Infographic: What Sugar Does to Your Brain and Body

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Source: Business Insider

You Can Now Buy the World’s Best Steaks for $180 a Pound

After you’ve had the best croissants in Paris, the local bakery just doesn’t cut it any more. That can happen with steaks, too—it did for me four years ago, after an incredible dinner in Italy.

It was in the tiny town of Panzano, a Tuscan speck roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Florence, where a series of switchbacks and impossible-to-follow road signs eventually led to the carnivore’s paradise of Officina della Bistecca. That’s where Dario Cecchini, the cattle rancher-turned-chef-turned-beef poet, churns out nightly communal dinners that feature beef, beef, and more beef: namely, his signature, raised-on-premises Florentine and Panzanese cuts. He practically sings to the steaks as they grill over a roaring fire, raising and lowering the cooking surface with pulleys to achieve the optimal effect. Everything about it was theater, the butcher incarnate of Beatrice leading diners to the ninth sphere of heaven.

I thought, after that glorious Italian evening, that I was done forever. And while it took me four years to find another steak as tender and full of flavor, I now know that it’s possible to recreate steak nirvana at home. If you live in Los Angeles, anyway.

That’s where the celebrity chef Curtis Stone and his brother, Luke, have opened Gwen, a restaurant and butcher shop featuring an ingredient as rarefied as Cecchini’s Panzanese: Australian Blackmore Wagyu.

Stone, who trained under London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White before becoming a television personality on TLC’s Take Home Chef and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, is the only chef currently bringing the rare Australian steaks to North America. He’s also the first to sell them here—and had to secure a distributor license to do so. (Blackmore has distributors in 13 other countries; see here for details.) Soon, he says, he’ll be purveying them to other well-known chefs around the country—but the details on who and when are still in the works.

“There are only a few world-class butcher shops in the world, and there’s never been one in Los Angeles,” Stone said during an interview at Bloomberg’s New York offices. Unlike other high-concept butcher shops that focus on whole animal or organic specimens, Stone’s philosophy is simpler: “We’re simply prioritizing the most delicious cuts in the world,” he said.

In pursuit of that goal, Stone and his team tasted 20 of the best grain-fed beefs to find a favorite. (He will also carry grass-fed varieties but considers grain-fed to be of premium quality.) The winner: Australian Blackmore Wagyu, a pure breed of cattle devised by the Victoria-based cattle farmer David Blackmore.

“Blackmore has literally redefined the way the Aussies think of meat,” said Stone, explaining that steaks were once graded on a scale of one to six. Blackmore’s first score? A six out of six. “[Japanese graders] had to change the way they graded steaks to a nine-point scale because Blackmore kept outdoing himself,” Stone added.

For those concerned with sustainability, Stone offers an optimistic outlook. “All the humane cues go hand in hand with creating the best tasting steaks,” he said, noting that Blackmore and his cohorts in the premium cattle farming industry use balanced diets and fair husbandry practices as key ingredients for delicious steaks.

Blackmore is developing a new benchmark program called “Eco-feeding,” which encompasses natural and nutritional feed lots, appropriate weaning time for young animals, and humane environmental standards. Plus, added Stone, “Australia has never had mad cow disease, so they’re able to ship their [bone-in] products to the U.S.”

If you’re not looking to live within striking distance of Victoria, you can get your taste of Blackmore beef at Gwen, Stone’s restaurant, where the menu includes such items as a 42-ounce bone-in ribeye for two ($390). Or you can buy it from Gwen’s butcher shop and prepare it in your oven or grill at home—Stone provided us with a step-by-step tutorial on cooking the perfect steak. Cuts range from Wagyu grind ($22 per pound) to ribeye ($99 per pound) and tenderloin ($180 per pound).

Among the chef’s tips for preparation: Season simply, with Maldon salt and, optionally, freshly cracked pepper; rotate the steak every few minutes for even, sous-vide-like cooking; and serve with nothing but a drizzle of olive oil. (The acidity is a welcome touch.)

You’ll be left with a steak that’s tender and buttery beyond compare. The flavor is unadulterated in a way that reminded me of biting into an heirloom tomato. “This is what steak is supposed to taste like,” I thought, bite after bite after bite.

