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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #83

Updated on May 5, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Hurry Up and Slow Down

Well, how's that for an oxymoron? (Or, at the very least, a whiplash of activities?) Allow me to explain.

Last week I invited a dear friend over for lunch. The journey from her house to mine (and vice versa) is about an hour, so when we visit each other it is indeed a commitment of time and a testament of devotion.

The weather on that day was perfect—warm and sunny with just barely a hint of a breeze. As we usually do, we strolled around the garden which is, at this moment, bursting forth with blooms and blossoms. Donna paused often, admiring the fragrances and the array of colors. Meanwhile, I was fretting about the weeds popping up here and there (when you have 1 1/2 acres the task is never done).

And then it hit me—why do I work so hard in my garden? If all I do is toil and never stop to "smell the (figurative) roses" what is the point? And so I recognized that I need to hurry up to the task of slowing down. I need to allow myself to "enjoy the joy."

Enjoy the Joy

Click thumbnail to view full-size
red azaleared currant bushblue rhododendron
red azalea
red azalea | Source
red currant bush
red currant bush | Source
blue rhododendron
blue rhododendron | Source

OK, I feel better now. Let's get started on why you are really here.

If you're an old friend, you already know how this column works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to the rest of the group. Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything goes.

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. Let's get started with a question from our dear friend Manatita.

Foods for Eye Health

I have just had eye surgery for my glaucoma. (Six weeks post-op) They call it a Right Trabeculectomy. Can you do some research on foods that aid or assist eye health? Gratitude.

Source

Manatita, I am sure that everyone who reads this will be overjoyed to hear from you once again. You have asked a supremely important question—we are granted only two eyes, and there is no replacement. At your request, I did some research on which foods support and promote eye health. Luckily, since you are a vegetarian, you probably already have many of these nutrient-rich foods in your diet. Here is what the Glaucoma Research Foundation says:

  • Strive to eat fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids (good for overall vision health).
  • Produce high in Vitamins A and C has been shown to reduce the risk of glaucoma.
  • “Oxidative stress” is an imbalance of free radicals vs. antioxidants in the body; this can lead to damage to the optic nerve. Foods rich in antioxidants may help prevent further injury.

So, what does this mean? I’ll explain each of these three categories and provide a list of foods:

Carotenoid – As the first two syllables of the word might suggest, carotenoids were first identified in the carrot family. Their main role in the plant world is to absorb harmful wavelengths in the light spectrum, protecting the chlorophyll of the plant body. According to Harold McGee (“On Food and Cooking: The Science of and Lore of the Kitchen,” Scribner Publishers 1984) “they can do the same in the human body, particularly in the eye.” They protect. You will find carotenoids in most of the red/orange/yellow fruits and vegetables.

  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Plantains
  • Pumpkin, canned
  • Sweet potato
  • Winter squash

Vitamin A – Vitamin A is the MacGyver of the nutrient world—it seems that it can protect, repair, or restore just about every part of the human body—vision, skin, bones, heart, lungs, and kidneys all benefit from a diet rich in this fat-soluble nutrient. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are two types of Vitamin A—preformed vitamin A also called retinol, is found in animal products. Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Sources of retinol (animal-based preformed Vitamin A)

  • Beef liver
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • salmon

Sources of pro-vitamin A

  • apricots
  • cantaloupe
  • carrots
  • collard greens
  • kale
  • mango
  • papaya
  • pink grapefruit
  • red bell pepper
  • spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • watermelon
  • Winter squash

Vitamin C - The body uses Vitamin C to form collagen. According to the National Institute of Health, the body uses vitamin C to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It also uses this vitamin to repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth, to heal wounds and to form scar tissue.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Cooked cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Green peppers
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges
  • Red sweet peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tomato juice

Antioxidants – We hear that word a lot, but what is an oxidant, and why are we opposed to it? Isn’t “oxygen” a good thing? Here’s the layman explanation; oxidation is the process that happens when iron rusts or aluminum becomes dull and pitted. The same type of damage can happen to our tissues and internal organs. Antioxidants help our bodies cope with the wear and tear of life. Again I refer to Mr. Harold McGee who states “Oxygen…keeps our cellular machinery functioning. Unfortunately, it turns out that energy generation generates chemical by-products called “free radicals,” very unstable chemicals that react with and damage our own complex and delicate chemical machinery.”

