Video: What’s the Best Way to Cook Pasta?

Pasta noodles contain only three ingredients: eggs, water and flour.

But how can you achieve a tasty result every time?

Cooking pasta chemically changes how the proteins and starches interact, making the noodles sticky and springy. Therefore, what you do — or don’t do — to the cooking water can change the edible result.

This video serves up four food-chemistry informed pasta pro-tips so you can serve up delectable al dente pasta instead of an unappetizing ball of overcooked noodles.

Watch video at You Tube (3:04 minutes) . . . . .

Western Mediterranean-style Stuffed Sardine


16 large sardines, scaled and gutted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley, to garnish


1 tablespoon light olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tablespoons blanched almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins, coarsely chopped
10 pitted black olives
2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large shallow ovenproof dish.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the almonds, raisins, olives, capers, parsley and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Make 2-3 diagonal cuts on each side of the sardines. Pack the stuffing into the cavities and lay the sardines in the prepared dish.
  4. Mix the remaining bread crumbs with the cheese and scatter on the fish. Bake for about 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Test by piercing one sardine through the thickest part with a knife. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with a leafy salad.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Healthy Mediterranean Cookbook

In Pictures: Foods of Cinnamoroll Cafe (シナモロール カフェ)in Shinjuku, Japan

The Cafe

A Pocket-sized Retina Camera, No Dilating Required

It’s the part of the eye exam everyone hates: the pupil-dilating eye drops. The drops work by opening the pupil and preventing the iris from constricting in response to light and are often used for routine examination and photography of the back of the eye. The drops sting, can take up to 30 minutes to work, and cause blurry vision for several hours afterwards, often making them inconvenient for both patient and doctor.

Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School have developed a cheap, portable camera that can photograph the retina without the need for pupil-dilating eye drops. Made out of simple parts mostly available online, the camera’s total cost is about $185.

“As residents seeing patients in the hospital, there are often times when we are not allowed to dilate patients — neurosurgery patients for example,” said Dr. Bailey Shen, a second-year ophthalmology resident at the UIC College of Medicine. “Also, there are times when we find something abnormal in the back of the eye, but it is not practical to wheel the patient all the way over to the outpatient eye clinic just for a photograph.”

The prototype camera can be carried in your pocket, Shen said, and can take pictures of the back of the eye without eye drops. The pictures can be shared with other doctors, or attached to the patient’s medical record.

The camera is based on the Raspberry Pi 2 computer, a low-cost, single-board computer designed to teach children how to build and program computers. The board hooks up to a small, cheap infrared camera, and a dual infrared- and white-light-emitting diode. A handful of other components – a lens, a small display screen and several cables – make up the rest of the camera.

The camera works by first emitting infrared light, which the iris – the muscle that controls the opening of the pupil – does not react to. Most retina cameras use white light, which is why pupil-dilating eye drops are needed.

The infrared light is used to focus the camera on the retina, which can take a few seconds. Once focused, a quick flash of white light is delivered as the picture is taken. Cameras exist that use this same infrared/white light technique, but they are bulky and often cost thousands of dollars.

Shen’s camera photos show the retina and its blood supply as well as the portion of the optic nerve that leads into the retina. It can reveal health issues that include diabetes, glaucoma and elevated pressure around the brain.

Shen and his co-author, Dr. Shizuo Mukai, associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and a retina surgeon at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, describe their camera and provide a shopping list of parts, instructions for assembly, and the code needed to program the camera in the Journal of Ophthalmology.

“This is an open-source device that is cheap and easy to build,” said Mukai. “We expect that others who build our camera will add their own improvements and innovations.”

“The device is currently just a prototype, but it shows that it is possible to build a cheap camera capable of taking quality pictures of the retina without dilating eye drops, ” Shen said. “It would be cool someday if this device or something similar was carried around in the white-coat pockets of every ophthalmology resident and used by physicians outside of ophthalmology as well.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Vitamin E, Selenium Supplements Won’t Curb Men’s Dementia Risk

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . .

A daily dose of vitamin E or selenium supplements won’t keep dementia at bay in older men, new research reveals.

“After an average of five years of supplementation, and up to 11 years of follow-up, we did not observe fewer new cases of dementia among men who took any of the supplements compared to neither supplement,” said study co-author Frederick Schmitt. He’s a professor with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the department of neurology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

“Based on these results, we do not recommend vitamin E or selenium supplements to prevent dementia at these doses,” he added.

Approximately 5 million American seniors are now living with Alzheimer’s, the study authors noted.

Selenium is an essential antioxidant, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). It’s involved in promoting hormone metabolism, as well as protecting against infection and oxidative damage. Vitamin E is thought to boost immunity and protect against cell damage. Both are naturally found in many foods, the NIH said.

Unlike prescription medications, supplements aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety or effectiveness.

Researchers initially became interested in vitamin E and selenium because of their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help prevent damage to some cells. The study team hoped that this would be true for the brain cells involved in dementia.

Schmitt said his team was “not aware of specific supplement makers that market vitamin E or selenium for brain health.”

Between 2002 and 2008, the study enrolled slightly more than 7,500 males across the United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada. All were aged 60 or older. None had a history of neurological problems, dementia, serious head injury or substance abuse.

Participants were divided into four groups: a vitamin E group; a selenium group; a combination group; and a placebo group (the “control” group).

The supplement doses were 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin E and 200 micrograms of selenium per day.

The men took the supplements or the placebo for an average of about five years, the study authors said.

Study participants underwent annual in-person memory screenings and, sometimes, secondary mental health screenings. Starting in 2008, and continuing through 2014, a smaller sub-group of roughly 4,300 participants continued memory screenings by phone.

In the end, 325 men developed dementia at some point during the study. Of these, 71 had been in the vitamin E group, 78 in the selenium group, 91 in the combination group, and 85 in the control group that took no supplements.

Schmitt said since the study didn’t include women, he couldn’t speculate whether the findings would apply across gender.

But, “for consumers specifically concerned about brain health and cognition, they should be aware that no scientifically rigorous studies have identified any supplement as an effective treatment or prevention for dementia,” Schmitt said.

For people who want to do something, he said, “regular physical activity, such as walking, and a heart-healthy diet have much more evidence supporting their effectiveness for reducing dementia risk.”

Dr. Steven DeKosky, co-author of an accompanying editorial and deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville, had words of advice when it comes to taking supplements for any reason: “buyer beware.”

“My rule for people taking supplements is that they should check with their physicians,” he said. DeKosky added that people should “not stop their prescribed medications because they were going to take something else.”

Supplements can sometimes interact with prescription drugs, and “there is no proof that they work,” he noted.

DeKosky also downplayed the anti-dementia potential of supplements.

“It is not a simple disease,” he said, “and a simple ‘silver bullet’ is not to be expected.”

The study was published online in JAMA Neurology.

Source: HealthDay

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