December 31, 2009

A Helpful Low Carb Food Product

Those of you who follow my postings know that I avoid most foods marketed as "low carb" and "sugar free" foods because they are so deceptively marketed. You have only to look at the latest fad food, Agave Nectar, to see the extent to which food companies will pervert science to make a buck.

Agave Nectar is sold as being good for diabetics because it doesn't raise blood sugar. What they don't tell you is that it doesn't raise blood sugar because it is full of fructose which goes directly to the liver after you eat it and turns into the intracellular liver fat that turns out to be a major cause of insulin resistance.

But I'm writing now to report on a low carb food that turns out to live up to the claims made for it, one that may be very helpful to many of us who are trying to keep carbs low.

The food is the modified wheat flour sold in the form of Carbalose flour and Carbquik Baking Mix. The latter is a biscuit mix similar to Bisquik. You can see the nutritional information for it posted on the site: Carbquik Nutritional Information.

I had been aware of these for years, as they are cited in many low carb recipes, but I avoided them as they used to contain soy protein and I don't eat soy protein because it has the ability to damage the lining of the gut allowing proteins into the blood stream where they provoke antibody formation and autoimmune attack.

But it turns out that Tova, the manufacturer has removed the soy protein from these products, and the only soy in them is a small amount of soy fiber, which I can handle.

I've been using these products for a month and am happy to report that they work as advertised. They have about 6 grams of carb per cup after deducting fiber and I have found no reason NOT to deduct the fiber as my blood sugar responds to these flours as if they did have 2 g per 1/3 cup serving.

The Carbquik makes a great Belgian waffle. It was nice to get out my dusty waffle maker and rediscover a great breakfast. Here's the "quick and dirty" recipe I use for 1 serving:

1/3 cup Carbquik
water sufficient to make the batter look like waffle batter (thick but pourable)
1 egg
1 pat butter, melted

Stir up ingredients in order listed and pour onto your waffle iron. I top it with Vermont brand sugar free syrup (about 2 g of sorbitol) and defrosted frozen berries.

When it was time to do my holiday baking, I made two loaves of pumpkin bread, one with regular flour and one with Carbalose flour. The recipes were identical, which meant that I used regular sugar. This is because I wanted to know what changes the flour made that were independent of replacing the sugar with artificial sweetener. I doubled the baking soda as instructed by the Carbalose label.

The result was a loaf that was denser and moister than the flour version but most definitely a bread and quite delicious. The Carbalose loaf was also sweeter than it needed to be, which suggested that I could probably have made it with a lot less sugar. This was a lower carb food you could serve to people who loathe "diet" foods without hearing a word of complaint.

Even with the sugar left in, cutting out the flour made the pumpkin bread a lot kinder to my blood sugar than the unmodified version which is so full of carbs that even with insulin it tends to make me feel groggy.

Now that I know that the Carbalose flour replaces regular flour well, I will try it in some other baked goods and see what happens when I combine it with artificial sweeteners. I would not use it for a recipe that needs to be light and fluffy but it works well for moister things.

I also made biscuits using just Carbquik and water. They were a bit denser than regular biscuits but quite edible.

The product looks expensive, but you are buying Industrial-sized boxes and bags that should last you awhile. The 3 lb Carbquik box is surprisingly large and I still have about half of it left after making at least 20 single serving recipes.

I bought mine from Netrition because they host the very useful Low Carb Friends forum filled with helpful people who know a great deal about how to cut carbs and eat enjoyably. Their shipping is a flat rate of $5 no matter what you buy, so it is worth including some of the many flavors of DaVinci Sugar Free Syrup they carry in your order if that is something you use.

As far as how suitable these products might be for people dieting for weight loss, I am happy to report that I have actually lost a pound or so since I started eating the Carbquik waffles for breakfast. The high fiber content leads to a feeling of fullness. It's worth noting that as is the case with all high fiber foods too much can lead to gas, so I limit myself to one serving a day, which works well for me. Two was too much. But I did not experience any hunger or cravings after adding these products to my diet.

These products do contain gluten, so if you are gluten intolerant, they aren't for you. I am not wheat-phobic as are some people in the online health research community, as I believe it is the carbs in flour that cause the health problems attributed to wheat not anything specific to wheat except in the case of people autoimmune disease who are likely to have true gluten intolerance. But gluten should not be an issue for people who avoid soy and who do not have the inherited genetic profile that leads to gluten intolerance.



