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In The Low-Carb Gourmet, Harriet Brownlee proves that low-carbohydrate diets can be both rewarding and full of flavor. Her variations on soups, salads, main dishes, and even desserts are simple yet sophisticated, allowing each dieter to modify his or her food plan to suit taste as well as nutritional needs. In The Low-Carb Gourmet you will find
• more than 225 recipes–including appetizers, breads, pastas, ethnic foods, and desserts
• carbohydrate counts for every recipe and every portion
• nutritional hints for low-carb dieting
• comprehensive gram- and calorie-counting charts
This accessible guide is the perfect cooking companion for people who want to lose weight the low-carb way, as well as for those who simply want to maintain a healthy diet. It is a book for everyone who appreciates fine foods–but wants to stay slim.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Yes, nobody likes to be fat. But at the same time, nobody, but nobody, likes to diet! We diet simply because we have to. There are those of us whom Fate has willed to be fat, but since fashion and good health dictate that we be thin, we have had to feel exempt from the human race at mealtimes. Worse yet, because diet food has, until now, been so unappetizing, often after we have succeeded in losing a few pounds we have gone back to fattening eating again. Up goes the scale; nobody can spend a lifetime feeling deprived.
Only by acquiring a new eating lifestyle can one stay thin. Anyone who has ever had a serious weight problem eventually knows he must diet in some way for the rest of his life, and until medical science discovers a fat-melting pill, dieting will remain the only answer. But how does one go about choosing a diet that allows one to either lose pounds or maintain a low weight, while at the same time allowing him not to feel deprived? Today, the choices of diets are innumerable:
A Complete Starvation Diet: This was the first diet I ever tried and I learned at the young age of thirteen that the only thing this diet would do was make me sick. This isn’t just a diet with bad nutrition—this one has no nutrition!
The Ten-Day Egg Diet or The Mayo Clinic Diet: This diet never originated in the Mayo Clinic! After trying it during my college years, I could never again stand the sight of a hard-cooked egg. I must admit that it did take some pounds off me in those ten days, but on the tenth day, I promptly passed out. This diet is not only poor nutritionally, it leaves you in a state of constant hunger.
The Old Blitz Diet: By eating cottage cheese and fruit three times a day, you are supposed to take off five pounds in two days. I lost a half pound in four days and was gagging on the cottage cheese by the first night. I didn’t mind cottage cheese and fruit for lunch, but for breakfast and dinner, too? Having to eat cottage cheese for dinner, especially on cold winter nights, made me feel inhuman. This diet is psychologically unsatisfying and is also poor nutritionally if you stay on it for any length of time.
The Old Calorie-Counting Diets: I lived with these diets for many years—until I learned better. They did work and even kept me thin. But in order to lose weight or even to maintain my weight, I had to keep my calorie intake so low that not only was I always hungry, I had the worst health of anyone I knew. I had no resistance to disease, took three times as long as anyone else to heal when I got sick, and was always weak and tired. I have iron willpower and rarely break any diet, so I managed to live with low-calorie diets for years. However, I also severely aggravated a case of hypoglycemia—low blood sugar—by always walking around hungry, and came close to losing my life because of it. The damage done during those years can never be completely undone.
If you severely restrict calories all of your life, you cannot get enough basic nutrition to keep you healthy. Besides, most people who aren’t as motivated to be thin usually give up when the hunger becomes unbearable.
The Diet Pill Way: Doctors hand these out much too freely! Every doctor I had ever been to, up until the time I met Dr. Robert Atkins, handed me prescriptions for diet pills when I complained I had trouble staying thin. They all assume that you’re a glutton and eat too much. Diet pills actually are meant to make you lose weight by suppressing your appetite so that you will cut down your calories. But the minute you stop taking them, your appetite returns in full force. The only way you can stay thin with them is by continuing to take them. Apart from the damage they can do to your body, do you really want to be hooked?
Dr. Stillman’s Quick-Weight-Loss Diet: I’ve known many people who lost weight on this diet, but gained a great amount right back the minute they began to eat normally. Mainly, this diet does not teach good eating habits. Nobody can live on just meat, hard-cooked eggs, cottage cheese, and water for the rest of his or her life. Besides the fact that this is bad nutritionally (I faint on this diet and have known many others who either faint or feel very weak), this diet is boring.
