Back in December, I mentioned that our local Kroger started carrying chips like these:

We’re seeing the wisdom of crowds at work. The U.S. government, the American Heart Association and other (ahem) “experts” still insist that coconut oil will kill us because of the saturated fat, and yet grocery stores are responding to demand from consumers who know better.

As more evidence that crowd wisdom is winning, I offer this picture:

There are only three ingredients in these chips: sweet potatoes, coconut oil and sea salt.

So what? It’s just another bag of chips cooked in coconut oil, right? True, but I found these at …wait for it … a gas-station mini-mart, right there by the checkout. That means someone who buys snacks for the mini-mart chain has realized there’s a demand for products like this.  I remember driving from California to Tennessee in 2009 and not being able to find any gas-station snacks that weren’t vaguely horrifying.

Just for kicks, I also took a picture of the ingredients list for a bag of Lay’s cheddar-flavored baked chips:

Look at those yummy ingredients.  But they’re baked! Lower in fat, ya see, so they must be good for you. Heh-heh-heh …

I’ll try not to strain my arm while patting myself on the back, but I’ve been predicting this trend for years. After Fat Head was released, I heard from plenty of food zealots who told me I’m an idiot, a shill for McDonald’s, etc., etc., for refusing to blame the evil corporations for making us all fat and sick by selling us bad foods.

I replied (over and over and over) that manufacturers only produce what people will buy, period. When more and more consumers demand grass-fed beef, or less-processed foods, or whatever, that’s what manufacturers will produce.

Here’s another example. I mentioned awhile back that I like a soup called True Primal. The latest incarnation is even better. It’s now made with all grass-fed beef, and the peas are gone. I’m sure that’s based on consumer feedback.

One pouch of the soup provides 24 grams of protein and just 11 net carbs.  All the vegetables are organic.  My daughters like the flavor, which makes it an easy lunch for them.

The demand for grain-free and gluten-free products is continuing to change what’s available in stores as well. Our local Kroger now carries several types of wheat-free pastas. Sure, they had gluten-free pastas before, but most were made from rice. My glucose meter tells me that anything with rice as a primary ingredient will send my blood sugar into the stratosphere. But now we’re finding pastas made from lentils, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.

Here’s the complicated ingredient list for the lentil pasta:

If you’re on a strict ketogenic diet or a paleo purist, pasta made from lentils probably won’t appeal to you. I’m not a paleo purist (I think lentils are a fine food) and my daily carb intake is in the 75-100 gram range, so I’m happy to have the option of a pasta meal now and then. Unlike wheat pasta, which seems to just make me hungrier until I stuff myself, these pastas are quite satisfying.

The lentil pasta has 24 net carbs for two ounces. I use three ounces when I make a dinner-sized meal, so it’s 36 net carbs. I’ve checked my glucose an hour after eating and have yet to peak above 125 mg/dl. I’m fine with that.

I usually add four ounces of chicken breast to boost the protein, although the lentil pasta itself has a decent amount of protein at 20 grams per three ounces. For sauce, I make a quick-and-easy alfredo. Here are the ingredients for one serving – multiply as necessary.

3 tablespoons grass-fed butter
2 tablespoons Parmesan
2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream
Garlic and salt to taste
Warm the ingredients and whip with a fork.

Sometimes I also add a quarter-cup of marinara sauce made with no added sugars. According to my calculations, the meal comes out to:

900 calories
58 grams of protein
40 net carbs
11 grams of fiber

Nice to see more foods like these becoming available in grocery stores. Definitely a sign that things are changing for the better.

On the other hand, there’s this:

Weight Watchers is still trying but failing to get it right. Yes, they’ve caught on that people want real ingredients you can pronounce, but they substituted bean puree for cream as a “smart swap.” I don’t have anything against bean puree, but it’s just not necessary to ditch the cream. And of course, they kept the wheat pasta. Wrong swap, folks.

Just to confirm that we have a ways to go despite all the positive changes, the checkout guy at Kroger furrowed his brow when he scanned a bag of the Boulder chips and said, “Coconut oil? Isn’t that bad for you?”

“What makes you say that?”

“I think I read it has too much of the bad kind of cholesterol or something like that.”

Ah, well. We’re getting there, but it will take time.


