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colette_heimowitz's Blog

Following Atkins? Who said you need to feel deprived on Thanksgiving? I’ve got delicious low-carb Thanksgiving recipes for every Phase, plus a sample meal plan, to help you thoroughly enjoy this holiday without guilt. I guarantee you won’t even miss the extra carbs.

Begin your day with some tasty appetizer options that will please your palate.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Net carbs: 1 gram
All Phases


24 large, fresh mushrooms (1 pound)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, remove from casings
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 ½ ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat oven to 400F. Remove stems from mushrooms; finely chop enough stems to equal 1/2 cup (reserve the rest for another use). Place mushroom caps in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange caps, gills up, on a shallow baking pan.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add sausage, scallions, garlic, Italian seasoning, and chopped mushroom stems. Cook, stirring and breaking sausage into smaller pieces until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; stir just until cheeses melt.
3. Stuff mushroom caps with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons mozzarella. Bake until cheese has melted and mushrooms are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Other appetizer options include wrapping steaming asparagus with prosciutto, rolling thin slices of zucchini with goat cheese, kabobs of shrimp and bacon or an antipasti platter.

First Course
This colorful, creamy soup is a festive first course.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Net carbs: 5.2 grams
All Phases

 2 Tablespoons olive oil
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 1 small onion, chopped
 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
 12 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped (about 4 peppers)
 29 ounces chicken broth
 7 ounces water
 2/3 Cup heavy cream
 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan


1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add celery, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add roasted peppers and stock. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Purée soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.
4. Return soup to saucepan; stir in cream. Heat gently.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Other first course options include any type of salad (mix it up with kale, chard, romaine or spinach), topped with fresh veggies and drizzled with homemade dressing.
If you think Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a pile of mashed potatoes, you must try mashed cauliflower.

Cauliflower-Sour Cream Mash
Net carbs: 4.5
All Phases

 8 cups cauliflower florets (or 1 head cauliflower, trimmed)
 2 Tablespoons sour cream
 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1.5 Tablespoon butter
 1 teaspoon salt


1. Add a cup of water to a large pot and insert a steamer basket. Place cauliflower florets in the basket and bring water to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, cook until tender, 10–12 minutes, and drain.
2. Purée cauliflower in a food processor, adding florets in batches.
3. Add sour cream, heavy cream, butter and salt; process until smooth and well combined. Reheat gently, if necessary, before serving.

There are many other options, including sides as simple as roasting or steaming Brussels sprouts, sautéing in butter, drizzling with lemon and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Main Course
The savory star of the show is naturally low in carbs.

Savory Turkey with Gravy
Net Carbs: 1.3 grams
All Phases


   10-pound whole turkey, trimmed of fat, giblets removed
   1 1/2 cups kosher salt
   1/4 cup granular sugar substitute (sucralose)
   1 carrot, roughly chopped
   1 celery rib, roughly chopped
   1 medium onion, roughly chopped
   4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
   1 Tablespoon Thick-It-Up
   14 1/2 ounces chicken broth
   1/4 cup water


1. Submerge turkey breast-down in a tub containing 1 1/2 gallons water mixed with 1 1/2 cups coarse (kosher) salt and 6 packets sugar substitute. Refrigerate 6 hours.
2. Discard brine and pat turkey dry. Heat oven to 400°F.
3. Place half of the vegetables in turkey cavity; scatter remaining vegetables on bottom of a roasting pan.
4. Tie legs together with cotton twine. Arrange bird breast down on rack in pan. Pour 1 cup water into pan. Roast turkey 45 minutes.
5. Baste turkey with pan juices. Lower oven temperature to 375°F; roast for 1 1/2 hours more, basting every 30 minutes, (add an extra 1/2 cup water to pan if necessary).
6. Carefully turn turkey over with oven mitts, so it is breast side up. Brush breast with butter. Roast an additional 30 minutes. Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the inner thigh reads 175°F.
7. Transfer turkey to a large carving board with a trench to catch juices. Remove all vegetables and discard. Cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. While turkey is resting; prepare gravy: Pour excess fat from roasting pan.
8. Place pan on oven burner on medium. Stir in thickener, until dissolved. Pour in chicken broth and water; bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Cook 2-3 minutes

Main course options are plentiful and low-carb, including ham, roast beef, prime rib and more!

