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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #92

Updated on July 7, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

I Couldn't Believe It

Several years ago I read an article in the Washington Post that absolutely stunned me in a jaw-dropping “I can’t believe this is true” sort of way. My “fake news” alarms were clanging at a deafening level. But then, I did some research and found, much to my horror, that the report was true.

I will spare you the gory details, but here’s an abridged version of the story by Caitlin Dewey:

  • Seven percent of all American adults think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.
  • A 1990’s study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that 1 in 5 adults did not know that hamburgers are made from beef.
  • A team of researchers interviewed 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-graders at a city school in California—half of them did not know that pickles are cucumbers or that onions and lettuce were plants.
  • Forty percent of the same group of students was unaware that hamburgers come from cows and 3 in 10 did not understand that cheese is made of milk.

One hundred fifty years ago (plus or minus a decade or so) these statistics would have been very different. However, we are no longer a rural populous. Few of us step out of our house into a farm or garden plot. Our food comes from the grocery store or (sadly) from a restaurant or fast-food franchise so we don’t even experience the sight, smell, and feel of food products in their raw state.

That’s why educational school garden programs such as the Food Corps are important.

That’s why workshops for children and families like Growing Chefs in Vancouver, B.C. are important.

That's why farmers' markets and county and state fairs are important.

That's why people like Bill Holland (Hub Pages' billybuc), who write blogs to educate and inform us about urban farming, are important. And, I'd like to think that the two articles I write each week here at Hub Pages help too. I try to teach you about food and nutrition, menu planning and meal prep, frugal cooking, and having the confidence to cook your own food. And I hope you will share what you learn with your friends and family.

Let's Get Started

Let's open 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.

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.

The first question today comes from Pamela Oglesby.

Meal Help Programs for Seniors

I don't know if this is a good question for your article, but I am wondering if any of these organizations where you can purchase meals is worthwhile. I was looking for something where I don't have to stand and cook due to my back pain. What I have seen so far are meals where I still have to peel vegetables, cut them up and cook. I am looking for something where I do less standing to cook, as it is really painful.

Source

Pamela, in 1943 the “Meals on Wheels” program was started in the United Kingdom; their goal was to provide food to those who had lost their homes to the Blitz (and thus the ability to cook). Ten years later the program expanded to Australia and the next year to the United States. The program continues to operate today and provides nourishment to homebound senior citizens and shut-ins.

With an ever-growing senior population, the market for senior meal service is expanding far beyond Meals on Wheels. There are two types of programs available, and I’m going to briefly discuss both for the benefit of the other readers.

Ready to Cook

  • Meal kits eliminate the hassle of grocery shopping and meal planning. All of the ingredients needed to prepare a balanced meal are prepackaged and arrive at your door along with a recipe card and detailed meal-prep instructions.
  • These are great for those who are able-bodied, independent, and enjoy cooking but perhaps no longer drive.
  • A typical meal plan covers only 3 or 4 meals a week.
  • Some well-known providers are Diet-to-Go, Silver Cuisine, Magic Kitchen, Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Green Chef, and Plated

Ready to Heat

  • These meals are ready to go into the oven or microwave and remove the worry of shopping, meal preparation, and cooking. Many can be tailored to suit individual needs for nutrition.
  • If seniors need help preparing balanced and nutritious meals, find it difficult to cook, and are perhaps unsafe doing meal-prep, this is a good option. (Balance, vision problems, and arthritis can make working in the kitchen dangerous.)
  • Meal plans can cover 3 meals a day plus snacks but can be pricey—at least $30 per day.
  • Some well-known providers are Silver Cuisine, Balance, Home Bistro, Diet-to-Go, Healthy Chef, Magic Kitchen, Mom’s Meals

Name of Program
Plan Details
Silver Cuisine
Offers 7-day ($134.96), 5-day ($112.46), and custom programs, shipping not included.
Balance
Customize a plan to fit your needs, order what you need, no minimums, no membership
Home Bistro
Choose from 50+ gourmet meals, order individual meals or combos
Diet-to-Go
15 meals per week with options for diabetes, seniors, singles, low-carb, low-fat, organic, vegetarian, and weight-loss
Healthy Chef
Eighteen weekly choices, delivered every Friday. Good for those with special dietary needs
Magic Kitchen
Has two different plans—complete meals or a la carte (main courses, soups, side dishes)
Mom's Meals
Choose your meals from an extensive menu. Limited to those over 65, disabled, or on Medicare/Medicaid

I understand that this is not specifically what you were asking for. But, if vegetables (for example) were pre-peeled and diced they would have a much shorter shelf life which, one can assume, would increase the cost of ready-to-cook food kits.

