This week on Dana’s Low Carb For Life, we talk supplementation, look at a favorite vegetable, have a low carb history lesson, and more, so listen in!
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Hey, Gang! Welcome to episode 24 of Dana’s Low Carb For Life, brought to you by CarbSmart.com, your smart choice for a low carb lifestyle.
On this week’s show, I’ll tell you about my experiences with supplementing sodium, discuss a wonderfully cooling summer vegetable, and give you some ideas for using it, and we’ll have a look at some weight loss advice from forty years ago. We’ve also got a great call for Low Carb Voices, with a great breakfast idea; you’ll want to hear that.
But before we get to all that, I want to remind you: The 2nd Annual Low Carb Meet-and-Greet will be happening on Saturday, August 13th, in my backyard here in Bloomington, Indiana. It’ll be me, Jimmy Moore, and low carb blogger Amy Dungan, plus a bunch of low carbers just like you! We’ll eat low carb food and drink sugar-free cold beverages – the nice folks at Zevia have agreed to sponsor the soda for the event, so we’ll have plenty of Zevia — and just, you know, hang out, shooting the breeze. We have a limit of fifty people, but we haven’t hit it yet! So if you’re anywhere in striking distance of Bloomington – we’re about an hour south of Indianapolis, 2 hours west of Cincinnati, and 90 minutes north of Louisville, Kentucky – email email@example.com, – we’ll put an email link up at the show page, at danaslowcarforlife.com – and hold your space. Please be aware that we are asking a $5 donation to defray the cost of food, and renting tables and a canopy. Come meet us!
Okay, let’s get to the show! In a little while, I’ll talk about a favorite summer vegetable that happens to be seriously low carb, and we’ll have a little low carb history. But first, I want to tell you about a new supplement I’m taking, and why. I’ve written about this at the blog and at CarbSmart, but it seemed important enough that I ought to tell you here on the podcast, as well.
It’s funny how events sometimes just sort of compile themselves in a useful shape. A few days ago, I was annoyed when I opened the freezer on the top of my kitchen fridge, and a bag of steak bones, accumulated over many months, fell out at my feet. I figured that was the universe’s way of telling me it was time to make beef broth.
So I put the steak bones in my soup kettle, covered ’em with water, added a little salt and vinegar, and let them simmer for a couple of days. (Yes, a couple of days, on very low heat. A slow cooker would work, too, and wouldn’t heat up the kitchen as much.) But seeing as it’s in the 90s here in Southern Indiana, a nice pot of vegetable beef soup just didn’t sound appealing.
On an entirely different front, I’d had a cluster of annoying minor symptoms recently __ tired with no reason, a little queasy, lightheaded when I stood up. When I pointed my toes to stretch, my calves would start to cramp. A little achy, a little headache_y. I’d been irritable, cross for no good reason. Most frightening, I’d made some odd, inexplicable errors in very basic arithmetic, and used the wrong word for simple things __ saying “purple” when I meant “green,” that sort of thing __ enough times to disturb me.
I wondered if I might be slipping hypothyroid again, and thought maybe bumping up my dose of Armour thyroid might help. I emailed my doctor to inquire.
Then I went outside to read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, which had been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks. It’s great, and I recommend it highly, though I’m only about 85 pages in.
Having seen both authors, Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, speak during the Q&A at the Nutrition and Metabolism Society symposium back in April, and having read New Atkins For a New You, I knew they put an emphasis on adding sodium to a low carbohydrate diet, because of the kidney’s increased excretion of sodium when insulin levels drop. (This is why you lose water weight the first few weeks, and why blood pressure drops so fast on a low carbohydrate diet.) Hadn’t really thought much about it, though. I’ve been low carb for so long, I figured my body had worked it out long since.
Then I got to the piece in the beginning of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living about the symptoms of sodium deficiency, also known as hyponatremia. And guess what? It sounded very familiar. I looked up hyponatremia online, and found this: Symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, appetite loss, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps, seizures, and decreased consciousness or coma. Sounded all too familiar. (Except for the coma part, thank heaven.)
