Special Needs, Special Diets

Weight loss isn’t the only reason for adopting a particular diet. Some people need
to avoid certain ingredients; others simply desire greater well-being.
Whatever your dietary goal, there’s a path that will work for you.

June 2010

by Lisa James


The Low-Carb Diet

From Atkins to South Beach, the idea of cutting carbohydrate intake to promote weight loss has increased in popularity as time has gone on. But it has become more refined over the years, with less of a “hello, bacon!” mindset and more of one in which green vegetables—an often-forgotten component of the original Atkins diet—have become more prominent.

Carbs are a problem for many people simply because the refined stuff—white sugar, flour and rice, to say nothing of the ever-popular French fry—has overwhelmed the standard American diet, driving up blood sugar and weight levels in tandem. In response, low-carb proponents advise cutting intake of such foods as bread, sweets, pasta and starchy vegetables in favor of lean proteins, low-starch veggies and moderate amounts of full-fat dairy. Most diets of this type have a very strict “intake” phase, after which small amounts of whole grains and other healthy carbs are reintroduced.

Zucchini Fettuccine with Sweet Butter

1 1/2 lbs small zucchini (about 6), ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

1. Lay zucchini halves cut side down. With a very sharp knife, slice lengthwise slightly less than 1/8” thick. In a colander, combine with 1 tsp of the salt and toss. Set aside to drain for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring large saucepan of water to a boil; place large bowl of ice water near the stove.
2. Add zucchini to boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice bath. Drain again and pat dry with a towel.
3. Place a large pan over low heat; add cream and butter. When butter melts add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and coats zucchini, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, remaining salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 116 calories, 6g protein, 9g fat (5g saturated), 2g fiber,
5g carbohydrate, 10 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from The Low-Carb Gourmet by Brigit Binns (Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed)


The Gluten-Free Diet

For some people, baked goods and pasta cause distress that goes beyond unwelcome numbers on the bathroom scale. These people are allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. And it’s not just the obvious foods they have to wary of; manufacturers use gluten in processed products ranging from condiments to ice cream.

The first step in going gluten-free is to not only get rid of foods that contain gluten but to also scrub down all cabinets, cutting boards, cookware and appliances such as toasters. The next step is to restock with gluten-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa, millet and buckwheat (don’t let the name fool you), along with natural texturizing agents such as xanthan and guar gums. Gluten-free flour sources include garbanzos, corn, rice, soy, sorghum and tapioca, as well as potato starch.

Buckwheat Apple Muffins

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup light agave nectar*
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups buckwheat flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
11/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

*A natural sweetener taken from the aloe-like agave plant

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the canola oil and agave nectar on medium speed for about 20 seconds.
3. Add the applesauce, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix for about 20 seconds.
4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, gum, baking soda and salt.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined, about 20 seconds. Fold in the apple. The batter will be thick.
6. Fill the liners to the rim with batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Yields 12. Analysis per muffin: 283 calories, 4g protein, 10g fat (1g saturated), 5.5g fiber, 47g carbohydrate, 238 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s
Handbook (© 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed);
photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews


The Vegan Diet

There are your typical milk-is-fine vegetarians—and then there are vegans, who steer clear of anything animal including eggs, dairy, fur and leather. Many of the roughly 1 million vegans in the US approach veganism less as a diet and more as a philosophy. They see avoidance of resource-intensive animal products as an ethical issue with consequences for not just individual but also planetary health.

Often people ease into veganism, using an increasingly vegetarian diet as an entryway into meatless eating before cutting out eggs, butter and cheese. Plants can provide adequate protein as long as a variety of foods are eaten over the course of a day. But vegans do have to make sure they get enough vitamin B12 in their diets; this is especially true of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Doctor D’s Buckwheat Pilaf

1 3/4 cups filtered water or vegetable stock
1 cup roasted buckwheat groats
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 small lime leaf, sliced very thin (optional)
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 tbsp diced scallions
3/4 cup grated carrot
2 tbsp shoyu, or to taste
1 tbsp minced cilantro
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1. Place water or stock in 3-quart pot and bring to a boil. Add buckwheat, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook until tend and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork and place in large mixing bowl.
2. While buckwheat is cooking, place 1 tbsp of the sesame oil in a medium- sized pan on medium-high heat. Add garlic, lime leaf and pepper. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, adding small amounts of water as
needed to prevent sticking.
3. Add to bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Serves 3. Analysis per serving: 337 calories, 8g protein, 15g fat (2g saturated), 7g fiber, 47g carbohydrate, 618 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi (www.veganfusion.com)


The Raw Diet

We have come full circle, from raw food to cooked food to, for an increasing number of people, raw food. The difference is that today’s raw foodist is aided by modern technology including food processors, high-end blenders, juicers and dehydrators, all of which enliven the raw diet with a range of flavors and textures that would do a gourmet chef proud.

