One-pot Meal of Duck Legs and Vegetables


8 duck legs (legs with thighs)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large daikon, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
White or brown rice for serving

Braising Sauce

4 cups light soy sauce
2 cups good red wine
2 pounds rock sugar
3-inch piece of unpeeled ginger, washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 dried Thai bird chilies
1 medium head garlic, halved horizontally
1 piece star anise
1 bunch scallions, white and greens parts, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 medium unpeeled orange, washed and quartered
2 cinnamon sticks


  1. In a large nonreactive pot, combine the braising sauce ingredients. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce or more water as needed.
  2. Add the duck legs and simmer until the meat falls from the bones, about 2-1/2 hours. (Quick tip: You can use a pressure cooker to do this. Cook the duck under pressure for 45 minutes, release the pressure, uncover, and proceed as follows.)
  3. Twenty minutes before the duck is cooked, add the potatoes and daikon. Test the potatoes with a fork to make sure they’re tender; if not, simmer a bit longer.
  4. Remove the legs and vegetables and keep warm. Skim the cooking sauce. Divide the duck legs and vegetables among four individual plates, spoon sauce over them, and serve with the rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Simply Ming One-pot Meals

In Pictures: One Pot Meals

Video: The Politics of Food – An Apple That Tastes Like A Grape

The Grapple is an apple that tastes like a grape. Created in Wenatchee Valley, WA—“The Apple Capital of the World”—the Grapple is now a commercial success available at Walmarts and big-box stores the world over. But how is it made? According to the label, it’s simply apples infused with natural and artificial grape flavor. But it turns out that methyl anthranilate—the chemical compound in artificial grape flavor—is used as a bird repellent. In this investigative report, VICE’s former editor-in-chief Adam Leith Gollner, author of The Fruit Hunters, looks at how the Grapple came into existence.

Adam speaks with everyone from growers and breeders to pesticide salesmen and patent lawyers, even exploring the notion of the FDA’s GRAS list, “Generally Regarded As Safe”, with Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This edition of Politics of Food explores one of the strangest fruits available in the world today; in Adam’s search to solve this flavor mystery, which sheds light on the complex nature of our modern food system, we find out that this pomaceous treat represents much more than a puerile snack.

Watch video at Munchies (26:07 minutes) . . . . .

Exercise and Food for Muscle Building

Muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. In fact, most of us start losing muscle around age 30, with a 3- to 8-percent reduction in lean muscle mass every decade thereafter.

This is due to lower testosterone levels in men and lower estrogen levels in women — both hormones that help build muscle — as well as changes in nerve and blood cells and the body not converting amino acids to muscle tissue as efficiently, among other factors. But muscle loss doesn’t need to be inevitable: For adult men and women, regular resistance training exercises are key to building and keeping muscle.

Strength Training

Strength training is an important piece of the fitness equation. Men and women should participate in muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms) at least two times each week. Examples of strength training include lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. Even everyday activities such as carrying groceries, playing with your kids and gardening can strengthen muscles.

One of the best ways to support strength building is good nutrition. An eating pattern that includes five to six small, balanced meals per day fuels muscle growth. Protein, carbohydrates and fat play a major role, as does getting enough calories throughout the day. Read on to find out how each macronutrient can help you bulk up — and how much to eat every day.

Protein and Muscle Building

When building muscle, the more protein the better, right? Not necessarily. While you’re working to build muscle with exercise, protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of total calories for adults. Research shows there is no benefit to eating more protein than this amount and it can be harmful.

Keeping muscle mass, on the other hand, requires a lot less protein than building new muscle. For example, the needs of a sedentary adult are 0.37 grams per pound of body weight, and that equals about 46 grams of total protein for an adult woman and 56 grams of total protein for an adult man per day. A typical day that includes 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy plus 3 servings of protein foods (such as lean meat, poultry, fish or beans) will provide quality sources of protein to help reach that goal. Grains, especially whole grains, also provide some protein but may not be enough to meet dietary needs.

