My Recipe

Hot and Spicy Stir-fried Beef


9 oz top sirloin steak or flank steak
3 oz carrot
4 oz celery
4 pieces dried chili pepper
5 oz broccoli florets
1 tsp ginger (minced)
2 tsp garlic (minced)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp Szechuan ground peppercorn

Beef Marinade:

1/4 tsp baking soda (optional)
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp cooking wine
1 tsp Tabasco pepper sauce
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp oil


2 tsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp Tabasco pepper sauce
1/2 tsp chicken broth mix
1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp water


  1. Cut beef against the grain into 1-1/2-inch long thin strips. Add marinade and set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut carrot and celery into thin strips same length as beef.
  3. Break each dried chili pepper into 3 pieces.
  4. Mix sauce ingredients.
  5. Heat wok and add 1/2 Tbsp oil. Stir-fry carrot for 1 minute. Add celery and toss for another minute. Remove.
  6. Add 1-1/2 Tbsp oil to wok. Sauté half of the ginger, garlic and dried chili until fragrant. Add half of the marinated beef and stir-fry until no longer pink. Remove. Add another 1 Tbsp oil to wok. Sauté remaining ginger, garlic and dried chili. Stir-fry remaining beef until done. Return the previously cooked beef, carrot and celery to wok. Add sauce ingredients. Keep tossing until sauce thickens. Add Szechuan ground peppercorn. Toss to combine. Remove onto serving platter.
  7. Rinse, dry, reheat wok and add 1 Tbsp oil. Stir-fry broccoli for 30 seconds. Add 1 tsp wine, toss for 10 seconds. Add 2-1/2 Tbsp water and 1/8 tsp salt. Toss and cover wok. Cook until tender crisp. Remove and arrange on platter with beef mixture. Serve at once.

Nutrition value for 1/4 portion of recipe:

Calorie 261, Fat 18.4 g, Carbohydrate 9 g, Fibre 2 g, Sugar 3 g, Cholesterol 23 mg, Sodium 866 mg, Protein 16 g.

Is Coconut Sugar a Healthier Sweetener?

Dr. Andrew Weil wrote . . . . . .

Coconut sugar, more accurately coconut palm sugar, is made from sap of the coconut palm that has been extracted and then boiled and dehydrated. It provides the same number of calories and carbohydrates as regular cane sugar (about 15 calories and four grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon) so you wouldn’t be gaining any advantage in these respects by making a switch. However, coconut sugar is 70 to 79 percent sucrose and only three percent to nine percent each of fructose and glucose. This is an advantage, because you want to keep your consumption of fructose as low as possible, and cane sugar is 50 percent fructose. Coconut sugar is caramel colored with a taste that is similar to that of brown sugar and can be substituted for cane sugar in most recipes. (Note: don’t confuse coconut palm sugar with palm sugar, which is derived from the sugar palm tree. Palm sugar is often used in Thai dishes.)

All things coconut have become more and more popular lately. One of the big selling points – and health claims – for coconut sugar is that it is low on the glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis of how they affect blood sugar (glucose). This is irrelevant. The glycemic index does not directly apply to sweeteners. Fructose ranks very low on it, because the body cannot derive energy from it. I recommend cutting down on sweeteners of all types, and especially fructose.

If you want to try coconut sugar, shop carefully and read the labels before buying: some brands may be mixed with cane sugar and other ingredients. You’ll find products described as “coconut crystals,” “coconut sugar” or “coconut palm sugar,” and you’ll probably notice that they are more expensive than regular cane sugar. I checked prices online and saw that they ranged from about $4 to $15 per pound. The Food Network gives comparative pricing as follows: cane sugar seven cents per ounce, vs. coconut sugar 22 cents per ounce.

Overall, there isn’t much difference between white table sugar and other natural sugars including coconut, honey, maple syrup (my personal favorite), molasses and sorghum. To the body they are all sugar to be converted to glucose for metabolic fuel. But note that agave nectar can be 85 percent fructose, while maple syrup is about 35 percent.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, Americans consume about 64 pounds of sugar per person per year in desserts, snacks, fruit juices, fruits, prepared foods and beverages. That’s too much.


Coconut Sugar: Is It Healthier than White Sugar, or Just Hype?

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . .

Coconut sugar (also called coconut palm sugar or coconut crystals) has become a popular alternative to white sugar due to its flavour and perceived health benefits. It’s also viewed as being more natural, or less highly processed, than table sugar.

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of flower buds from the coconut palm tree. (It’s not made from coconuts as you might think.) The sap is boiled over moderate heat to evaporate most of its water content. The final product is coconut sugar, which is caramel-coloured and tastes similar to brown sugar.

