get the window, where I can press into the side of the plane, or the aisle, where I can hang out in the middle? Will someone be sitting in the center seat and be horrified/angered/obnoxious about having to sit next to someone who's overweight? Will my seatbelt fasten? Will someone complain? Will I have to buy an extra seat?

Granted, I have lost 65 pounds (yea!) since I last flew but, what a nightmare that was. It was a couple of years ago, actually, on a short jaunt from New Orleans to Houston, via Southwest. I got there ridiculously early so I could get the bulkhead seat, but there were continuing passengers that already had them, so I picked a window seat. On the way over I squeezed as close to the window as I could and began reading "The Purpose Driven Life," which my church was doing a study of at the time. A man sat on the aisle seat, and the middle seat was thankfully empty. But then the man struck up a conversation. We chatted a few minutes about the book I was reading, and then he said: "I hope you don't think this is too personal a question to ask, but have you ever considered weight-loss surgery?"

Well, thank you Mr. Complete Stranger. That is WAY too personal a question to ask. But I covered well and told him that, yes, I had considered it but my insurance wouldn't pay for it. So then he told me about his wife, who had had the surgery, and it ended up not being as awkward a conversation as it could have, but still. Sheesh.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sweet Nothings from Fat Land

Warning: this will be a long post!

I’m currently reading Fat Land by Greg Critser, and while it’s a less-intriguing read than The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this weekend I came across one of the clearest explanations I’ve seen of the impact of the pervasive (since the 1980s, especially) presence of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in American foods. Since farm subsidies for corn in the ‘70s made corn cheap and plentiful, and HFCS could be had much cheaper than real sugar, or sucrose, more and more manufacturers began using it.

Critser summarizes the effect:

“For years, food technologists and academics alike knew that, in addition to its properties of sweetness and stability (which made it so useful to convenience food makers) there was something else unique about fructose. Unlike its cousin sucrose, fructose is selectively ‘shunted’ toward the liver; it does not go through some of the critical intermediary breakdown steps that sucrose does. This was interesting, but for years no one knew exactly what it meant. Eventually, cell biologists figured out that fructose was being used in the liver as a building block of triglycerides. This it did by mimicking insulin’s ability to cause the liver to release fatty acids into the bloodstream (as demonstrated by Zammit in Scotland). Bombarded by fatty acids, muscle tissue develops insulin resistance. Whether humans consume enough high fructose corn syrup to activate the effect was something that eluded scientists until the year 2000, when researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada fed a high-fructose diet to Syrian golden hamsters, which have a fat metabolism remarkably similar to that of humans. In weeks, the hamsters developed high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance.”

“Preliminary human studies also indict concentrated fructose. Two years ago, the clinical nutritionist John Bantle at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis fed two dozen healthy volunteers a diet that derived 17 percent of total calories from fructose—the percentage that Bantle believes about 27 million Americans eat regularly (particularly all of those fast-food “heavy users” and drinkers of 32-ounce Cokes). Bantle then measured the volunteers’ blood fats and sugars, and then switched them to a diet sweetened mainly with sucrose. The results were dramatic. The fructose diet produced significantly higher triglycerides in the blood—in men about 32 percent higher—than the sucrose-sweetened diet. The fructose diets also made triglyceride levels peak faster—just after the meal, when such fats can do the most conservative American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published one article that bluntly (and uncharacteristically) concluded that ‘these deleterious changes [by dietary fructose] occur in the absence of any beneficial effect…and these abnormalities…appear to be greater in those individuals already at an increased risk for coronary artery disease.’ ”

“The fructose trouble hardly ends there. Fructose consumption—it now constitutes 9 percent of the average individual’s daily energy intake (and up to 20 percent of the average child’s diet)—has lately prompted science to look at another, more controversial, theory—that fructose consumption itself may have led to increased rates of obesity, not merely through increased calories but through a variety of complex chemical reactions it stimulates in the human body.”

The book goes on to cite a number of studies conducted more recently that show a direct correlation between the rise in HFCS consumption and the rise in average BMI, however flawed that indicator of fitness might be. It also notes that public health workers and nutritionists have been “reluctant’ (understatement!) to single out HFCS since “most of their careers had been made in demonizing dietary fat.”

Now, all of a sudden, the cost of corn—and, as a result, HFCS—has increased dramatically leading Coca-Cola to consider returning to the use of real sugar in their soft drinks instead of HFCS. Could it be the beginning of a shift away from HFCS, and could a return to sucrose as the primary sweetener help tip the scales back in the other direction—figuratively if not literally? Only time will tell, but that’s probably wishful thinking on my part. I really don’t believe I’ll ever be able to actually “have my sugar-sweetened cake and eat it too.”

