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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers about Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #56

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

There is Peace Once Again

The bulldozer is gone, the cement pumper truck has stopped pumping, and peace again descends upon the Carb Diva homestead. For those who are new to my page, allow me to explain.

My family (husband, daughter, and I) live in a farmhouse in a rural area of Washington state, 1 1/2 acres off a private dirt road (which means no paving, driveway or sidewalks). After almost three decades we now have a paved space for our cars (no more weeding!) and a hardscape that encircles the house—an important consideration when you live in a wooded space where the north and west sides of the house get virtually no sunshine at all. A lawn will not grow there (but somehow the weeds always manage to find a way) and mud or dust are always on our shoes).

There are now a paved driveway, hard edges for our flowerbeds, and a sidewalk where the grass refused to grow. I am a very joyful homeowner. My weeding, hacking, and mowing times have been greatly reduced, and these weary bones and muscles of 6+ decades are thankful for that.

But, enough about me. You're here to discuss, learn of, and enjoy food. Let's get started.

Where Is Pure Cane Sugar on the Glycemic Index?

The question I had regarding glycemic index was not for white sugar; you posted that in last week's Q & A. I was curious as to where pure cane sugar sits.

Not pure cane sugar, but still awfully sweet (I couldn't resist)
Not pure cane sugar, but still awfully sweet (I couldn't resist) | Source

Shauna, there is no good news on this front. Raw organic cane sugar (also known as turbinado sugar) is dehydrated cane juice. It doesn't undergo the filtering and processing of other sugars, but it still is basically just sucrose and has a GI of 65.

Likewise, granulated sugar, whether from cane or beets, GMO or non-GMO is sucrose, and it too has a GI of 65.

However, there are other benefits to be found in opting for pure cane sugar. Unrefined sugar cane offers antioxidants and a number of essential nutrients and minerals that refined and white beet sugars cannot (magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and iron). The process of refining introduces many harmful ingredients to sugar cane, such as sulfur dioxide and phosphoric acid.

So, allow yourself to enjoy an occasional treat made with pure (non-GMO) cane sugar. It's not a health food, but it is certainly better than some options.


Cooking as Cognitive Therapy

I am still researching and contemplating how cooking may be a key to unlocking the chains of Bi-Polar and Dementia. It seems that the joy and stimulating of all senses is paramount.


Eric, I have given this topic a great deal of thought. I don't have the time or resources to pursue research in this, but the concept is absolutely fascinating and has (I believe) a great deal of merit.

When we cook, we can step back to our most primal instincts and engage all of our senses. Here are just a few examples of how cooking could help to connect with those struggling with dementia, TBI (traumatic brain injury), or other neurological impairments:

  • Participating in the preparation of food for oneself or a group can improve self-esteem and promote joy in the sense of accomplishment.
  • The act of cooking or, at the very least, being present when food is being prepared, can bring back memories of better times spent with loved ones, holidays, celebrations, and religious or cultural traditions.
  • A daily routine can provide motivation to engage with others and reduce depression.
  • The physical act of preparing food can help improve strength, range of motion, dexterity, and fine-motor skills.
  • The planning involved is an opportunity to stimulate attention and provide an avenue for problem-solving.
  • Activities such as kneading dough (touch) or seasoning foods (smell and taste) can be pleasurable, promoting healthier eating habits and increasing appetites.

Do a Google search. There has been some work in the field, but more is needed. Thank you for your thoughtful and loving question. If you happen to find some research out there, perhaps you can share with us in the future.


Each week we look at one soup recipe. We began with the letter A (Albondigas soup) and then proceeded to recipes for soups beginning with the letters B, C, D, and so on. Today we have letter F.