You might ask your pastor/priest if they can recommend anyone in your church who could help. I'll bet just a couple of times a week for an hour would be all it takes to do that prep work for you. Or maybe a young neighbor.

There is perhaps one other avenue. There is a company called Task Rabbit. They provide hourly helpers for just about any task you can think of—running errands, helping pack or unpack for moving, assistance with house cleaning or decorating for the holidays, help with assembling furniture or moving heavy items—the list goes on and on. I went to their website, described the help that you needed, and fund that in my area (Pacific NW) the cost ranged from $17.34 to $34.11 per hour.

I hope you can find the help that you need Pamela and I will continue to look for other options.

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.

Citrus Peels

In cooking and baking, a touch of lemon, lime, or orange zest can contribute a huge pop of flavor. That outermost colorful part of citrus fruit contains essential oils that carry the flavors and aromas to tantalize our taste buds. Here's how to use them in your kitchen, garden, and around the house.

Cooking and Baking

  • Make candied peel.
  • Dry the peel by placing on a drying rack for several days. Store in a jar away from direct sunlight and add to your cup of tea.
  • Add the zest to sugar cookie dough, vanilla cake batter, pancakes, waffles, or shortcakes.
  • Homemade marmalade
  • Grate lemon zest on cooked chicken or fish.
  • Stir zest into tartar sauce, mayonnaise, or add to oil and vinegar salad dressing.
  • Make limoncello!

Note: If you plan to remove the zest or peel (outer rind) from your citrus, do so before slicing and/or juicing. It's a lot easier to hold onto that fruit when it's firm, round, and intact. Also, be sure to wash the fruit before zesting.

Garden

  • They add nitrogen to your compost bin.
  • Dry the peels and then grind into a powder (I have an inexpensive coffee grinder that I use just for citrus and spices). Use the powder to enrich your soil. Citrus peels contain sulfur, magnesium, and calcium.
  • Scatter them in your garden to keep cats from using your flower beds as their litter box—they hate the smell.
  • But other "critters" love them. Leaving citrus peels in a shallow dish is a great way to attract butterflies to your garden.

Around the House

  • Simmer them in a small pan of water to freshen your kitchen. Less expensive than a room deodorizer and environmentally friendly.
  • Add citrus peels to an empty spray bottle and fill with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Use the mixture as a cleaning spray–works great on countertops!
  • After you've zested your lemon (or lime or orange) an squeezed out the juice all that's left is the pith and squishy pulp. Believe it or not, this too has a purpose in life. Use it to freshen your garbage disposal. Chop into several pieces and then, plop into the disposal, turn on the cold water and then hit the switch. The fragrance of citrus will fill the air and remove any sour/funky smells from your disposal unit.

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: 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

Comments

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      MizBejabbers, that's a great suggestion. Just in case people don't see all of the comments, I will share your ideas and the others in next week's Q&A.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      5 weeks ago from Beautiful South

      I'm so glad you've listed these organizations where disabled and/or elderly people can get help with meal preparation. I had no idea that Meals on Wheels was started "across the pond." I try to send them a yearly donation, sometimes more often, because my mother was a recipient of their services when she was dying of cancer. The cost was very affordable, and she enjoyed the visit by the person delivering the meal to her home as much as she enjoyed having the meal. (We lived 100 miles apart and I still worked, so I couldn't be with her every day.)

      I have a similar problem to Pamela's. My husband has been our cook for several years after the accident that broke my back, but he now has his own health issues and I'm taking back more of the duties. I'm thinking about getting a tall stool on wheels to use in the kitchen. They are readily available, and some cost as low as $69. I think those with the tractor seats are really cute. Hope that hint helps.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, thank you so much. Your kind words of encouragement mean a great deal to me. I will certainly put your suggestion of writing an article for seniors in my list of things to do.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I think this is one of the most informative, interesting, and useful articles you've posted yet!

      Your introduction demonstrates just how much we've lost in this modern era. As you say, back in the day, kids and adults would not have been ignorant to the facts of food. Is it time for history to repeat itself? I think so!

      The information you provided in response to Pamela's question is indispensable. You've reached an entire demographic and one that is rapidly growing, given the increased longevity of human life. You may want to consider writing an article devoted entirely to making eating healthily for seniors who have limited mobility possible. I think it's necessary and would help tons of people our age and older.