Driving Under the Influence

Now here's a story for you. The most recent issue of the International Journal of Obesity reports the case of a 59-year-old teetotaler who set off the breathalyzer alarm bells when he attempted to drive a car fitted with an alcohol-detection device. The problem?

He was on a ketogenic diet, and if you've ever done Atkins or other very low-carb diet, you know all about ketosis and keto-breath. Apparently, when your body goes into ketone mode, you release a form of acetone when you exhale. In some people, it can be significant enough to register a "false-positive" on a breath test.

"This 'side effect' of ketogenic diets needs further discussion by authorities when people engaged in safety-sensitive work (e.g. bus drivers and airline pilots) submit to random breath-alcohol tests," the authors conclude.

Pretty funny, eh?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Actually, more Scottish, but it's all in the family.

Happy St. Paddy's Day to ye all. Here in New Orleans, of course, we love any excuse for a parade, and today was parade day. In addition to throwing beads from floats (green, of course), float riders hand out...yep...cabbages. Here's a photo from today's parade.

And here's one of my favorite ways to cook it.

Take green or red cabbage, and chop coarsely. Stir fry in olive oil with garlic and chopped onion. Add balsamic vinegar just before serving. Yum!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Fat Manifesto

Whew--there's been quite some exchange here in the past couple of days that I think pretty much shows the tensions between the low fat camp and the low carb camp. So, just for the record, here is what I believe.

1. Eating dietary fat does not make you fat. Fat in does not equal fat on the body.

2. Eating simple carbs is the same as eating sugar. Sugar, white potatoes, white rice, etc., convert to glucose equally fast (actually, it's been shown that potatoes turn to glucose faster than table sugar).

3. High fructose corn syrup is pervasive and at least partially to blame for much of today's obesity epidemic and related increase in cases of diabetes.

4. Diabetes is caused by diet or, in some cases, medications (prednisone, for example). But the tendency toward diabetes--who develops it, and who doesn't--has a huge genetic factor.

5. Complex carbs, which the body must work harder to break down into glucose, are better for blood-sugar levels than simple carbs. But they still work into glucose more than the nutrient-dense protein and fat.

6. Both low-fat diets and low-carb diets work, using different pathways. But low-carb works faster and offers greater satiety.

7. Calories DO count, but it isn't as simple as calories in-calories out as far as weight loss is concerned. Individual metabolism plays a role, as does the makeup of those calories.

Ok. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Fire away.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Diabetes-Low Fat Diets-Heart Disease: Vicious Circle?

At first glance, this new study from Sweden seems pretty ho-hum. Abnormally high blood sugar has a direct correlation to heart disease. That diabetics are prone to heart disease is nothing new, is it?

So, the answer remains: what to do about the precipitous rise in cases of Type 2 Diabetes that are being diagnosed?

Researcher Par Stattin has the answer: eat less dietary fat.

Hoo boy, here we go again.

Okay, let's say I want to control my blood sugar so I don't get diabetes so I don't, in turn, develop heart disease. I follow the advice of my doctor and the medical experts and cut down on my dietary fat. Gee, I sure am hungry. I can't eat more fat; more protein means more fat; so I guess I'll ratchet up my carb intake. Sugar has no fat; potatoes have no fat; rice has no fat. I'll make up those lost calories with carbs.

Oh, wait! My blood sugar is rising anyway! I'm headed toward diabetes! I'm getting heart disease! What am I doing wrong?

It's a vicious circle, and a wheel of death that just keeps turning. Is it any wonder people can't really tell good fats from fat-headedness?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Metabolism, Supersized

We all know them--people in our lives who are so sure that calories in vs calories out is all there is to weight loss. If you use up more energy than you take in, you'll lose weight.

Bull puckey.

Can you eat unlimited amounts of calories and not gain weight? No. But it's not just a numbers game. There's the old mystery wheel of metabolism at play.

In the latest issue of New Scientist (sorry, to read the whole story you have to subscribe but I'll do a full review here), is a story about the results from a study by scientists at Sweden's Linkvping University. They set out to replicate author Morgan Spurlock's death-by-McDonald's results in his documentary drama-queenization, "Supersize Me."

Can you tell I wasn't a fan of the Spurlock piece and, in fact, thought he was a serious drama queen with a questionable method?

Anyway, scientist Fredrik Nystrvm put 18 volunteers through a supersize regime, feeding them an estimated 6,600 calories a day on energy-dense fast foods and keeping exercise at a minimum.

If you recall, when Spurlock did a similar McDonald's regimen after a month he had a "sagging libido and soaring cholesterol" to go with his 13% gain in body weight and, he claimed, pending liver damage.

In the Swedish re-enactment, the results were surprisingly different. The volunteers' body changes were all over the map.

