What’s for Dinner?

7-course French Cuisine at Amber in Hong Kong


Amuse Bouche

Appetizer: Oyster

Middle Course: Cuttlefish – a la carbonara with quail egg yolk, charred pearl onions, smoked bacon

1st Main Course: Pigeon “au snag” – pan roasted breast, cereal “cromesqiu”, beetroot and puree, jus with vadouvan spices

2nd Main Course: Veal Shank – braised on the bone, crispy beef with green asparagus, black truffle potato mousseline

French Cheese

Dessert: Heirloom Carrots – confit with orange blossom honey, carrot cake, sorbet of blood orange

Dessert: Opals – white chocolate cream with raw grated, preserved jel from lime, custard and cold infused coffee ice cream

Petit Four – Green Apple Sorbet, Chocolate Gananche, Raspberry Cheese Tart and Nougat

The Restaurant: #26 in the World’s Best 50 Restaurants, 2017 and the Best in Hong Kong

Singapore-style Indian Fried Noodles


1 lb fresh yellow noodles (‘Hokkien’ mee)
1/2 cup oil
1 square hard tofu (taukwa), cut into small dice
1 medium red or brown onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped coarse chives (kuchai) or spring onion
1 sprig curry leaves (karuvapillai), finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 boiled potato, skinned and cut into small dice
1 fresh green chili, sliced


  1. Rinse noodles in warm water, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a kuali and fry the tofu until golden brown. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook the onion in the same oil for 2-3 minutes, until soft, then add the drained noodles, tomato, chives, curry leaves and three types of sauce. Cook over gentle heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Pour over beaten egg and leave to set for about 45 seconds before stirring to mix well with the noodles. Add the potato and tofu, stir, cook for another 30 seconds and put on a large serving dish. Garnish with green chili and serve with additional tomato and chili sauce according to each person’s taste.

Source: Singapore Food

The Ingredients of Appetite

Scientists catalogue 50 cell types in brain region related to metabolism

Jacqueline Mitchell wrote . . . . . .

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have catalogued more than 20,000 brain cells in one region of the mouse hypothalamus.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, revealed some 50 distinct cell types, including a previously undescribed neuron type that may underlie some of the genetic risk of human obesity.

This catalog of cell types marks the first time neuroscientists have established a comprehensive “parts list” for this area of the brain. The new information will allow researchers to establish which cells play what roles.

“A lot of functions have already been mapped to large regions of the brain; for example, we know that the hippocampus is important for memory, and we know the hypothalamus is responsible for basic functions like eating and drinking,” said lead author John N. Campbell, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of co-corresponding author Bradford Lowell, HMS professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess. “But we don’t know what cell types within those regions are responsible.”

“Now, with the leaps we’ve had in technology,” said Campbell, “we can profile every gene in tens of thousands of individual cells simultaneously and start to test those cell types one by one to figure out their functional roles.”

Each cell in an animal’s body carries the same genetic information. Cells take on specific roles by expressing some genes and silencing others. Drop-Seq technology, developed by study co-authors Steven McCarroll, the Dorothy and Milton Flier Associate Professor of Biomedical Science and Genetics at HMS, and Evan Macosko, HMS assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, makes it possible to assess every gene expressed by individual cells.

The automated process allowed the research team to profile tens of thousands of cells in the same amount of time it once took to profile about a dozen cells by hand.

Campbell and colleagues profiled more than 20,000 adult mouse brain cells in the arcuate hypothalamus and the adjoining median eminence, a region of the brain that controls appetite and other vital functions. The cells’ gene expression profiles help scientists determine their functions.

In addition to identifying 50 new cell types, the researchers also profiled the cell types in adult mice under different feeding conditions: eating at will, high-fat diet (energy surplus) and overnight fasting (energy deficit).

The technology allowed the researchers to assess how changes in energy status affected gene expression. The cell types and genes that were sensitive to these changes in energy status provide a number of new targets for obesity treatment.

“Sometimes a cell’s true identity doesn’t come out until you put it through a certain stress,” said co-corresponding author Linus Tsai, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess. “In fasting conditions, for example, we can see whether there is further diversity within the cell types based on how they respond to important physiologic states.”

“The brain is so complex, we don’t even know how much we don’t know. This information fills in some of the unknowns so we can make new hypotheses.” —Bradford Lowell

Finally, the scientists analyzed previous human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that revealed gene variants linked to obesity. Noting which brain cell types express such obesity-related genes, the researchers implicated two novel neuron types in the genetic control of body weight.

Campbell and colleagues have posted their massive data set online, making it available to researchers around the world. The open-source information should accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and shape the questions asked in the field of obesity research.

“The classic way of doing science is to ask questions and test hypotheses,” said Lowell. “But the brain is so complex, we don’t even know how much we don’t know. This information fills in some of the unknowns so we can make new hypotheses. This work will lead to many discoveries that, without these data, people would never have even known to ask the question.”

Source: Harvard Medical School

The Healing Power of a Heart-Healthy Diet

Hallie Levine wrote . . . . . .

Advice for a heart-healthy diet used to focus on numbers. How many grams of fiber should you consume? How many milligrams of sodium is too much? What percentage of your calories should come from fat?

That’s a problem, says Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “Eating that way doesn’t make practical sense, and it’s easy to get confused.”

Focusing too much on specific nutrients and not enough on overall dietary patterns can also harm your heart in the long run. For example, a low-fat diet can be bad for your heart if you get there by eating lots of sugar and refined grains (such as white bread) and avoiding nuts, olive oil, and other fatty but heart-healthy foods.

A true heart-healthy diet can be powerfully effective, says Walter Willett, M.D., chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Diet alone can reduce heart disease risk by about 30 percent,” similar to taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, he says.

