Golden Cristal Ube Donut

The Manila Social Club Golden Cristal Ube Donut has champagne icing made with Cristal and filled with an ube mousse, champagne jelly, and covered with 24 k Gold.

Every single donut is handmade by Manila Social Club’s Executive Chef and Co-owner, Bjorn De La Cruz, and hand gilded in 24 K Gold Dust and 24 K Gold Leaf.

The price is US$100 per donut or US$1,000 per dozen.

Vegetarian Mushroom Ragout with Grit


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms, dark gills scraped out with a spoon, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1-3/4 pounds assorted mushrooms, such as oyster, cremini, maitake, shimeji, and/or king trumpets, trimmed, large mushrooms halved or quartered
5 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves,finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish


1 cup quick-cooking grits
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt


  1. To make the grits, bring the milk, water, and salt in a large heavy saucepan to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the grits and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, whisking often for about 15 minutes, or until the grits are thickened.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue cooking the grits, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until they are the consistency of loose mashed potatoes and no longer have a starchy taste. Whisk in the butter. Season to taste with salt.
  3. To make the ragout, heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil,then add the mushrooms and thyme and cook stirring occasionally but letting the mushrooms brown on the bottom each time before stirring, for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender.
  4. Stir in the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots soften. Stir in the wine and cook for about 1 minute, or until reduced by half.
  5. Add the broth and parsley and simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the sauce reduces slightly. Remove and discard the thyme stems. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the butter.
  6. Divide the grits among four dinner plates, then top with the mushroom ragout. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: What’s for Dinner?

Nitrites & Nitrates: Are They Harmful Or Actually Healthful?

Caroline Praderio wrote . . . . .

Conventional clean-eating wisdom has it that nitrates and nitrites are bad—really bad. Both are food preservatives added to processed meats like bacon that have been linked to gastrointestinal cancer and heart disease. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) even listed them on its “Dirty Dozen” list of dangerous food additives last year. That’s why so many natural meat products proudly display “nitrate-free” and “nitrite-free” claims on packaging.

But now, two new animal studies from the U.K. show that a diet rich in nitrates can actually improve cardiovascular health by thinning blood and widening blood vessels, lessening the risk for clots and stroke. Recent human trials have also shown that meals heavy in nitrates can lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance.

Wait, what? So are nitrates and nitrites good or bad?

To answer that question, you first need to understand how they’re different. Nitrates and nitrites are both naturally occurring chemical compounds found in soil, water, plants, and even our own bodies. One of the most common forms is a natural salt called sodium nitrate, which is exceptionally good at preserving meats and has been used for this purpose for generations. But, near the turn of the 20th century, meat producers made an important discovery: When sodium nitrate interacts with bacteria in meat, it converts to sodium nitrite. Today, just about every manufacturer skips that bacterial conversion and just adds synthetic sodium nitrite directly to cured meats.

In some ways, that’s a good thing: Nitrites keep the fat in meat from going rancid while inhibiting the growth of dangerous bacteria like listeria and botulinum. But in the 1970s, researchers discovered that when meat containing sodium nitrite is heated above 266°F, it creates nitrosamines, or compounds that are carcinogenic to animals. That triggered the USDA to limit the amount of nitrites that may be added to cured meats and to require that all products containing nitrites include vitamin C, which prevents the formation of nitrosamines. Still, in 2010, WHO listed ingested nitrates and nitrites as probable human carcinogens.

But here’s the shocker: For all the fuss that’s been made about nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines, cured meats only account for a minuscule 6% of our dietary nitrate intake. Around 80% of our nitrate consumption comes from veggies, according to the CDC (about 21% is accounted for by drinking water). Celery, leafy greens, beets, parsley, leeks, endive, cabbage, and fennel are the most potent sources, but you’ll get some nitrates from almost any plant you eat.

Why are plants so high in nitrates? They pick up from soil, nitrogen-based fertilizer, water, and nitrogen in the atmosphere. When we eat nitrates in plants, bacteria in our mouth convert them to—you guessed it—nitrites. Nitrites are then absorbed and stored in our cells until they’re turned into nitric oxide, a compound that’s proven to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Nitrites are so essential, in fact, that our bodies even create it on their own. “For every kilogram of body weight you carry, your body naturally produces about a milligram of nitrite,” says Jeff Sindelar, PhD, associate professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison department of animal sciences.

