Jul
30

Edible Examiner XLI

AB_edible examiner_V4 

Fruit Recalled Nationwide For Possible Listeria Contamination - Sara Gates

Fruit Recall Hits Trader Joe’s, Costco, Wal-Mart Stores - Bill Chappell

Fears of possible listeria contamination have led to a national recall of whole peaches, nectarines, plums and other fruits packed by California-based Wawona Packing Co. Wawona decided to issue the voluntary recall following internal testing at one of the company’s packing facilities in central California, the Associated Press reports. At the time, production was halted and the facility was sanitized. Subsequent tests turned up negative for the bacterium that causes the food-borne illness. Though Wawona does not have a list of specific stores where the potentially contaminated fruits may have been sold, major chains such as BJs, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods have been contacted. To date, no illnesses have been reported.

 

Meat Scandal in China Escalates: Officials Detain Five - Khushbu Shah

Yum cuts ties to owner of China meat plant after scandal - Brenda Goh and Paul Carsten

Yum Brands Inc. severed ties with OSI Group after Shanghai police detained five people from the supplier’s China meat-processing factory at the center of a food safety scare that has ensnared several major Western brands. On Sunday, July 20, Shanghai-based news channel Dragon TV aired an investigative report about Shanghai Husi Food Co., LTD, a supplier that “repacked old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them,” as well as packing meat which had been lying on the floor. A night cleaner reported to Reuters that he had seen workers pick up raw meat from the floor and put it back into processing containers. He also said that he had seen some workers handling raw meat without wearing gloves. Another Husi worker reported that there was an attitude of “it doesn’t really matter” if raw meat, which fell on the floor, was returned to the process. The TV documentary also reported that according to staff at the Shanghai Husi facility said they kept two record books on food products, one of which was doctored to be shown to anyone who came to audit the facility. A quality control manager told investigators that management, “had approved adding expired meat into the production of chicken nuggets, beef patties, and other frozen fast food products” and that the “policy had been in place for years.” Since the news broke, many chains have quickly pulled all possible expired products from their kitchens and storage facilities. McDonald’s sealed 4,500 cases of Husi products for investigation. KFC and Pizza Hut note that they are conducting their own investigation into the situation and Burger King and Starbucks have stopped serving products from Husi. The investigation is ongoing.

 

Fear Of ‘Chlorine Chicken’ Complicates Trade Talks Between U.S. And Germany - Robin Emmott and Tom Körkemeier

German Chancellor Angela Merkel once said she wished “for nothing more than a free-trade agreement between the USA and the EU”. To the dismay of many in Brussels and Washington, Germans are now taking a very different view. That is putting Europe’s biggest exporter in the unusual situation of becoming one of the most vocal opponents of the world’s biggest trade deal. A transatlantic pact would create a market of 800 million people and allow Germany to sell more of its luxury cars, trains and chemicals in the US, an attractive proposition for an economy that has faltered in recent months. But in a twist that few officials expected, European concerns about the threat to food and the environment have found their strongest voice in Germany, amplified by the country’s influential Green party and anger at reports of US spying. The phrase “Chlorhuehnchen”, or chlorine chicken, has entered the parlance of everyone from taxi drivers to housewives since trade negotiations began a year ago. A majority of Germans believe chlorine-washed chicken is a danger to human health despite its successful use in the US to kill bacteria, according to survey by pollster Forsa. In the EU, antibiotics are used. Brussels says there will be no change in policy even with a US deal. Meeting in Brussels for a sixth round of talks hope is to reach an agreement sometime net year. But they are struggling to raise awareness beyond vocal labor and consumer groups who largely oppose an accord.

 

13 Crunchy, Creamy Facts That Justify Your Love Affair With Peanut Butter - Renee Jacques

Because peanut butter goes so well with so many foods, you can eat it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. And when snack time rolls around, you can bet your Skippy that you’re eating it straight out of the jar. Here are 13 ways peanut butter can help you body and soul:

