Tag Archives: low-carb

Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce

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Spaghetti squash in the background

We eat a lot of spaghetti sauce at the Parker Compound. We make enough for leftovers at subsequent meals. Many folks with diabetes get unacceptable blood sugar spikes when they eat typical wheat-based spaghetti or other pastas. Avoid that with a spaghetti substitute called spaghetti squash (click for the recipe and nutritional analysis).

This recipe uses Truvia, a sweetener that’s a combination of stevia and erythritol. If you don’t have any, don’t fret: you have options.

Stevia is supposedly “natural.” I don’t know where erythritol, a sugar alcohol, comes from. The purpose of a sweetener is to counteract the tartness or bitterness of the tomatoes. Honey would probably serve this purpose, but I’ve never tried it in this recipe. If you use the honey or table sugar option below, it will increase the digestible carb count in each cup by three grams. Whatever your favorite non-caloric sweetener, use the equivalent of two tablespoons of table sugar (sucrose).

Ingredients:

1 lb (454 g) sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

3/4 lb (340 g kg) lean ground beef (lean = up to 10% fat by weight)

1/2 cup (118 ml) onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz or 793 g)

2 cans tomato paste (total of 12 oz or 340 g)

2 cans tomato sauce (total of 16 oz or 454 g)

1/2 cup water (118 ml)

2 tsp (10 ml) Truvia (combo of stevia and erythritol; optional substitutes are table sugar  (2 tbsp or 30 ml) or honey (1.5 tbsp or 22 ml), or leave out sweetener

1.5 tsp (7.4 ml) dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fennel seeds

1 tsp (5 ml) Italian seasoning

1/4 tbsp (3.7 ml) salt

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) ground black pepper

4 tbsp (60 ml) fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions:

Put the sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic in a pan and cook over medium heat until well browned. Drain off the excess liquid fat if that’s your preference (not mine). You’ll probably have to transfer that mix to a pot, then add all remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for two or three hours. You may find the flavor even better tomorrow. If it gets too thick, just add water.

To avoid carbohydrate toxicity—high blood sugar—eat this over spaghetti squash rather than pasta. I’ll have a post on cooking spaghetti squash soon. Small or inactive folks may find a half cup of sauce over one cup of cooked squash is a reasonable serving (about 250 calories). I prefer to double those portions, making it a whole meal.

Sometimes I just eat this sauce straight. But I’m weird. A cup of sauce with some veggies or fruit is a meal for me. If you have other uses for spaghetti sauce other than over spaghetti squash or grain products, please share in the Comments.

Number of Servings: 9 (1-cup each)

Nutritional Analysis: (assumes you retained all fat)

55% fat

23% carbohydrate

22% protein

345 calories

21 g carbohydrate

4 g fiber

17 g digestible carbohydrate

985 mg sodium

1,117 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in vitamin B12, iron, copper, niacin, sodium, and selenium

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Recipe: Steak, Avocado, Olives, and Tomato

Paleobetic diet

I ate mine for breakfast. Who needs bagels, cereal, and donuts?

This meal has only 8 grams of digestible carbohydrate so it works in both the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet. It was super-easy to put together because I used leftover steak. But I’ll assume you’re cooking your steak fresh. We bought ours as thinly sliced round steak, about a 1/4-inch thick (0.6 cm). Some places refer to this as a “minute steak” because it cooks so quickly. Minute steak also refers to a piece of beef, usually the round, that’s been pounded flat, about a 1/4-inch thick. Even if you start with raw meat, you can prepare today’s recipe in 10 minutes.

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It tastes as good as it looks

Ingredients:

4 oz (113 g) cooked thin round steak (start with 5 oz raw)

1 California (Hass) avocado, standard size (4.5 oz or 127 g), peeled, pitted, and chunked

14 black olives, pitted, medium size (Purist alert: probably highly processed)

1 tomato, medium-size (medium size or 2.5-inch diameter (6,4 cm), or a large roma tomato), cut into wedges

Salt and pepper to taste, or use commercial steak seasoning such as Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick (a favorite at the Parker Compound)

Instructions:

Sprinkle your steak with seasoning then cook over medium or medium-high heat in a skillet, about a minute on each side. Or heat your leftover steak in the microwave. If you overcook, it will be tough.

