Kook Cooks Life Lessons

The 4 Gram Coat

Copyright 2007 Ben S. Pollock

It’s overeating season, followed by Resolve Month beginning on New Year’s Day. I eat healthier than some but know I fall short. Dr. Arthur Agatston emphasizes whole carbs and not too many of them, especially the simple or sweet ones, and his South Beach Diet has been the easiest plan for me to follow for four years. Still, it’s grown constrictive, providing one has only general health concerns not specific afflictions.

My revision began a couple of years ago when My Beloved and I witnessed a Hindu ceremony that included presentations of fruits. I had forgotten how good bananas smelled. Take a hike, South Beach! Fruits are allowed after the first of that diet’s three phases, but minimally. No, life is too short, unless I start outgrowing my pants again. This is the genesis of the Camp Pollock Coated Foods Theory of Moderate Excess.

In childhood, I lived on a middle-middle-class 1950s cul-de-sac in Fort Smith — a dentist, dry-cleaners operator (Dad), civil engineer, circuit judge. Two doors down I was visiting a friend my age, about 9, and his mom served a snack of toast and jam. “Not too much!” she scolded when he dipped too deeply in the jar. She had him and his siblings — myself too I suppose — just barely cover the slice. Her clear intent was cost, but I know I thought even then that was unnecessarily frugal. (This was way before the kid hyper scares). This has stuck with me for decades, and still I barely spread anything on bread, even ooh-la-la olive oil. Lots of folks, though, think nothing of an opaque layer of butter or margarine or low-cal blend. (The last often is the same amount of fat per standard tablespoon serving: 11 grams, never mind the trans or saturated details — free radicals, now!)

Sugar, oil and salt share this property: When you cook with them you generally still need more of them to “finish” a dish. And if you don’t cook with them, the flavor is the same or close to it when you just add at the end.

A half-cup serving of Del Monte Spaghetti Sauce with Tomato and Basil has 600 mg of salt (25 percent Recommended Daily Allowance). And lots of folks add a dash of salt to their pasta bowl, not to mention spooning more than a half cup of sauce over the s’ghetti. Next, look at bags of any kind of chip. Lay’s Potato Chips (“classic”) has 180 mg per 1 oz. serving, Fritos, 170 mg per ounce (32 chips), and Doritos (not the baked ones) 120 mg per ounce. (From and the grocery aisle) A pasta sauce doesn’t taste all that salty, but chips sure do.

The moral: Taste first then add salt only at end of cooking. Use items like salt-free canned tomatoes.

The same goes for oil. You can steam or microwave green beans and by stirring in before serving a sliver of butter, no need for the full tablespoon pat, the coated veggies will taste sauteed.

Sugar, a simple carbohydrate, is al-Qaida-in-Food, according to the South Beach Diet. Its rule on packaged foods is to avoid any with more than 3 grams of sugar per serving (zero when beginning the diet). I have been scrupulous about this, using Splenda on my sugar-free cereal (store-brand Grape Nuts, shredded wheat or Cheerios).

As the weather has chilled this fall I resumed adding a little real sugar, actually brown sugar, on quick or steel-cut oatmeal (never instant — check the label). After cooking, of course. Last week I checked the label: Just 4 grams of sugar in a 1 teaspoon serving of brown sugar. White sugar? 4 grams per teaspoon as well.

Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes has 11 grams of sugar per one 3/4 cup serving, and Malt-O-Meal Frosted Flakes, 12 grams. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, 15 grams per one 3/4 cup serving, Post Golden Crisps has 14 grams, and Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs, 15 grams. (from the brands’ Web sites)

This past year I’ve added honey to hot tea. I’m happy with just a quarter teaspoon. A half-teaspoon, and I feel like Winnie the Pooh on a rush. Honey is 16 grams per tablespoon so 5.3 a teaspoon. My taste is easily under the 3 gram rule.

You like sugar, fat and salt? Put them on the outside of the food and you won’t need much.

I’ve moved from Splenda to a half-spoon of sugar on cold cereal. No human can have oatmeal without a sprinkle of brown sugar. You want to stay at 3 grams then it’s a scant teaspoon, and a full teaspoon only means something else later in the day with less sugar. A shaving of butter on your porridge may not kill you here, either, and if it does, quit taking advice from Brick.


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One reply on “The 4 Gram Coat”

I started on Atkins a little over 4 years ago, and have kept off 20 lbs. I’ve settled into a routine of berries, Greek non-fat yogurt, cottage cheese and granola for breakfast each day. But it’s easier here in California to find berries in the supermarket. Not sure how it would be where you are. Good luck. I miss bread the most.

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