  1. Yes, peanut butter has fat. But it’s good fat. Contrary to popular belief, consuming moderate amounts of saturated fat is not problematic.
  2. It’s usually vegan and gluten-free, so almost everyone can eat it. Unless you are allergic to peanuts, it doesn’t matter what kind of diet you’re on, you can eat peanut butter.
  3. Peanut butter is good for your dog. Peanut butter provides great vitamins and nutrients, like Vitamin E and protein, to your dog.
  4. It provides some essential vitamins to humans too. Peanuts are one of the best sources of magnesium. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter provides 12 percent of your recommended daily magnesium. Magnesium helps carry calcium and potassium across cell membranes in your body.
  5. Peanut butter and bacon are a match made in heaven. In 1983 the Evening Independent decided to introduce their readers to something called the “Peanut Butter Banana Club”. A lot of people seemed to enjoy this version of the club sandwich. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once said that his choice for a last meal on earth would have to be a version of the peanut butter-banana-bacon sandwich.
  6. On the topic of salty bacon, peanut butter can help counteract too much sodium in a diet. If you have found yourself eating too much salty food, peanut butter can come to your rescue. It’s chock full of potassium, a mineral that, according to the American Heart Association, relaxes blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure. They also state that eating more potassium allows for more sodium to be released through one’s urine.
  7. Peanut butter could really help you stay on that diet. Peanut butter is a very filling food. Therefore, it keeps dieters fuller for longer, helping them resist the urge to mindlessly snack.
  8. The more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you eat, the more you could be helping the earth. The PB&J campaign urges people to eat plant-based sandwiches (specifically PB&Js) instead of meat-based sandwiches for lunch every day. The campaign’s website states that each time you eat a PB&J instead of red meat for lunch, you’re shrinking your carbon footprint by almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
  9. It can help you get the gum out of kid’s hair. All you have to do is rub some peanut butter on the gum-affected area and the natural peanut oils will loosen the stiff gum, allowing for easy removal. Just make sure it’s the creamy kind.
  10. Girls who eat peanut butter could lower their risk of developing breast cancer. In a study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard Medical School, it was discovered that girls between the age of 9 and 15 who regularly ate peanut butter were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease by age 30.
  11. Peanut butter has literally saved thousands of children from starvation. In 1996, a French scientist made a peanut butter paste filled with nutrients and vitamins to help malnourished babies in underdeveloped countries to get the healthy nutrients they need.
  12. Peanut butter probably has as many antioxidants as your healthy juice. After testing a dozen different peanut varieties for their antioxidant count, Steve Talcott, an assistant professor food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, concluded, “When it comes to antioxidant content, peanuts are right up there with strawberries.”
  13. Last, but definitely not least, you have the potential to eat peanut butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Peanut butter is versatile. You have the option of spreading peanut butter on something, mixing it with noodles, coating meat with it or turning it into a delicious sauce, just to name a few.

 

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Nut Butters - Linnea Covington

While the plastic jar of Peter Pan is hardly going out of style, some consumers have left the ubiquitous jars of industrial peanut butter sitting on the shelf in favor of a new regime of gourmet brands and exotic sounding nut betters like hazelnut, almond and cashew.  Here are a few fun facts about nut butters you might not know:

  1. Most Nut Butters Aren’t Actually Made From Nuts. The only true nut you will find commonly made into nut butter is the hazelnut. Despite popular opinion, almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamias aren’t actual nuts; they are fruits and seeds. The ubiquitous peanut is a legume. Though for culinary purposes, all these products are considered nuts, hence the term “nut butter”, that, by the way, doesn’t have butter in it either.
  2. Not Just For Spreading. Nut butters are great for adding an unctuous quality to a dish instead of using animal fat or cheese. Nut butters give dishes a protein punch and add a deeper flavor.
  3. Even Big Brands Have Looked Beyond the Peanut. You don’t have to go gourmet to get a nut butter that isn’t peanut-based. Jif now does smooth and creamy version of almond and cashew butters.
  4. Nut Butter Is Easy to Make. On a small scale, making nut butter is a simple, two-step process: put the nuts in a food processor and turn it on.
  5. It Takes Approximately 372 Nuts to Fill a 16-Ounce Jar of Pure Nut Butter. That is, depending on the nut and who makes it. Some nut butters like Skippy or Nutella have a lot of fillers like sugar and milk that take away from the nut ratio.
  6. Weather Affects Nut Butter. Since most nut butters are made with very few ingredients; droughts, floods and consumption spikes, which affect supply can have an alarming impact on availability, price and quality.
  7. Every Nut Has Its Nuances. Nutritionally speaking, almond, peanut and hazelnut butters are pretty comparable, and the biggest difference you find is in the taste. Cashews are the creamiest, but the macadamia is highest in calories, as almost 75 percent of this seed is fat.
  8. Honey or Chocolate-Infused Nut Butter Is Totally A Thing. You no longer have to choose from just crunchy or smooth—right now it appears everyone is making their own version of honey-tinged or chocolate-fused nut butter.

 

11 Things You Never Knew About Tomatoes - Alison Spiegel

Most people probably know that tomatoes are actually a fruit, but that’s just the beginning of a long list of interesting facts:

  1. People used to believe tomatoes were poisonous. According to the FDA, highly acidic foods may leach when touching certain metals, like pewter. Thus tomatoes served on pewter plates in the 1700s occasionally caused people to fall ill or die from lead poisoning, and people falsely attributed this to tomatoes.
  2. China is the world’s largest producer of tomatoes. The U.S. is second. China exports most of its crop, given that tomatoes do not factor heavily in Chinese cuisine.
  3. In the U.S., California grows the most tomatoes. California is responsible for 96 percent of the processing tomato output and one-third of the fresh crop. Florida is next.
  4. Americans eat about 23 pounds of tomatoes each year. About half of that consumption comes in the form of tomato sauce and ketchup.
  5. You can call it “wolf peach.” The scientific name for tomatoes is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means wolf peach.
  6. Tomatoes do not belong in the refrigerator. The cold air in the fridge stops the tomato from ripening and ripening is what gives tomatoes more flavor.
  7. You can use tomatoes for skin care. Thanks to the acid in tomatoes, you can use tomato pulp to clear up blemishes.
  8. Tomatoes originated in the Andes. Tomatoes were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas, dating back as early as 700 AD.
  9. And the first variety wasn’t red. The first tomatoes were small and yellow.
  10. There are about 10,000 varieties of tomatoes across the globe. Some of the more fun names include Baby Cakes, Banana Legs, Cream Sausage, Gremlin, Jolly Elf and Mr. Ugly.
  11. Tomatoes are really a fruit, but…they can also be called a vegetable. In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes could also be called vegetables. In “the common language of the people,” a tomato is a vegetable, which at the time of the case, meant that the Tariff Act, which taxed important vegetables, could legally apply to tomatoes.

