Dear Dinner Diva

I receive a lot of emails with questions about food, nutrition, and health. Unfortunately, I can’t answer every one of them. However, I have decided to awaken my alter personality, the Dinner Diva, for today’s article and answer some of your burning (well, maybe just simmering) questions.

Dear Dinner Diva,
My husband and I do not eat any white or brown sugar. Could you suggest some ways to substitute for the brown sugar I see are in a few of your recipes? ~Amy
Dear Amy,
You can use xylitol in a 1:1 ratio. It’s a sugar alcohol. Another choice would be to use honey. If you do use honey, use half the amount of sugar called for in a recipe. In other words, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons sugar, use 1 tablespoon honey.

Dear Dinner Diva,
I have always been confused when a recipe calls for cloves of garlic. Is it the whole clump (the way you buy it) minus the papery outer layer? Or is it just one of those attached 5 or 6 inner clumps that easily peel off?? Or is it the smallest smooth piece inside the inner clumps??? And how do I peel it or should I peel it before chopping or smashing?
This is why I usually end up using garlic granules instead.
I hope you can clear this up for me.
Also thank you for your wonderful meals and menu-planning! I’m so surprised that my kids (DS 13 and DD 12) are eating whole wheat hamburger buns and raw spinach and other healthy things now. ~Love Garlic in Michigan
Dear Garlic Lover,
Garlic is a wondrous thing to behold. Magnificently put together with individual buds (known as cloves), the whole bulb is called a head. On any given head of garlic; you’re going to get about 6 to 10 cloves or so, depending on the particular head.
So when a recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic, pressed, you need to pull 2 cloves from the head of garlic, then using your biggest knife (the chef knife, with the broad blade), smash the garlic on the side with the flat side of the knife. The papery outer covering will easily be removed. Then you will want to press it with a garlic press to get it recipe ready.

Dear Dinner Diva,
I have always been confused about how to chop green onions. Do you chop the green part? All the way? Part of the way? Or just the onion bottom? I always feel like I am wasting the onion or doing it incorrectly. Please help!
Fly Di in PA
Dear Fly Di,
Green onions, also known as scallions, are actually just immature onions that are pulled before a larger bulb is formed.
You don’t chop green onions all the way. The dark green stem is tough and not as flavorful as the bulb. That said, you do chop some of the green. When I do this myself, I chop the white bulb, the light-colored green, and stop right where it becomes dark green. Some people don’t mind that part of the green onion, but in my opinion, it isn’t worth it.

Do you have a question for the Dinner Diva that you’d like answered in an upcoming article? If so, send it on over to [email protected].

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