Chemically speaking, much of coconut sugar is identical to white sugar (e.g. sucrose). Seventy to 79 per cent of coconut sugar is sucrose; the rest is made up of individual molecules of glucose and fructose (the two sugars than make up sucrose). When it comes to calories and carbohydrate content, there’s no difference between coconut sugar and white sugar – both have 16 calories and 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon.

Coconut sugar is often hyped as retaining many minerals from the sap, especially potassium. It’s true that 100 grams (25 teaspoons!) of coconut sugar has 1,030 mg of potassium, nearly one-quarter of a day’s worth. But don’t count on getting much of anything except sugar in a teaspoon or two.

According to the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (35) than white sugar (60 to 65), meaning it doesn’t spike your blood glucose and insulin like table sugar does. (Honey and agave syrup are low on the glycemic index scale too.) Glycemic index values of 55 or less are considered low; values of 70 or more are high.

Bottom line: Nutritionally, there isn’t much of a difference between coconut sugar and table sugar. Both are added sugars we need to limit. Too much sugar of any type – white, brown, coconut, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar – raises blood triglycerides, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol and contributes excess calories to your diet. If you decide to make the switch to coconut sugar, use it sparingly.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Coconut Palm Sugar for People with Diabetes

Coconut palm sugar is a sugar substitute that seems to be gaining popularity in the market. It is made from sap that is extracted from the coconut tree. The taste of pure coconut palm sugar is similar to brown sugar. For cooking purposes, it has a very low melt temperature and an extremely high burn temperature so it can be used baked products in place of sugar.

Manufacturers of coconut palm sugar boast its low glycemic index, claiming it is a better choice for people with diabetes than regular sugar. Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how a food raises blood glucose (or blood sugar) compared to a reference food (usually glucose or white bread). In the United States, we do not do official GI testing. So, GI numbers for the same food can differ depending on your source.

GI can also vary from person to person. It will change depending on how a food is cooked, and what the food is eaten with. In the case of coconut palm sugar, it is likely to be mixed or prepared with other ingredients that contain carbohydrates.

It is okay for people with diabetes to use coconut palm sugar as a sweetener, but they should not treat it any differently than regular sugar. It provides just as many calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar: about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon. So, you still need to account for it when planning meals.

Also, note that some coconut palm sugar on the market may be mixed with cane sugar and other ingredients. It is important to check nutrition labels and read the ingredient list on these products.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Video: Vitamins Good for You and Vitamins You Can Skip

Watch video at Business Insider (1:27 minutes) . . . . .

Robot Makes Sure Stores Don’t Run Out of Doritos

Will Knight wrote . . . . .

A shelf-scanning bot called Tally will help make sure everything is in its place in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

When customers can’t find a product on a shelf it’s an inconvenience. But by some estimates, it adds up to billions of dollars of lost revenue each year for retailers around the world.

A new shelf-scanning robot called Tally could help ensure that customers never leave a store empty-handed. It roams the aisles and automatically records which shelves need to be restocked.

The robot, developed by a startup called Simbe Robotics, is the latest effort to automate some of the more routine work done in millions of warehouses and retail stores. It is also an example of the way robots and AI will increasingly take over parts of people’s jobs rather than replacing them.

Restocking shelves is simple but hugely important for retailers. Billions of dollars may be lost each year because products are missing, misplaced, or poorly arranged, according to a report from the analyst firm IHL Services. In a large store it can take hundreds of hours to inspect shelves manually each week.

Brad Bogolea, CEO and cofounder of Simbe Robotics, says his company’s robot can scan the shelves of a small store, like a modest CVS or Walgreens, in about an hour. A very large retailer might need several robots to patrol its premises. He says the robot will be offered on a subscription basis but did not provide the pricing. Bogolea adds that one large retailer is already testing the machine.

Tally automatically roams a store, checking whether a shelf needs restocking; whether a product has been misplaced or poorly arranged; and whether the prices shown on shelves are correct. The robot consists of a wheeled platform with four cameras that scan the shelves on either side from the floor up to a height of eight feet.

Tally takes advantage of the fact that big stores already put together data showing the layout of shelves and the arrangement of products on those shelves.

It uses a map of the store to navigate, while the shelf layout, known as a retail planogram, is used to compare the actual shelves to the ideal. The data collected by the robot is transmitted to a server, where it is analyzed and turned into alerts for the retailer.

Two of three founders of Simbe Robotics were involved with Willow Garage, a research lab and incubator created by Scott Hassan, an entrepreneur who worked with the founders of Google on a precursor to their search engine, to develop advanced robotic hardware and software. Willow Garage spawned a number of robotics startups as well as the widely used Robot Operating System software.