The article used nursing student Adde Karimi as one example of the surprising results. At the end of the binge, Karimi did gain about 10 pounds, half of which was muscle. Rather than soaring, his cholesterol was a little bit lower. The maximum amount of weight the volunteers were allowed to gain was 15 percent of their body weight. Some of the volunteers never reached that despite their diet; others gained that much in two weeks, starting from the same beginning weight and eating the same number of calories.

"We're used to being told that if we're overweight, the problem is simply too much food and too little exercise, but Nystrvm has been forced to conclude that it isn't so straightforward," the article says. "Some people are just more susceptible to obesity than others."

Quoting again: "If you're lucky, your body can adapt to cope with an extra cream doughnut or even a blow-out dinner by burning off the excess energy in the form of heat. He suspects many of his volunteers fall into this category because they were all slim on their normal diet and because they often commented on feeling warm all the time while overeating. If Nystrvm is correct, this is what makes his study so unusual and potentially valuable. Most research into obesity is done on people who are already overweight; in other words, those least resistant to calories."

The researchers point out that the ability to store excess energy as fat was an advantage to our ancestors who had to deal with feast or famine.

Nystrvm hopes that by studying the data from this experiment he will be able to identify new approaches to tackling the obesity epidemic. "Because we have such a huge amount of data we should be able to start teasing apart some of the influences that make some people more susceptible to obesity than others," he said.

Now, what does all this mean?

It should give those who are unconvinced yet another reason to look again at the "metabolic advantage" of the low carb or carb-conscious way of eating, for one thing. Probably not much else, realistically.

For me, the "calories in, calories out" mantra is preached to me by people who've never had more than five or 10 pounds to lose. Anyone with an obesity-prone metabolism knows it just isn't that simple.

So Much for Sisterhood

Okay, I'll admit I was a pretty fierce anti-Greek back in the day, oh about a million years ago, when I was a college coed.

But what do you see when you look at the college girls pictured above? I see a group of pretty girls with their whole lives ahead of them who should be focused on their futures.

What their sorority sisters at the Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University in Indiana saw was: ick! fat! ugly! geeky! So they threw them out of the sorority after deeming these 23 members as "not committed" and claiming they wanted to improve the sorority's image for recruiting purposes. More than a little fishy since the sorority, which already had declining membership interest, had been characterized in a student survey as "socially awkward." Heaven forbid!

When they compared notes, the 23 ousted sorority members realized everyone who was overweight or of an ethnic background were ousted. All the cute skinny blondes that were popular with the frat boys were kept.

According to the New York Times, "The mass eviction battered the self-esteem of many of the former sorority members, and some withdrew from classes in depression. There have been student protests, outraged letters from alumni and parents, and a faculty petition calling the sorority’s action unethical."

The university president issued a letter of reprimand, and 12 of the sorority members deemed "worthy" quit in protest.

Finally, yesterday -- justice. DePauw kicked the sorority out, severing all ties. The national HQ of Delta Zeta, which has declined to comment on the matter, issued only a statement that "Delta Zeta national leadership is extremely disappointed that after 98 years, university officials have unilaterally closed the chapter."


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Thanks to all of you who sent in veggie recipes. I've drawn the name of Marcelle Wyzdyx to receive the prize: a new copy of the mammoth book The World's Healthiest Foods. Congrats, Marcelle! Please contact me at and let me know how to send the book to you.

The nature of blogs being what they are, if I haven't heard from Marcelle in sevendays, I will draw another name. I'll let you know when the book has been claimed. Thanks for participating, everyone!

Here are the links to your recipes:

Cauliflower Hash Browns
Coon-Ass Veggies Love this name!
Creamed Spinach
Garlic Green Beans
Grilled Ratatouille
Head-Hunger Soup
Mock Potatoes
Potatoes a la Kanchara
Quick & Easy Veggies
Roasted Asparagus
Sauteed Asparagus
Sesame Kale
Spinach Koottoo
Spinach Soup With Lentils & Lemon
Squash & Peppers
Windy Swede
Zucchini & Jicama Salad


1/2 medium head cauliflower, grated
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 tablespoons butter, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium-large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon and onion until they just start to brown. Add the cauliflower; cook and stir until the cauliflower is tender and nicely browned all over. You can add a couple tablespoons of butter during cooking. This will speed up the browning and add nice flavor. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Submitted by Grumblebee


Shredded cabbage, or bagged coleslaw mix (or mix ½ bag coleslaw
mix plus ½ bag broccoli slaw )
½ cup mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp pickle juice from sugar-free sweet pickles (or use 2-3
Tbsp of vinegar and 1-2 Tbsp Splenda)

Put coleslaw into mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine mayo and pickle juice (or vinegar/Splenda) and stir until combined. Stir "dressing" into coleslaw and chill until ready to eat. For crunchy slaw, stir in chopped walnuts or flaxseeds.

