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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, and Cooking, #87

Updated on June 2, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I'm happy. I'm smiling, grinning ear to ear. My heart is light and my mood is up in the clouds. Why you might ask, am I feeling this way?

I took an inventory. Added up the plusses and the minuses. The list of "not so greats" is relatively few (and at my age mostly has to do with aches and pains.) But my health is good, my family members are well, they love me (and the feeling is mutual), I have amazingly supportive friends, I live in a beautiful part of the world, and I thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing. I almost feel guilty for being so blessed.

My heartfelt wish is that today you are happy too.

OK, enough about me. You're here to talk about my favorite subject (food). Let's find what showed up in the mailbox this week. The first one is from Anonymous.

Is There a Secret to Making Good Meringue?

Is there a secret to making good meringue? Mine is rather lazy and doesn't want to "peak."


There are several reasons that you could be having problems.

  • The eggs must be fresh and at room temperature and the bowl and beaters must be absolutely grease free.
  • Meringue can be fussy. If you add the sugar too soon, the protein molecules in the egg whites will not have had time to unfold properly, you won’t get the well-aerated foam structure.
  • There can also be a problem if you add the sugar too quickly during whisking. This prevents the protein in the egg whites from bonding strongly and establishing a stable structure, resulting in a softer meringue mixture that will have little body and won’t hold its shape.

Go to the website and enter “Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie” in the search (click on the little symbol in the upper-right hand corner that looks like a magnifying glass). The first hit that pops up will be my article which describes how to make a fail-safe meringue. I hope this helps. By the way, I don’t try to make meringue when the humidity is high; I don’t know if that truly interferes or is an old wives tale.

Comparing Fresh, Frozen, and Canned Green Beans

This question is from my friend Donna:

How do these differ in protein content: canned green beans, frozen green beans, fresh green beans?


That's an easy question with a complicated answer. Green beans aren't really a good source of protein, but they are nutritionally important for other reasons. Here is how fresh, frozen, and canned beans compare.

One Cup of Green Beans Contains

Frozen (Bird's Eye Steam Fresh Green Beans)
Canned (Fresh Cut, no salt added)
6.6 mg
0 mg
20.0 mg
229.9 mg
0 mg
200 mg
Total carbs
7.9 g
5.0 g
8.0 g
Dietary fiber
3.7 g
2.0 g
4.0 g
3.6 g
2.0 g
4.0 g
2.0 g
1.0 g
2.0 g
Vitamin A
Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-6
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

We have a dilemma. As you probably guessed before even reading the table, vegetables lose important nutrients in the canning process. But even freezing reduces fiber, sugars and vitamin concentrations.

So, is fresh the way to go? Not necessarily. Unless you are picking green beans from your own garden (or buying same-day produce as your farmers' market) viable green beans are hard to find. They are one of the most fragile vegetables. According to Harold McGee ("On Food and Cooking")

"Their tissue is very active, so they quickly consume their sugars and lose sweetness even in cold storage. And thanks to their subtropical origins, they don't keep well at refrigerator temperatures; their cells become damaged and lose chlorophyll. Once they're picked, tender low-fiber varieties quicly become wrinkled and limp as they lose moisture and sugars."

So, eat fresh if you can get really fresh; your next best choice is frozen. Forget about the canned.

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.

Banana Peels

“Eat a banana every day.” We’ve been told that bananas are an excellent source of potassium, are high in fiber, and low in calories. But eating them is just half of the story. Did you know that they are good for your garden too? Of course they are a natural for the compost pile, but my friend Shauna (Brave Warrior) gave me this tip. She places them around her pineapple plants and even plops a few pieces in the hole before placing a new plant in her garden. It makes sense. The same nutrients that give us a boost are important for our flora friends as well.

Now I’m curious. Are there more uses for banana skins? Well, according to Mr. Google:

  • Rubbing a small piece of a banana peel on your insect bites can reduce inflammation and itching.
  • The back side of banana peels can be used to shine leather
  • Here’s another one that Shauna mentioned--If growing a staghorn, Elkhorn, orchid or similar plants, put a whole banana peel between the plant and the backboard or tree trunk it is supported on.

And then there’s this idea.


A few weeks ago I saw a video from The Stingy Vegan. Banana peels are the new jackfruit. Yes, they are being used to create faux meats—pulled pork, bacon, and carnitas. Apparently this isn’t a new concept—it’s been done in Venezuela and Brazil for years. I’m still skeptical, but click on the link under the photo and you’ll be taken to the recipe and instructions.

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.

Do You Want More?

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.

© 2019 Linda Lum


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