I got to thinking about it, and it seemed possible I’d been eating less salt than I used to. I’ve been eating less in general since I went on the blood sugar medication Victoza. Too, I haven’t been eating a lot of dishes that have much salt mixed in, soups and stews and the like, because of the hot weather. There’s a limit to how much salt you can shake on your eggs or steak, you know? More than once I’ve substituted Greek yogurt with strawberries and nuts __ very little sodium there __ for supper. And of course, like everyone else, I sweat more in hot weather, losing sodium that way. Been eating a lot of veggies, so my potassium intake has been up, and potassium and sodium need to balance. All told, it seemed very possible that I had become hyponatremic.
Well, I knew that Volek and Phinney recommended bouillon or broth as a source of sodium, and there I was with a big pot of beef broth __ beef broth with considerably less sodium than the commercial variety, I might add. Still, there had to be some way to use the broth.
I flashed on church coffee hours back at dear old Christ Church, in Ridgewood, New Jersey, in my childhood. Along with coffee, tea, and juice, they served a popular light soup, just a 50_50 mixture of beef broth and tomato juice. Indeed, I included it in one of my cookbooks. And tomato juice is fairly high in sodium. So, for that matter, is V_8, which I prefer to tomato juice. And I had some in the basement.
So I poured a 4 ounce can of V_8 and a half_cup of my nice beef broth in my little saucepan, and added a teaspoon of Beef Better Than Bouillon. Heated it up, stirred till the bouillon paste dissolved, poured it into a mug, and tried it.
It was lovely. Very tasty, and light enough that it didn’t seem overwhelming in the heat. By my calculations it had more than a gram of sodium, putting it in the range recommended by Volek and Phinney. (1-2 grams of additional sodium per day.) Seven grams of usable carb.
The next day, I found a version I like even better, especially for summer: 4 ounces of chilled V-8 and 4 ounces of chilled beef broth, with an extra ½ teaspoon of good, mined, ancient sea bed sea salt stirred in. Added a few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce, too. This is really refreshing – and has over a gram of sodium per serving. I’ve been drinking this once a day. Leaving out the bouillon concentrate drops another gram of carb off of this, by the way – 6 grams usable carb, total.
My whooshy head, queasy stomach, and general bad disposition have cleared up. My energy level is better than it was. And – so far – I haven’t had another disconcerting moment of hearing the wrong word come out of my mouth, or messing up embarrassingly easy arithmetic.
So now I know what I’m going to do with all that beef broth.
It seemed very possible that some of you might have the same problem, especially if it’s as warm there as it’s been here. Again, Volek and Phinney consider this sodium supplementation important, and they’re smart and very knowledgeable guys. If the symptoms above ring a bell, you might want to add some salt to your diet daily and see how you feel.
One caution: A poster at my Facebook fan page took me to task for using bouillon concentrate and canned juice. (I am not a purist, and I make no apologies for that.) She said I should just stir a teaspoon of salt into a glass of water and drink it. Do not do this.
Why? Because it makes for a terrific intestinal purge, that’s why. The “salt flush” is a well-known colon-cleansing technique. Which is fine, if that’s what you want, but stick close to the bathroom if you do. And you’ll still need to get your sodium somewhere else, ‘cause most of it will be running straight through you if you do this. Indeed, it may take some other nutrients with it.
The take-home message here is that despite the demonizing of sodium, it is an essential nutrient; without it we die. Low carbohydrate diets both normalize the body’s ability to excrete excess sodium, and dramatically reduce our intake of processed foods, baked goods, chips and other “snack foods,” the biggest sources of sodium in the modern American diet. So pay attention.
Be aware, too, that having elevated blood pressure does not necessarily mean you need a low sodium diet. Clinical studies show that salt restriction raises blood pressure as often as it lowers it. It is possible to be hyponatremic and hypertensive at the same time. If you have high blood pressure, be sure you’re in the minority who are sodium reactive before you decide to restrict your salt.
Anyway, it seemed important to let you all know.
Moving right along! In a few minutes I’ll read some diet advice to you from a book from 1971, and after that, we’ll hear from a listener about her favorite summer breakfast, and her favorite low carb treat. But let’s talk about a favorite summer vegetable, first. By the way, there are a bunch of recipe ideas in this segment. Don’t feel like you have to scramble to write them all down; they’ll be in the transcript at the show page, at danaslowcarbforlife.com. So let’s talk about cucumbers.
