Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers about Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #56
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.
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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
Beautiful, decorative, non-reactive, dishwasher safe
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you have a great week!
© 2018 Linda Lum