Gadget: Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cups and Spoons Set

The body is built from 4 measuring cups: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup.

The detachable utility arms turn into nested measuring spoons: 1/4, 1/2, 1 tsp, and 1/3 tbsp.

The dome measures 1/2 cup.

Source: thinkgeek

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Truffle Oil


2 tbsp salted butter, melted
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or coarse dry breadcrumbs
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 oz dry penne pasta
1 tbsp black truffle oil
2 tsp olive oil
4 slices uncooked smoked bacon, chopped (4 oz)
2 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp all- purpose flour
1½ cups half and half
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter four 8 oz shallow ramekins.
  2. To make topping, in a small bowl, combine butter, breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup cheese. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2½ teaspoons salt and penne. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Pasta is done when it is slightly chewy to the bite or al dente. Drain pasta in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Toss pasta with truffle oil and set aside.
  4. Prepare sauce while pasta is cooking. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until golden 3-4 minutes. Stir in shallots, garlic and thyme and cook for one minute. Whisk in flour and cook 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually add half and half and bring just to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until sauce slightly thickens, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add salt, pepper and remaining 2½ cups of cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove pan from heat and fold in basil and pasta. Divide into individual baking dishes. Top with reserved breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown.
  6. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Culinary Trend

In Pictures: Original Design Bento

Back Pack Bento

Mountain View Bento

Home Bento

Mona Lisa Bento

Chinese Remedy Shows Promise for Rheumatoid Arthritis

A traditional Chinese remedy may work as well as a widely used drug to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. And using both treatments together may work better than using either on its own.

What do we know already?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes joints to become painful, stiff, and swollen. It happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the linings of the joints, making them inflamed.

The main treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are medicines called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs for short. The most common is methotrexate.

Although DMARDs can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, they don’t work for everyone. They can also cause side effects in some people, including loss of appetite and blisters or acne.

Some previous research had suggested that a traditional Chinese herbal remedy may provide an effective alternative. It is made from a plant called Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF for short). Recent studies have found that TwHF can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis more than a dummy treatment (a placebo) and a DMARD called sulfasalazine. However, these studies have not compared TwHF with methotrexate.

How was the new study done?

The new study included 207 people in China who had rheumatoid arthritis. Most had never taken a DMARD before. The researchers randomly assigned them to take methotrexate, TwHF, or both treatments for 24 weeks. If the people taking either treatment alone didn’t improve much after 12 weeks, they started taking both treatments.

The researchers used several questionnaires and scales to measure people’s symptoms throughout the study. The main result they looked at is called the ACR50 response. This means that a person has at least a 50 percent improvement in their number of tender or swollen joints, as well as in other areas, such as being able to do more physically.

What does the new study say?

A similar number of people had an ACR50 response whether they took methotrexate or TwHF. Around 46 in every 100 people taking methotrexate had this level of improvement compared with 55 in every 100 people taking TwHF. However, taking both treatments worked even better, with nearly 77 in every 100 people having an ACR50 response.

Side effects were similar in all three groups of people, with the most common being problems with digestion, such as nausea and loss of appetite. The side effects were usually mild. Fifteen women stopped having regular periods during the study. This was slightly more common among those taking TwHF.

How reliable is the research?

This was a type of study called a randomised controlled trial, which is the best type of study for comparing treatments. It was also fairly large and most people completed the study. This makes its findings more reliable.

However, the researchers weren’t able to hide which treatments people were taking. This means that people’s expectations might have affected their response to the treatments, such as how they rated their symptoms.

Also, bear in mind that the study lasted only 24 weeks, so we don’t know how this treatment might affect people in the longer term.

The researchers also note that the dose of methotrexate used in the study – 12.5 milligrams per week – is lower than the dose often used in Western countries. So it’s possible that the Chinese remedy might not work as well as a higher dose of methotrexate.

What does this mean for me?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may find these results quite encouraging, particularly if you are interested in treatments beyond the standard DMARDs. However, the research on TwHF is at an early stage and this treatment is still considered experimental in Western countries. The plant used in this treatment – sometimes called léi gōng téng – can also be highly toxic. Because of safety concerns, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) currently recommends that people in the UK don’t use Chinese medicines containing this herbal ingredient.

If you have questions about TwHF, or about any treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, speak with your doctor.