Are you fond of cucumbers? I sure am. I like ‘em sliced, with a little salt. I like ‘em with dips. I like ‘em in salads. I like ‘em in tzatziki –– that yummy yogurt-cucumber sauce that comes with gyros. I like ‘em pickled. Indeed, I’m hard-pressed to think of a way I don’t like cucumbers.
Ah –– thought of it! The first time I planted cucumbers in my garden, I made the mistake of putting in three plants, little knowing they’d produce enough cucumbers for a small village. So the only way I don’t like cucumbers is “melting down into sad little puddles in my garden because I can’t possibly eat them all!”
Cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, dating back to early historic times. They’re believed to have originated in southern Asia or India. Believe it or not, cucumbers are a type of melon –– this surprised me, but then I took another look, and another sniff, and suddenly it was obvious. And they have a cooling property that is very appealing during these sweltering summer months.
But how nutritious are cucumbers? Remarkably so, considering that they’re largely crunchy water. A whole cup of cucumber slices has just 8 calories, with 1.8 grams of carbohydrate –– so eat to your heart’s content. You’ll get 11% of your vitamin C, 5% of your vitamin A and potassium, 4 % of your folacin, 2% of your zinc, B1, B6, calcium, and iron, and 1% of your B2 and B3. Considering that those 8 calories represent a teeny 0.004% of a daily allowance of 1800 calories, and the 1.8 grams of carb are just 0.04% of my personal 50 gram daily limit, the cucumber suddenly reveals itself as a nutritional giant.
Look for cucumbers that firm and bright green. Yellow color means they’re over-mature, while shriveling means they’re old. Either may make them bitter. I also prefer to choose cucumbers without the shiny coating of wax you so often see, though the wax does keep them fresh a bit longer. Waxed cucumbers should be, washed well with soap, or peeled. If cucumbers make you burp, look for seedless or “burpless” varieties.
* Want a fancy-looking hors d’oeuvre for a summer party? Top rounds of cucumber with crab salad or smoked salmon dip, place on a lettuce-lined plate, and garnish with minced dill.
* Too hot to eat? A big Greek salad of romaine with lots of cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, and parsley, topped with feta, olives, red onion, and –– if you like –– sliced grilled chicken breast –– is wildly appealing even on days so muggy they kill the appetite. Dress with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, plus salt and pepper and plenty of oregano.
* Similar, but with an appeal all its own, is the Turkish Shepherd’s Salad. Simply dice up the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion, crumble in the feta, and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped fresh mint. Extraordinarily refreshing.
* For a classic cucumber salad like Grandma used to make, slice 3 cucumbers quite thin. Put them in a large bowl, salt them well, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain off the liquid that will have collected. Now stir together 1/4 cup Splenda, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 cup sour cream , 1/2 cup chopped red onion, and a teaspoon of chopped fresh dill. Stir into your cukes, and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.
Here’s my favorite cucumber salad recipe. It’s sweet and hot and so good! This is one of those magnificent recipes that is low carb, low fat, low calorie, okay for vegetarians — and tastes great. That makes it a terrific choice for potlucks and parties –– anywhere where you have to cater to a variety of ways of eating.
Thai Cucumber Salad
3 medium cucumbers
1 small, fresh jalapeno
1/2 small red onion
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Splenda or equivalent sweetener
I do this in my food processor, but you can certainly cut stuff up by hand. With the S-blade in place, I put the onion and the jalapeno, seeds removed, in the food processor, and pulse until they are both finely chopped. (Wash your hands really well after handling that jalapeno, or you’ll be sorry the next time you touch your nose or eyes!) Remove the S-blade, and put on the slicing disk. Quarter the cucumbers lengthwise, then run them through the slicing disk. If you’re not using a food processor, you’ll want to dice the onion and mince the jalapeno, then slice the cucumber as thin as you can.
Put all the veggies in a big bowl. Combine the garlic, ginger, vinegar, salt, pepper, and Splenda well, and pour over the vegetables. Mix well, and chill for several hours.
8 servings, each with just 25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 5 grams usable carb, and 1 gram of protein.
So now that you know what to do will all those cucumbers in the garden or at the farmers market, let’s talk a little weight loss history. As some of you know, I’ve been a nutrition buff since 1977, when I read Psychodietetics, and figured out that a whole lot of my “emotional” problems were really messed-up blood sugar due to massive sugar addiction. Changed my entire darned life. Within a few years I was working in a health food store.
