Video: We’re Running Out of Fish

More and more, around the globe, fish is what’s for dinner. The average person eats more than 20 kilograms a year, double the level of the 1960s. But all those fish dinners are taking a heavy toll on ocean populations. The video explains the looming crisis of overfishing our oceans.

Watch video at Bloomberg (2:53 minutes) . . . . .

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Eating Nuts Can Reduce Weight Gain, Study Says

A study recently published in the online version of the European Journal of Nutrition has found that people who include nuts in their diet are more likely to reduce weight gain and lower the risk of overweight and obesity.

The findings came to light after researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated diet and lifestyle data from more than 373,000 individuals from 10 European countries between the ages of 25 and 70.

Senior investigator Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention at LLUSPH, said that many people have historically assumed that nuts — an energy-dense, high-fat food — are not a good choice for individuals who want to lose weight. The findings, however, contradict that assumption.

In their five-year study, Sabaté and junior investigator Heinz Freisling, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist with the Nutritional Methodology and Biostatistics group at IARC headquarters in Lyons, France, found that participants gained a mean average of 2.1 kilograms during the five-year period of the study. However, participants who ate the most nuts not only had less weight gain than their nut-abstaining peers, but also enjoyed a 5 percent lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.

“To me, this confirms that nuts are not an obesogenic food,” Sabaté said.

The pair of researchers has evaluated nuts in the past and found that they are positively associated with a variety of health benefits, including healthy aging and memory function in seniors. This study, however, represents the first time they have investigated the relationship between nuts and weight on a large scale. Peanuts, which are technically a ground nut, were included in the study along with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts, which are classified as tree nuts.

The team analyzed information on the dietary practices and body mass indexes of 373,293 participants, working with data gathered by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Although Sabaté and Freisling extracted and analyzed the data and reported the findings, they were joined by 35 other research scientists from 12 European countries and Malaysia who reviewed the paper ahead of publication.

Sabaté recommends that people eat nuts more often, pointing out that they offer energy, good fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

“Eat nuts during your meal,” he suggested. “Put them at the center of your plate to replace animal products. They’re very satiating.”

Source: Loma Linda University


Today’s Comic

Black Forest Cake

Ingredients

6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons raspberry preserves
40 fresh black cherries, pitted (or canned cherries, drained)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Syrup

1 cup water
I cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons kirsch

Kirsh Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup superfine sugar (or the same quantity of granulated sugar processed in a food processor for 1 minute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons kirsch

Method

  1. First make the sponge. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-1/2-inch diameter cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar, using an electric handheld mixer, until thick and the beaters leave a trail when lifted above the mixture. Sift together the cocoa powder and flour, then fold in. Stir in the melted butter.
  3. Divide the cake batter among the prepared pans and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, shave the block of chocolate by using a vegetable peeler or by carefully scraping the blade of a large kitchen knife across the surface of the chocolate. Keep the chocolate shavings in the refrigerator until needed.
  5. To make the syrup, put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then boil for 5 minutes. Let cool, then add the kirsch.
  6. To make the kirsch cream, whip the cream and sugar to firm peaks, then fold in the vanilla and kirsch.
  7. To assemble the cake, level the tops of the sponges, if necessary, using a sharp knife. Place a little kirsch cream on a serving plate and secure one of the sponges on top. Brush the sponge with some of the syrup, then spread over the raspberry preserves. Sandwich together with a second sponge and brush again with the syrup. Spread over a thick layer of the kirsch cream, about 1/2-inch deep. Cover with the cherries, reserving eight for decoration. Spread a little more cream over the cherries to secure them, then top with the final sponge, upside down to create an even, flat surface. Brush with the remaining syrup.
  8. Spoon 1/3 cup of the kirsch cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and set aside. Using a spatula, cover the top and side of the cake with the remaining cream. Carefully stick the chocolate shavings all over the side of the cake with the palm of your hand. Pipe around the edge of the cake and eight swirls in the middle, then place the reserved cherries on top of the swirls. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Makes 10 servings.

Source: Chocolat

How to Pick the Best Chocolate Bar Your Money Can Buy

Deena Shanker wrote . . . . . .

By now you’ve probably noticed the increasingly crowded shelves of chocolate at U.S. grocers and specialty food shops, not to mention Amazon.com, ABC Carpet & Home, and Target. Once the domain of a few, craft chocolate, also known as bean-to-bar chocolate, has found its own niche in the foodie market. There are more options for chocolate lovers than ever before, and that makes the choices all the harder.

One way to navigate this sweet but intimidating little world is with Megan Giller’s forthcoming book, Bean to Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution. The book, out Sept. 19, provides tasting tips, origin stories, and profiles of the country’s most talented chocolate makers, who have perfected the process of turning specially sourced beans into mouthwatering bars.

A craft chocolate bar means the maker “absolutely starts with whole beans and turns them into chocolate themselves,” no remelting of couverture allowed, Giller said in an interview. Pro tip: Don’t call makers chocolatiers, who work with chocolate that has already been made.

For those new to the world of expensive chocolate—bars generally range from $8 to $14—these basics will spare you the bitter aftertaste of making a bad investment.

Don’t judge a bar by its cover

Don’t be distracted by the beautiful wrappers. Some of the best bars come in stodgy packaging, while unimpressive bars have been known to cloak themselves in bespoke attire. Instead, look to the information printed on the wrapping. The label should include the bean’s country of origin (or countries, since some makers do blends) and cocoa percentage, both of which will affect the flavor of your bar. Check the ingredients, making sure cocoa beans are listed first, and don’t be afraid of soy lecithin and vanilla.