 

5 Great Protein Sources That Aren’t Meat - Corrie Pikul

You can easily meet your daily protein requirements with a steak, but you can also get the essential nutrient from these lesser-expected foods as well:

  1. The best for dieters: Nuts and seeds. Almonds and pistachios have about 5-7 grams of protein per ounce; macadamias and hazelnuts have 2-3 grams per ounce. Packed with protein as well as healthy monosaturated fat and fiber, nuts are surprisingly filling.
  2. The Best All-Purpose Alternative to Chicken: Soy. One half-cup of soybeans has about 34 grams of protein (in comparison, a half-cup of chicken has about 17 grams). Soybeans are the only plant food that is considered a “complete protein,” which means they provide all the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for good health.
  3. The Best Treat. Dairy. A cup of milk has about 8 grams of protein; an ounce of cheese has 6-7 grams, yogurt has 4-6 grams (per 6 ounce serving). Greek yogurt and kefir have 15-20 grams. Dairy foods are a high-quality protein food, and a little goes a long way toward meeting your amino acid and protein requirements. Almond milk, however, is so diluted from the source of the whole nut that the liquid has little to no protein.
  4. The Best for Antioxidants: Beans. A cup of cooked beans generally has between 12-16 grams of protein. Beans are low in fat and high in insoluble as well as soluble fiber, which helps promote a healthy digestive tract, lower blood cholesterol levels and can reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Beans are considered “incomplete,” because they’re missing essential amino acids. Pair them with whole grains, which have the complementary amino acids.
  5. The Best Choice for Those Who Work Out a Lot: Eggs. One large egg has 6 grams of protein. Eggs are another perfect, complete protein, with all the amino acids your body needs. They also contain vitamin B12, which is involved in processes like fat breakdown, muscle contraction and promoting a healthy metabolism. Most of the protein is found in the egg white, but the yolks are where you will find Vitamins A, B12 and D, as well as calcium, folate and omegal-3s.

 

5 Underappreciated Summer Veggies You Should Learn To Love - Katie Cavuto

Considering this is the heart of the growing season in many regions of the country, it’s a great time to push yourself to think outside the vegetable box. These five underappreciate vegetables deserve some love.

  1. Okra. Also called “ladies’ fingers,” there’s more to this veggie than its slimy reputation. Rich in fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants such as vitamin A and C, you can control the texture/slime-factor by varying the cooking technique.
  2. Kohlrabi. Often referred to as the alien in the CSA box, kohlrabi is a versatile, nutrient-dense veggie. Naturally fat-free, it’s loaded with fiber, potassium and immune-boosting vitamin C.
  3. Mustard Greens. It’s common knowledge that dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. A natural multivitamin, mustard greens are slightly spicy, even bitter, with a spunky, peppery flavor. They also taste great incorporated into dishes such as soups, stews or even lasagna.
  4. Cabbage. This inexpensive member of the brassica family is versatile and majorly good for you. It’s rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, has cholesterol-lowering capabilities and contains nutrients such as glucosinolates, polyphenols and glutamine that promote digestive health.
  5. Eggplant. Eggplant is rich in free-radical scavenging antioxidants. It can be roasted, pureed, grilled, sautéed, stewed, stuffed, or rolled and sliced. It absorbs whatever flavors you introduce.

 

Time to Panic: There May Be a Global Kale Shortage - Daniela Galarza

There is about to be a global kale shortage. According to ABC News Australia, Bejo Seeds, a company that provides kale seeds to farmers across the world, has run out of seeds.  The “superfood” has come a long way since it was primarily used to decorate butcher cases. A prominent farmer in Victoria, Australia says that over the last three years he has had to drop growing red cabbage and leeks to devote the ground to growing kale. Fifth generation growers have gone from planting 1,500 kale seedlings a few years ago to now planting 150,000 seedlings each week. Modern Farmer notes that it is hard to tell how Australia’s shortage will affect the US, but since Bejo Seeds also supplies to farmers in the states, it is possible that American consumers could feel the pinch. The popularity of the curly green leaf cannot be overstated. Per ABC news, last year 250 babies in the US were called “Kale”.

 

BrusselKale Is The Most Upsetting Hybrid Food Yet - Alison Spiegel

From the Cronut™ to the Ramen Burger, food mashups hit big last summer and almost immediately jumped the shark. People just can’t seem to resist ruining perfect foods by combining them into one illogical whole. People can’t resist capitalizing on a food trend, or even better, capitalizing on two trends in one. Case in point: BrusselKale. USA Today reported on July 10 that a new hybrid vegetable called BrusselKale is expected to hit US supermarkets nationwide this fall. British vegetable seed company Tozer Seeds has been developing BrusselKale for 15 years by traditional crop breeding. The vegetable is not genetically modified. The hybrid is already available on Tozer’s website under the name of “Flower Sprout”. Tozer says that BrusselKale has a more subtle flavor than Brussels sprouts, and was developed with texture in mind, so that it would be suitable for sautéing but also for eating raw.

