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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #129

Updated on March 24, 2020
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

How Are You Feeling?

September 11, 2001—a date that will always be remembered in the United States of America. Maybe 100 (or even 50) years from now it will have less meaning, but today it stands as a moment in time that brought all of us together. We were immeasurably frightened, saddened and angered. But in a short amount of time, we recognized that the assault on our country had passed. It was finished.

Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) is more ugly, more insidious, and more deadly. It is not an attack of nation upon nation, or philosophy against philosophy. It's a microscopic being that is threatening every last person on our planet.

So, how are you feeling?

Are you frightened, concerned, optimistic, or is your life unaltered? My husband, daughter, and I are sheltering in place, meaning that we are not shopping, making appointments, visiting relatives, or even attending church. We are well. We are secure. We have enough. But I miss the connection with neighbors, store merchants, and friends at church.

How are you feeling?

I've not witnessed first-hand the hoarding, but the internet abounds with photos of bare store shelves that once held soap, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. If that sort of desperation can arise in the first 48 hours, what will happen if the social distancing stretches from weeks to months? What then?

  • What if there is no more bread, or milk, or baby formula?
  • What if the food banks are shut down?
  • What if your work in the service industry (restaurant, wellness center, stylist, house cleaner, or any of the other "101" jobs that are deemed non-essential)?
  • What if you are self-employed?
  • What if you have no income but you still need to pay your rent, or pay the lease on your business?

How will you react if this happens to you, to your family?

How will you feel?

Now, think back to the thousands of Central American immigrants who last year were seeking refuge, traveling thousands of miles in search of a ray of hope for themselves and their children. Do you remember the look of desperation in their eyes? Did you understand it then?

Do you understand it now?

How are you feeling?

Let's Look in the 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.

This week I received an urgent request from a dear friend who's son is suffering from gastritis, so I've devoted this week's article to helping that family.

Meal Plan for a Gastritis Diet

"My boy just broke all out with gastritis. OK, his favorite spice is hot and his second favorite is hotter. Of course, mine are as hot as can be and nearly an atomic bomb. So it is your job to get us some remedy that is tasty."

Wow, Eric, why don't you ask me a hard question? I'm kidding, of course. I love you and Gabe and will do what I can to get you through this, but the gastritis diet is not known for being "tasty." I'm afraid he might die from boredom, but here goes.

For those who do not know the term, gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining, and it’s not fun; burning pain, nausea, vomiting and wanting to curl up into a ball and hide in bed. When the lining of the stomach is inflamed, it can’t produce the gastric juices needed for digestion. And, to make matters even worse, then the stomach lining can’t make the mucus that protects it from stomach acid.

There are several causes—a bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori), viral infection, stress, and food allergies can all be culprits. (Gabe is 10 years old, so I don’t think we need to worry that excessive alcohol consumption and/or smoking could be the problem).

So, how can diet help? The first step is to eliminate foods and beverages that are known to cause irritation, even in healthy guts. The dirty dozen are:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Spicy foods (including black pepper)
  • Fried foods
  • High-fat foods (red meats, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat)
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Acidic foods (tomatoes and citrus fruits)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Fruit juices
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee and tea
  • Full-fat dairy products, including ice cream (low-fat yogurt is an exception)

You might be thinking “My God, there’s nothing left” but trust me, we can do this. I’ll help Gabe, and whoever else needs some pointers, on how to create tasty meals that are balanced and tummy-soothing.

There are still many foods you can enjoy. Buy these when you go grocery shopping:

low-fat dairy
beans and lentils
fish and seafood (don't deep fry)
high-fiber fruits (bananas, melons, apples)

There are other changes, lifestyle changes, that one can make too such as:

  • Chew food well
  • Eat small meals with snacks in between rather than 3 large meals
  • Sit up straight
  • Don’t lie down immediately after eating
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing
  • Sip water before or after your meal, not with it

Serve steamed vegetables on the side. As Gabe’s stomach heals you might be able to introduce fresh (not cooked) vegetables such as salad greens and cucumber. By the way, did you know that you can cook cucumber? Treat it like zucchini and give it a quick saute in the pan.