Source: Best Health

Today’s Comic

My Recipe

Noodle Soup with Hot and Spicy Ground Beef Sauce


10 oz dried Shanghai Noodle
5 oz lean ground beef
2 oz celery
2 oz Szechuan preserved vegetable (榨菜)
4 Tbsp green onion (chopped)
1 Tbsp garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp ginger (minced)
1 Tbsp shallot
2 Tbsp chili soybean (辣豆瓣)
4 Tbsp roasted chopped peanut
12 pieces small baby bok choy
3 to 4 sprigs for garnish cilantro

Beef Marinade:

1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp cooking wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
dash white ground pepper
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp oil

Seasoning Broth:

4 cups hot water
1½ tsp chicken broth mix
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Add marinade to beef. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
  2. Leave small baby bok choy whole and cut bigger ones into 2 halves. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
  3. Finely dice celery and Szechuan preserved vegetable.
  4. Put 10 cups of water in a wok. Bring to a rolling boil. Add noodle and cook for 3 minutes. Remove and rinse under running cold tap water until completely cooled. Drain.
  5. Pour away water in wok. Dry, reheat wok and add 1/2 Tbsp oil. Stir-fry bok choy for 10 seconds. Add 2 tsp water. Cover and cook until tender crisp. Remove.
  6. Rinse and dry wok if required. Reheat wok and add 2 Tbsp oil. Sauté garlic, ginger and shallot until fragrant. Add beef and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add celery and Szechuan preserved vegetable, toss for 30 seconds. Add chili soybean and green onion. Toss to combine. Remove.
  7. Rinse, dry and reheat wok. Heat peanut butter on low heat and gradually blend in water. Add remaining seasoning broth ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil. Add noodle to heat through. Remove noodle and place in serving bowls, top with a portion of the meat mixture and bok choy. Reboil seasoning broth and pour over meat mixture and noodle in serving bowls. Top with peanut and cilantro. Serve hot.

Nutrition value for 1/6 portion of recipe:

Calorie 303, Fat 11.7 g, Carbohydrate 37 g, Fibre 2 g, Sugar 2 g, Cholesterol 24 mg, Sodium 615 mg, Protein 12 g.

Cute Sweet Snack

Bunny Parfait

The parfaits are served by a café in Ginza, Tokyo at 1,780 Yen (about US$17.45) each.

Calcium Score Predicts Future Heart Disease

With growing evidence that a measurement of the buildup of calcium in coronary arteries can predict heart disease risk, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) researchers found that the process of “calcium scoring” was also accurate in predicting the chances of dying of heart disease among adults with little or no known risk of heart disease.

Previous studies had found that calcium scores were effective in predicting heart disease among adults with known heart disease risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, current smoking or a family history of heart disease. The study conducted by LA BioMed researchers examined 5,593 adults with no known heart disease risk or with minimal risk of heart disease, who had undergone coronary artery calcium screening by non-contrast cardiac computed tomography from 1991-2011.

Normally, the coronary arteries don’t contain calcium. A buildup of calcium can narrow the arteries to the heart and lead to a heart attack. The screening process results in a calcium score indicating the amount of calcium in the plaque lining the walls of the coronary arteries.

Among the adults in the study, even those with low coronary artery calcium scores of 1-99 were 50% more likely to die of heart disease than adults with a calcium score of zero. Adults with moderate scores of 100-399 were 80% more likely to die from heart disease than those with a score of zero, and those with scores of 400 or more were three times more likely to die from heart disease, when compared to adults with no calcified plaque buildup, or a score of zero.

“This long-term study builds on previous research conducted at LA BioMed and other institutions that have proven the effectiveness of coronary artery calcium screening in predicting heart disease risks,” said Matthew J. Budoff, MD, one of the LA BioMed researchers who conducted the study. “Normally, calcium scoring is only recommended for patients with known heart disease risks. These findings suggest that calcium scoring can be an effective tool for assessing heart disease risks in adults with no known risk factors so that they can make the lifestyle and other changes that can help them avoid heart disease in the future.”

Dr. Budoff and Rine Nakanishi, MD, PhD, presented these findings at ACC.14, the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology in March, along with other researchers whose studies also found coronary artery calcium screening accurately predicted the risk of future heart disease.

Source: EurekAlert


Studies Suggest Coronary Calcium Scores Can Assess Long-Term Risk for Heart Disease …..