Even on Atkins, you can indulge in a delicious grand finale.

Crustless Ginger Cheesecake with Lime-Sour Cream Topping
Net carbs: 4 grams
Phases 2, 3, 4


 20 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
 ⅓ cup granular sugar substitute
 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 1 teaspoon ground ginger
 3 large eggs
 3 large egg yolks
 1 ¼ cup sour cream
 2 tablespoon granular sugar substitute
 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment or wax paper. Wrap the outside of the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
2. For the cheesecake, combine the cream cheese, sugar substitute, vanilla and ginger in a bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, beating on low speed until combined. Transfer to a spring form pan. Set the spring form pan into a roasting pan; carefully pour in hot water to reach 1 inch up the side of the spring form pan. Bake until just set in the center, about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, for the topping: combine the sour cream, sugar substitute and lime zest in a bowl; set aside.
4. When the cheesecake is just set, spread the sour cream mixture evenly on top.
5. Bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1½ hours before serving.

You can find many more delicious dessert options in our Recipes section.

You can truly give thanks to Atkins when you have a low-carb feast like this. Happy Thanksgiving!

A new study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal, questions whether diets are actually effective in helping people lose weight, keep it off and decrease risk factors for heart disease. After analyzing clinical trials on four popular diets—Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and Zone—the study found that these diets helped people lose a modest amount of weight over a year (they lost the most on Atkins—up to 10.3 pounds), there was no marked difference between each diet in improvement in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels or other cardiovascular risk factors. And people did gain back some weight over time.

The researchers conclude that more long-term studies need to be done on diets, and that diets may not be the solution that doctors should recommend to help their patients lose weight and decrease their cardiovascular disease risk factors. What??? Before you throw Atkins to the curb, pick up the phone and order a pizza with a side of cheesy breadsticks, lets look at the facts.

I agree that more long-term, well-constructed trials need to be done on all diets; I don’t agree that “diets don’t work”, as the researchers in this study seem to conclude. This does a disservice to the millions of people struggling with overweight and obesity and the health consequences associated with obesity. Diets do work. The key is finding a diet that you can sustain for the long term while learning the skills of weight loss maintenance. And for many of you, who have lost weight (or are continuing to lose weight), and/or are maintaining your weight loss while enjoying a new and satisfying way of eating that you can live with, the Atkins Diet is the answer. You may have tried many other diets in the past, and as soon as you returned to your old way of eating, of course you gained back the weight.
The benefits of the Atkins Diet are long-standing and consistent. Atkins is backed by an extensive body of research including more than 80 peer-reviewed, clinical, independent studies—and some are long-term studies ranging from 1 year to 3 years. These show that a low-carb meal plan like Atkins can help people lose weight while improving cardiovascular and metabolic health markers.

Most recently, studies are showing that when compared with a baseline diet or other diet plan, the Atkins Diet is, in fact, shown to be associated with significant improvements in body weight, BMI, abdominal circumference; markers of cardiovascular health including: systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, plasma CRP (an inflammation marker), and HDL-cholesterol (LDL cholesterol did not change significantly); and markers of metabolic disease: fasting plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, plasma insulin.

All this research aside, a controlled-carb diet like Atkins may be the key to quick, effective and satisfying weight loss. Atkins allows you progressively add carbs in small increments from all of food groups, step-wise, until you identify your own personal carbohydrate tolerance—the point at which you can maintain your weight loss.
As you add back variety in your diet, you learn to make smarter choices about carbohydrates, including high-fiber produce and whole grains, which allows you to consume more carbs without exceeding your personal carb tolerance.
Maybe I should rephrase my statement that diets do work. Diets, when used as a short-term quick fix, don’t work.

But when you change your way of eating, and your way of thinking about eating, a low-carb plan like Atkins, with its abundance of vegetables, healthy fat, lean protein and high-fiber carbs, can become a lifestyle and a sustainable way losing and maintaining your weight loss.

