“Your health and likely your lifespan will be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar you burn over a lifetime.”–Dr. Ron Rosedale
When Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt (www.dietdoctor.com) asked his followers what one food they missed the most while following his low-carb/high-fat regimen, bread topped the list by a wide margin! Beer, often called “liquid bread,” came in third, pizza and pasta, which are just bread by other names, took fourth and fifth place and chips were number six. Sweets were the second hardest foods to give up, but we clearly miss our starchy breads, snacks, and nibbles much more than anything else!
I didn’t really think much about what I was eating when I first started a low-carb diet 16 years ago. I was so thrilled to have found the key to staying thin and healthy that even a food-lover like me could resign herself to a diet of boiled eggs, sugar-free Jell-O, and pork rinds as long as I was losing a pound a day without hunger. When my dramatic results convinced my husband to join me, I realized this was not going to be a “diet” that lasted for a few weeks, but a whole new lifestyle. If we were going to stick to it for the long haul, we needed good, nourishing food that wouldn’t leave us feeling deprived.
When I talk to people about this way of eating, I tell them that it is not about vanity or even weight loss; it is about how long you will live and how healthy you will be. Often they already know they need to cut the carbs, but they don’t think they can do it so they won’t even try. The best argument I can make is this: You don’t have to give up sweets and breads to give up sugar and starch. Why make it harder than it needs to be? You just need new recipes.
This is one of the most useful of all my recipes, especially for someone who is new to low-carb and still suffering from junk food withdrawal. (It gets easier. Honest.) Once your body adjusts to burning fat for fuel instead of burning sugar and storing fat, the cravings will diminish. These versatile little crackers, chips, or cookies taste great, are easy to make and they provide a handy platform to load up with butter, cheese, guacamole, and all the other good things that are allowed on this diet but no other. They are sturdy enough to use with dips and spreads and the variations are limited only by your imagination.
1 egg white from a large egg
1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour, almond meal, or other nut or seed flour
Sugar substitute, such as stevia or monk fruit* equal to 2 teaspoons sugar
A pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325º F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. You will also need something for pressing the crisps, like a flat meat pounder or a measuring cup with a smooth, flat bottom, and some plastic wrap.
Whisk egg white until blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Form dough into 48 small balls. They should be about ½-inch across. Place balls 3 inches apart (to make room for the tool used to press the crisps) on parchment-lined pans. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten balls into thin circles, roughly 2 inches across, with a flat implement. Carefully remove the covering. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Repeat with remaining balls. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 48 crisps.
Nutrition data per each: Net carbohydrate: 0.2g; Protein: 0.6g; Fiber: 0.3g; Fat: 1.2 g; Calories: 14
Almond Parmesan Crisps
Gourmet crackers to serve with soups, dips, and spreads that taste like Pringles potato chips!
Make basic Almond Crisps, above. Add 3 tablespoons (⅜ ounce) of finely-grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of freshly-ground black pepper to mixture. Sprinkle crisps with coarse salt and more fresh pepper before baking.
Makes 48 crackers.
Nutrition data per each: Net carbohydrate: 0.2g; Protein: 0.7g; Fiber: 0.3g; Fat: 1.3g; Calories: 16
You will be tempted to eat these like chips. Make a few at a time and refrigerate the remaining dough to help with portion control.
Almond Crisp Cookies
A small, crunchy cookie or two can make a scoop of sugar-free ice cream or a rich chocolate mousse extra special while adding almost no carbs.
1 egg white from a large egg
1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour or meal
Sugar substitute, such as stevia or monk fruit,* equal to 8 teaspoons sugar
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla, lemon, or other extract
Make according to directions for Almond Crisps, above. Sprinkle with cinnamon and granular xylitol before baking, if desired.
Makes 48 cookies.
Nutrition data per each:
Net carbohydrate: 0.2g; Protein: 0.6g; Fiber: 0.3g; Fat: 1.2 g; Calories: 14
(Recipes adapted from, Nourished; a Cookbook for Health, Weight Loss, and Metabolic Balance. There are more variations, both sweet and savory, for these crisps in the book.)
There are many good substitutes for sugar, some with significant health benefits. Prebiotic plant fibers, like inulin and oligofructose, promote gut health. Xylitol, a sugar alcohol, prevents tooth decay and possibly osteoporosis. Erythritol may also have a positive effect on teeth and bones and it does not raise blood glucose or cause digestive distress like most sugar alcohols. Tagatose, a less well known natural sugar substitute, has a low glycemic index, it browns like sugar, it does not have the odd cooling taste of sugar alcohols, and it may be the best one yet. (I just bought some and plan to start testing it in recipes.)
Some sweeteners, including the ones listed above, provide the bulk necessary for baked goods while some just add sweetness. A high-intensity sweetener, like stevia and monk fruit, works well for the almond crisp recipes above and adds no calories or carbs. Liquid sucralose is another option. It tastes good, is heat stable, and 600 times as sweet as sugar so you only need a tiny amount, however it has fallen out of favor with those who prefer only 100% “natural” products. (Splenda is the brand name for sucralose that has been fluffed up to measure like sugar, but it dissolves when it gets wet so it doesn’t really have bulk. It contains some real sugar and is not calorie- or carb-free like liquid sucralose versions.)
This article appeared first in the August 1, 2016 issue of the Low Carb Direct Magazine.
(c) 2016, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwarscookbooks.com