Submitted by renegadediabetic



A little piece of cajun flavor for you

1 Onion
2 Bell Peppers
2 Stalks Celery
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Cans of Corn
2 Cans of Red Beans

Toss the onion, bell pepper and celery in a frying pan with a little olive oil and the garlic. Add black pepper, creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's if you got it), and little crushed red pepper. Saute them till the onions are transparent. Add the corn and the beans and saute for another 10 mins. Serve the veggies over the rice of your choice. Dee-licious. I guar-an-tee (with a nod to Justin Wilson!)

Submitted by Michael


Spinach (fresh or frozen)
Optional parmesan cheese

The fresh spinach will require chopping (if you have a food processor this would be the quickest way), but the frozen chopped will need to be thawed, and have the moisture drained out of it (if you don't have a food processor, this will save loads of time).

Saute a clove or two of pressed garlic in a little butter, then toss in the prepared spinach, cooking just until thoroughly warmed (if from frozen) or wilted (if fresh chopped). Now pour in some cream and heat through - don't let it boil, or you'll cause the cream to break (it'll make ugly clumps). If you want to be really elegant about it, give it a sprinkle of parmesan - fresh grated, if you're a purist.

Submitted by Calianna


About 1 lb green beans, fresh or frozen
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat bottom of skillet
1 -2 tsp Thyme
1 Garlic clove, pressed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chicken broth, about 1/8 – 1⁄4 cup

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add beans, garlic, thyme, salt & pepper.

Saute until beans start to change color.

Add a little chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and let beans simmer until tender. You may need to add more chicken broth before the beans are done.

Submitted by renegadediabetic


2 zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 yellow squash, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 red onions, quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Preheat grill to medium-high. Place all cut vegetables and the tomatoes in a large shallow baking dish, add the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Remove the tomatoes, cover grill, and cook the remaining vegetables for 2 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop (leave tomatoes whole). Place the chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Submitted by Marcelle Wyzdyx


6 large green onions, sliced
1 large white onion, diced
5 stalks celery, chopped (tops too)
2 large green peppers, diced
3 whole carrots,sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (20 oz) can tomatoes, diced
1(48 oz) can V-8 juice
1/3 cup beef bouillion granules
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 tsp tarragon
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 (10 oz) package mushrooms, sliced
1/2 head cabbage, chunked
1 bag frozen green beans

Spray large stock pot with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Saute onions green peppers, celery, and carrots until onions begin to wilt. Add garlic and stir well. Add tomatoes and V-8 juice. Stir well. Add next ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Add water just to cover. Bring to a slight boil and reduce to simmer. Cover and let cook for 1-2 hours. (I like my veggies crunchy so I use less cooking time) Remove bay leaf. Divide into freezer containers. Place one container in your fridge and the rest in the freezer. Remove and enjoy as needed.

You can change the flavors by adding different herbs and spices, as well as a variety of veggies. The combinations are limitless.

Submitted by bamagal
Montevallo, Alabama


Yes I know it has been done a thousand times. I, however, had to come up with a way to make them so they weren't soupy so....

Take 1 head cauliflower, washed and split into florets (run through salad spinner till as dry as possible)

Place in microwave container with no added water and cook until done (7 to 10 min.).

Put in food processor and puree with 1 oz cheese.

Cool completely and freeze.

When you're ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator, then heat and serve with butter and sour cream.

Submitted by Tess


1 potato, boiled and diced
1 tomato, blended with water, with turmeric, red chili powder and coriander powder to taste
Cumin seeds, roasted in olive oil

3 Ingredients?!! C'mon, that's stretching a little too thin. I'm assuming salt is acceptable above and beyond 3 ingredients!

Combine ingredients, and garnish with cilantro.

Submited by Kanchana,
Ann Arbor, Michigan


I am a really lazy cook, so quick and easy is right up my alley. Here's my recipe:

Take your favorite combination of 3 vegetables (let's say zucchini, carrots and baby corn) and stir fry for a few minutes in a little extra virgin olive oil with shallots and garlic.

Add the fresh herb of your choice (I like it with plenty of coriander). Top with roasted crunchy seeds/seed mix and serve with quinoa or brown rice.

Fast, yummy and healthy!