One of the reasons the Atkins Diet is so effective and so pleasurable to do is that you can have a midmorning and a midafternoon snack. That way, you’ll head off fatigue, jitters, inability to concentrate, ravenous cravings for inappropriate foods or overeating at your next meal. But not just any snack will do: They should be made up of fat, protein, and fiber for best appetite control. Vegetables (and later berries and other fruit) are fine , but always eat them with some fat and/or protein to minimize the impact on your blood sugar. These snacks can be assembled in minutes and are perfectly portable. Keep the ingredients on hand at home or in your office so a satisfying and low-carb snack is always available when hunger strikes.
Important for Induction
In addition to an Atkins Advantage low-carb shake or bar, which you can have in any of the four phases, here are 10 guilt-free Induction-appropriate snacks, each with no more than 3 grams of Net Carbs.

• An ounce of string cheese
• Celery stuffed with cream cheese
• Cucumber “boats” filled with tuna salad
• 5 green or black olives, perhaps stuffed with cheese
• Half a Haas avocado
• Beef or turkey jerky (cured without sugar)
• A deviled egg
• A lettuce leaf wrapped around grated Cheddar cheese
• Sliced ham rolled around a few raw or cooked green beans
• Two slices of tomato topped with chopped fresh basil and grated mozzarella and run under the broiler for a minute
Awesome for Ongoing Weight Loss
You’ll continue your midmorning and midafternoon snack habit in OWL, but in addition to the snacks suitable for Induction, most people can now branch out a bit more, including Atkins Endulge bars. None of these 11 sweet and savory snacks contains more than 5 grams of Net Carbs:

• A half cup of unsweetened whole milk yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons no-added-sugar grated coconut and 1 packet sweetener.
• Celery sticks stuffed with peanut or another nut or seed butter.
• Cucumber “boats” filled with ricotta and sprinkled with seasoned salt.
• 2 chunks of melon wrapped in slices of ham or smoked salmon.
• “Kebab” of 2 strawberries, 2 squares Swiss cheese, and 2 cubes jicama.
• Nutty Cheese Dip: Blend 2 tablespoons cream cheese, 1 tablespoon grated sharp cheddar, a few drops of hot pepper sauce, a pinch of paprika, and 1 tablespoon chopped pecans. Serve with red pepper strips.
• Blue Cheese Dip: Blend 2 tablespoons blue cheese into 3 tablespoons unsweetened plain whole milk yogurt. Serve with zucchini spears or another vegetable.
• A scoop of cottage cheese topped with 2 tablespoons no-sugar-added salsa.
• Mix 4 ounces tomato juice and 1 tablespoon sour cream in a bowl, and you’ve got yourself a refreshing cold creamed soup. Top with chunks of avocado if desired.
• Mash ¼ cup blueberries with 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese and top with flaxseed meal.
• You can also enjoy a ¼ cup blueberries while munching on a piece of string cheese.
Perfect for Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance
In addition to all the snacks listed above, most people in the last two phases can enjoy the following:

• Fruit other than berries, cherries and melon, as long as they’re eaten with some cheese, cream, plain whole milk yogurt, nuts or protein. Try ½ cup red or purple grapes with a couple slices of sliced turkey. Or an apple with almonds.
• Hummus with vegetables or low-carb crisp breads
• Baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) with vegetables
• Homemade popcorn with butter, olive oil or grated cheese
• Carrot sticks with aioli
• Soy chips

With all the little goblins and ghouls begging for candy at your door (or, if they are your own goblins and ghouls, bringing bags of it into your home after a successful night of trick or treating), Halloween can become a horror story, especially if you’re trying to stick to a low-carb diet. Here are some of my tips for making it through the night without getting spooked:

Buy candy you don’t like. This way you won’t be tempted to sneak a treat every time you pass the bowl of Halloween goodies.

Hand out an alternative to candy. Options include small oranges and apples or Halloween-themed stickers, pencils or erasers.

Go nuts. When your sweet tooth is tempting you, dig into a portion of nuts instead of the Halloween candy.

