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Ellen Lee's East Bay Livin'





Monday, August 01, 2005

Low carb livin'

I admit I jumped on the Atkins bandwagon last year. I ate protein burgers at In 'N Out, held the fries. But it didn't last too long, since I love eating breads and rice and pasta and chocolate and french fries.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when I made a trip to the Castus Low Carb Superstore in San Ramon, for a story about Atkins Nutritional Inc., the company founded by Atkins Revolution guru Dr. Robert C. Atkins., and how it has filed for bankruptcy. Was this a sign that the low carb diet's 15 minutes of fame has finally ended?

It isn't, according to Kevin Carpenter and Leland Turner, owners of Castus in San Ramon, part of a chain that also includes stores in Pittsburg (also owned by them), Fremont and San Jose. Here's the story.

So anyhoo, I'd never really been in a low carb store before. And it sold a lot of stuff that I didn't expect you could eat if you were on the Atkins diet: donuts, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, pancake mixes, mocha cappuccino mixes, Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, enchiladas, sugar-free chocolate and more. The store is small and not jam packed, and the popular stuff sells out quickly so some of the shelves were a little sparse. All in all, the store carries nearly 1,000 items, including Atkins products like its shakes and protein bars and its books, prominently displayed. Carpenter and Turner also have a soft serve machine; they make one flavor of ice cream a day packed with protein supliments. (I had a sample of huckleberry and it tasted pretty good). They also sell some of this stuff online at Sugarfreeguys.com.

Of course, you do pay a premium for low carb, sugar-free stuff; it's certainly not as cheap as the high-carb, transfat-filled, sugary, fatty alternative. And it's up to you to judge if it works. (I think this is when Dr. Phil would interject and say it's all about moderation).

As a sample, here's what I bought and the prices:

Aramana Cheddar Cheeseburger Pasta: a Lo-Carb meal mix. Soy pasta and cheese sauce mix. Like Hamburger Helper. 6.6 oz. Cost: $6.99

Carbquick Complete Biscuit and Baking Mix: Like Bisquick, but without all the carbs. You can use it to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, pot pies, etc. One of their top sellers. 1 lb. Cost: $7.99

Aloe Splash Orange Mango: No calories, no carbs orange-mango flavored drink. Sweetened with Splenda. 20 fl oz. Another popular seller, and I think that Turner said they're one of the few (or only) stores in Northern California that sell it. I can't say I'm a fan, though. I didn't like the taste, which seemed artificial. Cost: $1.79

Atkins chocolate chip granola bar: Only 3 grams of net carbs. It tastes pretty good, but I prefer Luna bars. Cost: $2.79.

Carb Slim mint chookie crunch bites: My favorite flavor is mint chocolate and this box won hands down as the yummiest thing I purchased. Sweetened with Splenda, so it's sugar free. Zero carbs. 1.5 oz. 114 calories, 87 total fat calories. Kind of like a box of mint chocolate-flavored Whoppers. I shared them with some friends during rehearsal and they liked it, too (either that, or they were just being nice). Cost: $2.99

Chicago-style deep dish personal pizza: I ate this for lunch and ripped off the label so I confess I don't have the details. But it is exactly as described, and tastes really good (not too much cheese, which I like, and barely, if any, sauce). I don't know if it really qualifies as deep-dish, but it's certainly a good cheese and sausage pizza, considering it's low carb. The pizza, though, is small, about the size of a large cookie. Cost: $4.99

Atkins Endulge chocolate mint patties: I haven't tried them yet (saving them for tomorrow). Three cups; they look like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but smaller and mint flavored. 1.2 oz. Like the Atkins granola bars, I'm pretty sure I've seen these at the supermarket and places like GNC. Cost: $1.99

12 Comments:

Blogger awh said...

For those prices, I'd just get a personal trainer to keep me motivated and accountable.

Don't people remember that Mr Atkins had heart disease when he died (despite what his widow says is an infection).

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