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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #48

Updated on February 19, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

It's Going Too Fast!

I'm gazing at my mini-vacation in the rearview mirror, flooring it toward Autumn, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Where did Summer go? Where did this year go?

I could prattle on for a while (to bring the word count up to 1,250?) but I've heard that HP has lowered the bar so instead of wasting any more time, let's open the mailbox and see what's inside.

Yogurt and Bread Starters (Cultures) - Part 1

When I was a young boy, during undergraduate my wife to be and I swapped yogurt and bread "cultures"?? Can you tell me straight about them, and could one really be forty years old?


Eric, this is such a great question and requires such a lengthy answer that, if you don't mind, I'm going to make this a two-parter. I'll discuss yogurt today and bread (sourdough) next week.

Believe it or not, you have taken me down a new path with this question. I have never made my own yogurt, nor had I even considered doing so, but since our entire household eats it on an almost daily basis, perhaps this is something to consider.

I looked at the website CulturesForHealth and learned that there are numerous types of powdered yogurt starters; the one you choose depends on your personal preference and lifestyle. You can purchase starters on that page, however, I am not specifically promoting them, nor am I saying that you should not use their product. I am providing these data to help you be better informed of the options available. Here are the types of starters you could buy, and the specifics of each one:

Type of Culture Starter
Flavor and Consistency
Requires Yogurt Maker
tart, thickest
mild, thickest
Kosher, traditional
tart, thickest
Kosher, mild
mild, thickest
takes on flavor of the milk cultured, thin
slightly tangy, thicker
mild, thicker
mild, thick and jelly-like
mild, thick and custard-like
tart, thick and smooth
fairly mild, thin and smooth

Now, if you really want to go all Mother Earth and not purchase powdered starter you can still make your own yogurt. Purchase a container of plain (not flavored) yogurt that you like (to each his own on flavor and texture)—just make sure that it contains active cultures. This link from the magazine Epicurious will explain all you need to know.

Can you maintain a homemade yogurt culture forever? The jury is still out on this one. BrodAndTaylor state that it is possible to keep a starter going and going and going, but other websites recommend beginning anew after 5 or 6 uses.


Last week I promised that I would have a surprise for you, and I delivered on the 29th of August. There is now a Table of Contents for this Carb Diva Q&A series. It's broken down into these handy topics:

  • Beverages
  • Breads and Baking
  • Casseroles and One Dish Meals
  • Desserts: Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Puddings, Frozen Treats
  • Diet, Nutrition, Food Safety
  • Dried Beans, Pasta, Grains, and Rice
  • Eggs, Cheese, Dairy, and Non-Dairy
  • Fish, Seafood, and Poultry
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Herbs, Seasonings, and Spices
  • Meats: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Variety Meats
  • Potpourri (It Doesn't Fit Anywhere Else)
  • Salads, Soups, Sauces, and Side Dishes
  • Special Helps: Kitchen Tools, How To's, Canning/Freezing, and Meal Planning

Each question is a hot-link to the original article where the answer is given. Here's a link to the Table of Contents. Bookmark it. I will update this on a weekly basis.

Why Zinc is Important and How to Add Zinc to Your Diet

Manatita mentioned that maybe you can help in putting together a zinc rich diet. I will look forward to your hub on this.

Foods rich in zinc
Foods rich in zinc | Source

Mary, zinc is an important antioxidant mineral for our health. It plays a large roll in skin health and wound-healing. Some believe that zinc can help lessen the cold symptoms. According to the National Institute of Health, the average adult male should strive to consume 11 milligrams per day; for females, the goal is 8 milligrams. (Note that this is a daily cumulative total, not the amount to be eaten in one meal).

The list of zinc-rich foods is quite lengthy and top-most are meats and seafoods. Obviously, those who are vegetarian or vegan have more of a challenge but achieving the minimum daily requirement can be done.

Serving Size
Amount of Zinc (in mg)
4 oz.
4 oz.
4 oz.
4 oz.
4 oz.

Top Sources of Zinc

Serving Size
Amount of Zinc (in mg)
1 cup
1 cup
Shitake mushrooms, raw
1/2 cup
Crimini mushrooms, raw
1 cup
Sesame seeds
1/4 cup
Pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup
Garbanzo beans, cooked
1 cup
Lentils, cooked
1 cup
1/4 cup
Quinoa, cooked
3/4 cup
4 oz.
Green peas
1 cup
Oats, uncooked
1/4 cup
1 cup
1 large
kale, raw
1 cup
spinach, raw
1 cup

Top Vegetarian Sources of Zinc

Sample Menu

  • Breakfast - 2 egg omelet with 1 cup spinach, steamed and 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sauteed = 3.46 mg
  • Lunch - salad of 3/4 cup quinoa, 2 oz cooked shrimp, 1 cup steamed asparagus, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of salad dressing (see recipe below) = 5.45 mg
  • Dinner - Salisbury steak (see recipe below) served over mashed potatoes or noodles, 1/2 cup green peas, 1 cup raw spinach + drizzle of salad dressing = 5.13 mg


Asian Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • pinch salt
  • 1 clove garlic minced (optional)

Salisbury Steak (adapted from KevinsCooking)

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard (separated)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (separated)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (not cooked)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (separated)
  • 1 large onion sliced thin
  • 8 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • parsley to garnish
  1. In a bowl combine the ground beef, onion, egg, ketchup, one tablespoon of mustard, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, rolled, salt and pepper. Knead by hand until combined. Form into 4 oval patties to give them a "steak" appearance.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan or large skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and then patties. Sear patties to a crispy brown on each side. Several minutes until no longer pink inside. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the onion until golden brown over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, remaining tablespoon of mustard and Worcestershire sauce and cook for several minutes. Mushrooms will release water so cook mixture down for several minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle flour over all and stir, cooking for another minute. Slowly add the beef stock and stir to mix and lower heat to low. Simmer for several minutes; sauce will thicken. Season to taste.
  5. Add the “steaks” back to the pan and nestle in the sauce. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through.

Makes 4 servings

My Favorite Things


This is where I share with you the one kitchen tool I simply cannot do without. I promise it won't be a one-use-only gadget for a costly space-waster on your countertop. Today I'll share with you the . . .

Bench Scraper

What an odd name for such a versatile tool. You might be wondering “I sit on a bench. Why would I have that in my kitchen?” and “Why would I need/want to scrape it?” OK, here’s what we’re talking about. In this case, the bench is your countertop, your work surface and the scraper is a rectangular piece of metal with a handle attached. My favorite (and the one I’m showing here) has a ruler etched into the surface of the blade so that is not only scrapes, it measures. Here’s a photo of the tool:


The bench scraper was originally made to clean off the work surface (your countertop or a restaurant flat top). But it can do so much more. Here’s the short list:

  • Use it to transfer chopped/diced ingredients from your cutting board to a sauté pan
  • Cut fat (butter, margarine, shortening) into flour
  • Have you enjoyed “smashed/fried potatoes”? The bench scraper will smoosh them perfectly.
  • Smash garlic cloves (to remove the skin and prep them for cooking)
  • Cut dough into segments
  • Pry up dough that is sticking to your work surface
  • Make chocolate curls
  • Smooth the frosting on the top or side of a cake
  • Cut brownies or other bar cookies
  • Measure this thickness of your dough, or the width of your slices (when portioning out sliced cookie dough or cinnamon rolls)

You want one, right? Less than $10.00 on "that online store that sells everything."

OK, that's it for this week. Remember you can leave your questions in the comments below, or write to me at

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


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