Make your snacks and meals count. Start the day with a filling breakfast (such as a couple eggs scrambled with some veggies and cheese), don’t forget lunch (such as a spinach salad, more veggies, grilled chicken or salmon, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette), and include a couple satisfying snacks so that you are not starving to death before darkness falls and the Halloween festivities start.

Take a walk! You can kill two birds with one stone: Volunteer to escort your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, and you’ve squeezed in a little more activity into your evening. Even better: Offer to carry their heavy bags of candy while you walk.

Don’t forget dinner. Serve up a hearty low-carb meal (such as chili, stew or soup) for your little trick-or-treaters to enjoy before they head out (to keep hunger at bay and binging on candy to a minimum) or have a meal simmering and ready when they return. There are plenty of low-carb options (including some delicious new Halloween-themed recipes) that will satisfy your whole family—and any visitors. If you’re hosting a crowd, you can include meat and cheese platters, meatballs, sliced veggies with dip, olives, nuts, pumpkin seeds and deviled eggs. Visit, and you can start planning your Halloween party menu.

Plan beyond Halloween. Halloween could be considered the sugary kick-off to the holiday season. Now is the time to decide how you want to approach the most food-focused time of the year. Depending on where you are on your weight-loss journey, I suggest two options:

1) Stick with your personal carb balance, which will allow you to maintain the weight you’ve already lost, even through the holiday season.
2) Stay right below your personal carb balance and continue to lose weight.

As long as you’ve set some goals and have a plan in place, you should be able to enjoy this time of the year without gaining too many excess pounds.

One of the biggest misconceptions among low-carb dieters is that you can eat whatever you want as long as it's low carb. I’ve had countless clients come to me, complaining that Atkins isn’t working. When I ask what they are eating, they list a day's worth of high-protein, high-fat food (which rarely includes vegetables and which typically totals to about 4,000 calories a day).

No wonder it didn't work.

It’s true that Dr. Atkins and many low-carb experts told us not to worry about counting calories in the beginning—but that doesn’t mean that calories don’t count. Because they do. If you eat too much of anything (even food low in carbs), you will not lose weight. And you can also eat too few calories, which will slow down your metabolism, putting the brakes on your weight loss.

The reason for the original advice about not counting calories had to do with the fact that a low-carb approach concentrates on managing blood sugar and insulin. You are encouraged to eat whole foods—protein such as chicken, beef, pork and fish, healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, butter, and fiber from vegetables—that naturally satiate your appetite and send hormonal signals to your brain that you're full. That's why it's easier to stay on a lower-carb diet featuring whole foods than a high-carb diet full of processed food, which stimulates hunger and cravings.

And that's why we tell you, in the beginning, don't worry about calories. Just worry about eating the right kinds of foods and your appetite will, hopefully, take care of itself.
But because calories are not the whole picture—the way they have been in many other weight-loss programs—does not mean they're out of the show. They've just been moved from a starring role to that of a supporting—but important—player.

This was never better illustrated than in a study done a while ago at Harvard University by Dr. Penelope Greene. Dr. Green took three groups and divided them into three different diets. Group 1 got 1,500 calories of low-fat food. Group 2 got 1,800 calories of low-carb food. (I'll tell you about Group 3 in a minute). Group 2—the low-carb higher-calorie group—lost more weight. (If it was all about calories, the higher-calorie low-carb group should have gained weight, not won the weight-loss contest.)
But then Dr. Greene threw in a third group. The third group also got low-carb food, but this time they got the same lower calorie amount that the low-fat group got: 1,500 calories.
And this group—the lower-calorie, low-carb group—lost the most amount of weight of all.

The point is: Calories aren't the whole story—but they do matter. If you're stuck at a plateau and have stopped losing weight on your low-carb plan, maybe it's time to do a little digging and see just how much food you're actually consuming. Keep a food diary and make sure your carbs are where they are supposed to be and your calories are around the 1,500- to 1,800-calorie mark for women and 1,800 to 2,200 for men. (The optimal number is highly individual. This is just a sample range for the minimum intake because too few calories can be an issue as well.)

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