53 Responses to “Signs Things Are Changing … And A Couple Signs They’re Not”
  1. Firebird7478 says:

    I haven’t seen lentil pasta in these parts yet.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Give it time, you probably will.

      • KidPsych says:

        Our local store now carries spiraled zucchini and sweet potato pasta. Good stuff.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’ll keep a lookout for them. I’d try those if our store carried them.

          • Firebird7478 says:

            Wegman’s makes the fresh zoodles. They also make carrot swirls, too. Pricey, though. They have also made sushi with riced cauliflower and it was pretty good.

          • KidPsych says:

            There’s a terrific cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo (my wife found it at Costco), that shows how to do this on your own.

        • BobM says:

          We use spiralized zicchini every once in a while. The main problem for me and my wife is that it causes stomach and intestinal distress. We keep its use to a minimum because of that, but it does act as a good “noodle” for infrequent use.

          By the way, I tried the resistant starch/probiotic thing for about 4 months, and there seemed to be only detriments for me. I tried potato starch, plantain starch (caused allergy reaction), cooled cooked rice, cooled cooked potatoes, with fermented foods and sometimes with pill probiotics, in various combinations. I couldn’t tell a benefit and if I had too much starch, there were incredible detriments, so I stopped, and instantly lost about 5 pounds. Not sure why.

          I’ve since gone close to zero carb (all meat), with only periodic fermented foods, such as fermented pickles. But even sauerkraut (fermented, not heated) seems to cause me distress. Pickles seem to be OK, as long as I don’t eat many of them.

          I’m about to get a continuous glucose monitor, so I’m going to retest some potatoes to see what happens. From my experience previously, these cause my blood sugar to skyrocket (even heated, cooled and reheated), but we’ll see, as I’ll have a much better picture with a CGM.

          • Tom Naughton says:

            You of course have to listen to your body, but one thing to keep in mind: if the foods that feed gut bacteria cause you stress, it could be that you don’t enough of the friendly bacteria to digest them.

          • Bob Niland says:

            re: …resistant starch/probiotic thing for about 4 months … potato starch, plantain starch (caused allergy reaction), cooled cooked rice, cooled cooked potatoes …

            All of those are relatively high net carb. My guess on RPS is that it’s only 50% RS (use raw potato). Processed plantain and banana starch may be even lower in RS (use raw green). Re-cooled rice and potato are likewise low in RS (avoid rice altogether due to WGA if not As).

            The Wheat Belly/Undoctored program has lately turned its attention to SIBO, and it appears to be more pervasive than previously suspected. A serendipitous aspect of it, though, is that a prompt reaction to prebiotic fiber in the diet, is a strong sign that SIBO needs to be checked for:
            The Prebiotic Fiber Test

            Having adverse bacteria high in the GI is a problem. News this week also suggests a role pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinomas).

            • Elenor says:

              Because I’m about 90% sure (without testing) that I do NOT have “all the right flora and fauna” in MY gut, I take my RS (potato starch) WITH kefir (and water and a bit of coconut milk to thin it out). The stuff I read (years ago) suggested that the ‘gut bugs’ in the kefir latch onto the prebiotic RS for a ‘free’ ride past the stomach acids (and maybe small intestine?) to REACH the large intestine where it’s actually supposed to end up….

              I have found it to be an excellent health support — makes everything about my digestion better! A woman doctor (?) has a good metaphor — that taking the RS — to ‘feed your gut zoo’ –doesn’t DO anything, if the cages in the zoo are empty! (Hence, the kefir!)

              (Sorry for vagueness and lack of details. I read EVERYthing, pick out what I need to know and do (and find reasonably well backed-up), and then jettison the rest from my limited “hard head drive.” But, it might give you a thread to start pulling?)

  2. Beatrix Willius says:

    Here in Germany we got red lentil pasta in the local grocery store that the family liked. Only Aldi still hasn’t gotten this right and sells Gluten free flour that is made with with corn and rice.

    No coconut potato chips, yet.

  3. Tom Welsh says:

    “When more and more consumers demand grass-fed beef, or less-processed foods, or whatever, that’s what manufacturers will produce”.

    One of my (many) objections to present-day economics is that so many of its terms are dreadfully misleading. “Demand” is one such.

    The word “demand”, as it’s normally used, implies that someone asks for something. “Oy! You! Gimme a side o’ grass-fed beef!”