  • Artichokes
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Goji berries
  • Grapes (red, blue, or purple)
  • Kale
  • Pecans
  • Raspberries
  • Red cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tea

Sources:

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.

Pickle Juice

You are probably thinking that I have totally lost my mind. Reuse pickle juice? Well, let’s consider what it really is and if it has any nutritional value. Pickle juice is a brine made of water, vinegar, salt, and spices (typically dill, mustard seed, and sometimes garlic.)

Nutrient
Amount
Percentage of RDA
Total fat
0 g
 
Cholesterol
0 mg
 
Sodium
470 mg
20%
Total carbohydrates
0 g
 
Protein
0 g
 
Potassium
47 mg
1%
Vitamin C
7 mg
8%
Vitamin E
1 mg
8%
Zinc
2 mg
15%
Nutritional value of pickle brine, based on a serving of 2.5 fluid ounces (75 ml)

If you like pickles, the most obvious use of the leftover brine is more pickled vegetables. Onions, garlic, canned artichokes, partially cooked (crisp-tender) carrot sticks or asparagus are a few examples. Here are a few more ideas:

  • It’s basically vinegar, so you can use it as a substitute for vinegar in salad dressings, coleslaw, and potato salad.
  • Pickle brine can be an instant meat tenderizer. (There is a rumor floating about that Chik-fil-A flavors and tenderizes their chicken in pickle juice).
  • Perk up your Bloody Mary.
  • Add to your homemade tartar sauce

If you live in the United States and occasionally watch the Food Network, you might have heard of celebrity chef Guy Fieri and his show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” In each episode, he visits an area of the country searching out little known, hole-in-the-wall eateries which serve amazing foods.

Several years ago he visited Lakewood, Washington (just a hop and a skip from my town) and found Bruno’s European Restaurant. Bruno’s is owned and operated by Bruno and Krystyna Tomaszewska and is my favorite place (other than my own kitchen) for authentic German-Polish food. Almost everything in their restaurant is homemade, from the hand-stuffed pierogi to the hand-pounded and breaded schnitzel, to the homemade pickles for beef rouladen and pickle soup. Yes, pickle soup. It’s a thing, and it really tastes pretty good. I don’t have Bruno’s recipe, but I think this comes pretty darned close.

Source

Ingredients

  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups (about 1 ½ pounds) russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced dill pickle
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups dill pickle juice
  • 1 cup sour cream (not non-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning*
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the broth, potatoes, and carrots in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the diced pickle.
  3. In a small bowl combine the flour, water, and pickle juice. Using a wire whisk and stirring constantly, slowly drizzle the mixture into the potato/carrot soup. Don’t stop stirring because (trust me) the flour mixture wants to turn into dumplings. This slurry will thicken the soup. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, Old Bay, and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe by Noble Pig).

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.

If you like this series, you'll love this! Consider it my gift to you.

That was fun. 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 

      3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, she sounds like a force to be reckoned with. Lucky for you. The meal sounds amazing. I'm not an ice cream sorta gal so you may have my share.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Well Linda (Que Linda!) My wife came home and made me sharpen her 7 X 5 Cleaver and kicked me out of my kitchen. The resulting Pho' had me drinking and eating too much and my son gulping it down. Fish sauce in small, Chicken broth and the sauteed perfect beef with the grease. A squeeze or so of lemon and some garlic and a bit of something and something and something.

      I am stuffed and need some Ice Cream.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      I'm on it. I will email you an answer so that you have it quickly and will also repeat it in my Monday Q&A. Thank you dear friend.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda I love the texture of beets. On this one I rinsed and then rinsed and then let the water run - cold.

