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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #115

Updated on December 15, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Pulling Out the Stops

I attended an organ concert last week, a noontime offering by Dr. Wyatt Smith at Kilworth Chapel on the University of Puget Sound campus, and it was unusual, to say the least. The traditional chorales of Franck or harmonic flourishes of Bach were replaced by a decidedly different style of music by a young composer named Nico Muhly. The chords were atonal, dissonant, piercing, jittery, sounding almost improvisational. I sensed that many in the audience were taken aback by this modern use of their beloved pipe organ, but I was thrilled.

The rule of thirds states that odd-numbered groupings are most pleasing to the eye. I find beauty in asymmetrical floral arrangements, hymns in minor keys, poetry that does not rhyme, and yes food styled with an odd number of elements on the plate.

And isn't that what life is truly like? Our days are not an orderly 4:4 time in the key of C. Open your mind and your heart to those things that are different, perhaps even a bit off-kilter. You might be pleasantly surprised at the beauty of a new type of concert.

Let's Open the Mailbox

Let's get started with today's mailbox. 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; 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.

Ideas for Flavoring Rice

Linda, I have a question regarding flavorful rice side dishes. I always keep brown rice and basmati rice on hand but don't know what to do with it, so I end up buying Near East rice mixes. As a from-scratch cook, what are your go-to recipes for delicious (but uncomplicated) rice sides?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Low-fat unfried riceHealthy brown Mexican riceTomato-basil riceRice pilafTurmeric coconut riceHerb-seasoned rice
Low-fat unfried rice
Low-fat unfried rice | Source
Healthy brown Mexican rice
Healthy brown Mexican rice | Source
Tomato-basil rice
Tomato-basil rice | Source
Rice pilaf
Rice pilaf | Source
Turmeric coconut rice
Turmeric coconut rice | Source
Herb-seasoned rice
Herb-seasoned rice | Source

Shauna, rice is so much fun; I love its versatility. With just a few seasonings it can take on Asian flavors, Tex-Mex, Italian, Moroccan, and on and on.

To get us started, here's a recipe for a seasoning mix that you can put together in just minutes from things you probably already have in your pantry. It makes enough for 4 batches of rice. That's easy. How about something a bit more imaginative?

Low-Fat Unfried Rice - I mentioned Asian flavors, and this brown rice side dish has all the tastes of fried rice but no frying, no oil, no guilt.

Healthy Brown Mexican Rice - Simmer your rice in a chicken broth fortified with fire-roasted canned tomatoes, cumin, and garlic.

Tomato-Basil Rice - All the flavors you love in a rich pasta sauce in your bowl of rice.

Rice Pilaf - You've probably made Rice A Roni, the white rice/orzo blend in a box flavored with dried chicken bouillon powder, herbs, and spices. This is how to make your own. It's fresher and less salty (thank goodness). I like to add dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and feta cheese.

Turmeric Coconut Rice - Instead of water or broth, simmer brown rice (or basmati) in coconut milk. The color is stunning, and if you stir in a rinsed can of black beans you have a complete meal.


And then, if you want a one-pot meal with rice you might try this article. Not to toot my own horn, but here are five ideas for cooking chicken thighs on a bed of rice in your oven. Easy-peasy and amazing flavors.

How to Make Protein Powders More Palatable

"My husband, since his surgery, is trying to gain weight. He has bought protein powder to help supplement what he's eating. The problem is he doesn't like the taste. Here they are flavored. Vanilla was the best option, but it's hard to incorporate that into a savory meal. He can't drink it.

Do you have any ideas about making custard or something sweet that is easy to swallow using the protein powder. It is made from egg whites."

Mary, I don’t have any personal experience with protein powders but I’ll give you a few ideas off the top of my head, and then some links from the internet.