Tally is just the latest example of robots creeping into new areas of work (see “Are You Ready for a Robot Colleague?”). A study published recently by the consulting firm McKinsey concludes that 46 percent of most work could be automated using emerging technologies.

Simbe Robotics plans to develop other robots for the retail space in the future. “Our primary vision is automating retail,” Bogolea says. “We think there’s a huge opportunity to automate mundane tasks, to free people up to focus on customer service.”

Manuela Veloso, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who works with mobile robots, says Tally is a clever idea for a robot. “From a technical point of view, it’s challenging,” she says, although the problem is simplified in this case because all the products are arranged on shelves.

Joe Jones, a robotics researcher and entrepreneur who was involved with iRobot and Harvest Automation, is also impressed. But he says the biggest challenge for Simbe Robotics will be getting the system to work reliably in the real world. “In a real-world environment the robot may not behave as effectively as it does in the lab or even in a supportive beta test site,” he says.

Source: MIT Technology Review

Food Industry Can Help Lower Cardiovascular Diseases by Adding Little Seaweed to Products

Adding seaweed to processed foods such as frozen pizzas, hot dogs and dried pasta will reduce cardiovascular diseases, concludes a new scientific article. One suggestion is to replace 5% of the flour in pizza dough with dried and granulated seaweed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of premature death globally. Ironically, many of the pathologies leading to premature death from cardiovascular diseases are not only widespread, but they are preventable.

One way to prevent cardiovascular diseases is to avoid obesity and eat healthy, leaving the responsibility with the individual consumer.

But the responsibility should also be shared by society, argues University of Southern Denmark professor of biophysics, Ole G. Mouritsen, who has authored several books on seaweed as food.

Professor Mouritsen is the co-author of an article in the journal Phycologia reviewing existing knowledge on the health effects of 35 different seaweed species.

In the article the authors offer suggestions to how both individual consumers and the food industry can use seaweed to make our everyday meals healthier.

“Certain substances in seaweed may be important for reducing cardiovascular diseases. We think this knowledge should be available for society and also be put to use,” says Mouritsen.

Seaweed salt is healthier salt

Many seaweed species have a variety of health benefits. They contain, among other things, beneficial proteins, antioxidants, minerals, trace elements, dietary fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Seaweed’s content of potassium salts does not led to high blood pressure — unlike the sodium salts, typically encountered in the processed food.

An important feature is also that the seaweed has umami — the fifth basic taste, which is known to promote satiety and hence regulate food intake in addition to reduce the craving for salt, sugar and fat.

“It is difficult to determine how much seaweed a person should consume to benefit from its good qualities. 5-10 grams of dried seaweed per day is my estimate,” says Professor Mouritsen.

He and the co-authors suggest that seaweed should be added fast food, thus making this type of food healthier. It can even enhance the flavor of the food, they argue. For example, dried and granulated seaweed can replace some of the flour when producing dry pasta, bread, pizza, snack bars, etc.

Seaweed is also good in meat products

It is also possible to add seaweed to meat products and thereby provide the consumer with an increased intake of dietary fiber and antioxidants — or maybe the aim is lower cholesterol levels.

In the article Professor Mouritsen and his co-authors describe a study in which a group of overweight but otherwise healthy men were asked to taste bread with added dried seaweed from the species Ascophyllum nosodum. The men’s reaction was that the bread tasted acceptable as long as the seaweed content was kept under 4%.

By eating bread containing 4% of dried seaweed the overweight men ingested more dietary fiber (4.5 g more fiber per. 100 g) than when they ate the control whole-meal bread. Another effect was that they consumed 16.4% less energy in the 24 hour period after eating the seaweed enriched bread.

“We know that many people have difficulty distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy food. By adding seaweed to processed foods we can make food healthier. In many cases we also get tastier food, and it may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases,” the authors believe.

How to get the health benefits from seaweed

  • Seaweed contains only few calories, but is still rich in rich in essential amino acids, dietary fibers, minerals, trace elements, vitamins and polyunsaturated fats.
  • You can easily add up to 5% dried seaweed to a dough without losing its ability to raise.
  • Dried seaweed can be stored for months or years without loss of flavor and nutritional value.
  • Dried seaweed can be added to food as powder, granulate or pieces in pastries, egg dishes, mashed potatoes, dressings, or sprinkled on vegetables or fish dishes.
  • Powders and granulates can be used as a salt substitute.
  • Hijiki contains arsenic, which is carcinogenic and therefore some national food authorities recommend that you do not eat it. Despite these warnings, you can buy dried hijiki in many stores.
  • Some species may contain large amounts of iodine.
  • Never eat seaweed that is washed up on the beach.

Source: Science Daily