Submitted by La Nouvelle Heloise
United Kingdom


1 eggplant, cut in 1-inch cubes (optional: salt heavily and
refrigerate overnight to remove excess moisture and bitter
flavor, then rinse well before cooking)
3 zucchini, cut in thick slices
2 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
1 large can diced tomatoes
salt, pepper, basil, and garlic to taste
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 oz. vodka (optional: there are flavors in tomatoes that can only be
brought out in alcohol)

Place olive oil in a large pot, add raw veggies & seasonings and sauté until onions are translucent. Add canned tomatoes, and vodka if desired, and simmer 30 minutes. This makes a thick stew that is traditionally served with rice or pasta; I like it with a rare steak on the side.

Submitted by Marcelle Wyzdyx


1 lb fresh asparagus
Kosher Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat Oven to 375

Put asparagus in a flat baking dish or on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Put in oven for 15 minutes to roast. If you like your asparagus done more you can adjust the time.

You can also do this with other veggies like green beans or summer squash.

Submitted by Ladyred56
Omaha, Nebraska


1 bunch of asparagus
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat bottom of skillet
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chicken broth, about 1/8 – 1⁄4 cup

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add asparagus, salt, & pepper. Saute until asparagus starts to change color. Add a little chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and let asparagus simmer until tender. You may need to add more chicken broth before the asparagus is done.

Submitted by renegadediabetic


Here's a recipe my kids love from the recipe section of a cancer prevention book I recently published.—Lynne Eldridge (see link below)

1 pound kale (or 1 bunch)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted organic sesame seeds
1/8 cup dried seaweed (optional)

Prepare seaweed per package directions. Mince garlic cloves. Wash kale and tear into bite size pieces, keeping it somewhat wet. Heat sesame oil over medium temperature. Add garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add kale, seaweed, water and soy sauce and cook until kale is wilted, approximately 2 minutes. Add sesame seeds and serve. This recipe is excellent served chilled as well.

Kale is high in lutein, which is becoming recognized for its role in preventing the development of cancer, and in clearing cancer-causing viruses such as HPV.

Submitted by Lynne Eldridge M.D., author of Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time, Shoreville, Minnesota


1 cup fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 cup split peas (dal masoor or dal arhar can also be used)
1 small potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 small red chilis
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
Oil (sesame or olive)

Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized WOK except red chilis, cumin seeds, oil, with water just enough to keep the ingredients just covered. Spinach will give out water while cooking. Cook till the potato pieces become tender and the lentil is cooked well, keeping the WOK closed with a lid.

When done, heat the oil in another WOK, fry cumin seeds and red chilis for a few seconds, till cumin seeds are golden brown and red chilis remain red. Pour the oil over the cooked spinach.

Spinach koottoo is ready to serve hot with steamed rice or roti (Indian bread)


1-3/4 cups precooked green lentils
1 tablespoon of olive oil (for frying)
3 leeks
4 cloves garlic
3 potatoes
3 bay leaves
4 twigs of fresh thyme
2 twigs of fresh oregano
2 veggie bouillon cubes
4-1/4 cups water
1 lb. fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Rinse and chop leeks. Peel and chop garlic and potatoes.

2. Fry leeks and garlic until soft and golden.

3. Add potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, bouillon cubes and water.

4. Cook gently for 20 min or until potatoes are soft.

5. Add lentils, baby spinach, lemon juice and cook another minute.

Smaklig måltid!

Submitted by Reilly Flanagan,
Stockholm, Sweden


Zuchinni and Yellow Squash (choose small ones - you won't need to
remove the seeds)
Red pepper, cored and seeded
Olive oil
Italian Herb blend

Cut all three veggies into strips (1/4 inch or julienned - doesn't need to be exact, just try to be fairly consistent). Heat a little olive oil in a big skillet, and toss in the veggie strips. Saute very lightly for just a couple minutes - you want them only slightly more cooked than barely warmed (avoid mushiness!), then add a little italian herb blend and toss gently to coat.

Submitted by Calianna


Here comes a recipe from Sweden, so excuse my French...

I like to have beans ready in my freezer...I use them as a base for many dishes. Do this on a weekend.

Buy dried beans the kind you like--many different sorts, but make sure they are almost the same size so the beans will get done in the same time).Cook a big pot or two pots--one big sized beans, one small sized beans.

Cool off, then blend both sizes of beans together

Blend in all kinds of seeds you like- sunflower, linseedkross, buckwheat, sesame seeds, ec.

Blend in fresh-cut pieces of onion and garlic.

Blend in your favorite herbs and spices.

Put into plastic bags and store in freezer.

When you're in a hurry, put a bit of water and the "bean blend" in a frying pan and cook slightly with your favorite oil, or add fresh greens, feta, tofu or mushrooms—whatever leftovers you have. Voila! Enjoy!

Submitted by Lisbet,
Lindgren, Sweden


1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 small yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 jicama, peeled and finely diced

In a large bowl, combine red onion, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and jalapeño. Add zucchini, bell pepper and jicama; toss well. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Can be made ahead. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Submitted by Marcelle Wyzdyx

The Veggie Contest--Last Day!