    But, as economists use “demand”, it is a very slippery, deceptive concept. Apparently it means that, if I can find a product that I like, I am free to buy it. The more people do this, the more the vendor realizes there is some potential here, so the vendor makes and sells more… and we’re away.

    But… what if there are no such products in the market at all? How does my “demand” express itself? I suppose I could write to the marketing manager, the sales manager, or even the big CxoEESE – but how likely would that be to have any effect?

    It seems to me that, for “demand” to work as advertised, there must be a fair number of thoughtful, energetic, imaginative entrepreneurs ready to spot the tiniest hint of an opportunity and give it a whirl. And most of them, in the nature of things, will probably strike out and go broke.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Actually, people do demand as in “Gimme a side o’ grass-fed beef!” Plenty of consumers — my wife among them — will tell the store manager what products they want. Managers pass that information up the food chain (pardon the pun).

      I don’t believe the hints are all that tiny or subtle, either. If you’re in the food business, you’d have to be in a coma not to be aware of the buzz about grass-fed beef, going wheat-free, etc.

    • Lori Miller says:

      The first people with a need for, say, gluten-free products were probably very ill with celiac disease and made their own food. They must have started writing and self-publishing cookbooks and then started selling their books and foods at craft fairs or bake sales or by mail order.

      Joel Salatin started raising grass-fed beef (and other livestock) on his poor, barren farm whose soil needed to be built up. He used the livestock in specific ways to build up the soil, and then gave talks and wrote books about it.

      Possibly, people with unusual and critical demands become their own suppliers. If they can find enough other people with the same demand, or create the demand, and find a way to profitably meet that demand, they can have a profitable business.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Nassim Taleb (author of “Antifragile” and “The Black Swan”) has also explained that it doesn’t take a majority to move a market, just a passionate minority. The brief explanation is that while people who insist on gluten-free, for example, will ONLY buy gluten-free, the other consumers don’t demand that their products contain gluten. They’ll also buy gluten-free products if they like the taste. Same goes for kosher, non-GMO, etc.

  4. Kathy in OK says:

    When I lived in Texas, I was always whining about Kroger for one reason or the other, but it was 5 minutes from the house so my go-to grocery store. Now I live in Tulsa with NO KROGER. I contacted them to explain that they could blow the competition out of the water if they opened a store here. They are in Kansas and Texas so distribution should not be a problem. They were polite, but I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. So I shop – for 2 people – at five different stores. Good thing I’m retired and have the time. But on a happy note, Amazon bought Whole Foods. It’s like my two favorite people got married!

  5. Stephen T says:

    It’s a long haul, but my local Fish and Chip shop is bragging about cooking in beef fat, which is a pleasant change. On the downside, at my gym this morning they were offering free cholesterol checks and people were queuing up for the test.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Bragging about cooking in beef fat is a positive sign. I predict that at some point in the future, McDonald’s will announce (with great fanfare) that they’re returning to cooking fries in beef tallow.

    • Of the national chains, both Buffalo Wild Wings and Outback Steakhouse both claim to cook in tallow.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Now that you mention it, the one time I ordered fries at Buffalo Wild Wings, they were pretty good. That might explain it.

    • Elenor says:

      “On the downside, at my gym this morning they were offering free cholesterol checks and people were queuing up for the test.”

      Oh, I dunno, it’s always good to have data! I like these free tests because they directly test the HDL — so I can see if I’m keeping it high enough. When I want real data, I have to buy it myself (the VA only tests if there’s a strong reason and your doc is willing to order it). (Thank you,, for affordable blood tests!!)

      I don’t CARE that the nice vampire-nurse clucks disapprovingly at my “high” cholesterol number. (LOVE Jimmie Moore’s: the total cholesterol number is the same as being told the “final” ballgame score was 27!) I point out that an HDL of 120 is pretty darned protective, isn’t it?
      “Oh,” (sourly), “well, yes it is.”
      “And with a high HDL and low trigs, you have to use the Iranian equation to calculate LDL etc., not the one that your little machine is set with, right?”
      “Um, yeah I guess so.”
      “Cool! Thanks, bye!”

