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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #29

Updated on May 16, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

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

Spring has sprung, and so have the weeds. We are "blessed" with a lovely little gift called artillery weed. (It has several aliases. The ones I can repeat in polite company are rocket weed and shot weed).

Artillery-, rocket-, shot-weed, or *%$#@!!
Artillery-, rocket-, shot-weed, or *%$#@!!

See those pretty little white blossoms? Each one of those (of course) becomes a cluster of seeds. The "rocket" part is that when you touch the plant once the heads have formed, the seeds shoot off in all directions. We have almost 2 acres and at last glance, it appears that every square food contains at least one of these darlings.

Needless to say, I have job security. But one cannot spend an entire day on their hands and knees. When I feel the need to be more upright, I'm here writing. Thank you for rescuing my knees and back.

Here's what came into the mailbox this past week.

How To Survive (and Enjoy) a Low Cholesterol Diet

Amazingly, or not so, everything I absolutely adore to eat is bad for me. LOL My God, will all of my happiness be taken away from me??? Fine, fine, you win, oats it is!!!

Heart healthy
Heart healthy


Bill, believe it or not, you can maintain a heart-healthy diet AND still enjoy life. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has put together a web page devoted to dietary guidelines. There is a WEALTH of information on their "MyPlate" page. Low-budget cooking suggestions, menu plans, recipes, preparation videos, and much, much more. I will summarize and provide some additional information here (because I love you!).

Let's Do the Math

Think about your dinner plate in a new way. I know that you were a History teacher, but you're a smart guy, so am pretty sure you can do basic Math as well. Fifty percent of your plate should be devoted to fruits and/or vegetables. That's easy. However, resist the temptation to douse them with cream sauce, grated cheese, or butter. You can pep up those veggies with any of these:

  • A splash of lemon juice or a grating of lemon zest. (If you are eating a "Tex/Mex" meal you might switch out the lemon for some lime).
  • A combination of orange juice and olive oil makes a tangy dressing.
  • Instead of sauteing, you can simmer your vegetables in broth.
  • Flavored vinegar (especially balsamic) is a great way to add a big pop of flavor with no calories.
  • Fresh herbs.
  • Sturdy vegetables (beets, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower) take on new flavors and textures when roasted in a hot oven. Caramelization is the key.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt is a perfect substitute for cream or sour cream.

One-fourth of your plate should be a carbohydrate. I hate to deflate your balloon, but again, it's time to rethink what goes on your plate and into YOU. Avoid white. White rice, white potatoes, white pasta. When you think about it, they really don't have much flavor, they just feel good. You can get that same "feel good" with whole grain options. Brown rice, sweet potatoes (or potatoes with the skins left on), whole grain pasta. I must admit that when 'whole grain pasta' first became a thing at natural food markets 20 years ago, it was nutritious, but tasted and felt more like cardboard than real food. We've come a long way baby.

That leaves 25 percent of your plate for the protein. Years ago in American households, this was the "star of the show." Now, meat needs to take a back seat. However, you needn't spend the remainder of your sad days eating boneless, skinless (flavorless) chicken breasts. There are plenty of yummy yet healthy options. I think the best plan is to opt for a protein that is rich Omega-3s. (They lower your triglyceride levels).

Fish and Seafood
Chia seeds
Canola and soybean oil
Brussels sprouts
Best Sources of Omega 3's

But I love butter (and mayo, and sour cream, and...)!

What is your golden breakfast toast without a pat of creamy butter? Can you envision your midday sandwich without mayonnaise? And what about that baked potato without rivulets of butter running down the side (along with melting sour cream and crumbled bacon)?

I can fix this for you. Here are some substitutes that are heart-healthy but still taste great, and feel rich and satisfying.