Protein levels of common foods:

  • 1 large egg = 6 grams
  • 1 cup low-fat milk = 8 grams
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt = 12 grams
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese = 14 grams
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 8 grams
  • 1 cup quinoa = 8 grams
  • 3 ounces of lean ground beef = 22 grams
  • 3 ounces skinless, baked chicken = 26 grams
  • 3 ounces grilled salmon = 21 grams

Carbohydrates and Muscle Building

Carbohydrates are an important group of foods for fueling your muscles. That’s because carbs are partially converted to glycogen, which is stored in muscle to power your workouts. Men and women who are strength training at least twice a week need at least half of their calories from carbohydrates per day. That doesn’t mean you should be loading up on pizza and bagels. Try adding in good quality carbohydrates that are low in fat, such as whole-grain breads and cereals for the best strength-training boost. Low-fat milk and yogurt and fruits and vegetables are also good options and provide some carbohydrates in our diet. When planning your meals and snacks, it is recommended to stay away from higher fiber foods prior to or during exercise.

Fat and Muscle Building

Contrary to the fat-free trend, you actually need fat in your daily diet. Your body relies on fat to supply energy to muscles during activity, and how much fat a person needs can vary. As a general guideline, fat should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total calories.

For overall health and muscle strength, focus on the heart-healthy fats, including extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, avocados and fatty fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and trout.

Fat contains twice the number of calories as carbohydrates and protein, so it is important to monitor serving sizes. For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and 1 ounce of walnuts (about 14 nuts) has 185 calories. If possible, measure and count before eating.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Link Between Anemia and Mild Cognitive Impairment

In a large population-based study of randomly selected participants in Germany, researchers found that participants with anemia, defined as haemoglobin <13 g/dl in men and <12 g/dl in women, showed lower performances in verbal memory and executive functions. Furthermore, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) occurred almost twice more often in participants diagnosed with anemia. This study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Because dementia is the end stage of many years of accumulation of pathological changes in the brain, researchers focus on early stages of cognitive impairment. MCI represents an intermediate and possibly modifiable stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia. Although persons with MCI have an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD), they can also remain stable for many years or even revert to a cognitively normal state over time. This modifiable characteristic makes the concept of MCI a promising target in the prevention of dementia.

What criteria determine MCI? The following four criteria were used to diagnose MCI: First, participants have to report a decline in cognitive performance over the past two years. Second, the participants have to show a cognitive impairment in objective cognitive tasks that is greater than one would expect taking their age and education into consideration. Third, this impairment is not as pronounced as in demented individuals since persons with MCI can perform normal daily living activities or are only slightly impaired in carrying out complex instrumental functions. Fourth, the cognitive impairment is insufficient to fulfil criteria for dementia.

The concept of MCI distinguishes between amnestic MCI (aMCI) and non-amnestic MCI (naMCI). In the former, impairment in the memory domain is evident, most likely reflecting AD pathology. In the latter, impairment in non-memory domains is present, mainly reflecting vascular pathology but also frontotemporal dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies.

The Heinz Nixdorf Recall (Risk Factors, Evaluation of Coronary Calcium and Lifestyle) study is an observational, population-based, prospective study that examined 4,814 participants (50% men) between 2000 and 2003 in the metropolitan Ruhr Area. After five years, a second examination was conducted with 92% of the participants taking part. The publication reports cross-sectional results of the second examination.

First, 163 participants with anemia and 3,870 participants without anemia were included to compare the performance in all cognitive subtests. Interestingly, anemic participants showed more pronounced cardiovascular risk profiles and lower cognitive performance in all administered cognitive subtests. After adjusting for age, anemic participants showed a significantly lower performance specifically in the immediate recall task and the verbal fluency task.

Second, 579 participants diagnosed with MCI (299 participants with aMCI and 280 with naMCI) and 1,438 cognitively normal participants were included to compare the frequency of MCI and MCI subtype diagnosis in anemic and non-anemic participants. MCI occurred almost twice more often in anemic than in non-anemic participants. Similar results were found for MCI subtypes, indicating that low hemoglobin level may contribute to cognitive impairment via different pathways.

These results suggest that anemia is associated with an increased risk of MCI independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. The association of anemia and MCI has important clinical relevance because -depending on etiology- anemia can be treated effectively. This might provide means to prevent or delay cognitive decline.

Source: IOS Press

Today’s Comic