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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #112

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood

Last week the movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was released to the theaters. Despite the name, it's not a biopic of Fred Rodgers. Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) is actually a supporting character. The real story is how the philosophy, the heart of Mr. Rogers helped all of us learn how we impact the lives of those around us. He let us know that it is OK to feel sad sometimes, to be disappointed sometimes. "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a story of forgiveness and compassion (and If ever there was a time that we needed to be reminded of that message, isn't it now?)

My friends who live outside of the U.S. might not be familiar with Fred Rogers. Allow me to explain who he was. With a bachelor's degree in music, Fred began his career working at the WQED television station. He created puppets and developed music for "The Children's Corner." He continued his education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963 but did not serve a congregation. That same year the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked him to develop and host a 15-minute children's program. "Misterrogers" was broadcast for almost 5 years and then magic happened. "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" became a half-hour children's program that ran for 895 episodes.

Unlike "Sesame Street," the loud, sometimes boisterous razzle-dazzle program for children, "Neighborhood" was slower-paced, quiet, and focused not on cognitive learning but on feelings. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers.

"All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we're giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That's one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver."

"As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has or ever will have, something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."

"Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives."

"If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person."

"Love is like infinity: You can't have more or less infinity, and you can't compare two things to see if they're 'equally infinite.' Infinity just is, and that's the way I think love is, too."

"Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain."

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Let's get started with today's mailbox. If you're an old friend, you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.

Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.

I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses; it happens every Monday. Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.

Why Does Anise Taste Good to Some People and Bad to Others?

The first comment/question is from Jodah (John Hanson).

"Hi Linda, I enjoyed your article on the condiments of Asia. My wife and I used to provide homestay for students from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, etc when they came to the University to study English. Because of that I have tasted a lot of Asian spices and condiments. My favorites of these would probably be black bean, however, we used to get a snack that was wasabi covered dried peas and it was delicious...well to me anyway, not my wife. One Asian spice I do dislike though is Chinese Five Spice."

Star Anise

Star Anise

John, I'm really interested in your comment. I am wondering if perhaps there is something in the chemistry of star anise (which I'm guessing is the element in Chinese 5 spice that you dislike) that makes it objectionable for some people. For example, there is a scientific reason why some people love the taste of cilantro, and others think that it tastes like soap.

It turns out that the big flavor hit in star anise (and fennel and licorice root) comes from the phenolic compound anethole.

Research reveals that it is the scent, more than the actual taste of some flavinoids that some people find offensive. (And by the way, taste and smell work together; that's why foods don't taste "right" when we have a head cold.) In the 2013 study in Current Biology called "Olfaction: It Makes a World of Scents," study author Dr. Jeremy McRae found that our perception of many odors (and thus tastes) is linked to our genetics. He goes on to say that "This might mean that when people sit down to eat a meal, they each experience it in their own personalized way."

So, it's not your fault (and if you don't like star anise, that just means there's more for the rest of us who do).

Diet to Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Now Linda my sweet there have been some issues around here of late. Nothing to be concerned with as without medication they are managed through exercise and fewer portions. But these deals of high blood pressure and cholesterol are an issue. Can we make your wonderful recipes with a section for those of us who watch it? I refuse to give up on taste. I refuse. But you could help, I am sure of it.

Heart-Healthy Foods

Heart-Healthy Foods

Eric, many of the foods that are beneficial to lower blood pressure appear on the same list for cholesterol-lowering diets. Whoo-hoo!

I've included a few suggestions for boosting your intake of these (below). In the future, when I include personal recipes I will try to remember to suggest how these can be incorporated. You're important to me.

 Good for Lowering Blood PressureGood for Lowering CholesterolIdeas for How to Get More in Your Diet

Avocado

 

x

Use on bread in place of mayo

Bananas

x

 

smoothies, or freeze and eat like ice cream

Beans, peas, lentils

x

I'm sure you know that beans and lentils are a good source of fiber and protein; use in place of meat

Berries (especially blueberries)

x

x

Smoothies, on top of ice cream?