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues through tonight at midnight central time, U.S.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post, with a veggie recipe containing at least three items--more than three is just fine--to get entered in the contest. Sometime tomorrow, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Veggie Contest, Day 6

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post between now and midnight next Tuesday, March 13, with a veggie recipe containing at least three items--more than three is just fine--to get entered in the contest. On March 14, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

Crimes Against Nature

My parents owned a clothing store when I was a child, and it became a tradition every year at Easter that they would decorate the store window with an appropriate display, including a stuffed Easter Bunny, which I would exproprite for my own enjoyment. Later, of course, we'd dye Easter Eggs and there would always be an appropriately large assortment of candy in the old Easter basket.

Always including Peeps, of course, the little marshmallow-y chicks dyed an unnatural shade of yellow with a mysteriously crunchy outer coat.

This year, there's a couple of new Peeps in town. One is an unnatural shade of green for St. Paddy's Day, no thank you. The other is sugar free. Now, as an adult, I agree with Minneapolis food writer Al Sicherman that Peeps are somewhat a "crime against nature" regardless of what color they are. But the sugar-free peeps are even more criminal.

Apparently, they're lacking the crunchy coating and, as an added insult, in addition to the Splenda they proudly tout on the front of the packaging, they are sweetened with maltitol, isomalt and sorbitol--the Great Trifecta of gastric distress.

Think I'll stick with my own favorite candy, the low-carb, high-fiber Chocoperfection bars. Wonder if they'd consider making a Chocoperfection Easter Egg...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Veggie Contest, Day 5

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post between now and midnight next Tuesday, March 13, with a veggie recipe containing at least three items--more than three is just fine--to get entered in the contest. On March 14, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Stanford Study: Weighing In

The Stanford Study: Weighing In

Okay, I was trying to ignore all the hoo-ha about the Stanford study--you know the one, where the Atkins Diet was proclaimed the winner in a weight-loss study. The other contenders, including the Zone Diet, the ultra-low-fat Ornish Diet and the LEARN diet, fell by the wayside.

The study has created a frenzy on the low-carb blog pages, understandably--the study was reported in none other than the stodgy Journal of the American Medical Association, after all. At the same time, the low-fat proponents are frenziedly explaining why it's no reason to jump on the low-carb bandwagon.

I say: Yadda yadda yadda.

The biggest thing that struck me about the study results was: whoop-ti-do. Atkins dieters lost an average of 10.4 pounds over the course of a year, while Ornish dieters lost 4.8. Doing worst were the Zone people, at 3.5 pounds. Okay, Atkins dieters doubled Ornish.

But really. We're talking miniscule amounts of weight here. Any diet that produced a 10-pound weight loss in a year, for anyone with a significant amount of weight to lose, would be deemed a horrific failure--although I guess it beats 4.8 pounds.

I think it's great that Atkins is getting a push here. But I have to agree with Junkfood Science blogger Sandy Szwarc: "While a 4 3/4-pounds difference after a year of dieting is being heralded as significant, the undeniable fact is that all of the weight losses were modest at best and clinically insignificant. And all were considerably less than the diets claim and certainly what most consumers believe will be their pay off after a year of effort."

Yeah. That.

The Veggie Contest, Day 4

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post between now and midnight next Tuesday, March 13, with a veggie recipe containing at least three items--more than three is just fine--to get entered in the contest. On March 14, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

Insanity Report 3.09

Good grief. "Supercharged," caffeinated sunflower seeds. Now I've seen everything. It's just too absurd to even comment on.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Givin' It All For Your Art

So, say you're a young actress and you've accepted, for some reason I can't really imagine at this point in my life, a role as a chained-up nymphomanic. How would you get a nice, unhealthy chained-up nympho look?

Well, if you're Christina Ricci and you were preparing for your role in the new film Black Snake Moan, you'd look around you and figure the quickest path to looking unhealthy would be a sugar diet.

During preparations for the film, Ricci apparently ate only candy and raw sugar. Egads.

Apparently, it worked, as Ricci notes she looks really unhealthy in the film.

I'll have to take her word for it. Great cast--can anything with Samuel L. Jackson in it be really bad? But it looks too intense for my taste. Like a big ol' spoonful of raw sugar.

Insanity Report 3.08

A periodic report on the weird, the bad and the downright ugly in our food industry.

Today: The "Healthy" Soft Drink!

In the food industry's determined march toward more "functional foods," and in light of the role of villain the soft drink industry is playing in debates over the "obesity crisis," soft drink makers are fighting back after facing the first decline in sales in their long history. Said decline has apparently been caused by the demonization of sugar, fear of aspartame and an increased consumer interest in health.

