Several recent media accounts have reported on the current popularity of low-carb diets and their impact on the food industry. A Dallas pork rind company is expanding its production capacity to keep up with the demand for its snack food, one of the few fried products approved by the low-carb diet gurus.

Beef is once again replacing chicken as the meat of choice for many Americans, as they indulge in red meat after years of wandering in the low-fat forest. This has sent the price of beef soaring, as producers struggle to keep pace with the demands of a food fad nation. Bakeries have seen a slight decline in sales, as baguettes and artisan breads replace doughnuts and pastries as the guilty pleasure of the low-carb generation.

I, too, must admit to being one of the current converts, though my taste for low-carb snack foods has not yet included pork rinds. I have learned to make no-sugar ketchup, have sworn off my pasta habit, and become quite adept at searching out restaurants where entrees can be configured to meet my low-carb needs. Looking at carb counts on the back of food packaging has replaced my attention to the fat gram column, and I can subtract the fiber count and arrive at a usable carb score faster than a jelly bean can raise your blood sugar level.

My family has joined me on the low-carb bandwagon. With the zeal of a proselyte, I have convinced them of the ease of maintaining a low-carb lifestyle and bribed them with the once forbidden fruits of whipping cream and full-strength cream cheese. My relatives are definite food “faddicts” – they happily indulge in the latest food trends, even at the holidays.

Over the years, we have cooked holiday meals that reflect our current food addiction. There was tofu turkey during our vegetarian stage; a low-fat Thanksgiving that involved turkey au jus instead of cream gravy; dressing made from non-fat chicken broth and egg whites instead of whole eggs; and fruit compote instead of pumpkin pie.

Our in-laws suffer through these various incarnations, longing for the day when candied yams with melted marshmallow topping and green bean-mushroom soup casserole once again make the acceptable food list.

My family’s holiday tradition is the tradition of trying new foods, together. We are always in agreement that this year we shouldn’t eat whatever the previous year’s menu featured, and eagerly explore cookbooks, Web sites and food magazines for recipes that embrace the trend we currently follow.

This year, bread products, potatoes and fruits are the weapons of mass destruction, so we are busy collecting recipes for cauliflower faux-tatoes, almond and hazelnut “cornbread” stuffing, parmesan green beans and pumpkin cheesecake. We’ll have low-carb tortillas in our soup and eat spicy nut mix instead of chips during the football games. Last year’s low-fat chocolate cake will give way to this year’s sugar-free chocolate mousse.

We’ll all happily embark on our food quest the way others divvy up covered dish assignments of the same recipes year in and year out. This year’s holiday is no exception, and together we will chop, stir and bake our way to food fad bliss. As far as I can tell, there’s only one missing detail…

Does anyone have a low-carb recipe for black-eyed peas?


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