Spaghetti Donut

New Food from Pop Pasta in New York

Jewish-Italian Vegetarian Bean and Pasta Soup


1-1/2 cups dried navy or cannellini beans, soaked at least 8 hours
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 2 (8-oz) cans plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tsp dried sage, crumbled
1 cup small pasta shapes, such as shells, bows, or wheels
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp shredded fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Drain soaked beans. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, combine beans and 1 quart water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Skim off any foam which comes to the surface, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Add water occasionally so beans remain covered. Remove from heat.
  2. In another large saucepan, over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook until onion begins to soften, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add chopped celery and chopped carrot and continue cooking 4-5 minutes longer.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, bouillon cubes, bay leaves, rosemary, and sage and bring to a boil.
  5. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add cooked beans and 1 quart cooking liquid (make up liquid with water, if necessary).
  7. Bring soup to a boil. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, until pasta is tender, 8-10 minutes.
  8. Stir in chopped parsley and shredded basil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish each portion with a fresh basil leaf.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Healthy Vegetarian Cooking

In Pictures: One-plate Lunches

Edible Forests Coming Soon to Cities in the USA

Nikki Ekstein wrote . . . . .

If you always thought Central Park needed more edible plants, you’re in luck.

Come April, a farm full of fruit trees and other crops will float to locations in three New York City boroughs, and visitors will be invited to enjoy nature by literally picking, snipping, and sowing to their hearts’ content. Located on a 5,000-square-foot barge, “Swale” will include 4,000 square feet of solar-powered growing space, including a perennial garden, an aquaponics area, and an apple orchard sponsored by Heineken USA’s Strongbow Apple Ciders atop a large man-made hill. (The hill allows deeper root space for fruiting trees.)

The project will be open to the public, but it’s more interactive exhibit than floating Central Park; only 75 people can board at once, and docents will usher guests around the grounds. Free educational workshops will include “painting with plants” and “dying natural fabrics,” and volunteers will always be on hand to explain how thoughtful permaculture planning can create a virtually self-sustaining farm.

But founder Mary Mattingly’s goals go far beyond providing city dwellers with a high-design place to forage for mushrooms in their next attempt at Beef Bourgignon.

She wants to make people work harder for public spaces, and public spaces work harder for people. She wants to create a model for sustainable urban farming. She wants to create an educational space. And she wants to eradicate the problem of food deserts in blighted urban neighborhoods.

“We don’t have much access to stewardship in New York City,” Mattingly told Bloomberg, “so we wanted to highlight and cultivate opportunities around that idea. People care for spaces that they can pick food from.”

That’s exactly what appealed to the approving committee at the New York City Parks Department. “We are trying to prioritize community engagement,” said Bram Gunther, co-director of the Urban Field Station, who cited a growing field of study that believes that community involvement, empowerment, and land management must all go hand in hand. “This project will act like a magnet, in a way, and inspire people to civic action,” he added.

That’s exactly Mattingly’s plan. Eventually, she hopes community investment (and city grants) will take the project from floating farm to philanthropic powerhouse. She’d like to use it as a springboard to raise awareness of such food deserts as Hunts Point in New York’s South Bronx, where, Mattingly says, “10,000 trucks pass through each day, and everyone has asthma, and nobody has access to fresh food.” In her perfect world, Swale becomes a conduit to a public park in the Bronx, where “people could pick food 24 hours a day.”

Here’s the only issue with that: Public policy in New York makes that kind of project legally impossible—or close to it—as it currently stands. And on a trial run last summer, Swale barely raised enough funds to keep itself going for a second season. Its manifestation this year in the East River was made possible by the partnership with Strongbow, which has made it a brand pillar to conserve and create orchards around the world. Before Mattingly can sustain entire neighborhoods, she’ll need to sustain Swale itself.

There’s reason to believe in the project, though. First, there’s Mattingly’s own record: In 2009, she spent half a year creating and living aboard a fully self-sustained ecosystem on a barge in New York, which partially inspired the Swale project.

Then there’s the success of other so-called “food farms” around the country.

In Hawaii, the Malama Kauai Food Forest supplies several underserved schools and food banks—to the tune of 37,000 pounds of fruit and 1,000 volunteer hours in the last two and a half years. In North Carolina, the George Washington Carver Edible Park anchored a major urban revitalization project near downtown Asheville, replacing a trash-filled lot with a natural source for plums, figs, chestnuts, and pawpaws, among other things. The list extends to Massachusetts, Colorado, Alaska, Seattle, and beyond.

With the exception of a nascent project in London, no other food forest has cropped up in such an urban setting. Certainly, no other initiative has as striking a design. So Swale should drum up interest. And with an advocate like Mattingly at its helm, converting interest into action should be a real possibility. Even if she fails to create her public farm in the South Bronx, she will likely open up a dialogue that can lead to lasting public policy impacts.