I created this soup for my family several years ago. What sets this recipe apart from others for French Onion soup is that it is vegetarian. Instead of beef broth, or a combination of beef and chicken stocks, this soup is packed with umami flavors from dry red wine, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and soy sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 red onions, thinly sliced, about 2.5 lbs.
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained (see Instruction #2 for how to use this ingredient)
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 day-old baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Swiss or Gruyere, grated


  1. Sauté the onions in the olive oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until browned--about 30 minutes. (This first step requires a bit of patience. The onions need to caramelize low and slow to develop the rich, sweet flavor one associates with French onion soup. Hurry the process with high heat and you'll end up with bitter, burned onions. If you don't allow the onions to develop a deep golden color you'll end up with flabby, watery, and tasteless onions.)
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add salt and pepper, wine, and tomato paste. Cook until wine is almost evaporated (about 5 minutes). Add water, tomatoes, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then cover; reduce heat to simmer and cook about 20 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Discard bay leaves. We prefer to leave the tomato pieces in our soup, but you may puree the tomatoes in a blender before adding them to the soup if you wish.
  3. OK, now you have the vegetarian stock. And you can use this for so many more things than French onion soup. So, keep this recipe in your back pocket (as my dad would have said) for future reference. But, if you want to proceed to turn this into Ooey Gooey Cheesy Goodness, continue with the instructions below.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush bread slices with olive oil and bake in the oven until edges are brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  5. When ready to serve, whisk the 1/2 cup Parmesan into your hot broth. It’s important to whisk in the cheese at the last minute, or else the cheese will fall to the bottom of the pot and burn. Ladle the warm soup into heatproof bowls, and lay a slice of the baked bread over each bowl. Sprinkle a layer of Gruyere cheese over the bread, and place the crocks under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and browns.

Which Mixing Bowls are Best?

I might have missed it. Does the type of mixing bowl make a difference (ceramic vs. steel, etc.)?


Eric, there are so many choices—metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, copper—what's a cook to do? How does one choose? Well, it depends on what you are cooking or baking. Let's look at the pros and cons of each type of bowl.

Type of Bowl
Stainless steel
Stain resistant, unbreakable, a good choice for chilling foods quickly, can be used as a double boiler, non-reactive, dishwasher safe. lightweight, relatively inexpensive
Can't be used in the microwave
Dishwasher safe on top rack, non-reactive, inexpensive, unbreakable
Porous and so can absorb stains and odors. Can't be used in the microwave
Best for proofing yeast bread, microwave safe, dishwasher safe, non-reactive
Heavy, fragile
Beautiful, decorative, non-reactive, dishwasher safe
Heavy, fragile
Hands down the BEST for whipping egg whites
Expensive, not microwave safe (but usually too large as a consideration), needs to be hand-washed

So what's the winner? If I needed to purchase a set of mixing bowls today I would opt for stainless steel. But I am fortunate to have a graduated 4-piece set of Pyrex mixing bowls (see photo above) that belonged to my mother. They are "vintage" (older than me!)

That's All for This Week


Miss Kitty, my Administrative Assistant, offers her thanks to you for your questions, and so do I. Keep 'em coming. You can leave your queries in the comments below or email me at

I hope you have a great week!

© 2018 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you, Pamela. I am sorry that my Q&A #68 is not yet available. I ran into a problem and hope that it will be resolved soon (argument with the HP staff). Thank you for your kind words.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Linda, I found your explanation about sugars very interesting, and the pros and cons of various bowls was very useful as well.

      I was glad to hear about the paving at your home. It is amazing how a home improvement like that means so much. Life will be simplier now.

      I like the soup recipe. My mother love onion soup and I think she would enjoy this one also. Thanks for a great article.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      5 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Eric, I ran into a problem with the powers that be at Hub Pages on my most recent hub. Hoping it will be released before I hop on board Amtrak tomorrow. Thanks for commenting and for your sweet thoughts.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda for me your current article shows as unpublished. Funny how blessings are. So I reread this one. When God made you he threw away the mold. You are unique.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Lawrence. I think all of us need to have a sense of purpose, and creating food certainly provides it. So you were in Egypt? You have led a very colorful life.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Whenever I think of cane sugar, I remember the raw cane sugar pulp drink I used to get from the juice stands in Egypt, it may not be healthy, but it was delicious and with the heat in that country, you needed the sugar!

      I think cooking helps people with Depression and the like simply because it takes their minds off their circumstances and helps them focus on better things/times.

      It might work the same way with Bipolar disorder etc.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, I don't know if you were being cute/funny or serious. I'm not worried about change. In 30-ish years I will no longer be here. If something dramatic happens to the land faster than that, I have bigger things to worry about.

