Friday, March 20, 2009

Expect Crankiness On The Brentwood Diet

Feeling irritable, achy, fatigued a bit out of sorts and craving carbs? These PMS-like symptoms may be "carb withdrawal," a phenomenon which accompanies the first few days of the Brentwood Diet. As with other low-carb diets, the Brentwood Diet works because the body switches over from burning primarily carbohydrates for fuel to burning fat for fuel. This fat-burning state is called ketosis. 

Anyhow, drinking a lot of water and eating plenty of vegetables and protein helps. So, does just taking it easy. After a few days, you'll feel better. Your carb cravings will diminish and you won't be so hungry--which makes sticking to the Brentwood Diet easier. 

Of course, later crankiness can't be attributed to carb withdrawal. It's more psychological. Think about it: you've just given up your comfort foods. No longer will a bowl of ice cream soothe after a long commute, a break-up or anything else. Even seemingly innocent, low-fat, no-cholesterol pretzels are off limits. Also, eating mountains of vegetables and boneless, skinless white-meat chicken gets monotonous. The sensual pleasures of eating have been dulled. 

Since the Brentwood Diet is not just a diet, but a lifestyle change, this may seem like a life sentence. The truth is, you have to commit to these new, healthier eating habits even after you reach your goal weight. But, there's light at the end of the tunnel: phase 2. What's phase 2? Sticking to the Brentwood Diet 90% of the time. (More on that, later.) 

One way to stay on track and reduce crankiness is to reward yourself with non-food goodies. For example, for every ten pounds you lose, get a massage, or buy a CD, etc. Another way is to remind yourself that the Brentwood Diet is a gift of health to yourself and your family. You'll feel better and less achy pretty quickly. Losing weight and changing your lifestyle can stave off diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Also, it might be able to keep you off medications with their added expenses and side effects. 

Basically, know that crankiness is part of the process. It will decrease. And if it doesn't, maybe the problem isn't with the Brentwood Diet.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Satisfy Your Inner Carnivore With Bison

The Brentwood Diet isn't kind to meat eaters. We're talking those throwbacks to the Neanderthal era who rhapsodize about well-marbled steaks and appreciate the finer points of regional BBQ cookery. People like my husband, David, who grew up in the restaurant business and still reminisces about eating a steak every single day for a year during the time he managed the family's steak house. 

Fortunately, there is one red meat that's found its way on to the Brentwood Diet's list of approved foods: bison. Why? Because grass-fed, grass-finished bison boasts lower fat and cholesterol counts than turkey. Mind you, the exception to the Brentwood Diet's no-red-meat rule only applies to grass-fed bison. Other bison often involves feeding and finishing with grains, which increases the fat and cholesterol levels involved.

By the way, bison and the American buffalo are the same thing. Where does grass-fed bison roam? Not in most supermarkets, that's for sure. You can find some sources on the Internet, though. And lucky Los Angelenos can buy Lindner Bison at local farmers markets. Check out their schedule online at: Also, Lindner Bison can arrange larger orders and maybe even mail orders. 

Anyhow, bison tastes like beef, but sweeter. The texture's a bit different, too. Because bison is so lean, cuts that involve slow cooking--like brisket, chuck or hump roast--seem to work best. Sure, you can grill a bison ribeye, but the lack of fat translates into a tougher, less flavorful steak than a beef ribeye. Bison burgers grill well, though. But, if cooking bison burgers in a skillet, be sure to add a little olive oil to the pan. Otherwise, cook Bison like beef, get special bison recipes from Lindner Bison or search out bison recipes online. Whichever way you cook it, bison will be a welcome break from chicken and fish. And it will tame your carnivorous cravings for a little while. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chicken Broth To The Rescue

Taste buds sending out an S.O.S. ?  That's typical on the Brentwood Diet. The endless parade of white fish, white-meat poultry and plain vegetables will cause that kind of distress. Plus, steamed, grilled and boiled everything gets old real fast. OK, the grilled stuff isn't bad. But, who can do it all time? And not surprisingly, the Brentwood Diet forbids frying, sauteing or cooking with wine. Luckily, chicken stock/broth adds flavor and makes for a great cooking medium as well as an excellent base for sauces and soups. 

Since salt is a concern, canned broth is out.  That leaves homemade, which tastes a lot better anyway.  Cooking up chicken stock/broth is easy, but it takes time. Open any recipe book for chicken stock or broth recipe and omit the carrot, because it's a taboo vegetable on the Brentwood Diet.  Or you can use this recipe, which makes a heavy-duty stock/broth that works great as base for sauces or soups. 


• 3 chicken carcasses (or 4 pounds necks and backs or combo of bones and whole chicken)
• 1.5 pounds chicken feet: optional, but recommended 
• 1/4 cup vinegar
• 1 onion
• 3 stalks celery
• parsley: optional 

Save the chicken carcasses from when you roast chicken and freeze them for later use. You may ask, what about the prohibition against dark meat on the Brentwood Diet? Ah, it helps to have chicken-loving dogs around to eat the legs and thighs or a non-dieting family member who prefers dark meat. Once you've racked up a few carcasses or buy the required amount of necks and backs, you're good to go. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Roast the chicken carcasses for half and hour or so, stirring once in a while, until they're browned.  You can then roast the vegetables, if  you feel like it.

Put everything into a large stock pot and add water about three inches from the rim of the pot. Boil and skim the scummy stuff that floats to the top. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and let it bubble away for about six hours. That's right, six hours. Long cooking makes for a full-bodied stock/broth with lots of calcium. After it's done, cool it down a bit, strain it and put it in the fridge overnight or for several hours until the fat on top hardens. Remove the layer of fat and discard. If all went well, you're left with chicken-flavored jello. That's good. Spoon the jelled stock/broth into little plastic containers and freeze. Use two cups of stock/broth for sauce bases or to cook with. Use larger amounts for soup.