  • Mashed avocado can be as creamy as butter, but it's filled with healthy fats.
  • Apple butter isn't butter at all, but it's extremely flavorful. A little goes a long way. Spread it on your morning toast or stir it into that less-than-satisfying bowl of oatmeal.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt will replace that sour cream on your baked potato.
  • Hummus. Yes, it's a dip but it works great as a sandwich spread too. Hummus with tomato and cucumber (or tuna, or chicken).
  • Low-fat margarine - Not all margarine is evil. Look for spreads that boast of Omega 3's.

Lexicon of Cooking Terms

Continuing with our alphabetical look at strange, obscure, unusual and just plain puzzling cooking terms.

Tempura – A Japanese technique of batter dipping and deep frying foods, particularly fish and vegetables.

Thickening – The culinary process used to give body to a liquid. The French word for thickening is "liaison". There are several methods depending on the ingredients used.

  • starch (cornstarch, arrowroot, or ground rice)
  • egg yolk, blood, cream, or liver.
  • a roux.
  • a mixture of egg and flour.
  • whipped cream or butter just before serving.

Thin – To add a liquid to a preparation in order to make it less thick.

Thread stage – The stage in cooked sugar when a soft thread is produced when immersed in water. This occurs between 230 – 234 degrees F.

Tonnato – An Italian word referring to dishes comprised or accompanied by tuna.

(Healthy) Foods to Perk You Up or Make You Drowsy

Rather than eating too much to be sleepy relaxed or sugar rush and caffeine. Are there great foods for doing the same in a healthy way? Or is that question kinda little too far adrift?

Eric, this was such a fun topic to research. Here are a few suggestions for foods that can bolster your day, or blanket you in a cocoon of sleep-readiness.

BOLSTER (These Will Pump You Up!)

  • Brown Rice – This food is rich in manganese (don’t get that confused with magnesium), a mineral that helps your body produce energy from protein and carbs.
  • Eggs – At one time eggs were viewed as “evil”, loaded with artery-clogging cholesterol. It turns out that eggs are NOT the bad guys in a low-cholesterol diet. They are high in protein, and so have what it takes to carry you through the morning or afternoon.
  • Oranges – Instead of a quick sugar rush, these little power-packed rations of potassium, folate, and Vitamin C will carry you throughout the morning.
  • Peppermint – Years ago my husband, baby girls, and I embarked on a long-distance car trip to Disneyland. Pile the kids in the back seat in the middle of the night, drive and drive, and by the grace of God get to your destination by the middle of the next day. The one thing that kept the two adults “going” was Altoid mints. Trust me.
  • Salmon – Maybe the Scandinavians have a good idea. Omega-3 rich fish appears in their diets at every meal. It’s what’s for breakfast, or lunch and dinner too. A bit of cooked or smoked salmon atop half of a whole-wheat English muffin, in that spinach salad, or on top of a baked sweet potato.
  • Spinach – Want something to carry you through the afternoon? Make a spinach salad. Toss in some cooked beans or lentils. Or perhaps pair it with some of that brown rice and a few orange segments.
  • Yams, Sweet Potatoes, and Carrots – Foods high in beta-carotene (Vitamin A) will give you a boost.

COCOON (These Will Lull You Into Slumber)

  • Almond Butter and Banana – Here’s another way of putting some magnesium and Vitamin B6 in your diet. Just make sure you don’t use more than a tablespoon of almond butter. If you feel too “stuffed” you’ll have trouble falling asleep.
  • Cereal and Skim Milk – You’ve probably heard that the tryptophan in turkey causes us to fall into a somewhat comatose state post-Thanksgiving meal. Actually, turkey isn’t high in tryptophan, but the combination of a cup of low-sugar dry cereal plus a half cup of skim milk is just the ticket to lull you to sleep and help you to stay asleep. Plus milk is loaded with calcium and magnesium, both which help your body to produce melatonin.
  • Cheese and Crackers – This is a spin-off of the cereal and milk theory. A few whole grain crackers and one part-skim string cheese is the ticket to that trifecta of calcium+magnesium+tryptophan.
  • Dark Chocolate – This wonder food contains serotonin and, if you’re like me, it makes you SMILE.
  • Melon and Greek yogurt – Did you know that being dehydrated can impact your sleep pattern? A high-water fruit (such as melon) will help hydrate you, and the protein in the yogurt will, as with the skim milk, get those melatonin juices flowing.
  • Passion Fruit Juice - My friend Mary who lives in Brazil says this is very popular. I've not attempted to source it locally. If any of you know about it, please let me know.