One day, Stone hopes to make the steaks available for mail order in the U.S. — the demand, he says, would make it a profitable venture. But Blackmore’s production is still small and limited, so in-person orders in Los Angeles are the best course for now.

Source: Bloomberg

Vietnamese-style Duck Curry

Ingredients

1/2 duck, about 1-1/2 1b
3 tbsp fish sauce
1-1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp annatto seeds
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 stalks lemon grass, cut into sections
1-1/2 cups onion pieces
1/3 lb pineapple pieces
1/3 lb cooked eggplant pieces
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 chili pepper, sliced

Sauce

5 bay leaf (or kaffir leaves)
4 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Cut duck into pieces, marinate with fish sauce and curry powder for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok, stir-fry annatto seeds in low heat until fragrant. The oil takes on a reddish color (this step adds color to this dish). Remove the darkened annatto seeds.
  3. Add garlic, lemon grass and onion to the wok, stir-fry briefly. Add duck and marinade. Stir-fry until duck changes color. Add sauce ingredients and bring to boil. Cover and simmer in low heat for 30 minutes until duck is tender.
  4. Add pineapples and eggplants. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, mix in coconut milk and bring to a boil again. Add lime juice and chili pepper before serving. Serve with bread or steamed rice.

Source: Vietnamese Cuisine

In Pictures: Dishes of Vietnamese Restaurant in Shibuya, Japan

Broccoli v. French fries: Harnessing Teen Rebelliousness Can Kick Unhealthy Eating Habit

It’s no secret that the adolescent years can be challenging: young teens have a heightened sensitivity to perceived injustice and react against authority. And their newfound social conscience and desire for autonomy can motivate many of their decisions – even food choices.

A new study, “Harnessing Adolescent Values to Motivate Healthier Eating,” by Christopher J. Bryan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and David Yeager of the University of Texas, finds that by appealing to widely-held adolescent values, it’s possible to reduce unhealthy eating habits and motivate better food choices among adolescents.

The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Our goal here was to portray healthy eating as a way to take a stand against injustice–to stand up for vulnerable people who lack the ability to protect themselves.”

To capture the motivating power of these values, researchers worked with groups of eighth graders to reshape their perception of healthy eating as an act of independence that serves the purpose of social justice.

“We took a two-pronged approach to this,” Bryan says. “First, our healthy eating message was framed as an exposé of manipulative food industry marketing practices that influence and deceive adolescents and others into eating larger quantities of unhealthy foods.”

The researchers also described journalistic accounts of such industry practices as engineering processed foods to maximize addictiveness and to encourage overconsumption, as well as using deceptive labeling to make unhealthy products appear healthy.

Additionally, researchers outlined manipulative industry practices like disproportionately targeting poor people and very young children with advertisements for the unhealthiest products.

“We framed healthy eating as a way to ‘stick it to the man’–we cast the executives behind food marketing as controlling adult authority figures and framed the avoidance of junk food as a way to rebel against their control.”

And it worked.

The test subjects chose fewer junk food options as snacks and preferred water over sugary sodas. The teens made the choices outside the context of the nutrition talk, when they were unaware their choices were being tracked.

The treatment resulted in a 7 percentage point increase in the rate at which teens chose to forgo sugary drinks in favor of water. It also led to an 11 percentage point increase in the rate at which they opted to forgo at least one unhealthy snack (chips or cookies) in favor of something healthy (fruit, carrots, or nuts).

“It is exciting to consider what the size of these effects would look like if extrapolated to average daily consumption,” Bryan says.

For example, if sustained over time, a 7 percent reduction in adolescents’ consumption of carbohydrates would correspond to one pound of body fat lost (or not gained) roughly every 6 weeks for boys and every 8 weeks for girls.

Policy analysts argue that preventing obesity is both more effective and less expensive than treating people who are already obese. The potential for this new “value harnessing” approach could lead to lasting change.

“This approach provides an immediate, symbolic benefit for resisting temptation: feeling like a high-status and respect-worthy person right now because one is acting in accordance with important values shared with one’s peers,” Bryan says.

Additionally, an intervention based on this work could use tactics–such a school-wide campaigns with student-designed posters and online videos–that could create a lasting and self-reinforcing social movement.

Source: The University of Chicago


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