      Yes I would like a smart lemon tasting salad like recipe.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, making "chips" with root vegetables is the in thing. It's nutritionally smart and hey, if you have them growing in your garden, why not? If you were talking about carrots or sweet potatoes or yams what you are doing would be right up my alley (even the garlic). However beets are the one veggie that I simply canNOT stand. Not even a little.

      However, I love you and need to put my bias aside. Are you asking for recipes?

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda I have too many beets in my garden. The greens have the same nutrition as the roots. Great in salads and Gabe and I like them. I can used the beets in a smoothie thing fine. I am trying to do with them like I like to make potato chips (I say patato and Gabe says potaatoe :-) I just made them but so much garlic - it was just a garlic snack but the texture was better. What do you say except YUK!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Flourish, one thing I should have mentioned is that you can freeze pickle juice (ever hear of Bob's Pickle Pops?). Save it that way so you don't have to worry about it being accidentally tossed away. (Seems like a good way to put the chill in a Bloody Mary).

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 weeks ago from USA

      Pickle juice is the secret ingredient for my chicken salad that everyone loves. I get perturbed when I find someone has tossed out that pickle juice. I don’t eat pickles but that soup sounds like my husband would enjoy it. Love those flowers in your garden.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      5 weeks ago from london

      Well, I got to have some temptation. Lol.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, it was indeed a pleasure. Imagine how healthy all of us could be if we ate what we are supposed to and denied the guilty pleasures.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      5 weeks ago from london

      Excellent labour of love, my dear friend. Yes, I use lots of them but not all and not too often. I keep slipping back into bad habits. Will do some shopping tomorrow. Thank you so much for your very quick response.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow, I totally believe you. Thanks for adding that information to my article. You're the best!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Linda, pickle juice serves a medicinal purpose as well (dill pickle, not sweet pickle). My maternal grandfather was an old-school doctor. He believed in the healing properties of pickle juice. When my grandmother was having a gall bladder attack, Granddaddy had her drink a quart of pickle juice before leaving for the hospital. By the time their 22-mile trek was over, she'd passed the stones!

      My brother has found that it works as well. He was having tremendous pain in his belly. My mom had him drink small amounts of dill pickle juice several times a day. One day, he was in such excruciating pain, he was rushed to the hospital. Upon arrival, it was determined he needed to have gall bladder surgery. It was scheduled for a Saturday morning. When the doctor came in to prep him that morning, he was completely amazed. My brother had passed the stones during the night, eliminating the need for surgery. The doctor thought my brother was full of caca when he told him about the pickle juice. But what other explanation was there? Apparently, the excruciating pain by brother experienced days before were the stones loosening themselves from tissue, slowly making their journey out of my brother's body.

      Pretty incredible, but my family swears by pickle juice. My brother is proof.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, I would NEVER ask you to eat liver. I don't (just gag me). The foods were listed alphabetically, not in order of importance. Stick with the goat cheese, eggs, and dark chocolate and you'll be fine.

      See you Wednesday.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, my mom was German-Russian, so we always had pickles in the house. I grew up loving them so I'm happy to slip that flavor in wherever I can (gosh I hope my husband isn't reading this).

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Well Mary, what can I say? (Of course you didn't mention if the amazement was at how wise I am, or the ridiculousness of it all LOL). Have a great day.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm trying to imagine myself ever eating liver again. That's one of those things Mom made when I was a kid,and the smell of it is enough to gag me. :( But slowing up I can do...enjoying life I can do.

      Hugs on this beautiful Monday morn!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      That soup looks delicious Linda. I low Clausen dill pickles, amd I do save the juice. I do not us it for some of those vegetables you listed, but I will try some now. I use a little pickle juice in chicken salad, which provides a bit more flavor. Have a great week Linda.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      5 weeks ago from Brazil

      Great information about foods for eye health. Although some of those I often buy, 'I'll 'keep my eyes open' for the others.

      Pickle juice, I never would have thought to reuse it. You amaze me.

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