      (Actually had one nurse ask me about how I ‘got it’ so high. She had been horrified to see my ‘approximate diet’ (meat, cheese, CREAM in coffee, no wheat, and so on). She expected my blood sugar to be insane (nope; 104, 2 hrs after coffee); and my “blood work” to be dangerous… She was baffled — and so we discussed (okay-yeah, I lectured her on) low carb and lying Big Med/Big Pharma… That was fun!)

      I actually carry around little business cards I printed up listing ‘places to start’ — most ESPECIALLY “Science for Smart People,” followed by “Fat Head.’ (More people wanna watch than read.) Then Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and so on. “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About it” (Taubes, of course)? And Mike Eades. Trying to entice someone to start with the basics — and change their world view! Was describing the avocado oil mayo in Costco to a friend — and comparing it to the ‘regular’ stuff — and some lady looking at the regular stuff ended up joining in and then buying the good stuff — AND promising to go watch “Science for Smart People” — she was very excited!

      (Yes, I’m “that person,” the annoying one…) (My cul-de-sac neighbors call me “Dr. E.”) (But, a lot of THEM have ameliorated their diets as well! So, whoo hoo!)

  6. Bonnie says:

    One of the things that’s changing is what you can get at lower priced restaurants now. Had a coupon for Denny’s & was delighted with the gluten-free Caesar salad with chicken. Went back with my AARP card (15% off) & got the gf Prime Rib Cobb salad – just had to ask them to leave the potatoes off. Another winner. And both had avocado. 🙂

    I’m not sure how many carbs the dressing has, but I don’t eat much of that & took the chance. No bg spikes.

    • Bob Niland says:

      re: I’m not sure how many carbs the dressing has…

      That might actually be only problem #2 with commercial dressings:
      1. Industrial grain and legume oils high in Omega 6 linoleic acid
      2. Sugars (could be #1 in low-fat dressings)
      3. Emulsifiers (gut antagonists)
      4. Adverse artificial sweeteners in LC dressings (also gut antagonists)
      5. Preservatives (more death to the microbiome)
      6. the usual additional chemistry set garbage

      Safe salad dressings are so far quite rare (unless you make your own). Mark Sisson’s stuff is cool, tho.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Yup, we keep his dressings on hand for that reason.

        • Dianne says:

          Coconaise! Never rancid, high in MCTs, non GMO, organic ingredients. Delicious in itself or you can use it as a foundation for other dressings. Sometimes I combine it with plain Greek yogurt (full fat, natcherly) and various seasonings to make my own salad dressings. Read about it on Amazon (I order the 2 jars for $27 option and share with my sister).

      • Bonnie says:

        Since I eat out only about once a month, I figure it’s not going to kill me. At home I use my homemade dressings.

  7. Jonah says:

    Oil is by definition cholesterol free. All the frankenfats have the “100% Cholesterol Free” proudly stamped on their labeling, maybe just to prove it’s technically an oil. Then, again, so is Valvoline…

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Back in the ’90s, the FDA made manufacturers remove “cholesterol free!” from some oils because they figured consumers would think that translated to “fat free.” Yes, they were concerned we’d think we were buying fat-free oils.

      • Lori Miller says:

        There’s fat-free “mayonnaise.” How they get away with calling a combination of water, sugar and food starch “mayonnaise” when the real thing is made of eggs and oil, I can’t say.

      • Walter says:

        I find fat free half and half from Land of Lakes at grocery stores. Friends it’s the fat that blocks the bitterness of coffee, so fat free is kinda ridiculous even on grounds of taste.

        So why not fat free oils? I bet they would sell well.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’ve seen fat-free half-and-half. Can’t imagine what kind of frankenfood that must be.

          Olestra didn’t work out so well, given the gastrointestinal effects. As Ray Ramano said, “These better be some damned good chips if I have to change my underwear after eating them.”

          • Firebird7478 says:

            I forget who it was, but back in the early 90s, right before The Zone Diet/PR/40-30-30 came out, there was a model who was asked about her diet. She said she would rather eat the full fat chips, just eat less of them. She said the same thing about the fat free ice creams, etc.

            At the time I thought she was nuts.

        • Lori Miller says:

          Fat-free half-and-half and fat-free fat? Sounds like the culinary equivalent of one hand clapping and the state of no-mindedness.