  1. I’m wondering if the powder could be stirred into oatmeal (unless, of course, Ian detests oatmeal). Do you have a pumpkin (or squash) curry soup recipe that he likes? I’ll bet you could hide some vanilla powder in there. And then these from the internet:
  2. Banana oatmeal breakfast cookies
  3. Vanilla protein pancakes
  4. Vanilla avocado protein pudding

I also did some research on how to wisely gain weight; obviously cake and ice cream are fun but not the way to put on pounds in a heart-healthy way. The Mayo Clinic offered these suggestions:

  • Eat 5 or 6 smaller meals rather than the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You'll actually end up eating more by doing this.
  • Watch when you drink; consuming liquids just before sitting down for a meal will make you feel full(er).
  • Also, make sure that every bite counts. That's probably why you are bulking up Ian's foods with protein powder, but you can also focus on nutrient-rich foods such as seeds, nuts, avocado, or fat-free powdered milk stirred into soups and stews.

Foods to Help Offset Dementia

"Hey, Linda, what foods do you suggest for early-onset dementia? I think we are doing good with antioxidant foods but maybe there is more?. I am doing well with research but you are my go-to gal."

Eric including antioxidant foods in the diet certainly puts you on the right track. For those who don't know what those foods are, I'll list the best ones below. But it's important to not only take care of what does into the diet but also what is omitted.

  • limit refined sugars
  • keep sodium to a minimum
  • avoid red meat
  • delete margarine from the diet and use butter sparingly
  • no cheese
  • no pastries
  • no fast foods
  • no deep-fried foods

Taking care of the body will also improve overall health. Make sure your loved one takes care of herself each day by:

  • Exercising at least 30 minutes each day
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep
  • Reduce stress (very important. Meditation or yoga can help)
  • Do things to stimulate the mind—crossword puzzles, play an instrument, paint, etc.

Red or purple grapes
Blueberries
Red berries
Nuts
Dark-green leavy vegetables
Sweet potatoes
Carrots
Winter squash
Green tea
Soy beans
Lentils
Sardines
Salmon
Oysters
Fresh tuna
Dark chocolate
Whole grains
Coffee
Avocado
Eggs
Broccoli

Antioxidant Powerhouse Foods

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.

Source

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: lindalum52@gmail.com.

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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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      18 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, thank you for the birthday greetings. Much appreciated. As for giving up cheese? I'm with you 100 percent. In fact, my vision of Heaven is a place filled with cheese.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      First of all Happy birthday for today.

      All I can say is sorry, but I'm not going to give up my cheese?

      Everything else I can live with, but giving up cheese, that's too much!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, your comment is one of the best gifts I could have received this year. That, and your friendship which I have not just on Christmas but every day of the year. I treasure you and Gabe and Hang. I hope you had a wonderful celebration with your family.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yahoo Linda. In my heart you are a part of our Christmas. Your writing about healthy foods has opened up a trialogue in our home. OK there are too many presents under the tree, but what you going to do with a 9 year old?

      So all year long you have given a gift of food perhaps maybe the best gift.

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      19 months ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      Thank you so much, Linda and I am glad to meet you too and I look forward to your recipe's #118! Enjoy your holiday season! :)

      Blessings to you and yours always,

      Donna

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Donna I'm so glad to meet you. I will have some recipes for you in installment #118 and will also ask a dear friend here on hubpages for her help. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      19 months ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      Linda, do you have a gluten-free dessert dishes and entre dishes? I get tired of making the same things over and over again. I'm also allergic to eggs but not in cakes and stuff, I just can't have scrambled eggs or omelets. Any new recipes would be appreciated~

      Blessings,

      Donna

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, I'm a big believer in home cooking, make your own, etc. But truth be told, I had never thought of making my own bouillon. I'm on this and will have an answer for you on the Monday after Christmas.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      I've been looking a homemade vegetable bouillons and some call for them to just be mixed in a food processor with lots of salt and then kept in the freezer while others suggest drying all the ingredients in the oven for 4 hours and then grinding them to powder. Do you think the dried version looses any nutrients? Is one better than the other? I know I could buy vegan bouillon but I would rather know what's in it for myself. Thanks.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Manatita. Sometimes I struggle and other times I'm inspired.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      19 months ago from london

      Short and sweet. Your first three paragraphs are illumining! They can be applicable in so many areas!

