Carb Solution: The BLT
By Dennis Linden
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the effect these weight-related disorders have on overall mental well-being and happiness. However, diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some regular exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to choose the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [G.I.] and glycemic load [G.L.].
Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the bloodstream. The glycemic index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based on how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate these calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for people with diabetes who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods with low glycemic scores. They also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts has been proven to increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.
A Quickie Glycemic Primer:
- The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White bread, made with processed white flour, is at the top of this scale, scoring a perfect 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s glycemic index number.
- On the other hand, the glycemic load focuses on how many digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
One of the most popular lunchtime orders in this country and, surprisingly, the U.K. is the BLT. Though the ingredients for this iconic sandwich had been around for centuries, no one thought to combine them between toasted slices of bread until 1903 at the Saratoga Race Club, according to culinary historians. The combo was named Club sandwich on menus and included a portion of turkey along with the bacon-lettuce-tomato trio. Over time, it is thought that restaurant servers wrote this up as a BLT for brevity on orders to the kitchen. Eventually, this kitchen-speak turned literal, forming a separate sandwich (no turkey) as distinguished from the Club (with turkey). On a personal note, before this writer had to start counting his carbs, every round of golf ended at a clubhouse table with a BLT, cold beer and the usual after-game banter. No matter how the golf went, this 19th hole lunch order always completed the day on a high note.
Actually, except for the delicious fat content of the bacon, the lettuce and tomato ingredients are very healthy components, indeed. It’s the toasted white bread that puts my favorite combo out of reach nowadays. Then I spotted this glycemic-friendly way to enjoy the BLT again on the internet with what seems like a very uneven ingredient swap. That is, trading out the white bread for a creamy, delicious ripe avocado sounds like a better deal! Granted, the crunchy texture of toast paired with the aforementioned trio of ingredients is missing. GET OVER IT! Those days are gone grasshopper. You can dwell over the loss of that wonderful smell and extra flavor boost of toasted sourdough, which accomplishes nothing except to chip away at your dietary resolve. Best to simply get on with it and accept the good fortune that you now get to add avocado to your BLT!
Avocados are loaded with healthy, beneficial fats. When you consume fat, your brain receives a signal to turn off your appetite. Plus, these good fats slow the breakdown of carbohydrates, which helps to keep sugar levels in the blood stable — worried about calories? Dietary fiber is known to create a feeling of satiety, which can prevent snacking throughout the day. For this reason, avocados are often considered great foods for weight loss. Research proves that avocados also similarly protect the heart as olive oil and nuts do.
Further, avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin; both help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. The nutrient count: a great source of vitamins C, E, K and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. Are you still missing those empty calories of white bread?
This recipe offers the same familiar combination of flavors, sans crunchy toast; the trade-off is deliciously unfair!
2 medium avocadoes
2 slices bacon
½ cup grape tomatoes (halved)
½ cup romaine lettuce (chopped)
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Cook the bacon over low flame. Flip and continue cooking until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Note: bacon crisps up more as it cools.
Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, scoop out most of the flesh of each half into a mixing bowl, leaving a thin lining of the fruit nearest the skin so avocado cups keep their shape.
Mash the avocado in the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the bacon slices, once they have cooled enough chop. Mix thoroughly.
Scoop the mixture back into the avocado halves. Enjoy!