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

Updated on June 2, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring 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."

Source

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 Delishably.com 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?

Source

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

Nutrient
Fresh
Frozen (Bird's Eye Steam Fresh Green Beans)
Canned (Fresh Cut, no salt added)
Calories
34.1
35
40
Sodium
6.6 mg
0 mg
20.0 mg
Potassium
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
Sugars
3.6 g
2.0 g
4.0 g
Protein
2.0 g
1.0 g
2.0 g
Vitamin A
14.7%
2.0%
0%
Vitamin B-12
0%
0%
0%
Vitamin B-6
4.1%
0%
0%
Vitamin C
29.9%
6.0%
0%
Iron
6.4%
2.0%
0%
Vitamin E
2.2%
0%
0%
Calcium
4.1%
4.0%
0%
Magnesium
6.9%
0%
0%
Manganese
11.8%
0%
0%
Phosphorus
4.2%
0%
0%
Riboflavin
6.8%
0%
0%
Thiamin
6.2%
0%
0%
Zinc
1.8%
0%
0%
Source: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

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.

Source

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: 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

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      That's a great question and I that I can find an answer for you. Q&A #90 is my goal for this one.

      Hooray for the pineapples and good luck with those squirrels. In my world view they are nothing more than a rat with a bushy tail. They ravage our bird feeders.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I'm glad you found my banana peel tips useful.

      I was surprised about frozen vs. fresh green beans. I have been led to believe that veggies are frozen at their peak of freshness and are just as healthy as fresh. Once you enlightened us to the fact that green beans don't do well in cold temps, it now makes sense.

      Which leads me to a question: which veggies are just at nutritious when frozen as their fresh counterparts?

      BTW, I have six pineapples coming up in my yard. I fed them all some banana peels and mushy flesh (I have plenty of "rotten" bananas in my freezer and don't need any more). It helps to sweeten them. Now if the squirrels will stay away from them before harvest time, all will be well!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh dear, Eric! My daughter and I work in the kitchen with no problems, but my husband and I can NOT without some rivalry. I sense a bit of one-upmanship if you know what I mean. I'll put on my marriage counselor hat and see if I can come up with a solution for you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      I need some advice of kitchen sharing. Can two people use the same kitchen at the same time. My wife is adamant -- NOt!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Dora. I always appreciate a visit from you and your kind words.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very valuable information. I appreciate that table showing the nutrient difference between fresh and frozen. Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Oops. I forgot to express my love. Have a blessed happy day.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill I'm glad that you are having a good day as well. We didn't grow green beans (I don't know why). In fact I don't remember eating them. Just peas and carrots and the ever-present salad of iceberg lettuce, sliced radishes, and a tomato. Have a great week my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Eric. I don't know if that is an accurate stat, but Brooks is a pretty smart guy. I'll check it out and let you know next week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, my heart aches for you. My daughter had to have her sweet kitty put to sleep 3 years ago. It was the most difficult but also most loving decision she had to make.

      Keep an eye on your other kitties. They will sense the loss and will mourn too. Love and hugs to you.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, aren't you the clever one! I'm certain that your trick will be appreciated by many readers. It doesn't matter that it isn't food related--shoe polishing isn't either.

      Have a great day!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Jodah, thanks for stopping by. I've always heard (I think the advertisements from Green Giant frozen foods) that frozen is as good as fresh. Well, the truth is that freezing degrades some of the nutrients, but for the most part frozen veggies are still quite nutritious.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm happy too. How cool is that?

      Meringue was on the baking show last night....looks so easy to make...LOL....NOT! But if it is done correctly it sure does taste good. I'll leave it to the experts like you.

      Growing up, green beans, I swear, were served at every meal. It's a miracle I still like them.

      Have a great week, Linda!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda -- you cannot be that happy. That is reserved for Gabe and I ;-) Hmm - you people.

      Meringue is going to be so fun. I apologize for not getting back to you more when we do and article treat.

      Banana peels and green beans. I am all in.

      My elder son Brooks tells me that any fruit or vegetable loses 20% of nutrients within 20 minutes of picking???

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      My heart is really heavy because I had to euthanize my favorite cat, Simon, last night at the emergency vet. I wish I had a chocolate meringue pie to feed the sadness but lacking that I’ll probably cuddle up with another cat and sleep away the day today. The question and answer on green beans was good. I always use fresh and have a great spice mix from Penzy’s that I add that doesn’t include salt. It truly makes the flavor pop.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Happy Monday Linda, I have used bananas in a different way lately. We started getting some tiny gnats in our home. They are very annoying as use probably won't get many with a fly swatter as they are tiny and fast. I put 1/2 a banana in a small mason jar, then Saran wrap over the top. You poke tiny holes in the top. The rotting bananas attract the gnats. The gnats check in but they can't check out! They were all trapped in no time. Sorry that this tip has nothing to do with eating.

      I love green beans an appreciate the information. I am glad you are feeling super happy and blessed. Keep up the good work.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Linda. I am glad you are happy and contented with your life. Mine is not bad either. I found this interesting, especially about the banana peels being used as faux meat...really? I knew some of the other uses like placing behind a staghorn. Oh, my wife loves fresh beans but I prefer frozen. But the fresh ones are rarely fresh direct from the farm., so it was interesting that frozen ones wouldn't be much less nutritious. Blessings.

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