      Hope that all's going well for Christmas. Much Peace!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      19 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Found it! Ooooo, I'm on my way to making your recipe. It's so cold here in the mountains, icicles form indoors whenever I open a door! Brrrrrrrrrrrr. And now for a bowl of nice, hot, chili! Thanks!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Dear Audrey, great minds think alike, right? As for chili, I have a super-duper recipe that uses mushrooms in place of the usual ground meat. Look up above in the section "We're Organized." There you will find a link to my recipes. Look for "Carb Diva's Unmeaty Chili" under Soups, Stews, and Chili.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      MG Singh, I have heard of bitter gourd but have not cooked with it. I will do so research. Thank you for your help on this topic.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I hope one of those recipes perks up Ian's appetite. As for coffee being on the no-no list. {{Sigh}} is seems to change from week to week, doesn't it?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Sha, I love writing it, so it's a win-win situation.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      19 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I just love your lead-in to this topic. Comparing dissonant tones in music to varieties of spices for foods is brilliant! Being an organist, "Pulling Out All The Stops' caught my eye. I wonder how many readers know what "stops" are on an organ? Clever, very clever.

      I also like your reference to groups of threes. I use this, arranging flowers, wall hangings, all kinds of stuff.

      I'm more or less a vegetarian, no meat or chicken. I've recently discovered "Beyond Meat", which is plant-based and so yummy. I'd love a recipe for vegetarian chili and beans. How about it? Maybe for the next Q And A?

      Thanks, Linda, and Happy Holidays!

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      19 months ago from Singapore

      In case you wish to avoid dementia a pure veg diet will help with exotic justices like bitter gourd and berries

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      19 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your answer, I will refer Ian to it and you're right, he doesn't like oatmeal.

      I love those rice ideas and needed inspiration so thank you. Always good to know what to do as a way to stay healthy and possibly prevent dementia. I must say, I was surprised to see coffee in that list.

      Have a great week. Glad you enjoyed the concert.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      19 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, thanks for responding to my rice dilemma with so many yummy-sounding recipes. I'll definitely be trying a few of them.

      As usual, this session is full of valuable information. Love this series!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Bill. I haven't read your mailbag yet. I'll grab a cup of coffee and head over there. I hope Bev is back on her feet and that you are preparing for a wonderful Christmas together.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, we pretty much adhere to a Mediterranean diet around here. We hardly ever eat pork, and beef never. We consume so much poultry it's a wonder we aren't sprouting feathers.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Eric. The pain is starting to be a real drag so your prayers are much appreciated. I hope my suggestions will be of help. Your family is in my prayers as well.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      John, we've been on a rice "thing" in my house too. I'm glad you liked the recipes.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      19 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, this will be a busy week, for sure. I have two tasks ahead of me, and both are related to food. Tomorrow I'm in charge of the refreshments served after a funeral for a dear fellow believer from church. How sad for her family, but imagine what a wonderful Christmas she will be having.

      Once that responsibility is behind me I'll just busy myself with plans for our Christmas dinner. Essentially it will be Thanksgiving one month late. That will be different from our usual Christmas brunch, but I'll be so happy to have my daughter and future son-in-law here that I'd be happy with McDonalds burgers.

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope you have a wonderful week as well.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      19 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Did you know I play the organ? My friends had fun making jokes about that in school...."there goes Bill, again,off to play with his organ." LOL And I like rice, so I could really get into this article. :) Happy Monday my friend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      Given the rates of dementia and how serious a and incurable it is, it’s good to see prevention strategies. Red meat in particular is a scourge.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey Linda, if nobody told you when your first got up. You are awesome. I have no way to understand. But your hands are in my prayers.

      Now you know we are half Vietnamese around here and live half Mexicana so your rice teachings were excellent.

      I am printing your part about healthy eating for the brain. On the fridge it goes.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      19 months ago from Gondwana Land

      The mailbox had some very interesting questions this week, Linda. I seem to be really enjoying rice dishes lately and all those you offered sound delicious. I never thought about trying to incorporate a protein powder into a food before but your suggestion should work, and the food to help offset early onset dementia is helpful.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      19 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Linda, you sure answered some interesting questions today. I looked at each rice recipe and they sound good. I think helping prevent dementia from getting worse is sure worthwhile.

      I liked your initial opeservations about using odd amounts and so forth. The concert sounds very interesting and I think I would like it. I hope you have a good week as we prepare for Christmas.

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