And let’s not ignore the twin goal of creating public stewards, which Gunther says is what he most looks forward to seeing. “The benefits start with people going to Swale and thinking about it—being more aware. Others will be inspired to come out each weekend and take care of their park or advocate for it.” Over time, it’s something that he thinks will come to represent “an evolution of more sophisticated community engagement in the New York City parks system.”

Will Mattingly sail her concept elsewhere? Maybe. “People have approached us about using our plans in other cities,” she said, “but the scope of that seems pretty big for us right now.”

At least, one thing is for sure: There’s never been a more interesting way to treat your winter doldrums.

Where to see Swale in action:

  • From April 20 to June 15: Hudson River Park, Pier 25, Manhattan
  • From June 15 to Aug. 1: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6, Brooklyn
  • From Aug. 1 to Nov. 15: Concrete Plant Park, Bronx

Source: Bloomberg

Expanding Waistlines and Link to Metabolic Syndrome

Gisele Galoustian wrote . . . . .

For decades, American waistlines have been expanding and there is increasing cause for alarm. Researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University make the case that metabolic syndrome — a cluster of three of more risk factors that include abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, abnormal lipids, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — is the new “silent killer,” analogous to hypertension in the 1970s. As it turns out, the “love handle” can be fatal.

In a commentary published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics , the authors describe how being overweight and obesity contribute to metabolic syndrome, which affects 1 in 3 adults and about 40 percent of adults aged 40 and older. Clinicians have traditionally evaluated each of the major risk factors contributing to metabolic syndrome on an individual basis. There is evidence, however, that the risk factors are more than just the sum of their parts.

“The major factor accelerating the pathway to metabolic syndrome is overweight and obesity,” said Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., the first Sir Richard Doll Professor and senior academic advisor to the dean who senior authored the paper with Dawn H. Sherling, M.D., first author and an assistant professor of integrated medical science, and Parvathi Perumareddi, D.O., an assistant professor of integrated medical science, all faculty members in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “Obesity is overtaking smoking as the leading avoidable cause of premature death in the U.S. and worldwide.”

For optimal health, the waist should measure less than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. The authors explain that the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity leads not only to insulin resistance but also to the release of non-esterified free fatty acids from adipose tissue or body fat. Lipids then accumulate in other sites such as the liver and muscle, further predisposing individuals to insulin resistance and dyslipidemia — abnormal amounts of lipids. In addition, adipose tissue may produce various adipokines that may separately impact insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The authors further caution that individuals with metabolic syndrome are largely asymptomatic but have a 10-year risk of a first coronary event, based on the Framingham Risk Score of 16 to 18 percent, which is nearly as high as a patient who already has experienced a prior coronary event. Moreover, they are concerned that metabolic syndrome is both underdiagnosed and undertreated.

“Visceral fat and its clinically more easily measured correlate of waist circumference are gaining increasing attention as strong predictors of metabolic syndrome even if you remove body mass index from the equation,” said Sherling. “There are patients who have a normal body mass index yet are at high risk. These patients represent an important population for clinicians to screen for metabolic syndrome.”

In the commentary, the authors emphasize the importance of therapeutic lifestyle changes beginning in childhood. They note that as the current generation of American children and adolescents reach middle age, morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease will increase.

“The pandemic of obesity, which begins in childhood, is deeply concerning,” said Perumareddi. “Adolescents today are more obese and less physically active than their parents and already have higher rates of type 2 diabetes. It is likely that the current generation of children and adolescents in the U.S. will be the first since 1960 to have higher mortality rates than their parents due mainly to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke.”

The authors stress that obesity is a major risk factor for several cancers, especially colorectal, but also breast and prostate and that clinicians should not let the perfect be the enemy of the possible. For American adults, this implies the need for evidence-based doses of drugs of lifesaving benefit for those at high risk.

“In the U.S., cardiovascular disease will remain the leading killer due largely to obesity and physical inactivity,” said Hennekens. “Unfortunately, most people prefer prescription of pills to proscription of harmful lifestyles. The totality of evidence indicates that weight loss of 5 percent or more of body weight combined with a brisk walk for 20 or more minutes daily will significantly reduce cardiovascular events and deaths.”

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, approximately two-thirds of adults age 20 or older are overweight or obese with body mass indexes (BMI) greater than 25, and nearly one-third have BMIs greater than 30. Less than one-third of them are at a healthy weight with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Estimated medical costs of obesity are as high as $147 billion a year for 2008, or almost 10 percent of all medical spending.

The authors also conclude that the export of American diet and lifestyle, which increases rates of obesity and physical inactivity, together with the alarming rates of export of tobacco to developing countries are resulting in cardiovascular disease emerging as the leading killer worldwide.

Source: Florida Atlantic University

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