Tuesday, May 4th 2004

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How Does Your (Low-Carb) Garden Grow?
By Denise Cowie

Dieting isn't usually an issue when people are deciding what to plant in their vegetable plots come spring.

But that was before carb mania.

This season, gardeners have been quizzing the folks at Gurneys Seed & Nursery Company, about which veggies have how many carbohydrates. Chalk it up to the popularity of such carbohydrate-counting diets as Atkins and South Beach.

They weren't caught off guard for long. A little research provided answers for the company's customer-service people and led to the creation of a "Gurneys Vegetable Carbohydrate Chart" on its Web site (www.gurneys.com).

The chart is not exhaustive, but it covers many of the popular gardening crops. And as a result of all the interest, Gurneys is considering expanding the individual vegetable descriptions in its 2005 catalog to include carbohydrate content.

"It's fairly obvious that the starchy vegetables will have more carbohydrates," Gurneys says, compared with the lower carb counts of "leafy greens and the high-water-content root crops, such as radishes and kohlrabi."

Of course, carbohydrate intake isn't the only thing that counts in diets such as Atkins, which are rather complex. But if you've ever listened to a conversation about diets or scrolled through a Web forum, you know it's one of the things dieters always ask about: "How many carbs are in that?

"No vegetables are really high. ... They're all good for you," says Gurneys, who admits he's a carb guy. "We're not a diet-recipe company, but for those who want to know, we're providing some information."

Lettuce, according to Gurneys, has 1 gram of carbohydrates per 1-cup serving, radishes and mushrooms have 4 grams a cup, and cucumbers have 1 gram for half a cup.

"Crash dieters have always used cucumbers," Gurneys recalls. "Back when I was growing up, people used to eat sliced cucumber all the time because it makes you feel full but it's low in calories and carbohydrates."

Still, there are some surprises among the vegetables listed on the Gurneys chart, at least for the less-than-avid dieters among us. Who'd have thought that eggplant would have only 7 grams of carbohydrates per cup? Eggplant flesh seems rather substantial to me, not at all like a diet food.

On the other hand, raw onions rack up 14 grams a cup. Onions have so many good things going for them that nothing could induce me to stop using them (and garlic) in just about everything, regardless of dieting intentions. But you could opt for substituting scallions because they have about half the carbs in the same-size serving.

Alas, some of my most-loved vegetables line up on the high side of the chart: Green peas have 25 grams a cup; acorn squash, 30; and lima beans, 40. (If you mix corn with the lima beans to make succotash, it ratchets up to 47.)

But hey, gardening's good for all kinds of diets. As the late Dr. Robert Atkins pointed out in one of his books, 30 to 45 minutes of gardening burns off about 150 calories.

To order seeds fro you low carb garden go to Gurneys

Low Carb Sugar Free Zucchini Relish
Makes approximately 6, 2 pint jars.

10 cups shredded zucchini
5 cups onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper

Chop and mix together. Then stir in 5 T. pickling salt and let stand overnight covered in the fridge. Drain well in colander.

5 c. Steviva Blend or equivlent
1 T dry mustard
1 T turmeric
2 T. celery seed
1T cornstarch
1/2 t. pepper
2 1/2 c. white vinegar.

Boil for 15 min in open kettle. Put into sterilized jars and hot canning lids. The heat should seal the jars.

Total Carbohydrates: 120.50 Per Jar

Total Carbohydrates Minus Fiber: 41.25

Carbohydrates per Serving: 4.12 - Carbohydrates per Serving minus Fiber: 2.22

For More Low Carb and Sugar Free Recipes Go To Steviva Recipes!