 

Zero Waste Grocery Stores Do Away With All That Annoying Packaging - Starre Vartan

Zero waste at the supermarket isn’t just a crazy dream; a new store in Germany is promising exactly that. The Original Unverpackt in Berlin, is a project of two university dropouts who have spent two years putting the concept together. They crowdfunded the project, and the idea proved so popular they are more than doubly funded. The store will source food locally to reduce transportation costs and energy use, and will offer many items such as gravity bins, which let gravity do the work of dispensing foods. Containers that can be reused will be available, or better yet, you can bring your own. They will also carry non-food stuff like cleaning products and personal care items. The German project isn’t the only grocery store fighting wasteful packaging: Ingredients in Austin, TX was first. They offer hyper-local food and beverages that are filled in customers’ own containers. Called a micro-store, it is convenience store in size, but grocery-store-like in scope, and they’ve been open since 2012. Even if you don’t have a zero-waste grocery in your town, you can still cut down on the packaging you use by planning ahead, and patronizing those businesses that offer bulk-food buying. Farmers markets are great in this way too—you can give the farmer any packaging right back for reuse.

 

Starbucks tests how long coffee takes to cool so we don’t have to wait in line - Matthew Humphries

Starbucks wants to extend the functionality of its mobile app beyond just being able to pay for your drinks. It also wants you to be able to order your drink in advance and leave it waiting for you behind the counter. That means no more waiting in line and the potential to significantly increase the number of coffee sales. Of course, for such a service to work, the coffee still has to be perfectly drinkable when you arrive to collect it. But how long can you leave a freshly brewed cup of the hot stuff before it can sit there and still be classed as drinkable. That’s exactly what Starbucks is trying to figure out by doing experiments at its Seattle headquarters. Each brew Starbucks offers is being tested in a bid to figure out how long it can sit there and still be classed as drinkable. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a new cup that holds in the heat longer or a new device that keeps it hot? Whatever the solution, Starbucks is aiming to roll out the order-ahead feature of its mobile app later this year.

 

You Go, Joe! Here’s An All-In-One Portable Coffee Brewer And Mug. - Laura Neilson

It seems like there’s a bottomless pool of innovators constantly striving to develop better gadgets, tools and experiences for coffee drinkers. The newest piece of caffeine-fueled technology one-ups the average portable coffee mug with its ability to brew your coffee on the go. Hey Joe Coffee, which just completed a successful campaign on Kickstarter, is a handheld single-cup coffee maker that brews your java fresh whenever you want it, at three different temperatures. Using round tea bag-like pods made from biodegradable materials and seeds that can actually be planted afterwards, this battery-operated gadget also cuts down on the waste created by disposable cups and capsules used with most single-serve coffee makers. Once the pod is inserted and you’ve added water, simply press the button: once for 140 degrees F, twice for 150 degrees F and three times for cold brew. It sells for a “wallet-friendly” $69.

Jul
16

Edible Examiner XL

AB_edible examiner_V4

Americans Are Too Stupid for GMO Labeling, Congressional Panel Says - Michael McAuliff

It’s pretty rare that members of Congress and all the witnesses they’ve called will declare out loud that Americans are just too ignorant to be given a piece of information, but that was a key conclusion of a session of the House Agriculture Committee this week. The issue was genetically modified organisms, or GMOs as they’re often known in the food industry. And members of the subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, as well as their four experts, agreed that the genetic engineering of food crops has been a thorough success responsible for feeding the hungry, improving nutrition and reducing the use of pesticides. People who oppose GMOs or want them labeled so that consumers can know what they’re eating are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance, the panel agreed. Labeling GMO foods would only stoke those fears, and harm a beneficial thing, so it should not be allowed, the lawmakers and witnesses agreed. Certainly, there is misinformation about GMOs, as highlighted in a New York Times feature on a Hawaiian ban of most GMOs. But entirely missing from the hearing was any suggestion that there are real concerns about the impact of genetically engineered food, such as the growth of pesticide-resistant “super weeds,” over-reliance on a single-crop factory farming, decreased biodiversity, and a lack of a consistent approval process. The issue may soon gain fresh relevance on Capitol Hill, where a measure backed by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) to stop states from requiring GMO labeling could get marked up as early as September. The bill also would allow genetically engineered food to be labeled “100 percent natural.”

 

The children are our future (in tea), says Packaged Facts - Maggie Hennessy

Tea isn’t just for grown-ups anymore, as instant and ready to drink (RTD) teas are paving the way for strong positioning among families, children and teens, according to a recent report by market research firm Packaged Facts. According to the report titled “Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S.”, household penetration of tea is at about 77% and growing—up 1.9% between 2008 and 2013. RTD iced tea usage penetration among US adults has grown 5% during 2009 to 2013, reaching 47%–but among those with children age 6-11 and 12-17 in the home, usage penetration has risen more strongly and overall usage penetration is higher, suggesting the influence kids have on their parents’ purchasing decisions, Packaged Facts found. Two-thirds of grocery shoppers with children agree that their kids’ preferences influence which groceries they buy, according to Packaged Facts’ February/March 2013 Food Shopper Insights Survey. To win over the kids, RTD tea varieties are key to leveraging convenience. Currently, Packaged Facts says teas aimed specifically at kids and teens are underrepresented. Despite its formidable size, the kids food and beverage market is a tricky one. For tea marketers this means leveraging tea’s healthful properties to promote it as a healthy alternative to sugary beverages, while appealing to the Millennial penchant for social responsibility. Tea marketers must also harness the internet, social media and the blogosphere when specifically seeking to connect with Millennial moms. One startup manufacturer, Little Me Tea, has positioned itself in the kids’ market as an alternative to sugary juice boxes with its organic, caffeine-free tea sweetened with fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar. The product is set to roll out nationwide.