Place all ingredients artfully on a plate and enjoy.

Servings: 1

Nutritional Analysis (via Fitday):

60% fat

12% carbohydrate

28% protein

600 calories

20 g carbohydrate

12 g fiber

8 g digestible carbohydrate

587 mg sodium

1530 mg potassium

Prominent features: Lots of protein, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, copper, iron, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc

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Recipe: Chicken Fafita Wraps

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It looks more appealing if you use green and red bell peppers

My earliest recollection of fajitas is from Austin, Texas, in 1981. I had just moved there from Oklahoma City to start my internship and residency in Internal Medicine. Back then fajitas were made with skirt steak, the diaphragm of a cow or steer. It was considered a cheap low-quality cut of meat. It’s not so cheap these days. You can also make fajitas with chicken. The contents of a traditional fajita are wrapped in a tortilla usually made with flour. To avoid blood sugar toxic blood sugar spikes, we’ll skip the tortilla. Use lettuce as a wrapper if you wish.

I wonder if the El Azteca Restaurant in Austin is still in business. Best Mexican food I ever had. I think it was on 6th Street or so, about 3/4 mile east of I-35. Good times.

By the way, the j in fajita is pronounced “h.” Accent on second syllable. “Fuh-HEET-uh.”

Today we’re using chicken and making four servings

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Pre-cut chicken breasts and sweet mini-peppers

Ingredients:

1 lb (454 kg) chicken breast, raw, boneless and skinless, cut in strips about 1/4-inch wide (you can often buy it this way)

7 oz onion, raw, cut in long crescent shapes about a 1/4-inch wide (0.6 cm)

6 oz (170 g) bell pepper, raw, cut in long strips roughly a 1/4-inch wide (these are also called sweet peppers; a combination of the red and green ones is eye-pleasing)

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

5 or 6 oz (155 g) tomato, raw, cut in long strips

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pepper

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) chili powder

1 tsp (5 ml) parsley flakes

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) oregano leaves

1 pinch of cumin

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) paprika

(Optional: You could replace all these spices with a 1-oz (28 g) pack of Lawry’s Chicken Fajitas Spices & Seasoning. The sodium and potassium values below would be different.)

1/3 cup (80 ml) water

16 oz (454 g) lettuce (e.g., iceberg, romaine, or bibb)

4 oz (113 g) walnuts

4 pears, small (about 1/3 lb or 150 g each))

Instructions:

Add the onions, peppers, and 1 tbsp (15 ml)  olive oil to a 12-inch (30 cm) skillet and cook at medium-high heat until tender, stirring occasionally. This’ll take about 10 minutes. Set the skillet contents aside.

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetes

This is double the recipe amount since there are six humanoids in my household

paleobetic diet, paleo diet for diabetics

The vegetables reduce volume by half while cooking

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and the chicken and cook at medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. For me, this cooked quicker than the vegetables. But don’t overcook or the chicken will get tough. Then add the water and all the spices. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally, then simmer on low heat a few minutes. This is your fajita filling.

My original plan was to make “fajita wraps,” wrapping the cooked fajitas into a large leaf of iceberg lettuce. This was pretty messy, especially since I love the sauce in the bottom of the pan. I tried two leafs as a base: still messy. Finally I just made a bed of lettuce (4 oz) and loaded the fajita concoction right on top. Mess gone. Try a different lettuce? Skip the lettuce entirely and you can reduce digestible carb count in each serving by 2 grams.

Enjoy the walnuts and pear with your meal.

Leftovers taste just as good as fresh-cooked, perhaps even better.

