What do you review?
We do reviews of both food and non-food items that we think have
genuine benefit to the low-carb community. Because we can be
objective, we can offer "real-people" opinions, suggestions, product
uses, and cooking outcomes.
Do you think your reviews are fair?
None of our reviews are "paid for" and we don't sell any of the reviewed products here. You're also seeing the opinions of either all
panel members or a general concensus, rather than one person's thoughts. So, yeah, we think we're pretty fair. Of course there will be
times when we recommend something that you don't care for. As with all things, there will be differences of opinion, but we hope we can perform
a service to the community by helping to guide you in your purchasing decisions.
Why do you not "pan" or "slam" things?
Our reviews are our recommendations only. There are many, many products we try out that don't make it. We don't pan any product, and here's why: We would never make a review that hurts a product just because we don't personally like it. That would be terribly unfair. I have been to sites that talk of how they hated this item or that (often ones I personally like very much!) and I think what a shame it is that their readers will now not buy the product. Bottom line... if the group does not review favorably, the review does not appear.
Now, that being said, if we
find a product that is not truthful in their advertising, labeling,
etc, or a merchant that does not deliver or is fraudulent, we do
publish that at the site — either in the form of an announcement, an entry in our Don't believe everything you read. . . feature (in
the case of labeling errors or ommissions), or in our Rescinced Product Reviews (where we
remove a former recommendation for various reasons.)
But I don't agree with some of your recommendations...
The very nature of tastes differing will always cause some variance in what
some people like and others don't. This isn't merely true with low carb foods.
I personally hate brussel sprouts, avacados, venison, and many other things. There
are a multitude of folks who love those things. Some in my own family.
But, yes, there's an even bigger chasm of taste variance with low carb
specialty foods. One way we are more accurate in which products make the spotlight is
the fact that we are compiling the opinions and notes from 20+ people — all
low carbers who have been low carb and sugar free for at least 6 months, many for
Why is that important?
We've found that with very few exceptions, those new to low-carb (in the first weeks
or months of eating this way) have very different tastes. The low carb foods that
have been made to substitute for their higher carb counterparts will taste "off" to
them. Some totally hate them. This is completely normal. While as a new
low carber, you might not believe it now, your tastes will change... at least
somewhat. Many of the foods we enjoy a lot every day, we would have found to
be unacceptable in those first weeks and sometimes months. This is most notably
true for the "non-sweet" items (chips, crackers, bake mixes, etc), rather than
sweets like candies. The difference is that the later usually use polyols (sugar
alcohols) like maltitol, sorbitol, lactitol, etc to assume the sugar role and they
still taste very good. But many of those items are not as low carb as they
seem (and where that's the case, we point it out in any that make the spotlight.)
If you are new to low-carbing and you've found, say, baked goods, that you think
are just delicious and you can hardly tell them from the originals, it's a good bet
those items are NOT the low-carb foods they pretend to be. Labeling is often
wrong, be it accidental, or deliberate deception.
So, if I'm just starting out, what products will I like?
Begining low-carbers should use this time (induction and a while beyond) to
get used to eating the great foods they couldn't have on a low-fat diet that are
common to their palate. From a simple bun-less cheeseburger, to an extravagant
filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms, or lobster tail with drawn butter, a host
of rich satisfying foods awaits you. For variety and meal ideas, use the recipes
here at the site and get used to cooking low-carb. Use cream sauces; enjoy chef
salads; and keep basics on hand at all times for snacking (deviled eggs, tuna or
chicken salad, sliced cheeses, cold fried chicken, etc.) Save the low carb
specialty foods for when sugar, flour, and Twinkies have been out of your system
for several weeks minimum. Then start slow by buying new products in small
quantities. And if something doesn't appeal to you, hold onto it... that shake
mix you hate today might be delicious to you in another month or two. Or might
be perfect for an upcoming recipe. The point is, use some common sense. And
don't write nasty letters to our hard working group of volunteers because you
went from eating Hershey's Bars to Atkins Bars and want to know "why the hell
you made me buy those." (Yes, that's a quote from an actual letter we received.)
How did it start?
When our Product Review section first started it was a few mere mentions
of products – usually low-carb foods – in our Tips and
Ideas section. But I began to get letters asking for my opinions or
experiences with this or that item. If I'd tried the item, I'd answer right away;
if not, I'd try the product and get back to them. I realized I was doing
reviews in e-mail and that everyone else could benefit from them, so
I started publishing them at the site.
As new items with a low-carb and sugarfree slant began to hit the market
in rapidly growing numbers, it was difficult to keep up, and the e-mail
querries continued. I was beginning to realize I could use some help.
The way the reviewing panel started was almost by accident. We'd
mentioned our new way of eating to some of our coworkers and over time
people became curious. A few of our friends from work would come
over to the house and they'd ask questions and ask to "try things".
In a short time, we ended up having a number of them begin a low
carb lifestyle. At this point, it occured to us we could get a more
balanced view for our reviews if we had more people tasting and testing
things. So as we'd talk to members in this little circle, more and more
people were interested until we started having regular get-togethers and
formed a structured "panel" of reviewers. At this writing, we have a 22-person panel.
It's a lot of fun and allows us to make more "versions" of things.
If we hadn't gotten the group together for reviews, I would still
have enjoyed getting people together – even just to "round-robin"
dinners and enjoy differing cooking styles. We've started to learn
a lot from each other and the ideas really flow. There are so many
new products now that we are really kept busy and it doesn't seem
like we'll ever 'run out'.