Steve Parker, M.D. said...

This is helpful - Thanks. I'd heard of CarbQuik before but never tried it. I see some cookies in my future next year (6 hours away).

Happy New Year, Jenny!


Bethany said...

Thanks for the eye-opening info on agave nectar. It's a prominent ingredient in my favorite brand of dark chocolate and I never considered that it might not be so healthy. Coincidentally another blog I follow posted this link, which further explains why agave nectar isn't so good for you:

Scott S said...

Thanks for the heads up; I avoid agave nectar just as I do high-fructose corn syrup, and I have found General Mills Fiber One Complete baking mix (it is marketed as pancake mix, but is comparable to Bisquik in terms of usefulness and other ingredients), which does have a higher percentage of insoluble fiber (although the downside is that it uses highly-processed, bleached white flour), and the percentage could be better, but it's still useful when compared to the alternatives. Lack of standardization in "serving sizes" among packaged food products does make direct comparisons more challenging without a calculator, but is still a better alternative than regular baking mix. biggest downside to this product seems to be the price (in much the same way as, say, Dreamfields pasta sells for a higher premium than the standard varieties) but is probably a worthwhile investment for occasional "indulgences" like this! Thanks for the heads up!!

LHL said...

I am so glad you endorsed this product as I have been a fan of yours since I became a diabetic and used the Carbalose flour which I can buy on-line in the UK Making easy flat breads (like chapatis) to accompany curries and to make a very quick microwave bread made with half carbalose and half ground flax seeds which I eat daily with no ill effects on my blood sugar.

sjpots said...

I am on my second box of Carbauick. Its great.

Rishara said...

I'm very glad to hear they removed the soy protein. I hadn't purchased any more because of that, but I will be sure to buy some more now!

Ben said...

It looks like while the Carbquick product is indeed 6 grams net-carbs per cup, the Carbalose flour is 19 grams net-carbs per cup.

I'm not sure how this would follow since Carbquick's main ingredient is Carbalose flour.

Some more investigation may be in order to find out what the actual count is.

Jenny said...

Different portion sizes.The Carbquick portion size is 1/3 of that of the flour. They are pretty close when you adjust for portion size.

Ben said...

Well yes, I did adjust for portion size. Carbquick is 2 net per 1/3 cup, i.e. 6 per cup. Carbalose flour is 19 per cup. This is as reported on the Netrition website. If you have the actual packages, maybe you can confirm?

Jenny said...

So you've got about 4 gm more per serving, not a huge difference. The labels are the same in real life as on the site.

The mix probably has more oil making up the weight hence less carbs from the flour.

Harold said...

You have to remember all those labels are + or - 20% per USDA regs.

Ben said...

Except that this is a difference of over 300%. It would not be mathematically possible to add enough oil to Carbalose flour to make a mixture that is 2 net carbs per 1/3 cup, while still having more flour than oil. There must be some other explanation.

I may check with the company to see what they say.

Editor said...

Is this the same technology they use to make Dreamfields pasta lower in effective carbs?

Jenny said...


Dreamfields is NOT lower in effective carbs. A study found it raised blood sugar the same amount as regular pasta: Read it HERE.

Carbquik is using a mixture of fiber, gluten, and other proteins to achieve its ends. It works well for me which was not the case with Dreamfields.

I just had a waffle made out of an egg and Carbquick for breakfast this very morning, topped with locally grown strawberries. Yum!

Anne-Laurie said...

I really love this stuff. The reason I am skeptical is that it is so good. So far I've made pancakes and just used it to make some deep friend eggplant. I am beyond impressed if the nutrition info is correct.

Jenny said...


When I have tested my blood sugar after eating meals made with CarbQuik I have seen results that suggest the nutritional information is correct as far as carbs go.

My one problem with it, however, is that it is full of highly processed palm oil, which I doubt is as safe as the people who sell it want us to believe as there is some research suggesting it has the same negative effect on lipids as transfat does, rather than the positive effect that would be seen if it were really full of monosaturated fat. My guess is that it gets damaged during the many steps of the refining process and contains more trans fat than we realize. It sure tastes like transfat to me. It also contains a bunch of gluten, which gives some people heartburn.

I also note that the current label now lists "soy fiber'.

That said, using it in reasonable quantities should be fine. I wouldn't make biscuits and pancakes with it every day, but now and then it is probably a nice way to fill a bread craving.