As with the vegan diet, the raw diet can adapted in stages. Growing herbs on a sunny windowsill and soaking seeds for sprouts is an easy first step; soaked seeds and nuts can also be processed into grain-like mixtures and further processed into milk substitutes. Some raw foodists do consume dairy and meat, which should always be obtained from carefully screened suppliers (people with impaired immune systems should speak to a healthcare provider first).

Pepita Brittle

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Soak seeds for 4 hours in enough purified water to cover by 1”. Drain into a colander; leave to dry about 30 minutes. Pulse-chop in food processor or blender for a few seconds, until seeds are broken but not ground into meal.
2. Transfer to large bowl; stir in honey. Sprinkle salt evenly over mixture and mix thoroughly. Mixture will have a granular, moist consistency.
3. Using a spatula, spread half the mixture on a mesh dehydrator screen, forming a square 1/4” thick; repeat with remaining mixture on another screen. Dehydrate at 105°F for 22-26 hours, or until consistency is like thick, slightly flexible leather.
4. Peel brittle off screens and cool on waxed paper for 30 minutes; it will harden as it cools. Break into pieces and store in ziplock freezer bag at room temperature for 1 week or refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Serves 8. Analysis per serving: 191 calories, 5g protein, 11g fat (2g saturated), 1g fiber, 22g carbohydrate, 121 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles (Storey Publishing, www.storey.com)


Losing Weight Naturally

Weight loss may not be the only reason for adopting a different manner of eating, but it remains far and away the most popular. If that applies to you, blame Mother Nature. “The human body is designed to gain weight and keep it on at all costs,” says Mark Hyman, MD, editor-in-chief of the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and author of UltraMetabolism (Atria). He explains that because people spent thousands of years fighting off starvation, “the genes and molecules that control our eating behavior were shaped by those times.”

Just because losing weight goes against your body’s instincts doesn’t make it impossible. First, find the diet that best suits your needs. Try an eating plan—low-carb, raw, whole-grain, etc.—for several months. If it doesn’t work, don’t kick yourself. Simply try another approach until you find the one that works. Don’t forget exercise; physical activity helps trigger the kind of metabolic changes that lead to lasting weight loss.

Once your basic diet-and-exercise plan is in place, supplementation can help support your efforts. Green tea extract increases metabolism and fat-burning (International Journal of Obesity 9/09). Other metabolism-boosting herbs include rhodiola, which also fights fatigue; ashwaganda, which helps bring the body back into balance; and yerba maté, South America’s answer to coffee.

Garcinia cambogia, a pumpkin-like fruit native to India, contains a substance called hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which inhibits an enzyme that helps turns excess carbohydrates into fat. This allows the extra carbs to be burned off. Coleus forskohlii, a relative of the common garden coleus, contains forskolin, a compound that increases levels of cyclic AMP. This results in not only increased fat metabolism but increased thyroid function as well. The thyroid, as the body’s master energy controller, plays a key role in proper metabolism; alternative practitioners have long used kelp, a form of seaweed, to support healthy thyroid function. Flax seed, an omega-3 source, helps you feel satiated.

In addition to herbs, a number of nutrients help support weight loss. CoQ10 (now available as ubiquinol) is required for energy production, as is the amino acid L-carnitine. Resveratrol helps fight insulin resistance, allowing cells to burn fuel efficiently. And the green food spirulina provides a concentrated source of high-quality nutrition.


Eggplant & Goat Cheese Lasagnas

2 large eggplants, preferably long and thin
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
Olive oil, for brushing
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried oregano, for sprinkling
3 oz soft, mild goat cheese (such as Montrachet)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 oz slivered fontina cheese
8 leaves fresh basil, julienned
1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled and cut into 1/4” julienne
(see below; if using jarred, rinse and pat dry)
1 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Trim the stems off the eggplants and peel them, leaving four 1/2” wide, lengthwise strips of peel around each one. Slice crosswise about 5/8” thick (you should have 12 nice slices). Gently combine with salt in colander, distributing the salt with your fingers. Let drain for 20 minutes, rinse briefly and pat dry thoroughly with kitchen towels.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the slices in a single layer on the paper; brush lightly with olive oil. Season generously with pepper and oregano, and bake for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove from oven; leave oven on.