Cauliflower

x

x

Use in place of rice or mashed potatoes

Dark chocolate

x

x

Does anyone need help with this one?

Dark greens (spinach, kale, mustard, collards, Swiss chard)

x

x

Chop and add to meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, soup

Fish high in Omega-3's (salmon, trout, mackerel)

x

x

Don't deep fry; steam, poach, bake, or saute

Fresh herbs

x

 

Garlic

x

x

 

Nuts (especially walnuts, almonds)

 

x

Use to crust baked fish, chicken

Oatmeal (whole, not instant)

x

x

Replace bread crumbs in meatloaf, meatballs, breading

Olive oil

x

x

 

Pistachios

x

 

Same as nuts, above

Pomegranates

x

 

 

Red beets

x

 

 

Seeds (unsalted)

x

 

 

Soy beans

 

x

 

Tea

 

x

 

Vegetables

 

x

 

Yogurt (low- or non-fat)

x

 

 

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.

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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

Comments

manatita44 from london on November 26, 2019:

You are the best, Dear. Feeling a little better a.m. Yoh know how much I care. More later. much Gratitude

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 26, 2019:

My dear Manatita, I will whisk off a quick answer to you via email, and will also include your question and my answer in next Monday's writing.

manatita44 from london on November 26, 2019:

My Dear,

My tummy has been playing up for about three days. It's not heartburn, more like something just didn't agree with me. So here's the question, what kind of foods and medicines (Natural) do you feel is useful for upset tummy?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 26, 2019:

Shauna, I'm waiting until "Neighborhood" comes out on Nexflix. As I explained to Bill, in the words of Oprah, I do the "ugly cry."

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 26, 2019:

Linda, I'm glad Eric asked his question. I, too, have high blood pressure. I try to watch my sodium intake, as sodium affects diastolic pressure (the bottom number).

I'll keep this list handy and try to incorporate more of these foods in my diet.

Thanks, Eric and Linda!

BTW, did you go see "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood", Linda?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 26, 2019:

Manatita, I am glad to know that Fred Rogers is more global than I had thought.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 25, 2019:

Kale tonight my friend. This is good. And home made dressing without salt. My hot sauce has none. That danged processed stuff is hard to fight the salt. Life is tough and then you cook and not so much.

manatita44 from london on November 25, 2019:

Happy Thanksgiving my spiritual Sister.

I was talking to a friend about giving and receiving just last week and Fred Rogers' messages are quite timely.

Who doesn't know of him? I believe I knew in Grenada, let alone England. In any case, our news here are more international ... not central at all.

Some of the food tips here are great for many of us. Peace.

.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Mary, it's funny that you should comment that you had a wide variety of foods growing up. My mom's cooking was the exact opposite--not much variety and very plain-Jane. I always thought THAT was why I love food so much now.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Pamela, I am going to try to include alternate plans (when possible) to make the recipes I present more heart-healthy.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on November 25, 2019:

It's interesting to read that not everyone tastes things the same. Since my husband's surgery, his sense of taste has changed. It is slowly returning.

I love anise, fennel, and cilantro. We were fortunate enough to be introduced to a wide variety of food growing up.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 25, 2019:

Yes, we have that here and it's something I enjoy.

Thanks, Linda.

Ann

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 25, 2019:

I remember my children watched Mr. Rogers, such a wonderful ,am.

I appreciate the information Eric requested as I have hIgh blood pressure that is well controlled on a minimum amount of medication. I wonder if it could be controlled by diet? My doc says me BMI is fine but I am not able to exercise like I once did. Thank you, Linda.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Good morning Ann and so good to see you here again.

As I write this (it's 7am) I am eating plain yogurt topped with rolled oats. I've become obsessed with that combination. I don't cook the oats, I just sprinkle them on top (actually 1/3 cup is a bit more than a sprinkle, isn't it?).

