The two weeks on either side of the New Year is the busiest time of the year for people who sell gym memberships. Companies that peddle diets, books, videos and pre-packaged meals, see a similar pick-up in April and May as people come to terms with the fact that the weather is getting warmer and they’ll soon be wearing far less clothing. Since we’re in the business of selling nothing at all, we never expected to be swept up in the back-to-summer frenzy. It has happened nonetheless. Not only are more people visiting DYC and spending more time perusing the website, but we are now regularly receiving emailed questions from people we’ve never met. And surprisingly, not all of those requests are asking if we’re interested in black market pharmaceuticals from Canada.
Enough with our questions. It’s time for your questions in the first installment of the DYC Mailbag:
Dear DYC, where in the Food List is ‘Ranch Dressing’?
Your question is an excellent one. We assumed that Ranch dressing was covered under Salad Dressing in the Condiments section of the Food List. However, we looked over the Food List and we now agree that it’s not all that clear.
Low carbs diets differ dramatically in their approach to dairy products. The Atkins diet encourages dairy in quantities large enough to drown Sir Milkford The Scholar, cartoon spokesman for The American Dairy Association. Moreover, on Atkins, high fat diary is almost always preferable to lower fat varieties. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the low-carb Paleo Diet. The idea of Paleo is to recreate the diet of our distant, hunter and gather ancestors. Since Paleolithic man didn’t keep livestock, all dairy products are banished from that diet. To put this into Ranch Dressing terms, Atkins encourages guzzling Ranch straight from the bottle while Paleo views it as essentially toxic.
DYC is all about calories in vs. calories out. Our goal is to help people cut unnecessary calories in order to make room for alcohol. We do not recommend eating less in order to drink more. DYC is all about cutting cut high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. By eliminating the least healthy foods we eat, we create plenty of room for both alcohol and weight loss. As a result, we occupy a middle ground on the subject of Ranch Dressing.
Our general rule for diary products is: enjoy low-fat dairy as part of the Unlimited foods on DYC. Keep high-fat dairy Limited. Our reasoning is simple. While high-fat dairy often contains fewer carbs than low-fat dairy it’s far higher in calories. Heavy cream may be low in carbs, but it packs four times the calories of skim milk. If we want to keep drinking alcohol, we have to offset calories elsewhere in our diets. Keeping high-fat dairy to a minimum is a great place to start.
Ranch Dressing is definitely high fat. This means that it can be enjoyed in Limited quantities as long as it doesn’t contain any added sugar and as long as you are not dipping French fries into it. Blue Cheese and similar dairy-based dressings fall into the same category. These dressings are admittedly high in fat and calories, so you would be far better off with a dressing made from olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But if these dressings make you more likely to skip the pasta and order a salad for lunch, go for it. Just try to find a sugar-free variant.
Finding a bottled Ranch Dressing without sugar is more difficult than it sounds. We made a special trip to Safeway for the sole purpose of reading salad dressing bottles. Apparently, treating Safeway as a research library must be common because no one came by to ask what we were looking for or why were fingering every bottle in the aisle. We learned that most major brands read like an ice cream topping. Sugar is nearly always among the top five ingredients. Sometimes it shows up more than once. Separating “sucrose” and “fructose” is the new favorite trick for food marketing; it moves sugar further down the ingredient list without making any changes to the product. It’s possible to find sugar-free varieties. It just takes time. And if you find one that tastes good, please leave the name in the comments below. I’m sure everyone will appreciate the help.
Why so political?
This question surprised us. It referred specifically to a Dick Cheney joke in our review of the Hospice du Rhone wine event. In all honestly, it never occurred to us that a Dick Cheney joke was still considered political. We acknowledge the criticism, but our answer is that our tendency to make light of things other people find sacred will never be fixed.
For those who missed the Cheney joke, we’ll repeat it here so that you can decide for yourself. The context was a discussion of our poor record keeping. We tend to save very little and shred every nearly piece of paper that passes through our hands.
On the Food List, fresh fruit is unlimited. What about frozen fruit like frozen berries?
The fact that this question needed to be asked is embarrassing. It should’ve been clear from the beginning that unsweetened frozen fruit is exactly the same as fresh fruit on DYC. As long as it contains no added sugar, feel free to eat it in Unlimited quantities.
Frozen food is unlimited on DYC, but we still eat surprisingly little of it. We prefer fresh fruit. Cherries, apricots and peaches just came into season in California. Fruit-wise, now is our favorite time of year. Or maybe our second favorite; we do love fig and persimmon season in the fall. But even after stone fruit and persimmons have vanished from the shelves, we will still stick to fresh over frozen. The only way we regularly consume frozen fruit is in Steven’s famously grey fruit shakes.
The key to a DYC fruit shake is no added sugar. Use only whole, unsweetened fruit. Organic if you can find and afford it. Fruit juice is not allowed; the juicing process removes all of the fiber, completely changing the nature of the food. Nor is the sorbet that Jamba Juice throws into most of their blends. Sorbet is a vehicle for adding sugar. The best rule is to ask about or read the ingredients before ordering a fruit shake at any shop or restaurant. If the list contains things like Corn Syrup Solids and Guar Gum—we’re talking about you Orange Julius—run away as quickly as possible.
As long as you avoid the sweeteners, feel free to experiment. We know people who add sliced apples, carrots and even kale. If you find a combo that works, let us know. We’re always searching for new ideas.
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