I have another fajita recipe using skirt steak marinated in commercial Zesty Italian Dressing in the refrigerator overnight or for at least four hours. Grill it over coals outside. Yum! I don’t recall whether I added lemon juice to the marinade or squirted it on the meat just before serving. You would just cook the onions and peppers on a pan on the stove as above, with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a margarita and I’ll make you an honorary Texan.

Number of servings: 4

Serving size: A cup (240 ml) of the fajita mixture, 4 oz (113 g) lettuce, 1 oz (28 g) walnuts, 1 small pear. One cup makes two lettuce wraps.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

48% fat

26% carbohydrate

26% protein

Calories: 514

37 g carbohydrate

10 g fiber grams

27 g digestible carbohydrate (25 g if you skip the lettuce)

928 mg sodium

904 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in protein, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C,copper, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium.

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Another view, prior to rolling it up (wrapping)

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Dr. Briffa on Low-Carb Diets For PWDs (People With Diabetes)

Diabetes UK is a prominent charity in Britain. It recommends that diabetics eat generous servings of carbohydrates: 5–14 daily servings of lower-glycemic-index items. Dr. Briffa strongly disagrees:

I can categorically state here that when individuals with diabetes cut back on carbohydrates, they almost always see significant improvement in their blood sugar control. They usually lose weight, and see improvements in markers of disease too. I’m most certainly not the only person to have noticed this. Just yesterday I met a most wonderful general practitioner who has come to the low-carb approach quite late in his career, but has used it to utterly transform the health of his patients. He showed me a variety of graphs from several patients pre- and post-adoption of a lower carbohydrate diet. He relayed a few stunning anecdotes too of people who believe eating a lower-carb diet has given them their health and their lives back.

***

I won’t mince my words and state here that I believe these recommendations are utterly mad. My experience tells me they will generally just entrench diabetics in their condition and the need for medical care. Compared to a lower-carbohydrate diet, the regime advocated by Diabetes UK stands to worsen blood sugar control and increase the need for medication and risk of complications. If Diabetes UK is serious about helping diabetics, I suggest it starts by ceasing to recommend a diet that, in my view, is utterly unsuitable for diabetics.

 

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Do Low-Carb Diets Help Overweight Kids?

DietDoctor Andreas Eenfeldt has located three studies that answer in the affirmative. Click through to his blog.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Meal Plans For “Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes”

For both types 1 and type 2 diabetes, carbohydrate restriction is a great way to help control blood sugars and minimize the toxicity and expense of drug therapy. Here are some low-carb recipes from my book, Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes.

These are Hass or California avocados (the other common one in the U.S is the Florida avocado)

These are Hass or California avocados (the other common one in the U.S is the Florida avocado)

Breakfast:  Steak and Avocado

4 oz (110 g) raw steak

1 California avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced (136 g)

½ tbsp (7 ml) olive oil (optional)

salt and pepper

1 tbsp (15 ml) vinaigrette (see below) or commercial Italian dressing (regular, not low-fat, with less than 2 g of carb per tbsp or 15 ml)

Cook the steak over medium heat, adding half a tbsp (7 ml) olive oil at the start if desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Peel and slice a California avocado. Dress avocado with homemade vinaigrette or commercial Italian dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Digestible carb grams: 4.

AMD VINAIGRETTE

Try this on salads, fresh vegetables, or as a marinade for chicken, fish, or beef. If using as a marinade, keep the entree/marinade combo in the refrigerator for 4–24 hours. Seasoned vinaigrettes taste even better if you let them sit for several hours after preparation. This recipe was in my first book, The Advanced Mediterranean Diet; hence, “AMD vinaigrette.”

Ingredients

1 clove (3 g) garlic

juice from ½ lemon (23 g or ml)

a third of a cup (78 ml) oil olive

2 tbsp (8 g) fresh parsley

½ tsp (2.5 ml)) salt

½ tsp (2.5 ml) yellow mustard

½ tsp (1.2 ml) paprika

2 tbsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar

Preparation

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk together. Alternatively, you can put all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Let sit at room temperature for an hour, for flavors to meld. Then refrigerate. It should “keep” for at least 5 days in refrigerator. Shake before using. Servings per batch: 3.