I would love to keep this series going. Send me your questions (in the comments section below, or in the Q&A which is now available for published articles). Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, you can always send me your queries at

Let's do this again next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 8 days ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Patti, I'm so glad you stopped by here to ask about non-alcoholic drinks for you and your friends. I've already written the Q&A article for release Sunday evening/early Monday morning, but will definitely have an answer for you the following Monday. Please check back!

    • profile image

      Patti 8 days ago

      Any recipes for non-alcoholic frozen drinks? having a july 4th afternoon party and would like to offer something fruity that's not a smoothie to go with wings and other grilled items. Don't want the alcohol but along the lines of a daqueri or something like that. A couple of suggestions would be good.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, I'm kinda with you. I want my veggies either "natural", or blast the goodness-gracious out of them in a super-hot oven. That caramelizing creates such wonderful flavors.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 5 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I must be really strange, I love all the healthy veggies!! I've even been known to just eat them 'as is'

    • Ericdierker profile image

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

      Alrighty then about potatoes. They are fun and easy to cook anyway. Thank you.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, yes you can certainly use other vegetables (jicama, kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots), but I wouldn't recommend chowing down on raw potato. They pass through your body without breaking down much, can cause bloating, gas, and cramping. Raw potatoes have also been found to contain anti-nutrients, which tend to inhibit enzymes in the body, making consumption of other foods unusually difficult.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 7 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My heart is a flutter with these great things. I am finally settling into smaller portions. Can you even imagine a 2 ounce steak? Take this one. Too much roughage. But I love my fruits and veggies. I think I may need to juice and sift roughage.

      But a cool deal is watching it close for a day and having need/room for full on yummy. We do not do suffering here.

      You know I loved your slaw article. Can I kind of make the same concept with other stuff. I was thinking Jicama or an uncooked potato, too weird?

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 8 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, with all that you do, and your amazingly creative writing I doubt that you need to be concerned about memory loss. Overload is perhaps more the case. As to writing about Omega 3's, I'm on it. Mailbox #30 has been looking a bit sparse, so I will add that to the mix. Thank you so much.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 8 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Brian, all very interesting. It makes me think of our ancestors. They ate little to no processed food, white flour, sugar, potatoes, and rice were unheard of. My grandmother lived to be 90 years old (deaf and blind from cataracts but strong as an ox).

      Perhaps I'll include some info on the keto diet in a future article. Thanks.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 8 weeks ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Linda, replying to your question, my wife had a physical exam about a year ago, a month or two after starting the keto diet. At that time, her vitals and her blood test results were all fine. She has another exam coming up soon. She is curious, too, about the results. She took her own blood pressure recently, and it was fine.

      This article says that a high fat low carb (under 20g) diet lowers your blood pressure. This article says that starting a keto diet while taking blood pressure medicine can drop your blood pressure too low.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 months ago from london

      I think you did. But since I,m here again, then the Alzheimer's is creeping in. I worry a little when I give lectures. Lol.

      Actually, I came to Kenya with Omega 3's. I swear by them. Coming up to a month here and I have ran out.

      So why don't you include more Omega rich foods in your next mail? Or how to survive nutritionally as a vegetarian in a country where most are big on meat.