At any rate, you can do that with rolled (or what you might call whole) oats. Don't use groats that way however. If you're not familiar with these terms in England, I'll do some research for you.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 25, 2019:

It's ages since I read one of this series and I apologise for being absent for so long - things get in the way! I try to share out my time but it doesn't always work!

This is great! Thanks for the list of foods for lowering blood pressure and/or cholesterol. I've been trying to lower my cholesterol and I refuse to go on statins, so this is really useful. I have been taking plant stanols in drink form and I'm about to have a blood test to see if it's made a difference but this list of food is extremely helpful. As luck would have it, I love most of them!

Ann

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Eric, not to worry, it's there. I was distracted by the cat.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 25, 2019:

Far out.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Bill, you've convinced me that I definitely need to wait until the movie comes out on Netflix. Love to you and Bev and your kiddos.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Kari, that's a stellar question, one that most of us should be asking. So despite the sound of Julia Child chortling "more butter", I'll find an answer for you next Monday.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Eric, brown rice and pintos is a great start. Watch the salt (there could be a big dose of sodium hiding in that hot sauce), but peppers are good for what ails you. Instead of potatoes I would have used minced kale (goodness, I seem to put it in everything) or roasted butternut squash.(It's more colorful too).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

John he was such a beautiful loving human being, very gentle and soft spoken.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

John, I don't think I've encountered any food item that I don't love (hence the struggle with my weight). How odd that our Creator would build some of us this way. Perhaps you (and they) are what are known as "super tasters"--you have more taste receptors and your taste buds are more fine-tuned.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 25, 2019:

My comment either is erased or late.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 25, 2019:

Good morning Rinita. Just last week my daughter and I made a batch of blondies and they were really good! I didn't print it out (darn!) so will have to go on the hunt to find it again on the internet. But, find it I will. I promise.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 25, 2019:

Saw the movie, cried, came away from it with hope, a fantastic experience.....Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend. Love always!

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 25, 2019:

I love black licorice and Sambuca, and i love cilantro. But I'm not very fond of fennel. I was wondering what I should use in place of butter in recipes or do I need to forgo all rich sauces? I'm asking for my cholesterol.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 25, 2019:

Once again great learning with just the right spice of love and affection. After reading Rodgers I was wondering how much of my material came indirectly from him.

That picture of the Watermelon art just gets me giddy to do it.

I have boring lists of "Heart Healthy" foods but I needed it from you. Lets see if that list taped to the fridge may be a nudge for my wife. Not a word spoken.

You just have to be careful with a combination of Mexican and Vietnamese foods.

Gabe and I created a brown rice, Pinto bean, meat sauce with corn and a little potato last night -- I mixed in some cheese. Spice was Cilantro, a tiny Turmeric, Pink Sea Salt of course and a tad of Cholulla hot (mild) Sauce. Ok I admit to too large of portions so we did play exercise.

Oh well the beat goes on. Off for my two mile morning walk.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 25, 2019:

Oh, thanks for sharing about the movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" too. I have only seen a few videos of Mr Rogers. He must have been very popular.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 25, 2019:

Linda, thank you for explaining how some people find the smell of star anise offensive. I dislike anything with an aniseed taste, liquorice and sarsparilla included.

Rinita Sen on November 25, 2019:

Hi Linda, happy Monday. Do you have a tried and tested blondie recipe? I made this: https://sugarspunrun.com/blondies-recipe/ , followed it exactly, but the blondies came out harder and chewier than the blondies you get at bakeries. Thanks in advance. I want it to be something in between a cookie and a cake. Is that hard to achieve? Mine became more cookie like. The last time I made brownies they were more cake like. Help!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 24, 2019:

Thank you Flourish. It will be a different Thanksgiving this time--just the 3 of us. I wish you a blessed day as well.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 24, 2019:

Anise, fennel and cilantro — I cannot cook with these if I’m going to share my baking or cooking with certain family members because they are sensitive to it. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving, diva!