Now, I have to 'fess up here. I know they're bad for me, but I drink diet soft drinks. Shame on me, but there you go. And I'll probably keep drinking them.

That being said, however, the latest movements by both Coke and Pepsi to release "healthy" soft drinks strikes me as pretty absurd. "Healthy" by whose standards? These will not be marketed as soft drinks--they're the villain, remember?--but as "sparkling beverages," according to this story in The New York Times.

Coke is planning to roll out Diet Coke Plus this spring. Its gimmick is that it's fortified with niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium and zinc.

In the fall, Pepsi will roll out Tava, which will be "lightly carbonated," caffeine free and offered in "exotic flavors" containing vitamins B3, B6 and E, plus chromium. The flavors are Brazilian Samba, Caribbean Calypso, Mediterranean Muse and Malaysian Satori. Whatever the heck those are.

Sucralose (Splenda) or a combination of sucralose and Ace-K seem to be the artificial sweeteners of choice but I'm still checking on that.

So, what'cha think? If you're going to drink diet soda anyway, will you try the new "enhanced sparkling beverages?"

The Veggie Contest, Day 3

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post between now and midnight next Tuesday, March 13, with a veggie recipe containing three or more items to get entered in the contest. On March 14, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Veggie Tales Contest--A Clarification

LOL--hold on, folks! I didn't mean the recipes submitted to the Veggie Contest had to have only three ingredients--just that they had to have AT LEAST three (just to cull out the veggie, salt and butter recipes)! So don't feel limited! Thanks for everyone who's contributed thus far.

The Veggie Contest, Day 2

The Waisted in the Wasteland contest to win a copy of the huge food encyclopedia by George Mateljan, The World's Healthiest Foods, continues.

Click the link above to go to the contest info, or just reply to any Waisted post between now and midnight next Tuesday, March 13, with a veggie recipe to get entered in the contest. On March 14, I'll post a list of all the veggie recipes and we'll have a great database!

I Want It, I Like It, Give It To Me. Now.

My pleasure hot spot is bread. Or would it be cheesecake? Or ice cream?

We've all heard that cravings--particularly carb cravings, it seems, for many of us--are an addiction with a powerful psychological component to them.

It may all be in our heads--but it seems to be hardwired, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

According to the study, what we want (cheesecake) and what we like (cheesecake) are urges controlled by different brain circuits. When we both want and like something, there's a double-trouble effect that creates brain "pleasure hotspots" that make us want to eat more of the sweet food, and then to enjoy it more when we eat more.

The same circuits apply to people addicted to drugs, sex or gambling.

"We typically want what we like, and like what we want," said researcher Kyle Smith. "But these results suggest that wanting and liking are processed by distinct brain circuits and may not always go hand-in-hand."

So now I'm trying to think of something I like but don't want. A wool coat, maybe. I like them but why would I need one in New Orleans? Something I like in terms of food but i don't want. Well, I like watermelon but don't particularly want any right now.

The problem is when there's something we always like and always want. Watermelon falls in a whole different food category than, say, Blue Bell Banana Pudding Ice Cream or pralines. Want 'em, like 'em, but don't even get me started on them. Once I start, move outta my way.

Which is why sugar addicts need to stay away from the sweet stuff.

Fast Food Wars

Have you heard about this? The center of the battle is in New York, where a recent law was passed requiring fast-food restaurants to post their nutritional information on their menu boards. To make it fair, the law is at first only applicable to fast-fooders who already voluntarily make their nutritional info available--like on their websites.

That has proven too much honesty for Wendy's, Quiznos, and White Castle, who proceeded to take the nutritional info off their websites rather than comply with the law in New York.

Huh. Wonder what they have to hide?

In the meantime, of course, low carbers need only go to the terrific Calorie King website, which, contrary to its low-fattish name, has an amazing restaurant nutritional database. Check out the listings for restaurants, including Burger King, where they list sandwich nutritional info without the bun, or KFC where they give info on the chicken breast minus the breading. It's a huge database that's really helpful when you're counting carbs or calories and eating out.

I now know, for example, that a spicy breast from my own personal favorite, Popeye's, has 290 calories and only 7 grams of carbs when I peel off the breading. Now if I could just resist those evil-on-a-stick biscuits!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Veggie Tales: A Contest for You!

Have you heard the buzz about The World's Healthiest Foods, "Essential Guide to the Healthiest Way of Eating," by George Mateljan, published by the nonprofit, non-commercial George Mateljan Foundation? Here's a chance for you to win a copy, valued at $39.95.

I'm always struggling to find new and interesting ways to prepare veggies. It's after working all day, I'm tired and don't want to spend a whole lot of time cooking. But steamed with butter gets old, and raw with dressing gets older.

