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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Cooking, & Recipes, #82

Updated on April 28, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

An Update on Peter Rabbit

Last week I shared the sad story of my lovely flower garden disappearing before my eyes. This time it was NOT the deer, nor was it slugs. I witnessed Mr. Peter Rabbit hopping down the bunny trail with blue lobelia hanging out of his mouth. Some of my friends read my article and suggested a dinner of hasenpfeffer.

Honestly, if I had to kill anything larger than a flea I would have to subsist on tofu and lentils. I found a spray which I cannot smell but is supposed to be a deterrent to garden pests. Thusfar it seems to be working and we have negotiated a truce. Mr. Rabbit is still here, but he has moved on to eating the clover and wild violets in our excuse for a lawn.

Now, back to the real reason that you're here. If you're an old friend, you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.

Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.

I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses and it happens every Monday. Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.

Does the Food We Eat Make Us Stink?

I have actually scientifically studied this notion and it is right up your alley.

Let us just say we were headed into a place we did not belong. We spent a week eating what they eat. A meat eater in a mostly veggie place smells different. You cannot eat cheese and drop into Hanoi and not be smelled.

Work back on that. We are what we eat. We radiate who we are.

tasty but stinky foods (cheese, garlic, anchovy, etc.)
tasty but stinky foods (cheese, garlic, anchovy, etc.) | Source

Eric, "you are what you eat" usually means that if you subsist on a diet of fried foods and milkshakes, don't be surprised if you are overweight and out of shape. But, it also means that what you eat can have an impact on your body hygiene as well. Here is a list of the top offenders:

  • Garlic - Yes, it keeps vampires at bay, but it can repel friends and lovers as well. Garlic contains a sulfurous substance called allicin. As allicin breaks down in the stomach, it gives off a variety of volatile compounds that remind you of the slice of pizza you ate hours before. Those compounds make their way into your blood and work their way out through your lungs, overwhelming even the strongest of breath mints.
  • Onions - See what I said about garlic (except about the part where it causes vampires to whither.)
  • Alcohol - Like garlic, alcohol makes its way from the bloodstream to your lungs (how do you think breathalyzers work?) and the only panacea is time. It also has the nasty habit of clinging to the plaque on your teeth and gums, doubling the stink factor.
  • Eggs - Eggs are high in choline, an essential nutrient which supports liver function, healthy brain development, muscle movement, the nervous system, and metabolism. However, it is not easily digestible; this causes gases to accumulate and generates foul body odors.

Broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts break down into sulfurous compounds. These compounds are absorbed into the body and secreted in sweat. Your body odor can change for the worse as early as one hour after consuming these vegetables.

— E. Adam Kallel, consultant at Victrix Computational & Medicinal Chemistry Consultants, Carlsbad,

Red Meat - According to Dr. Kallel, "the amino acids in red meat leave a residue in your intestines during digestion. Intestinal enzymes break down that residue, which then mixes with bacteria on your skin during perspiration and intensifies your odor. It's an effect that's hard to avoid: Since meat is harder to digest than other foods, your body has to work harder to process it. As a result, your sweat glands may respond by secreting more perspiration."

So there you have it. Yes, what you eat can make a difference in how you smell. By the way, on the flip side, a study conducted by Dr. Ian Stephen, of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia revealed that "women basically found that men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer."


Each week we learn about a food item that you probably toss into the trash bin without a thought or a care—until today that is. Let's find out which discards can be re-used and re-purposed.

Coffee grounds

Once upon a time, I was offered my first full-time job in the administrative department of a scientific, predominantly male-populated government agency. I was now officially a grown-up. In addition to buying my first car, getting my first apartment, and having bills to pay, I gained a whole new set of friends.

I am telling you this to explain, in my rambling round-about way, that I was the outsider and I was on my own. The few female staffers were older, considerably older than little me, and they lovingly took me under their proverbial wings. They invited me to their homes, showing me how to cook and bake, and helped me with sewing and knitting. But it was Maggie who taught me how to garden.

Maggie had the most amazing yard. A single mom with two grown children, she lived in a very modest house on a tiny plot of land, but absolutely every inch of soil was devoted to flowers. There were daffodils and tulips and lilacs in the spring, roses and gladiola and dianthus in the summer, and dahlias and mums that bloomed in autumn and lasted until the first winter frost.

A fresh bouquet sat on the corner of her receptionist’s desk each week. I marveled at the vigor and profusion of her blooms—and she shared her secret with me. Coffee grounds.

As the receptionist, it was also her unassigned duty to make the coffee for the office. (Yes, I can see you grimacing and rolling your eyes, but this was the 1970's). Anyone else would have thrown away those spent coffee grounds, but Maggie saved them in a plastic container and took them home at the end of the day. Here is she re-used that coffee ground gold:

  • Sprinkle on the soil around your plants and spade it in as a natural fertilizer. This is especially beneficial for acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, and camellias. (Note: don’t use coffee grounds on a pink hydrangea).
  • Place in problem areas where slugs and snails like to feed.
  • Add the grounds to your compost pile to stabilize the pH level and also (added benefit) make the pile smell less “smelly.”
  • Encourage worms to do their “worm thing” in your soil. It aerates and helps fertilize.

But wait, there’s more. You can use those leftover grounds inside your house as well.

  • Make a paste of coffee grounds and water to repair scratches on dark wood furniture.
  • Cut several squares of cheesecloth and place some grounds in the middle. Secure the top with a rubber band and place the bag in your refrigerator. It will absorb orders in the same way as does an open box of baking soda.
  • Is there a lingering aroma on your hands from cutting onions or garlic? Rub a small amount of coffee grounds on your hands and then rinse with cool water.

We're Organized

Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.

Here's a link to that Table of Contents.

I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.

I Like Hearing from You

Let's do this again next week. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address:

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2019 Linda Lum


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