Braised Lamb Shanks with Rice

Ingredients

8 frenched lamb shanks
all-purpose flour for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups beef stock
2 cups tomato puree
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 cup arborio rice
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F).
  2. Toss the lamb in the flour, shaking off any excess. Place half the oil in a large deep saucepan over high heat and brown the lamb well. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the onions and garlic until golden. Return the lamb to the pan and add the stock, tomato puree and thyme. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes.
  4. Remove the lamb, cover and keep warm in the oven.
  5. Stir the rice, salt, pepper and vinegar through the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rice is tender.
  6. Serve the lamb shanks with the sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Donna Hay

7 Ways to Enhance the Flavor of Your Meals

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Cooking at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. And, according to research, taste tops nutrition as the main reason why Americans buy one food over another. The foods you enjoy are likely the ones you eat the most, so make taste a kitchen priority when preparing healthy, nutritious meals.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers cooking tips to enhance flavor and retain nutrients without adding extra fat, calories or salt. To maximize food’s flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients at their peak quality. They don’t need to be the most expensive foods — or served in big portions. It’s also important to handle and store foods properly, because poor storage destroys flavor and quality.

Overcooking can destroy flavor and nutrients. So cook to retain nutrients, flavor, color, texture and overall appeal. Cooking can’t improve poor-quality foods, but it can enhance the flavors of high-quality foods.

Try these seven simple techniques to enhance flavor and experiment with flavor combinations.

  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling or broiling, which help to brown meat and add flavor.
  • Grill or roast veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Before popping them into the oven, brush or spray lightly with oil so they don’t dry out and sprinkle with herbs.
  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a small amount of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Pep it up with peppers! Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties — sweet, hot and dried. Or, add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
  • Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
  • Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors such as pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

In Pictures: Foods of Epee Restaurant, Tokyo

French Bistro-style Cuisine

The Restaurant

Irregular Heart Rhythm May Affect Walking and Strength in Older Adults

When older people develop atrial fibrillation — the most common type of irregular heartbeat — it accelerates age-related declines in walking speed, strength, balance and other aspects of physical performance, according to new research in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, an American Heart Association journal.

“Particularly in older adults, we need to be mindful that the effects of atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) go beyond increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. We learned from this study that older adults with AFib are especially vulnerable to losing strength, balance, gait speed and coordination,” said Jared W. Magnani, M.D., Ms.C., lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Boston University.

In atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two small upper chambers (atria) beat irregularly and too fast, which may increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other conditions. The risk rises with age.

The researchers examined physical performance at ages 70, 74, 78, and 82 in 2,753participants (52 percent women, 41 percent African American) in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study, a long-term investigation of aging-related health outcomes in Medicare recipients. At the beginning of the study, all of the participants were able to live independently.

Comparing four-year changes in physical performance between participants recently diagnosed with AFib and those without, researchers found:

  • overall participants’ physical performance declined with age, as expected;
  • participants diagnosed with AFib had a significantly greater decline in physical performance tests of balance, grip strength, how far a person could walk in two minutes, and the time needed to walk 400 meters (one lap around a standard track);
  • overall, participants with AFib completed the 400 meter walk an average of 20 seconds slower than those without AFib;
  • the excess decline in physical performance in people with AFib was equivalent to an extra four years of aging; and
  • participants diagnosed with AFib declined more swiftly on each individual element of the test.

“Small declines in physical performance in older adults may have big consequences. The declines that we observed in participants with AFib are associated with increased frailty, which can result in loss of independence, decreased mobility, poorer quality of life, institutionalization and death,” Magnani said.

Because the study enrolled only adults living independently, the results may not apply to older adults with greater cognitive or physical limitations. In addition, these results do not prove a direct cause-and-effect link between AFib and declining physical performance.

“There may be other factors, such as inflammation or accelerated muscle loss, that contribute to both increased risk of AFib and declining physical performance,” Magnani said.

Source: American Heart Association


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