A chocolate award is a reliable indication of a quality bar. “There aren’t that many awards for craft chocolate right now,” Giller said, “and the ones there are are pretty solid.” But, she added, not all companies go for awards. So look for information about how the bar was made. Some will simply say “small batch” or “bean-to-bar,” while others will tell you how the makers found the beans and what makes them special. “Take ‘handmade’ and ‘artisan’ with a grain of salt, since they often promise more than they deliver,” she writes.

Buy what you like

If you’re going with a two-ingredient bar, just cocoa and sugar, the origin of the beans is that much more important, as their flavor will be prominent. Even though cocoa beans grow only within 20 degrees of the equator, there is still a wide array of flavors, depending on the provenance of the beans. Want something with fruity, spicy notes? Try Vietnam. For floral flavors, go to Ecuador. Giller has provided a handy tasting map to help you make the best choice. At the same time, she warns against assuming you know what you’ll like. “Maybe you like a fruity wine but not a fruity chocolate,” she said.

You don’t need to start with the two-ingredient bars, and certainly not with the bitter, one-ingredient, 100% cocoa bars, even if purists swear by them. Lots of excellent makers are adding in old standbys, such as vanilla, and having fun with wild inclusions (chocolate-speak for ingredients that add flavor or texture), such as chai, blue cheese, and pop rocks.

Makers are also refuting the notion that milk chocolate is somehow lesser. While milk chocolate has an association with low-quality, drugstore chocolate, makers are now offering “dark milk” bars “with as much or more depth of flavor than any dark chocolate,” Giller writes.

Don’t put too much stock in certificates

One of the big draws of a bar of craft chocolate is the social justice vibes you get when you buy it, because the maker is paying fair prices to farmers for their better-than-commodity beans grown with environmentally friendly methods.

“Chocolate shouldn’t cost $1,” Giller explains, because that price “undercuts the farmer, the flavor, and the finesse that it takes to make good chocolate.”

The cocoa commodity market is rife with poverty and human rights abuses, including child slavery, as well as environmental impacts such as rainforest destruction. While the chocolate industry is developing programs to combat these problems, craft chocolate makers operate outside the normal West African supply chain, where the abuses are rampant.

Many craft makers choose not to subscribe to certifications such as Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, or Organic so that farmers won’t have to pay the cost of the certification. Instead, the makers pay the farms or co-ops and evaluate agricultural practices themselves, in what they’ve dubbed “direct trade.” Company representatives will routinely visit their farms and tell their customers about the relationship on the packaging. It’s clearly not a fail-safe method, but Giller said in general the more detailed the information, the stronger the relationship between maker and farmer is likely to be. “To me, that matters way more than Organic or Rainforest Alliance and all of those,” she said.


Enlarge image . . . . .

Try these starter bars

Giller shared some recommendations for novices:

Fruition Chocolate’s Brown Butter Milk Chocolate is made with Dominican cacao and locally sourced milk. “A fantastic first craft chocolate,” Giller said.

Askinosie Chocolate’s Dark Chocolate + Crunchy Sugar Crystals & Vanilla Bean CollaBARation Bar is made with specialty foods company Zingerman’s. It’s a Mexican-style chocolate bar, so it’s got a certain grittiness and big sugar crystals. Giller said it’s a top-notch inclusion bar.

Dandelion Chocolate’s Ambanja, Madagascar 70% bar is a single-origin classic with an intense berry flavor. “A good one for curious people,” Giller said.

Source: Bloomberg

Study: Higher Maganese Levels in Children Correlate With Lower IQ Scores

A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears online in the journal NeuroToxicology, available in advance of publication.

The study analyzed blood and hair samples of 106 children 7 to 9 years of age from East Liverpool and surrounding communities, who enrolled in the study from March 2013 to June 2014. Working with a trained registered nurse from East Liverpool, participants and their caregivers were also given cognitive assessments and questionnaires at the time the samples were taken.

The study found that increased Mn in hair samples was significantly associated with declines in full-scale IQ, processing speed and working memory.

Manganese is an element generally found in combination with iron and many minerals. It plays a vital role in brain growth and development, but excessive exposure can result in neurotoxicity. Manganese is used widely in the production of steel, alloys, batteries and fertilizers and is added to unleaded gasoline.

Erin Haynes, DrPH, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and lead author of the study, was approached by East Liverpool school district officials in 2013, prompted by concerns of students’ academic performance, paired with the knowledge that manganese concentrations in the area have exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reference levels for more than a decade.

“There are socioeconomic issues at play, however, they are also compounded by potentially significant environmental exposures,” says Haynes, who collaborated with the Kent State East Liverpool Campus and the community group Save our County Inc., formed in 1982 by East Liverpool residents in response to the proposed construction of a hazardous waste incinerator in their community. “Children may be particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of ambient manganese exposure, as their brains are undergoing a dynamic process of growth and development.”

After concerns of elevated airborne levels of manganese, the school district superintendent in East Liverpool requested testing students for manganese along with neuropsychological tests. A pilot study overseen by Haynes found levels of manganese at double the level in children from the other CARES study cohort, and further investigation was pursued to examine the association between manganese exposure and child cognition.

Source: University of Cincinnati