 

Artichoke water CEO: How many different types of coconut water can you have? We’re delivering disruptive innovation - Elaine Watson

Plant waters are all the rage—at least that’s what trend watchers keep telling us—but can artichoke water emulate the meteoric success of coconut water? Or is Arty Water—an intriguing mix of artichokes, mint and pandanus leaf sweetened with monk fruit and blue agave—too niche to be a hit in the ultra-competitive beverages aisle? Not surprisingly, its founder and CEO Dr. Howard Ketelson—who has a PhD in chemistry—reckons he is onto a winner with Arty Water, although he acknowledges that overcoming the initial “yuck” factor some consumers associate with a vegetable water will be a challenge. What makes Arty Water special is a patent-pending process of grabbing the good bits from whole artichokes that retains their fiber, antioxidants, vitamins (A, E, C, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9), sodium potassium, calcium, iron and electrolytes and a host of phytonutrients including quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin. From a nutritional perspective, artichokes have been linked to myriad health benefits spanning everything from digestive health to tackling inflammation. Because the unique process does not use an extract, getting the manufacturing infrastructure in place was a challenge. Partnering with a company that produces salsa, a custom-made manufacturing line for Arty Water was built, which has taken manufacturing capabilities from 2,000 bottles a month to 12,000 a day.

 

LED tech being developed to grow food on Mars - Ryan Whitwam

We will face considerable technological hurdles designing any sort of manned mission to Mars and beyond, but simply building a ship that can convey astronauts to the outer solar system is only one part of the problem. Making sure they have enough food to eat during the journey is almost as daunting a challenge. A team of researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario is working on LED technology that could allow astronauts to grow food in space at maximum efficiency. The team is working with LEDs because you get a lot of photons for relatively little power and an LED can also be made to produce a very specific wavelength of light for targeting just what a plant needs. The lab is using lettuce as the test crop because it’s easy to grow and it grows quickly. What they learn from lettuce will be used to improve the growth of more nutritionally rich plants like cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

 

Oxford scientist taps jet engine tech to build super-efficient pots and pans - Lee Matthews

Have you ever boiled water using jet engine technology? Probably not, but you may very soon thanks to the work of an Oxford professor and his team of master’s students and their Flare pan. The trademark fins on the outside of Flare pots and pans makes them different. Their purpose is to grab onto heat supplied by the burner on your stove and pull it up the sides. With traditional pots and pans, most of the usable heat remains in or very near the bottom. The fins allow for much more efficient cooking and can reduce energy use by as much as 44% over average cookware. The even heat distribution should also make it easier to whip up your carefully concocted culinary creations with less worry about things burning on the bottom or boiling over the sides.

 

5 Reasons To Drink Coffee Before Your Workout - Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Half of Americans start their day with coffee, and, according to a recent study, working out after downing a cup of java may offer a weight loss advantage. If you’ve always thought of coffee as a vice—one you’re simply not willing to give up—you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually a secret superfood. Here are five more reasons to enjoy it as part of an active lifestyle, along with suggestions for getting your fix healthfully.

  1. Improved Circulation. Recent Japanese research studied the effects of coffee on circulation in people who were not regular coffee drinkers. Those who downed caffeinated coffee experienced a 30 percent increase in blood flow over a 75-minute period, compared to those who drank the decaf version. Better circulation, better workout.
  2. Less Pain. Scientists at the University of Illinois found that consuming the caffeine equivalent of two to three cups of coffee one hour before a 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise reduced perceived muscle pain. The conclusion: caffeine may help you push just a little bit harder during strength-training workouts.
  3. Better Memory. A study published this year from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances memory up to 24 hours after it’s consumed. This brain boost may be a real boon during workouts, especially when they entail needing to recall specific exercises or routines.
  4. Muscle Preservation. In an animal study, sports scientists at Coventry University found that caffeine helped offset the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging. Caffeine may help preserve overall fitness and reduce the risk of age-related injuries.
  5. More Muscle Fuel. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that a little caffeine post-exercise may also be beneficial, particularly for endurance athletes who perform day after day.

This doesn’t mean you should down as much coffee as possible. Don’t overdo it. The maximum amount of caffeine recommended for enhancing performance with minimal side effects is the equivalent of about 16 ounces of coffee for a 150-pound woman. Also be consistent with your intake so your body can adjust. Keep drinking good old water as your main beverage of choice.