Play with making sauces from steamed veggies; I’m thinking broccoli or asparagus. Stay in touch with his physicians. If he's not been tested for the presence of H. pylori or a viral infection I would insist on that.

Now, how about some meal ideas? (There are recipes for items in bold type).

scrambled eggs on a bagel
egg salad sandwich with mashed avocado in place of the mayo
quinoa bowl with soy sauce-baked tofu
banana smoothie
soup with chicken, carrots, celery, pearl barley
broiled salmon and baked potato (top with Greek yogurt)
oatmeal with raisins or diced pear and rice (or soy) milk
miso soup with mushrooms, spinach, carrots
pasta with creamy chickpea sauce
low-fat yogurt parfait with strawberries
arugula salad with grilled pears, dried cranberies, diced cooked turkey
steamed brown rice topped with poached egg, flaked smoked salmon
cucumber, apple, and mint smoothie
ground turkey or chicken slider
pasta with roasted butternut squash, kale
broccoli quiche
spit pea soup
Vietnamese lemongrass chicken meatballs
kale and mushroom frittata
oven-baked chicken tenders and sweet potato fries
easy weekday spaghetti carbonara
hot quinoa with honey and dried fruits
baked sweet potato with honey drizzle
creamy carrot soup
banana smoothie
banana smoothie | Source

Banana Smoothie

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ice

broccoli quiche
broccoli quiche

Broccoli Quiche

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. broccoli
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pre-bake (partially bake) pie crust for 12 minutes. If you are using a store-bought crust, follow the manufacturer's directions. If you have made your own crust, you will need line the crust with foil and then weigh down with uncooked rice or beans. This will keep the dough from bubbling and morphing out of shape.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tsp. olive oil; swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place the broccoli pieces in a steamer basket. Steam over simmering water until very tender—about 8–10 minutes. Add to onion mixture and set aside.
  6. In blender or food processor, puree the tofu and remaining ingredients (milk through ground black pepper) until smooth. Add the broccoli and onions and process until smooth.
  7. Pour into pre-baked crust. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until quiche is set. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Creamy carrot soup
Creamy carrot soup | Source

Creamy Carrot Soup

This is a good basic recipe for carrot soup, using coconut milk in place of heavy cream. However, the recipe as written calls for one entire head of garlic. I wouldn't recommend that on a gastritis diet. Omit the garlic; you'll sacrifice some flavor, but still have a tasty (and safe) soup.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Sauté 1 cup chopped carrot and 1 cup celery in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft. Add to blender or food processor with 1 cup drained chickpeas, 3/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon Kosher (not table) salt until very smooth. Top with fresh herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro).

Cucumber, Apple, and Mint Smoothie

  • 1 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened frozen 100% apple juice concentrate, undiluted
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 10 ice cubes

Easy Weekday Spaghetti Carbonara

This recipe is from my blog; it uses turkey bacon instead of the traditional wonderful porky yummy pancetta and it's easy enough for even the novice cook to pull off.

Ground chicken or turkey slider
Ground chicken or turkey slider | Source

Ground Chicken or Turkey Slider

I would make a few adjustments in this recipe from I Heart Eating: (1) drastically reduce the amount of garlic or eliminate if you know it is a problem, (2) delete the onion and sliced tomato.

Kale and Mushroom Frittata

This frittata recipe is so very adaptable; if you don't have kale you can use spinach; don't like mushrooms, add zucchini or whatever suits you.

Oven-baked chicken tenders
Oven-baked chicken tenders | Source

Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders

These crispy chicken tenders are just like the ones you get at the fast-food places, but you can control the amount of salt and spices and they're baked, not fried.

Split Pea Soup

This split pea soup from Kitchn is very much like my own recipe (but I add potatoes and white beans too). One recommended change—instead of using ham (or a ham bone) substitute smoked paprika. Same smoky flavor without the salty-fatty porky goodness.

Sweet Potato Fries

Heat foil-lined tray in 400° oven. Peel 3 medium sweet potatoes and cut into wedges. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place in single layer on tray. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned and crisp.

Vietnamese lemongrass chicken meatballs
Vietnamese lemongrass chicken meatballs | Source

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Meatballs

These meatballs are almost perfect. Of course, you should eliminate chili garlic sauce from the list of ingredients.

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.

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Linda Lum


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