      Your citrus peel tips are awesome. I was not aware that they can keep cats out of your garden. I'll let my neighbor know so my outdoor cat will quit peeing in her gardens!

      I've added citrus peel to my garbage disposal for as long as I can remember. The only caveat is, don't add the end with the point. For some reason, it doesn't break down and will cause your disposal to seize up.

      Excellent post, my friend!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      5 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

      Those statistics are sad but hilarious. I love this column.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      I appreciate Flourish's comments. I do try to cook extra when I cook, then put it in the freezer. We had chicken pot pie last night, and I got single portions out of the freezer for both of us. I seem to use the crockpot recipes more in cooler weather, but it does not have to be that way. Any suggestions are welcome, and those were very good, especially for cutting up vegetables..

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      6 weeks ago from Brazil

      I think our rainy season is all but over. It's 87° which is the normal year round temperature here.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, it's so good to see you here today. Working on a farm or helping do the prep work in a soup kitchen or at a senior center would be good for everyone (in my opinion).

      I hope you have a great week as well. What is your weather like now?

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      6 weeks ago from Brazil

      When I used to work in a grocery store, I was amazed at some of the comments from people.

      I think teens (or young adults) should be drafted into work on a farm, it would give them a good grounding and make a population of appreciative people.

      My sisters and I looked into meal delivery for our mother. It seemed an ideal solution. I hope Pamela finds a solution.

      Great ideas about the lemon peels. I remember reading about a juicing company throwing a vast quantity or peels in the Costa Rican rain forest. It did it the world of good.

      Have a great week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, 68 and partly cloudy is perfect gardening weather. I'm a happy gal. My yard is in pretty good shape but I noticed yesterday that my 88 year old neighbor needs some help with his garden, so my daughter and I will engage in a bit of covert op and sneak over there when he isn't looking. (Not that he would mind, but I'd rather surprise him with a visit from the garden fairy). Have a great week my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I think there could be a new sermon series in our futures. Oh the stories you will have.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, Flourish Anyway has provided some wonderful suggestions in her comments below, taking this topic in a totally different direction. She has ideas on how you can change how and where you do your meal prep to take it easier on your body. She said that an occupational therapist might be able to make some recommendations as well. Read her comments.

      I just love this group of people here on Hub Pages. Everyone pitches in to help.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, I had not considered the aspect of how to change Pamela's physical routine. You have given some wonderful suggestions. Thank you so very much for your contribution.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I run into that kind of "ignorance" in raising chickens. It's amazing how very little some people know about their foods, despite all the information that is easily available.

      I don't know about you, Linda, but I love the weather we are having. Enjoy!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well this was wonderful. I say a bit different than most. Those first stats do not surprise me at all. I was bemoaning the fact that my wife just "shops" for food deals/sales at the market to a friend. He laughed and said "isn't that what everyone does?" He also said that like her he does not read labels. Oh well.

      My wife and I decided I should go to the senior center for lunches. She set forth that I get out of the house and that the food was healthy and cheap. And the bonus of great fodder for writing. So maybe spend my "day" cooking time on preparing a better dinner. I love being a young senior.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      Thank you, Linda, for researching all the meals you can have delivered.

      I would advise everyone to be careful when signing up for a meal plan. I went on HelloFresh, and I did fill out all the paperwork like I was going to order, but then I decided not to order. When I got my credit card bill there was a charge from them for about $34. I called them, complained and they reimbursed me.

      The next day I got a box from them with 3 meals, not what I would have chosen. however, I have cooked 2 of them. They all did have fresh produce and meat. It took me close to an hour to cook one of them, and it was pretty good. We did not like the 2nd one, but there was nothing wrong with the ingredients. Anyway, this is not what I want in the future. I'll try one of the other ones perhaps, but we are still doing our own shopping and cooking right now.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      I have it on good authority (my dad) that chocolate milk comes from bulls. He told my siblings and I that when we were young children. I’m sure he would not lead us wrong.

      Regarding Pamela, it may be helpful for her to pursue crockpot meals, soups, meals with limited numbers of ingredients, and quick meals billed for busy moms. She may also consider a tall seat or stool to stand/sit at the counter as she chops and cooks or chop vegetables sitting at the kitchen table or take a large cutting board and go sit the recliner in front of the tv like. I do both. Pay particular attention to the preparation time on recipes and go for baked recipes where you don’t have to stand over the stove and actively cook for an extended period. Put extra portions in the freezer and label them with date and contents— no cooking later. An occupational therapist may provide recommended solutions we can’t think of.

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