 

5 Label Tricks That Make You Think You’re Eating Healthy - Crystal Collins

Everyday shoppers want to get healthier, so they pick up something from the store that is expensive, but no healthier than what they’ve been purchasing in the past. It’s called clever marketing. If you’re looking to get a little healthier without getting manipulated, here are some labels to watch out for:

  1. “All Natural”. Just because a product says “all natural” does not necessarily mean that it is good for you. “All Natural” labels can still contain a multitude of additives, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, antibiotics, pesticides and more. Look for the “100% USDA Organic” seal or purchase more raw, whole foods.
  2. Green Colors. Thanks to the “green movement”, brands will mix green colors with words and phrases like healthy, natural, good for you, simple, etc. Look at actual certifications, not just the color of the packaging.
  3. “Organic” or “Made with Organic Ingredients”. Unless the product is 100% certified USDA organic, there could be all kinds of stuff in that food. 70-95% of it will be organic, but the rest could be anything.
  4. “Whole Grain” or “Multigrain”. This is one of the most widely used labels on products. There isn’t really a unified standard definition and regulation of what “whole grain” actually is. Many items that contain this label tend to have higher amounts of sugars and calories than foods that don’t have the label. Look for the “100% Whole Grain” stamp or make your own breads at home.
  5. “Free Range” or “Grass-Fed”. These items aren’t regulated, so this label cannot be trusted. Know the company practices of the brand you are buying, and/or purchase from local farmers.

 

5 Things You Might Not Know About San Marzano Tomatoes - Chantal Martineau

If the crust of a pizza is its backbone, the cheese and toppings its face, then the sauce is its lifeblood. Too often overlooked, the right sauce is key to a great pie. Any pizzaiolo worth his salt will tell you the sauce should be made with San Marzano tomatoes. This variety of plum tomato grows in the rich volcanic soil of the Sarno River valley, near Mount Vesuvius, resulting in a sweet flesh with low acidity. Its thick skin makes it easy to peel, plus it’s meatier than Romas and other plums, and has fewer seeds: all good things for making sauce. But some things you might have heard about these world-famous tomatoes aren’t true. So we’re setting the record straight:

  1. No, they don’t grow in Brooklyn. Like French Champagne, San Marzano tomatoes are grown under strict rules designed to protect and promote regional agricultural products. In Italy, D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) rules ensure that only growers within a defined area adhering to specific farming and canning methods can sell tomatoes labeled San Marzano. So while you can grow the San Marzano variety in your backyard, they won’t taste the same as the real McCoy. And you won’t be able to stamp them as D.O.P San Marzanos to sell at your local farmers’ market.
  2. Yes, some San Marzanos are fakes. Official D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes are only sold in cans, peeled whole or cut in half. If your tomatoes come in a jar or are pureed, chopped, diced or even organic, they aren’t the real thing.
  3. Yes, you can make Neapolitan Pizza without them. In Italy, Neapolitans have an official body that governs how pizza must be made before it can be called “real Neapolitan pizza.” While San Marzanos are the preferred tomato, they aren’t the only ones allowed.
  4. No, San Maranos can’t kill you. OK, so maybe this one was debunked a long time ago. When tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Andes, they were thought to be poisonous. That’s likely because of the plant’s similarity to the deadly nightshade, or belladonna. Gradually, tomatoes went from a purported poison to a supposed aphrodisiac (In France) to simply good eats.
  5. No, San Marzanos don’t come from royalty. Another myth holds that the first San Marzano seeds were a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the King of Naples in 1770. It’s probably untrue considering that the plant was still widely feared in Europe at the time.

 

What’s The Difference Between Cherry and Grape Tomatoes? - Linnea Covington

Despite the abundance of grape tomatoes in the grocery store, the verdict is out: cherry tomatoes trump their oblong brethren. After talking to numerous chefs and farmers, they mostly agree that for a real dose of bright, tomato flavor, go for a cherry. But if cherry tomatoes remain the darling of chefs, why does it appear grape tomatoes have taken over the market? The answer lies in durability. The hardier skins of the grape variety help it travel better. When talking about these two tomatoes, here are a few nuances to keep in mind:

  • Physical Differences. Grape tomatoes have an oblong shape and cherries, which are larger, usually form a perfect orb. You can find cherries in bright shades of yellow and orange, whereas most grape tomatoes exude shades of red. The skins offer a distinct difference. Many chefs prefer the thick-skinned grapes which work better in a sauce, and the delicate cherry either raw or lightly cooked.
  • Growing the Tomatoes. The grow cycle for both these varietals is about the same, though how they produce the fruit varies. Cherry tomatoes come early and in growth spurts throughout the summer. Grape tomatoes come in clusters, a fact that benefits larger growers who are looking for a big yield.
  • Cooking the two. Cherry tomatoes have a better, sweeter taste. They make a light, fresh sauce, which is a great accompaniment to fish. Grapes have thicker skin and are not as sweet. Some chefs say grape tomatoes work better as a garnish for a burger or in a quick, thick sauce on top of pasta.

In truth, it’s how you use the tomato that counts.

