The Low-Carb Fraud

Low Carb Fraud

Why do people think low-carb diets are a good idea? What’s the truth behind the low-carb hype? What’s the truly optimal diet for achieving an ideal weight while also obtaining health and longevity?

If there’s one thing I hope you’ll take away from this e-book, it’s this: the low-carb diet’s ability to bring about quick weight loss is far outweighed by the serious health problems that accompany such an animal foods–heavy diet.

Dr. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole, has a new e-book – The Low-Carb Fraud – that looks at the Low-Carb diet phenomenon and the hype and misconceptions surrounding them. He also reviews the hype and flawed logic behind the Paleo diets.

The two main points Campbell refutes are

  • the low-carb proponents assertion that all carbs are bad for you
  • when they compare the low-carb diet to a “low fat” diet, their definition of low fat is the same or worse than the Standard American Diet (or SAD) Continue reading

Peace on Earth


I am not Catholic, but have been impressed by Pope Francis’ writings and pronouncements this past year. Here are some passages from his Christmas Eve message.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors (Luke 2:14)

I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.

I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.

His message this year included a plea for peace in places of conflict around the world, including Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and for a favorable resolution in the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. It included concern about our world.

Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.

And finally, a call for all of us to work for peace.

God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with Peace.

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

SupplementsThe editorial couldn’t be clearer, with the title “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.” It was published in the prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

With respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit…Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful,… Other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, despite the growing evidence that most vitamins and supplements aren’t worth the money, the use of them continues to grow.
Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults…Sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies with null results, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010.
In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Colin Campbell makes the case for why vitamins and supplements won’t give you the nutritional value of eating whole foods. He explains that your body breaks down whole foods and uses the nutrients it needs in their natural state, not when certain parts are separated from the whole. The complexity of the digestive system – which Campbell believes we will never fully understand – makes it imperative that in order to have good health you need to eat whole foods.
Disclaimer: because of my whole food, plant-based diet I do take vitamin B-12, as suggested by most physicians who work with patients who do not eat meat or dairy.

Buddah’s Hand and Romanesco

Buddah's Hand

I saw these interesting foods at Whole Foods the other day that I had never seen before.

Pictured above is a fruit called Buddah’s Hand. Reading about it, it is a fruit mostly grown in Japan and is a citron. It is very fragrant, but it is essentially all peel with a little bit of flesh in the main part of the fruit.

RomanescoThis is a vegetable called Romanesco. I had seen these at the Farmers’ Market and here at Whole Foods. It is in the broccoli family and tastes like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. To me it looks like a cauliflower turned fractal.

I saw several recipes for baking this like you would cauliflower to enjoy its nutty flavor.

I’m not sure why I had never seen these before. However, I doubt that either are grown in Vermont, where we lived before moving to CA. We’ve seen so many fruits and vegetables that were new to us this year.

Not much time to blog this week, getting ready for a trip to visit family and friends over the holidays. I will try to get another post in later in the week – on hope.


Happy 80th Birthday, Dr. Esselstyn

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Today is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s 80th birthday.One of the doctors featured in the movie Forks Over Knives.

My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife Ann at a retreat center in Massachusetts earlier this year. He is an example of what a whole food, plant-based lifestyle can do for your health and wellness.

I hope I have as much energy and vitality when I turn 80.

Visit the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page – Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip, wrote the Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Meat books – to send Dr. Esselstyn a Happy Birthday message.

Here is one of Esselstyn’s favorite quotes


Adonis Cake


My wife and I are part of a very active Vegan Meetup here in Marin County. One of the ongoing activities is a Book Club. We recently read Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian’s Survival Handbook by Carol Adams. The book was published in 2001, and feels a bit dated, but has some good advice for Vegans and Vegetarians navigating the world of carnivores. Out next book is Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?: And Other Questions People Ask Vegans by Sherry Colb.

By now you’re saying what does all this have to do with the chocolate cake pictured above?

Well, the Book Club had a potluck last night and the cake and a pot of Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup were our contributions. I made the soup and my wife baked the cake.

The cake recipe is from Rip Esselstyn’s book My Beef with Meat. The picture above is from the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page. We made ours in a 9×9 glass dish (no oil needed in the pan, and I forgot to take a picture). It was a great hit and was gone in 10 minutes. The cake was moist and chocolatey and the frosting was sweet and delicious.

This was so easy to make. Since we didn’t take the cake out of the pan to frost, we have enough frosting for another cake. We’re going to make one tonight. Any volunteers to help us eat it?

Here’s the recipe

Adonis Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup maple syrup
6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out a 9×9 nonstick cake pan

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda and mix well
Add the maple syrup, applesauce, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well to combine
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes
While the cake is cooking, make the frosting

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool. When cooled, frost with Adonis Frosting

Adonis Frosting
Makes about 2 cups of frosting, enough for one Adonis Cake

1 12 oz package of silken tofu
3/4 cup dairy-free, semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Place the silken tofu in a food processor. Add the melted chocolate chips to the food processor and blend

Add the vanilla and blend until chocolatey and creamy.

Taste at this stage, if using grain-sweetened chips, you may want to add a bit of maple syrup-or not (we added just under a tablespoon). Trust your own taste.
Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Michael Pollan on Food Policy

photo Alia Malley

photo Alia Malley

You need to align your agricultural policies with your health and environmental policies, and you can’t have them at cross-purposes. Otherwise, you have a situation where the government is, as it is now, essentially underwriting both sides in the war on Type 2 diabetes.

This is from a fascinating interview with Michael Pollan from Earth Island Journal that includes information about his new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, the “unknowable wildness” of microbes, the continued growth of gardening and the broader food movement, and why it’s OK to have a point of view as a journalist.

Regarding public food policy, Pollan has two thoughts. The quote above continues:

We spend a fortune as a society – and we’ll spend more now with Obamacare – dealing with the cost of Type 2 diabetes when it hits teenagers and kids. Very, very expensive to treat, and the government’s on the hook and insurance industry’s on the hook, because they have to insure everybody. At the same time, we’re subsidizing the production of high fructose corn syrup and making sugar unreasonably cheap, and underwriting the calories that are causing Type 2 diabetes. That’s insane. So how do you adjust your farm policies to support your health policies?

To counter these policies, we need to re-solarize agriculture.

One way you do that is to diversify your crops, because you need to use plants to synthesize nitrogen. You need legumes, and you need more and different crops in your rotation. You need to capture more sunlight, so you need more perennials. Corn is incredibly productive, but if you fly over a cornfield, it’s only green three or four months of the year. All that solar energy is wasted when you see that black ground, which is what you do see all spring and most of the fall. So you need either cover crops, or you need to put it back to pasture, and then let animals harvest that solar-created energy. And suddenly, as you diversify the farm to deal with this input, the energy flows, you will diversify our diet, so that you can solve for the problem of environment and energy and health at the same time, if you keep that as your North Star.

Pollan believes we can make this happen by getting political and pushing Congress and state legislatures to change policies; and using our dollars to support non-GMO and organic food products.

What you have asserted is that the public wants a say in these very important decisions about how their food is produced, and want transparency. The story of how food is produced is of keen interest to people now. And, as Chipotle is learning, people will pay for meat that they can feel good about now. To the extent that companies now have to grapple with that, that the consumer cares not just about the attributes of a food, but the story behind it, that represents a real change, and you’ll see a lot of changes in animal agriculture as a result.

The entire interview is worth reading it captures his passion for food, gardening and how we move forward to a sustainable future.