Nutrient Analysis:

Recipe makes 3 servings (2 tbsp or 30 ml per serving). Each serving has 220 calories, 2 g digestible carb, almost no fiber, negligible protein, 24 g fat. 3% of calories are from carbohydrate, 97% from fat.

Lunch:  Aguacate Cucumber Salad

5 oz (140 g) cucumber, peeled and sliced into rounds

1 California avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced (136 g)

2 tbsp (30 ml) AMD vinaigrette (see above) or commercial Italian dressing described below

salt and pepper

dash of lime or lemon juice (optional)

1 oz walnuts

Mix the cucumber and avocado in a bowl with the AMD vinaigrette or commercial Italian dressing (regular, not low-fat, with 3 g or fewer carbs per 2 tbsp or 30 ml). Salt and pepper to taste. For extra zing, add a dash of lemon or lime juice. Enjoy the walnuts on the side now, or mid-afternoon as a snack. Digestible carb grams: 10.

Dinner:  Bacon Shrimp Salad

2 slices (15 g) pork bacon, cured, cooked (or substitute 2 tbsp (30 ml) commercial real bacon bits)

2 tbsp (30 ml) AMD vinaigrette (see above) or commercial Italian dressing as below

½ packet of tabletop Splenda

4 oz (110 g) fresh baby spinach

4 oz (110 g) cooked shrimp (Consider commercial pre-cooked, peeled shrimp to save time)

6 oz (180 ml) dry white wine

Cook two bacon slices over medium heat, then crumble or cut in to tiny pieces (or substitute commercial real bacon bits). Add a half packet of Splenda to the AMD vinaigrette or commercial Italian dressing (regular, not low-fat, with 3 g or fewer carbs per 2 tbsp or 30 ml), then mix. On a bed of fresh baby spinach, place the cooked shrimp, then top with bacon pieces and vinaigrette. Enjoy with 6 oz dry white wine. Digestible carb grams: 9.

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Meal Plans For “Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes”

For both types 1 and type 2 diabetes, carbohydrate restriction is a great way to help control blood sugars and minimize the toxicity and expense of drug therapy. Here are some low-carb recipes from my book, Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes. You can also easily incorporate them into a ketogenic diet.

Breakfast:  Chicken Salad Over Greens

1 large egg (50 g)

5-oz can (150 g) of cooked chicken (drain and discard liquid)

½ oz (14 g) onion (2 tbsp or 30 ml), diced

½ stick (40 g) of celery, diced

2 tbsp (30 ml) Miracle Whip Salad Dressing or regular mayonnaise (not low-fat)

salt and pepper

2 oz (60 g) romaine lettuce

2 oz (60 g) raw baby spinach

dash of lemon or lime juice (optional)

1 oz (28 g) walnuts

Hard-boil the large egg, then peel and dice. Place the chicken into a bowl then add the egg, diced onion, diced celery, and the Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. Mix all together, with salt and pepper and/or a dash of lemon or lime juice to taste. Place on bed of romaine lettuce and fresh baby spinach. Enjoy walnuts around mealtime or later as a snack. Digestible carb grams: 11.

Lunch:  Kippered Herring and Cheese

3.5 oz (100 g) canned herring

3 oz (80 g) cheese

Digestible carb grams: 2.

Dinner: Hamburger and Salad

8 oz (225 g) raw hamburger meat

1 oz (28 g) onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp (15 ml) A.1. Steak Sauce or Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

3 oz (85 g) lettuce

3 oz (85 g) tomato, cut into chunks

2 oz (60 g) cucumber, peeled and sliced

1.5 tbsp (22 ml) olive oil

½ tbsp (7 ml) vinegar

To the raw hamburger meat, add the chopped onion, A.1. Steak Sauce or Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend thoroughly with your hands. (No particular need for lean hamburger; it’s your choice.) Cook in pan over medium heat. While cooking, prepare your salad.