      As a side note, Tim Truzy has written a piece on how to grow older gracefully, but you are doing some of the things he suggests anyway. We can all ask our sweet Nellieanna or Ruby for tips. Haha

      So sorry. I don't usually drift on others articles. Much Love.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Brian, I must admit that I know nothing about the keto diet but your wife's results sound amazing. Do you think it is sustainable and how are her numbers (blood pressure, insulin levels, cholesterol).

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, I thought I had responded to your kind comment, but alas I do not see it here. (I must have been having a 'senior moment'). As you probably know, there are other vegetarian foods that can provide good nutrition, but the ones I listed have Omega 3's, which are an antioxidant.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      My wife went on a keto diet (very few carbs--sugars and starches; moderate amounts of protein, and all the fats she desires. Her weight dropped over a number of months from nearly 170 pounds to a maintenance level in recent weeks within a couple of pounds of 130. Even more thrilling for her were that decades of daily all-over aches and pains disappeared and that she transformed from getting little exercise to being a walking, and then a running enthusiast. She is 64 and running 5K races for the fun of it. She eats lots of avocados and butter and also ghee, heavy cream, bacon, bacon fat, olive oil, and other fats. Bread, crackers, chips, pastries, candies, potatoes, beer, and sugary processed foods such as ketchup—all foods high in carbs—are taboo. When her weight is at the low end of maintenance, she'll allow herself on rare occasion to go out for a glass of beer or a blueberry muffin.

      Of course don't try a keto diet without first reading up on it and learning the details.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 months ago from london

      Dark chocolate and serotonin? Cool! I knew it is good for you, but serotonin? Awesome.

      My thoughts go with the protein side of your charts, since I'm a vegetarian. I rather like the fruits too. Nice one! Excellent work!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, never in my life have I had a question like that, but I'm on it. I know your daughter is graduating from high school. What a special time! I will definitely have a list of ideas/links for you next week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, what a great question. Actually, yes there IS a bread that does not use salt. Tuscan bread and I wrote an article about it a few years ago. HP doesn't like it when we embed links from other hubs, so I'll just do a copy and paste of the recipe and post it here for you next week.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, perhaps I should practice what I preach. I too have problems with sleeping. Let's see if any of these remedies help. I hope so for your sake.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      Do you have any suggestions for special foods or beverages for a graduation party? School colors are light and dark blue.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you dear lady. Very helpful and fun to explore.

      Probably not a whole question but I love bread. I understand that salt should be added to the dough for it to rise correctly. Is there a bread without that?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      I definitely learned some vocabulary today and enjoyed the wired vs. tired foods. I have terrible problems sleeping so I’m open to these as a solution.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I had not heard of passion fruit juice but will add that to the list. Thank you so much. As for apple butter, the short answer is "yes", but to imagine it as thickened applesauce is doing it a great injustice. Perhaps I'll write an article about it in my spare time (...insert emoji for hysterical laughter).

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 2 months ago from Brazil

      One more for your slumber section would be passion fruit juice. This is something that is widely popular here as a calming aid.

      That is the first time in a long while I have heard of apple butter. Is that just like an applesauce that is cooked longer?

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Ann, thankfully I've not had to eliminate any foods from my diet (yet). I'm glad that your daughter has found some relief and that it has made such a positive change in her well-being.

      Thank you for your support and encouragement.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 months ago from SW England

      Very interesting and very useful for those who want/need the more healthy stuff. My daughter has had huge trouble sorting out a gluten/wheat/dairy free diet (allergies) but has succeeded and is so much better for it - looks, weight and outlook on life.

      We have those artillery weeds too, even in my little borders but they don't last long. Fortunately it doesn't take too long to get rid of them - but they are persistent!

      Still catching up with your hubs - and I will!


    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I know it isn't easy, and maybe you shouldn't employ all of these ideas at once. Just make one adjustment in your diet and then another and another. You are totally worth it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You are killing me with kindness, Linda! You are such a good person, I always feel like I should try your suggestions out of loyalty. lol Fine, fine, no white!!!!!!!!!


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