      Yes, I cherish those bowls. Each time I use them, I am taken back to my mother's kitchen and I can envision her proofing bread dough in the yellow one, mixing pie crust in the green one, etc. Perhaps when they break I will stop cooking/baking?

    • manatita44 profile image


      7 months ago from london

      Miss Kitty is doing well.

      About your land. Aren't you worried? Things could change dramatically, you know. For the better, is good. Let's hope. A beautiful set of bowls and so old too? Amazing! Peace.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Riinita I will work on this problem and have an answer for you next Monday. I have some copper-bottom pans, and sadly they look very much the worse for wear right now. It's time to experiment.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      7 months ago

      Great learning about the bowls. I prefer steel, they are ugly, but feel more like home because they are traditional. Speaking of copper utensils, here's a question - do have any tips on how to wash copper utensils so that they sparkle like new, preferably a method that's simple? My mother taught me one - rub lemon juice on the utensil, and then rub some wet soil (I take it from my potted plants), and then wash thoroughly with water, no soap. The challenge with this one is you have to rub vigorously for the utensil to gain that new look, so calls for a lot of muscle power. Anything else you might know would be helpful. Thanks!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Believe it or not, I was dancing naked with others on the top of the world. Norway north. The sun did not set and we reveled, fifteen countries represented I think, or so. Came up on a train with wine from Spain to Siberia. On fire!! Well you may not take this in a good way but your inspiring us is an orb on fire.

      I am coming slow on activities for those "suffering" from dementia. I am working with a crew that are doing virtual reality stuff for cognitive healing. No we do not buy into keeping it from getting worse.

      Your writing here will be part of the mix. Muchas Gracias.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, one serving of French onion soup from the can (Campbell's) has 1,028 mg of sodium. Mine has 633 mg. Yea team! I don't use much sugar. A 5 pound sack seems to last forever around here unless I'm baking (and that doesn't happen very often anymore).

      Have a great day.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, the amount of rain we've been getting is crazy. If we could just spread it out over 52 weeks instead of getting it all at once this really would be Heaven on earth.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, the soup is really pretty good. If you don't like onion soup, you can use the vegetarian broth as a base for other soup recipes. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Chitrangada, good morning to you. Thank you for your kind words. If you want to visit my home, I can almost make that a reality for you. A few months ago I wrote an article entitled "Walk With Me (A Tour of My Garden). If you go to my profile page you will find it, right below "Exploring Blueberries."

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 months ago from Central Florida

      Thanks for providing the resource links to my cane sugar question. I will check to see if my grocery store carries coconut sugar. Wouldn't you know I just bought a bag of pure cane sugar yesterday?! Cane sugar has its good and not-so-good qualities. Fortunately, I don't consume much sugar. I use a half a packet of Stevia in my coffee at work and less than half a teaspoon of cane sugar in my coffee at home. I only drink two cups of coffee per day, so I'm good.

      I love French onion soup. I've never tried making it myself. I would imagine your recipe has a lot less sodium than the traditional recipe, huh?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Congratulations on the paving; anytime we can save on wading is a good time.

      Happy Monday my friend! Enjoy the rainy weather???? Rain just means mud at the farm to me,and more washing cycles. lol

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 months ago from Sunny Florida

      So nice to hear your driveway is complete. I was glad to read the information about sugar. My mother would love the onion soup, so thanks for another good recipe.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      7 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Once again a wonderful article in your series!

      I liked the way you described the place, where you live, in the opening paragraph. Makes me curious to visit your place.

      Regarding cooking as a therapy for dementia—I don’t know much about it. But cooking something special for some dear ones, definitely acts as a therapy for me, whenever I am feeling a bit low.

      Loved your soup recipe.

      Thanks for sharing this interesting series!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      7 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Flourish, you're the first to respond. So good to hear from you. Yes, it's definitely "soup weather." We received a month's worth of rain in the last 24 hours (break out the lifeboats!).

      I hope you have a great Monday. Stay tuned for my "leftovers" article on the 1st of November.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 months ago from USA

      That’s a soup I can make! Thank you! Will be trying it this week! I’m on a soup kick! I made broccoli cheddar for my husband most recently and this will be nest!


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