In a bowl, place the lettuce, tomato chunks, sliced cucumber, and finally, the olive oil and vinegar. Mix salad thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with 6 oz of red wine. Digestible carb grams: 13.

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Consider Carbohydrate Restriction for Your GERD

Dr. Michael Eades has a post on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and it’s treatment with carbohydrate-restricted eating versus drugs. GERD is relatively severe and/or frequent heartburn caused by stomach acid backing up in to the esophagus. The lining of your stomach is designed to be resistant to a high-acid environment; your esophagus not so much. A quote from Dr. Eades:

Most people who have GERD, have it for the long term. It’s not something that comes and goes. So these folks go on GERD therapy for the long term, and the most prescribed medications for long-term GERD treatment are PPIs [proton pump inhibitors], which, you now know, keep stomach acid neutralized for the long term, and, as you might imagine, creates a host of problems.

The scientific literature has shown long-term PPI therapy to be related to the following conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Impaired calcium absorption
  • Impaired magnesium absorption
  • Increased rate fractures, especially hip, wrist and spine
  • Osteopenia [thin brittle bones]
  • Rebound effect of extra-heavy gastric acid secretion
  • Heart attacks

Read the rest if you or someone you love has GERD.

Here’s a scientific report supporting Dr. Eades’ clinical experience. Carbs were reduced to 20 grams a day.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Some studies find no association between PPI use and pneumonia. It makes sense that we have stomach acid for good reasons, and that suppressing it may well have adverse effects.

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What’s the Best Diet for Type 2 Diabetics?

DietDoctor has some ideas based on a recent scientific study:

new exciting Swedish study provides us with strong clues on how a person with diabetes should eat (and how to eat to maximize fat burning). It’s the first study to examine in detail how various blood markers change throughout the day depending on what a diabetic person eats.

The study examined the effects of three different diets in 19 subjects with diabetes type 2. They consumed breakfast and lunch under supervision in a diabetes ward. The caloric intake in the three diets examined was the same, but the diets differed in the following manner:

  1. A conventional low-fat diet (45-56% carbs)
  2. A Mediterranean diet with coffee only for breakfast (= similar to 16:8 intermittent fasting) and a big lunch (32-35% carbs)
  3. A moderate low-carbohydrate diet (16-24% carbs)

All participants tested all three diets, one diet each day in randomized order.

Click through for results. Hint: Carbohydrate restriction works.

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Recipe: Pico De Gallo

According to Wikipedia, pico de gallo is Spanish for rooster’s beak. I always thought it was peck of the rooster, because it’s got some bite to it. You decide how spicy you want it based on how much jalapeño you use. Also note that one batch of jalapeños is different in heat from the next.

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Our rooster, Chuck: handsome but mean!

Pico de gallo is a condiment that compliments eggs, meat, and guacamole, to name a few. I throw it in a bowl of soup sometimes. Save any you don’t eat in the ‘frig, but eat it within three days.

Ingredients:

  • tomatoes, fresh, 7 oz (200 g), chopped very finely
  • onion, fresh, 2 oz (60 g), chopped very finely
  • jalapeño pepper, fresh, 1 whole (14 g), chopped very finely after discarding stem
  • cilantro, fresh, 10–15 sprigs chopped finely to yield 3–4 tbsp (2 g)
  • salt, 2 pinches (2/16 tsp) or to taste

Instructions:

If you prefer less spicy heat, use less jalapeno and don’t use the seeds. Combine all ingredients and you’re done. Eat at room temperature, chilled, or heated at medium heat in a saucepan (about 5 minutes, until jalapenos lose their intense green color).

Servings: 3 servings of 1/2 cup (120 ml) each.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

  • 8% fat
  • 81% carbohydrate
  • 11% protein
  • 21 calories
  • 4.5 g carbohydrate
  • 1.2 g fiber
  • 3.3 g digestible carbohydrate
  • 104 mg sodium (2 pinches of added salt)
  • 216 mg potassium
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Some prefer it coarsely chopped like this – it’s quicker

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