So, for the next week, post a reply with your favorite quick-and-easy veggie recipe. Any veggie, any style. The only requirements are that it contain at least three ingredients (no steamed veggie with butter--even I can do that!), not be too labor-intensive and not contain ingredients that are too exotic.

Everyone who posts a recipe will be put in the running for the book. I'll draw the names on Tuesday, March 13, and will post the winner on the site here along with my e-mail address. We'll work by private e-mail to get your address so I can send you the book.

So start posting, and pass along the link to your cooking pals!

The book, by the way, is very carb-friendly. Mateljan rates 100 foods on the basis of nutrient density and gives them a score. The most nutrient-dense food, with the highest score, is spinach. Strawberries are high on the list. What you won't find are sugars or processed foods.

Each of the 100 foods gets its own chapter with history, health properties, how to pick out the best in the store, how to prepare it. It's a huge volume and a great resource!

"The Atkins Breakfast"

So I'm out on Saturday, running errands, and stop for lunch at Dot's Diner, a self-consciously cute little restaurant that is diner-like enough that lots of guys in flannel shirts go there for big breakfasts served all day long.

I was more in the grilled chicken mood but as I perused the menu, almost unconsciously ticking off the items with a practiced low-carb eye--sugar, white bread, sugar, potatoes, sugar, sugar, sugar--what, lo and behold, to my wondering eyes should appear but "The Atkins Breakfast."

Yep, there it was in black and white.

Of course, it reinforces everything the general populace imagines Atkins to be. A three-egg omelette with multiple cheeses, with three sides: bacon, ham and sausage. Oink oink oink.

Wish they could have thrown some spinach in the omelette, and some fresh fruit on the side, but maybe that's asking too much. For now, I was happy to see Atkins on the menu--but I still got the chicken.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Eating Local

I'm almost finished reading Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I'm feelin' it--the dilemma, that is. (Yes, I realize I'm about a year behind the rest of the planet in reading this.)

The "Omnivore's Dilemma," for Pollan, is that since we have learned to alter the natural cycles of food and food production--through chemistry, through technology, and through transportation--we are in a constant dither about what's really good for us, what we really should be eating. In the absence of a historic national cuisine, Americans are left to the whims of the latest scientific study, the latest products, the latest trends, in order to figure out what to eat.

Instead of simplifying our diets, the modern world has made eating very, very complicated.

So last week, I decided to try and eat local, at least within reason for someone living in an urban area who works full-time and tries to maintain two blogs : )

There's quite a flap between Pollan and Whole Foods. First, Pollan chastises Whole Foods for talking the talk but not walking the walk. Whole Foods chief John Mackey has issued numerous responses in his own blog, admitting that Whole Foods could do a better job of buying local but stands by Whole Foods' practice of buying organic and then using fossil fuels to ship it to the USA or buying organic from large, industrialized organic producers in the USA and shipping it to the stores.

So just buying at Whole Foods wouldn't help me buy local. Thus, off I went to the farmer's market.

What can I buy at the farmer's market in late February? Much to my surprise, there were early strawberries. I love strawberries. So I picked up a couple of pints, which I could eat with some cream from a local dairy. They also had milk and butter, which I passed on but might try later. There was a peanut grower, but I can't digest peanuts--believe me, you don't want the details. I got some cabbage and some broccoli and some spinach that I was assured were grown without pesticides. There was a big selection of grass-fed beef and some wild catfish.

There was also the lady selling killer homemade pies--peach and apple and pecan--but I gave her wide berth, sadly.

That was about it for my shopping this week. It's pricey, but probably no moreso than Whole Foods. Of course the prices at Whole Foods is what has kept me out of there for the most part, except to buy pimiento cheese--the best in the world.

Will all this be healthier? Will it help the environment? Should I limit what I eat to what I can find grown locally? I guess it's the omnivore's dilemma.

The New Magic Beans

In the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack gets his hands on some magic beans that grow a stalk capable of taking him to the land of Giants.

Now, giant people may have a bean that can help bring us--or our weight--back to earth. Or at least if the food industry responds to this news about black soybeans the way I think they will.

Antioxidant properties of dark chocolate have brought us questionable chocolate cereal and even chocolate-dipped Altoids. Omega-3s are being pumped into pasta.

Now, with the study that shows black soya prevented test rats from gaining weight and increasing their "bad cholesterol"--if you buy into the whole cholesterol hoo-ha--I'm waiting to see which food manufacturer is first out of the gate with black-soy dingdongs or ho-hos.

Better yet, go to your favorite local or online store and buy some plain old black soybeans, and stew 'em up with some nice andouille (or lean ham). Low carbs, high fiber...and now some other good stuff too!