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Review Panel - How it works...     
Back to Product Review Main Menu

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 several years.

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'.

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