 

Square Watermelons Sell For $200 In Vancouver - Huffington Post

Urban Fare in Vancouver Canada is once again featuring square watermelons at the ridiculous price of $199.99 (up from $99.99 10 years ago). The square watermelons are grown in Japan in tempered glass boxes and checked several times a day. They were designed to stack more easily. Because of he labor-intensive process, only a few hundred are produced in Japan annually. Contrary to popular belief, they are not genetically modified. Urban Fare usually sells about 100 square watermelons each year. But here’s the kicker: square watermelons are actually bitter and taste terrible because they’re harvested before they’re ripe.

 

The Crumbs cupcake empire has been iced, but the cupcake rolls on. - Sarah Kaplan

The death of the cupcake? - Maggie Hennessy

Crumbs: From Neighborhood Cupcakery to Failed Chain - Paula Forbes

Divided America Comes Together To Agree A $3 Cupcake Is Ridiculous - Emily Swanson

Crumbs Cupcakes Could Be Saved By Reality TV Host - Kevin Short

The Cupcake Chain Crumbs Will Reopen - Khushbu Shah

After the announcement this month that cupcake chain Crumbs Bake Shop was unceremoniously closing all of its locations, it’s hard to believe they were ever once considered a success story. And yet, at their peak, there were 70 Crumbs locations globally. They were the first publicly traded cupcake company. But rapid expansion and waning interest in the cupcake fad of the early 2000s have brought hard times to Crumbs. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted on the heels of this closing 66% of Americans said the most they’d be willing to pay for one excellent cupcake is $2 or less. Nineteen percent were willing to pay $3, 9 percent were willing to pay $4, and 7 percent said they’d pay $5 or more. According to Crumbs website their cupcakes were about $4.50 each. The poll also revealed that Americans aren’t that into cupcakes now. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said cupcakes are “somewhere in the middle” of the dessert rankings. Not only are Americans not clamoring to pay for gourmet cupcakes, they also would prefer that new dessert shops sell something different. Crumbs was also fighting market saturation, an issue particularly for shops which depend on one product. Crumbs did make a concerted push into premium coffee beverages and other baked products such as cookies, brownies and muffins, but it appeared to be too little too late, as they had already been established in the consumer mindset as a cupcake shop. Crumbs also couldn’t compete with supermarket price points. As more and more retailers got into the cupcake space, supermarkets entered the fray with significantly lower price points.

Fear not, cupcake fans: Crumbs Bake Shop could live to see another day. According to a press release published late Friday (7/11/14) night, Marcus Lemonis, the owner of Dippin’ Dots and host of CNBC reality show “The Profit”, and Fischer Enterprises L.L.C. formed a joint venture, Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Company, which plans to acquire the shops. Crumbs will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the Chicago Tribune. Lemonis hopes “to get the stores reopened and people rehired.”

 

Self-Serve Beer Machines Are Here - Khushbu Shah

Minnesota Twins Decide to Allow Fans to Pour Own Beers - Aaron Goldfarb

Sports stadiums are constantly working on new innovations to help you get your beer to you quicker. After all, they only have so much time to get your business before the seventh inning. We are actually in a golden age for stadium beer-serving innovation. Two years ago, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium was the first to outfit their roaming beer hawkers with Boulevard Wheat-filled beer keg backpacks. Last year saw the release of several smartphone apps to help get beer (and sometimes loaded nachos) to your seat ASAP so you won’t miss any action. Likewise, Dodger Stadium concessionaires now offer frozen beer foam to keep your suds ice-cold.  Earlier this year, Wrigley Field unveiled the Bottoms Up Beer Dispenser, a new technology, which fills beer cups faster by starting at the bottom (the secret: magnets!).

Most recently Minnesota Twins Target Field is the first major-league stadium to feature a new set of self-serve beer machines. According to the Star Tribune, patrons go to a cashier to have their age verified. They are then allowed to purchase “a vending card with either $10 or $20 on it for use” at the Draft Serv machines. Beer can be purchased by the ounce and customers can dispense up to 48 ounces every 15 minutes. A manager told the paper that they sold 200 cards on their first day. To prevent customers from becoming overly intoxicated there is an employee at each station to double check IDs and to make sure the drinker doesn’t appear to have surpassed their limits. Now if only these sports teams could figure out a way to reduce those stadium bathroom lines.

 

Jun
18

How to Slice a Mango

Alton-Brown---how-to-slice-a-mango

This post is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube – watch the video here: http://bit.ly/ABMango

Riddle me this foodists, which is easier to handle: sub-Asian kin of the cashew known as the mango? Or an over-caffeinated weasel with rabies?

Well when compared stitch to stitch the mango is by far the more vicious adversary. For a long time I wouldn’t even eat mangoes because I thought they were just too much of a pain to deal with.

Here’s how to slice one up safely.

First, make sure your mango is good and dead. Not just playing opossum, but dead. Then fetch your thinnest, sharpest boning knife…you want a narrow blade for this. Trim just a sliver off the bottom, that is the bloom end…as in not the end with the stem. Now use a peeler to remove all but a patch of skin on either of the wider sides.

You don’t have to actually mark it, mind you. This is for demonstration purposes only.

Good. Now if you’ve left your patches in the right spots you should be able to hold the mango on the board thusly insuring that you’re now facing the skinny profile of the seed which you want to cut around.
 Your fingers and thumb should be able to securely hold the skin patches. Bring the knife carefully under your hand and slice down around one side of the seed making a slight arc around the seed.