3. Cut goat cheese into four equal slices. Working on the same baking sheet, choose the four largest eggplant slices as the bases. Place a piece of goat cheese in the center of each and top with a pinch of parmesan. Top each with a medium-sized eggplant slice, top this slice with one-fourth of the fontina, one-fourth of the basil and another pinch of parmesan. Top each with another eggplant slice and press the top gently but firmly with a flat spatula to compress the stack a little. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and cover the sheet with foil.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until warmed through with the cheese bubbling slightly at the edges. Remove the foil and cook 5-10 minutes more, if necessary, until tender enough to cut with a fork.

5. To serve, place a small jumble of red pepper on each lasagna and scatter with a little parsley.
Roasting a Red Pepper: Using tongs, roast over a gas flame until the skin is blistered and blackened (but not ashy) all over. Put the pepper into a brown paper bag and twist the top closed. Let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove pepper and slide skin off with your fingers or a clean towel. (Holding the pepper under cold running water makes the job easier, but sacrifices flavor.) Cut around and remove the stem and seeds, then cut down one side of the pepper and open flat.

Serves 4. Analysis per serving: 228 calories, 14g fat (9g saturated), 5g fiber, 13g carbohydrate

Reprinted with permission from The Low-Carb Gourmet by Brigit Binns (Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed)


Cherry Oat Scones

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice milk
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 cups Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix (see below)
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp double-acting baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
11/4 cups gluten-free old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
1/2 cup dried cherries
Sanding sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together 1 cup of the rice milk and the cider vinegar. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

4. Add the oats and toss. Add the shortening in pieces, and work in with a pastry blender or two knives until you have a pea-sized crumb. Add the cherries, tossing until combined.

5. Add the rice milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined but still clumpy.

6. Flour a work surface lightly with a little gluten-free flour mix, and turn out the dough. Lightly flour your hands. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour mix.

7. Divide the dough in half. The dough will be sticky. Shape into two 6” disks. Cut the disks into six pie-shaped wedges. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet. Brush with the remaining 2 tbsp rice milk, then sprinkle with sanding sugar (if using).

9. Bake in the center of the oven for 17 minutes, or until lightly golden.


Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix (makes 6 cups)

4 cups superfine brown rice flour
11/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1. To measure flour, use a large spoon to scoop into the measuring cup, then level it with the back of a knife or straightedge. Do not use the measuring cup itself to scoop your flour when measuring! It will compact the flour and you will wind up with too much for the recipe.

2. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size zipper-top bag. Shake until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Yields 12. Analysis per scone: 260 calories, 4.5g protein, 7.5g fat (2.5g saturated), 5g fiber, 45g carbohydrate, 305 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook (© 2009 by Cybele Pascal, Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press,
a division of the Crown Publishing Group, (www.randomhouse.com/crown/tenspeed).
Photo credit: Chugrad McAndrews



Super Shakti’s Spanikopita

6 cups spinach, rinsed well
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 1/2 lb tofu, extra firm, crumbled
3/4 cup garbanzo beans, cooked, drained and rinsed (if using canned beans, rinse well)
3/4 cup tahini, roasted
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup shoyu, or to taste
2 tbsp minced basil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp minced oregano
1 1/2 tsp minced thyme
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 pkg phyllo sheets, spelt variety
1/4 cup olive oil for basting

1. Steam spinach lightly for 3-5 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 2 tbsp oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tofu and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients, except for phyllo and 1/4 cup olive oil, and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
3. Lightly oil a 9” x 13” casserole dish. Place one-third of the phyllo (seven sheets) on the bottom of the dish, one sheet at a time, lightly oiling each sheet with the olive oil using a pastry brush. Place half of the tofu mixture on top of the dough.
4. Top with seven sheets of phyllo, again oiling each sheet, and add the remaining tofu mixture. Top with remaining phyllo, lightly brush with oil, and bake until phyllo is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serves 10. Analysis per serving: 411 calories, 16g protein, 24g fat (3g saturated), 6g fiber, 37g carbohydrate, 747 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Fusion World Cuisine by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi (www.veganfusion.com)



Tahitian Mango-Ginger Soup

3 medium-ripe mangoes, peeled and pitted (about 3 cups)
Juice of 1 medium orange, tangerine or tangelo (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup purified water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp minced, peeled gingerroot
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 mint sprigs (optional, for garnish)

1. Put all ingredients except mint sprigs in a blender. Blend on medium until very smooth and relatively thick, about 60 seconds.
2. For best flavor, chill for at least four hours before serving. Garnish each bowl with a mint sprig, if desired. (Can be stored in a tightly sealed container, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours.)
Serves 3. Analysis per serving: 170 calories, 1g protein, 1g fat (none saturated), 4g fiber, 45g carbohydrate, 161 mg sodium

Reprinted with permission from Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles (Storey Publishing, www.storey.com)


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