Eating a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Follow these tips and the numbers will take care of themselves:

For a heart-healthy diet, make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans the centerpieces of your meals, says Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Those foods contain heart-protective antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. Though eating more of each of those foods cuts heart disease risk some, an overall plant-based diet has an even greater effect.

One study of about 450,000 adults found that people whose diets were 70 percent plants had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease over 12 years compared with those whose diets centered on meat and dairy.

Think of Meat as a Condiment

That means eating beef, poultry, and pork occasionally or in small, 3- to 4-ounce portions—about the size of a deck of cards. Especially avoid processed meats, such as bacon, deli meat, and sausage.

A review by Harvard researchers linked a daily serving, equal to one hot dog or two slices of bacon, to an increased risk of early death from heart disease and cancer.

Limit Sweets

Too much added sugar—sugar that is put into foods, not the naturally occurring sugar found mainly in fruits and dairy—raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according a 2014 review in the journal Open Heart.

Limiting sugary beverages, the leading source of added sugars in the American diet, is key. Having just one soda per day could raise diabetes risk by about 20 percent.

Don’t Fear All Fat

Many fatty foods—avocados, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, seeds, and olive and other vegetable oils—are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. New U.S. Dietary Guidelines no longer limit how much of those fats you eat as long as you keep your total calories in check.

But you should still try to avoid foods packed with saturated fat (such as meat, cheese, and butter) and trans fat (in foods with partially hydrogenated oils). Those foods cause your body to produce more cholesterol, the substance that gets deposited in your artery walls.

The best bet, Willett says, is to swap saturated-fat-laden foods for those rich in unsaturated fats. A 2015 Harvard study found that substituting 5 percent of saturated fat in your diet with the unsaturated variety lowered heart disease risk by up to 25 percent, depending on the foods chosen.

On the other hand, risk remains high if you cut back on saturated fat but eat more sugary foods or refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and some cereals.

Give Eggs a Go

Many people think they should completely avoid eggs because they are high in cholesterol, adding to the amount that your body produces on its own.

But new research shows that the cholesterol in food has a smaller impact on your overall cholesterol levels than once thought. For foods that are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat—such as eggs, lobster, and shrimp—a serving each day is fine.

Minimize Processed Foods

You don’t have to avoid everything in a bag or a box, but such foods do tend to be higher in refined grains, sugar, and, especially, sodium.

Source: Consumer Report

Who Really Needs Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Drugs

Steve Findlay wrote . . . . . .

Experts agree that high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the risk of having a heart attack. So you might think they also agree on when you should take drugs to control them.

They don’t.

Earlier this year the American College of Physicians issued more lenient guidelines for blood pressure in people 60 and older: They don’t need drugs until their systolic, or upper, blood pressure number goes above 150, the ACP now says. But the American Heart Association sticks with the traditional cutoff of 140. And last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggested that people who don’t have particularly high cholesterol levels can still benefit from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

“There are just too many groups issuing recommendations, and that has made things more confusing,” says Steven Nissen, M.D., chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Taking drugs when they aren’t needed can pose problems. Side effects of blood pressure medications include persistent coughing, diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness. Statins can cause muscle weakness, and possibly kidney damage and type 2 diabetes.

Here’s our guide through the maze, with advice from Nissen, other experts, and our Best Buy Drugs team:

Focus On Your Overall Risk

Though blood pressure and cholesterol levels are important, other factors play a role, too—including your age, gender, race, and whether you smoke or have diabetes.

“Everyone 40 and over should know their overall risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser.

So he and other experts recommend estimating your 10-year risk by using a calculator developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, at tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator. The ideal is a 10-year risk that’s less than 7.5 percent.

Don’t Rush to Drugs

If your 10-year risk is greater than 10 percent, or if your LDL (bad) cholesterol level is over 190, you should start a statin. But if your risk is between 7.5 and 10, it can be worth trying lifestyle changes first, our consultants say.

That means stopping smoking, losing excess weight, being active, consuming a heart-healthy diet, drinking alcohol in moderation only, and getting blood sugar levels under control. If that doesn’t lower your risk enough after three to six months, consider a statin, even if your LDL cholesterol isn’t elevated.

The same basic strategy applies to blood pressure. If it’s moderately elevated (150 to 160 for people 60 and older; 140 to 150 for others), consider drugs only if several months of diet and lifestyle changes weren’t enough.

“Lifestyle changes can slash your risk of heart attack, and in some cases eliminate or reduce your need for medication,” Lipman says. For example, regular exercise can lower your systolic pressure by up to 9 points. And every 11 pounds of excess weight lost can reduce it by 2.5 to 10 points. And avoiding excess sodium (anything beyond 2,400 mg in a day) can lower it between 2 and 8 points in some people.

Get the Right Medication

Statins are thought to work not only by lowering LDL cholesterol but also by stabilizing plaque deposits in the arteries, making the deposits less likely to rupture and send blood clots through the body.

People with a history of heart attack or stroke, or at very high risk of one (greater than 20 percent), should start with higher doses of a potent statin: 40 to 80 mg of atorvastatin (Lipitor and generic) or 20 to 40 mg of rosuvastatin (Crestor and generic). Other people who need a drug should start with lower doses of those or other statins: 40 mg of lovastatin (Mevacor and generic), pravastatin (Pravachol and generic), or simvastatin (Zocor and generic).

Doctors use several different kinds of drugs to lower blood pressure, and for people with levels above 150 it can take a combination to control the problem. Still, it usually makes sense to start with the oldest, safest, and least expensive drug: diuretics, or water pills, such as chlorthalidone or hydrochlorothiazide. If that doesn’t work, you may need to switch to or add an ACE inhibitor, calcium channel blocker, or other kind of drug.

Source: Consumer Report

Today’s Comic