  8. KidPsych says:

    Found this on Mark’s Daily Apple –

    Customers suing Costco for calling coconut oil healthy. Not sure how they’re going to prove damages in this case. Although if they win, Tom, I might be coming after you!

  9. Linda says:

    I have looked and looked in my local groceries to no avail for any brand of chips cooked in coconut or olive oil. When I saw your pictures of the Boulder Canyon chips, I googled them and interestingly, they popped right up on the Walmart online ordering. I use their online ordering of some groceries about once a month, since the shipping is free (for orders over $35) and they are very efficient with getting it to me in three days by UPS or Fed-ex. I will be ordering them through Walmart, since the local grocers haven’t caught up to what some of us want to eat. Interesting, the Boulder Canyon Chips are not available in our giant Walmart super store…. I’ve found that I can get lots of stuff online from them that isn’t available in the store.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I guess we’re lucky enough to be an early-adopter market or something like that.

    • June says:

      Have you talked to the managers of the stores about carrying these products? Sometimes they just don’t know that there may be a market in their area for these things. Let them know that they are losing money and you would be mrre than happy to buy from their store rather than online.

  10. DebbieC says:

    Sometimes the lead time on “demand” is just so long though, . There are things here that I’ve been looking for fruitlessly for 20 years, and even now my local supermarket doesn’t carry any of these things, nor my local health food market. Even there it seems 90% of their GF products feature rice flour as the principal ingredient. Even so, I guess it’s better than 1997 when, through the LC underground, we learned that we could buy coconut oil in the cosmetics aisle at your local pharmacy that was technically “food grade” because there was NOWHERE you could buy it as an actual food product! If people think LC folks are weird now, think how it seemed if they learned you were cooking with “body oil”? Demand can take a long time. At my age I’ll probably never live long enough to see many of the items I’d love to demand. 🙂

    I did ask my local grocery to stock the smoked oysters in olive oil which I love, but they told me such a product doesn’t exist, so periodically I make the 70-mile round trip to my nearest Trader Joe’s and stock up! As a bonus they have great nuts and I stock up on those too. Nuts, smoked oysters and fasting are what got me through five days without power after Hurricane Irma!

  11. Esther says:

    I love Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato chips! I’ve never been a fan of regular potato chips but the sweet potato ones are really tasty. There’s actually an interesting backstory to how the Jackson’s chip line was developed, something I didn’t know until the following appeared in the Denver Post recently:

  12. Elenor says:

    Any of y’all looked into the newest thing? MCT Oil Powder (!!) I use a lot of MCT oil (GREAT hair conditioner, super face ‘cream,’ mix it with my kefir and RS, and so on — but just cannot get into coffee with a skim of oil on the top. Yuck. (Bought a ‘frother’ it lasted SIX mixings and died…)

    The MCT Oil Powder is what it says on the tin… er… on the plastic. (yeah, with some not TOO objectionable additives…) — and it’s tasteless (which I really need! I HATE coconut flavor). It’s like coffee creamer powder — mixes in beautifully, and so I’m getting my MCT oil EVERY SINGLE DAY in my coffee…instead of once a week or so when I force myself… So, far, I prefer “Kiss My KETO” brand; also got “Quest Nutrition MCT Powder Oil” — but it take 3-4 scoops of that to equal the Kiss My KETO brand: Amazobn was out of the Kiss My… last time I ordered. It’s back now.)

    Effects noticed? I wake up more refreshed (that could also be the cooled weather and the open windows at night!), my brain seems to be working better, clearer, stronger even BEFORE coffee… I like that the ketones ‘feed’ both the brain and the heart… Happy happy!

    • Kathy in OK says:

      Just this morning finished my first tub of MCT oil powder. I was curious, even though I don’t mind the oil in my coffee. Great lip conditioner 😉 ! You might want to compare CODEAGE MCT Oil Powder at Amazon with what you’re currently buying. I looked at a lot of labels before choosing that one.

  13. Daniel says:

    Trader Joe’s sells red lentil pasta (as well as black bean pasta). I don’t really care for it, but the family likes it.

  14. June says:

    Recently I drove from Maryland to Michigan to visit my family. At all the rest stops on the Pennsylvania Turnpike I found snacks of prepackaged hard-boiled eggs, sausage, cheese, and nuts in the convenience store. Not just a few, an entire section dedicated to these low-carb snacks. It made me so happy.

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