The bottom line?

Some researchers have found associations (but not direct causal links) between high nitrite consumption and certain cancer risks. “There is some epidemiological evidence suggesting that, when added to foods, these compounds may be associated with esophageal or stomach cancer,” says Johanna Congleton, PhD, EWG senior scientist. “Those studies are the ones that give us cause for concern.”

But others have called for the re-classification of dietary nitrates as a nutrient, not a potential carcinogen. “Worrying about consuming these products at high enough levels where they might be considered toxic is really an insignificant concern,” says Sindelar. (That’s not a carte blanche to gnaw on salami logs every day. There is well-documented consensus that high consumption of processed meats can up your risk for heart disease, cancers, and death—no matter what preservatives have been added to them.)

There’s no simple answer. Whether nitrates and nitrites are a boon or a blight may depend heavily on what foods they come from and the particular human ingesting them. One thing is for sure: Nitrates’ and nitrites’ reputation as avoid-at-all-cost, cancer-causing nasties does not appear to be entirely accurate.

We’ll be waiting for more news with a spinach salad—and, okay, maybe a slice or two of bacon.

Source: Prevention

Is celery juice a viable alternative to nitrites in cured meats?

Nitrates and nitrites are used to “cure” meat. Their role was likely discovered by accident and can be traced to the use of salt that happened to be contaminated with potassium or sodium nitrate, commonly known as “saltpeter.” Meat treated with these chemicals retains a red colour, acquires a characteristic taste and most importantly, is less amenable to contamination with disease-causing bacteria, particularly the very dangerous Botulinum clostridium.

By the 1980s it became apparent that certain bacteria were capable of converting nitrates into nitrites and that nitrites were the actual active species. Consequently nitrites are now added directly to processed meat instead of relying on bacteria to produce them from nitrates. This allows for better control of nitrite concentrations, a critical aspect of processed meat production. Why critical? Because it is well known that nitrites can react with amines, naturally occurring compounds present in meat, as well as in human tissues, to form nitrosamines. And that is the fly in the hot dog. Nitrosamines can trigger cancer! Of course demonstrating that nitrosamines can produce mutations in a Petri dish or that animals treated with high doses develop cancer, does not mean that these compounds are responsible for cancers in humans. In any case, changes in manufacturing methods and a reduction in the amount of added nitrite have essentially solved the problem of nitrosamine formation in cured meat.

In spite of the epidemiological evidence linking nitrites to cancer being weak, and the established fact that 95% of all the nitrite we ingest comes from bacterial conversion of nitrates naturally found in vegetables, many consumers have a lingering concern about eating nitrite-cured processed meats. But one person’s concern is another’s business opportunity. In this case, producers have responded with an array of “natural” and “organic” processed meats sporting the catchy phrases such as “no synthetic preservatives” or “no nitrites added.” But given the crucial role nitrites play in processed meats, how do you replace them? Well, you don’t. You just replace the source of the nitrite.

Celery has a very high concentration of natural nitrate, and treating celery juice with a bacterial culture produces nitrite. The concentrated juice can then be used to produce “no nitrite added” processed meat. Curiously, regulations stipulate that the traditional curing process requires the addition of nitrite and thus “organic” processed meats that are treated with celery juice have to be labeled as “uncured.”

Such terminology is confusing because most consumers look to “organic” processed meats in order to avoid nitrites, but the fact is that these do contain nitrites, sometimes in lesser, sometimes in greater amounts than found in conventional products. That’s because the amount of nitrite that forms from nitrate in celery juice is hard to monitor, while in conventionally cured processed meats, the addition of nitrite is strictly controlled by regulations designed to minimize nitrosamine formation and maximize protection against botulism. This means any risk due to nitrosamine formation or bacterial contamination in the “organic” version is more challenging to evaluate.