Weight-Watchers Diet: If this diet works for you, use it by all means. It is nutritionally sound and can do you no harm. However, it will not necessarily do you any good either, because it does not work for everyone. I think you may have to be severely overweight to have this diet work for you. I gain weight on it, as do a number of others I’ve met.
By this time, if you’re starting to wonder if the only thing you can do is stay round, take heart. There is still one diet that I have not mentioned. Imagine a diet that lets you eat gourmet meals! Imagine a diet you will be able to stick to when eating in any restaurant! Imagine a diet that does not force you to eat any particular food you do not like! Imagine a diet that lets you have good wines with your dinner! Imagine a diet that lets you lose weight and keep it off forever with just a minimum of willpower! Imagine a diet that’s fun!
No, this diet does not exist only in your dreams. It’s a diet that you can start living with right now. It’s a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
There are many variations of the basic low-carbohydrate diet. The one factor they have in common is that they all restrict carbohydrates but do not restrict calories—hence no hunger. Carbohydrate foods are those that contain high percentages of sugar (which is pure carbohydrate) and starch, including fruits, breads, cakes, candies, pies, soda containing sugar, puddings, cereal, pasta, and some vegetables such as corn and potatoes. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, butter, oil, margarine, and some mayonnaises contain no carbohydrates while cheeses and salad greens contain only a few.
It’s a good idea when starting this diet to equip yourself with a carbohydrate gram-counting chart. Comprehensive charts are available in any paperback bookshop. The Doctor’s Pocket Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter by Allan Borushek is an excellent and very complete paperback book that I found in my local bookstore.
Dr. Atkins’ New Carbohydrate Gram Counter is an inexpensive little book that’s quite complete, even though it’s tiny and easy to slip into a pocket or handbag when going marketing. Another good book to get is the Department of Agriculture Handbook, Composition of Foods, which can be obtained by writing to the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C.
The most liberal of the low-carbohydrate diets was The Drinking Man’s Diet, otherwise known as The Air Force Diet. To follow this diet, you could eat anything you wanted as long as you limited yourself to fewer than 60 grams of carbohydrates per day. There were no limits placed on any other foods. If you lose weight easily, by all means follow this diet. It’s the easiest of all.
Dr. Carlton Fredericks was Dr. Robert Atkins’s mentor on low-carbohydrate diets. Dr. Fredericks’s suggestion that you eat six small meals a day instead of the usual three large ones is excellent and has been recommended to dieters for years. In an article called “Meal Frequency—A Possible Factor in Human Pathology” in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (August 1970), an experiment is described showing how both men and women, when fed small, frequent meals, were able to eat more than 1,400 calories in excess of the normal intake they needed to maintain their normal weight, without gaining any weight. But when they were fed the same amount of food in two large meals, they gained weight to the degree of their calorie excess.
When it was published, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution immediately aroused a storm of controversy. One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Dr. Atkins by the American Medical Association was that his diet was too high in saturated fats. I think one of the things that the AMA failed to realize is that by natural selectivity, people will vary their diet. Even if you are allowed to eat eggs, beef, butter, et cetera, you will not necessarily take in too much. Most people want variety in their meals and practically everyone would get sick of eating steaks, roast beef, or very rich food every single day, never mind the cost of these foods in inflationary times.
I do feel that Dr. Atkins should have placed some restrictions on the amounts of food people eat. I’m not saying people should count every calorie, but they should be aware that they shouldn’t eat even protein foods out of boredom or unhappiness, for amusement or sociability, or even just because it’s mealtime. If you eat only in reasonable quantities, you will not eat an unreasonable amount of fat. And if your doctor advises you, because of your particular state of health, to restrict your intake of saturated fats, many high-protein, low-carbohydrate recipes can be just what you should be using so that you can follow his orders without going on a dreary “I can’t eat anything” diet. As a general rule of thumb: The saturated fats people are told to avoid are found in butter, egg yolk, cream cheese and cheeses made from cream or whole milk, sweet or sour cream, beef, lamb, liver, and shrimp. Avoid these and concentrate on egg whites, cheeses made from skim milk or partially skim milk, fish other than shellfish, fowl, veal, and soy flour. Substitute trans-fat-free margarine or olive oil for butter, farmer’s cheese for cream cheese, or whipped nonfat dry milk or fat-free half-and-half for heavy cream.