Like so many health food stores back then, this one had a revolving wire rack of health and nutrition books; I’d read them during slow times, and I wound up spending part of my paycheck on a fair number of ‘em, and I still have most of them. One is a cookbook from 1971, called Confessions of a Sneaky Organic Cook, by Jane Kinderlehrer, and published by Rodale Press, best known for publishing the venerable Prevention magazine. Jane Kinderlehrer wrote for Prevention for years, and the book almost seems like a series of articles; I’ve always thought that perhaps many of the chapters originally appeared as articles in Prevention. Much of the book has as much or more nutritional information as it does recipes; the recipes are mostly grouped in the back.
One of the chapters has the straightforward title “How To Lose Weight,” and begins with a list of 15 rules for weight loss. Some of them will sound familiar to you:
So in 1971, the biggest bastion of the health food movement was advocating a complete avoidance of valuless starches and sugar, advocating a high protein and fat, low carbohydrate diet, and pointed out that many people whose weight yo-yos have blood sugar trouble.
Yet today, forty years later, Prevention’s website is advocating fat-free dairy, low fat granola, toast without butter, even raisin bagels, which are virtually always made with refined white flour. They have a section of 400 calorie pasta meals – in other words, meals centered around the very refined flour Jane Kinderlehrer insisted we shun.
What happened? What the heck happened?
Okay, enough collectively shaking our heads and clucking in disapproval. I am excited to have a new Low Carb Voices call for you today, and it’s a great one. Our listener – who sadly did not leave her name – not only has called in with a great idea for a summer breakfast, but also with a recipe for her favorite low carb treat. These, I’m afraid, will not be in the transcript, so you may want to take notes. Here’s the call:
Is that great, or what? I have got to try the muffin recipe; it sounds a lot like the 5-minute microwave mug cake that’s made the rounds of the internet (and that I decarbed for 300 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes, I might add); that’s good, so I’m betting this is great, too. And that cauliflower pizza has been drawing raves all over; I haven’t gotten around to trying it, but I simply must. July 22, 2011
Dana, a while ago you asked for our favorite summer beverage, but I had none. Now that I’ve made an effort to get away from diet sodas, I have three!
I know you love LaCroix soda water, but I didn’t until I found grapefruit flavor. Orange was OK, but grapefruit is great!
Next I bought a Sodastream carbonated water maker, which comes with flavors… some of which are not sweetened. The diet flavors can be used very sparingly, but even plain fizzy water with TrueOrange is good.
The best discovery is to freeze small cubes of cucumber and watermelon, add them to plain water and give them a few minutes to defrost. This solved my problem of having either none around when I wanted them, or worse, the ones on hand turning slimy in the fridge.
For summer breakfast, I love me some LOX. Nathan’s is a good brand with a smoky flavor that reminds me of charcoal grillin’. Yum!
Plus it’s chock full of all those healthy salmon lipids. Lox and sashimi are the only ways I can stand salmon, I won’t eat swordfish and I’m trying to avoid tuna as much as I can.
Open question: Any suggestions for things you can do with lox as an ingredient?
Honestly, I’m not a fan, but how about a lox omelet? I’d add cream cheese, maybe some chopped scallions. If you want a cold meal, you could spread whipped cream cheese on the lox and roll it up around a spear of cucumber, or a slice or two of tomato.
We have more of these, but we’re running out of time, so you’ll just have to come back next week, won’t you? In the meanwhile, if you have a great suggestion for using lox, or for more summer breakfasts, or treats, or really, anything else, call (412) 385-DANA, that’s (412) 385-3262, and let us know!
If you have any friends you think might like the show, please steer ‘em to the show page at Dana’s Low Carb For Life, and if you like it, how about leaving a review at Itunes? We’d love it.
Don’t forget to check out the blog at Hold the toast.com, and join my facebook fan page at Dana Carpender’s Hold the Toast Press – lots of great folks there; it’s a fun ongoing conversation.
And of course, 300 15 Minute Low Carb Recipes is now available at Amazon.com, or order through CarbSmart.com along with your other stuff. If you’ve already got it and you like it, go review it!
That’s it! Remember, till next week, stay low carb for life!