So what does all of this mean? Basically, that buying “organic” hot dogs or bacon with a view towards living longer by avoiding nitrites makes no sense. Limiting such foods because of their high fat and salt content, whether organic or conventional, makes very good sense. Cutting them out totally, as the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine would have us do? No thanks. Remember that it is unrealistic to evaluate every bite of food as being “healthy” or “unhealthy!” It is the overall diet that matters. It is possible to avoid cured meats completely and still have a terrible diet while one can have a healthy diet by occasionally indulging in these tasty morsels. Emphasize a mostly plant-based diet? By all means. But dogmatic tirades against hot dogs? That’s ideology, not science.

Source: McGill University Blog

Watch video at You Tube explaining the use of celery powder to cure meats (3:53 minutes) . . . . .

Eating Your Greens Might Stave Off Glaucoma

Tim Newman wrote . . . . .

An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and 120,000 are blind because of the disease. A study published this week in JAMA Ophthalmology shows that a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables might reduce the risk of this debilitating disease. It is time to break out the spinach.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness; even if treatment is received, 10% of people with the condition will eventually lose their sight.

Unfortunately, as it stands, there is no cure; to make matters worse, there are no early symptoms that might assist in catching the disease in its developmental stage.

This most recent investigation shows that an increase in dietary nitrate and green vegetables significantly reduces the risk of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).

POAG is the most common form of glaucoma and is characterized by an increase in eye pressure and a gradual loss of vision.

Researcher Jae H. Kang led the investigative team based at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.

The group used data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

In total, the analysis investigated 63,893 women (1984-2012) and 41,094 men (1986-2012). All participants were over the age of 40 and had no history of POAG. For the duration of the follow-up, 1,483 cases of POAG occurred in the sample.

Primary open-angle glaucoma

POAG is caused by a slow clogging of the eye’s drainage canals that slowly increases the pressure within the eye. “Open-angle” refers to the angle at the point where the cornea meets the iris. In POAG, this angle is normal. For angle-closure glaucoma – a rarer version of glaucoma – the angle is reduced.

An impaired autoregulation of the blood flow in the optic nerve has also been implicated in POAG. The vascular endothelium (the lining of the circulatory system) helps regulate this blood flow and is considered to play a role in the etiology of glaucoma. One of the factors that impacts the functioning of the vascular endothelium is nitrous oxide (NO).

Dietary nitrate, predominantly derived from green, leafy vegetables, is converted to NO and has been shown to be beneficial for blood circulation. Kang and her team wanted to see if an increase in nitrate might have a positive effect on glaucoma.

Nitrates reducing glaucoma

In the present study, every 2 years, the group’s diets were assessed for their green vegetable intake, and their nitrate intake was calculated. The participants were split into five groups accordingly; the highest group consumed roughly 240 mg of nitrate per day and the lowest approximately 80 mg per day.

The researchers found that the group consuming the most nitrate had a 20-30% lower risk of POAG.

The results were even more substantial for a type of glaucoma associated with a dysfunction of blood flow autoregulation, known as POAG with early paracentral visual field loss. In this case, nitrogen-rich diets lessened the chances of developing the disease by 40-50%.

The study’s authors recognize that cause and effect is impossible to infer from this type of study, but they also recognize the significance of the findings:

“These results, if confirmed in observational and intervention studies, could have important public health implications.”

Nitrate-rich foods

Nitrate (NO3-) is a varied chemical with a host of seemingly contradictory roles. Millions of kilograms of nitrate are produced yearly as fertilizer; it is also used as an oxidizing agent in explosives. Another, albeit less common, use of nitrate is during the curing of meats.

For the purpose of this article, our primary interest is nitrate’s potential benefit on cardiovascular health. Dietary nitrates are thought to help keep oxygen levels high in the blood and consequently reduce the thickness of the blood, lowering blood pressure and preventing potentially dangerous clotting.

Although there are numerous nitrate-rich vegetables to choose from, in the current study, only two vegetables were robustly associated with a drop in glaucoma:

“The only vegetable that was consistently inversely associated with POAG was kale or collard greens: 1 serving or more per month of kale or collard greens was significantly associated with 55% to 70% reduced odds of POAG.”

If you are considering increasing your nitrate intake through vegetables, these are some of the best sources:

  • Collard greens
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets.

Source: Medical News Today

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