Without removing the cut piece repeat on the other side again being sure not to poke your hand, repeat the careful downward slice on the other broad side of the fruit. The operative word here is careful. We’ve already had enough blood around here today, don’t you think?

Now if you’d like you can trim whatever flesh remains from around the seed or simply wring it out into a glass and drink it. I usually just chew on the darned thing when nobody’s looking. Now, it should be easy enough to trim each of the patches off the filets, which can now be cubed, diced, chopped or julienned for use in a wide range of delicacies.

Jun
11

How to Build a Derrick

Turkey-Derrick

This post is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube, check out the video here: http://bit.ly/ABFryDerrick

ALTON BROWN’s TURKEY DERRICK

WARNING: Failure to follow these instructions could result in fire or explosion, which could cause property damage, personal injury, or death—not to mention ruin a perfectly good turkey.

DERRICK PARTS LIST

1 (8-foot) fiberglass ladder

15 feet of heavy-duty cotton sash cord (not synthetic rope; it can’t take the heat)

2 (2-inch) pulleys, one with swivel top (I have taken to using heavy-duty screw-closure carabiners, which, while more expensive, are multitaskers)

1 (3-inch) quick link or carabiner (a real one, not a key chain that looks like one)

2 (75-pound-test) plastic cable ties (I actually use a 10mm-wide Dynex climbing runner because it’s reusable and strong as all get-out)

1 (6-inch) window shade cleat (or you can use a small boat cleat if you have one laying around)

2 (1-by-.25-inch) bolts

2 (.25-inch) nuts

1 sturdy, high-quality outdoor propane gas burner unit with accessories: burner base should be stable, 4-legged, and welded (not bolted); there should be double rings of gas jets, and an air-flow adjuster

1 heavy-duty outdoor cooker pot with lifter/spindle insert: 30- to 34-quart capacity, at least 15 inches tall

1 thermometer with clip attachment to measure oil temperature

1 instant-read meat thermometer

1 fire extinguisher

1 tank of propane fuel filled to the shoulder of the tank

4 feet of  fuel line

1 (3-foot) piece of aluminum foil

1 heavy wooden coat hanger

Optional but recommended: Spinning emergency beacon (D-battery version) for the top of the ladder, to warn of deep-frying in the vicinity.

 

LOCATION

Large-vessel frying is serious business. It matters a lot where you stage this operation. Be sure you are at least 10 feet—yes, feet—away from any structure like your house, your garden shed, your wooden fence, your deck, carport, or garage.

Also essential is a level surface—but not a wooden deck or a paved or concrete driveway; these will show oil splatters, and kids like to play there. A patch of grass or dirt that is level and free of toys and other obstacles is ideal.

You will also need to keep everyone at a safe distance from your base of operations—10 feet away. This is no place for kids, and no time to start any holiday drinking. Until your bird is done and delivered to the table, no alcohol allowed. Period.

Your base of operations should include a chair (because you are not going to leave this site until your turkey is done and the fire is out), a table containing your heat-resistant gloves, a timer, a stick-type lighter, a meat thermometer, a beverage (remember, nonalcoholic), and, most important of all, your trusty fire extinguisher.

 

CONSTRUCTION

1.      Thoroughly read—and then reread—the instructions that came with your burner unit. Assemble the burner unit as instructed in the manual.

2.      Figure 1, inset D: Bolt the cleat to the right side of the ladder with the 2 bolts and nuts; tighten securely.

3.      Figure 1, inset A: Tie one end of the sash cord to the top rung of the left side of the ladder with a bowline knot (very important knot to know; it cannot come untied).

4.      Figure 1, inset B: Secure a pulley to the top rung of the right side of ladder with 2 cable ties.

5.      Figure 1, inset C: Thread the sash cord through pulley 1 and then pulley 2; feed out enough cord to allow pulley 1 to center over the middle point beneath the ladder, about 4 feet off the ground; secure the cord to the cleat, wrapping in a figure-8 fashion several times and tying it off so it cannot slip.

6.      Figure 1, inset C: Attach the quick link or carabiner to pulley 1.

7.      Wrap the gas supply line with aluminum foil to protect it in case of any overflow.

8.      Place the burner unit under pulley 1, centered beneath the ladder, with the propane tank on the ground as far from the burner unit as possible.


 

Jun
4

Steak on Coals

Alton-Brown's-Skirt-Steak-on-Coals

This recipe is part of the AB/TV series on YouTube, watch the video here: http://bit.ly/ABSteakOnCoals

Skirt Steak Over Coals

 Recipe courtesy Alton Brown 2014

Software:

2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into three equal pieces

1 teaspoon  kosher salt

 

Procedure:

1. Remove the steak from the fridge and lay over a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan and season the steak liberal

2. Fire up one chimney starter of natural lump charcoal. Once white and ashy, distribute evenly in the lower level of your charcoal grill.

4. Using a blow dryer, blow the charcoal clean of ash.  Immediately lay steaks directly onto the hot coals for 35 to 40 seconds, then flip and repeat. When finished cooking, place the meat onto heavy duty aluminum foil, wrap, and rest for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the meat from the foil, reserving foil and juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Return to meat  and toss with the juice. Serve immediately.