Character Snack

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Ball Donut (はらぺこあおむしドーナツ)

The character is created and illustrated by Eric Carle in his children picture book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’

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7 Ways to Enhance the Flavour of Your Meals

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. Just don’t overcook, burn or char meat.
  • 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

Grilled Lamb Chops with Zucchini and Olive Gremolata

Ingredients

1 frenched 8-rib rack of lamb, about 2-1/2 lb, cut into 4 double chops
3 tbsp olive oil
4 whole star anise, toasted and finely ground
2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium zucchini, cut crosswise on a very 4 into 3/4-inch-thick slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup very coarsely crumbled feta cheese
1 small red onion, pickled (optional)
flaky seasalt for garnish

Gramolata

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots
3 tbsp finely chopped pitted kalamata olives
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. To make the gremolata: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, shallots, olives, vinegar, lemon zest, and tarragon. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the gremolata and set aside at room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the star anise, coriander, and paprika. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and then with the spice mixture. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
  3. Prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high cooking over direct heat.
  4. Coat the lamb chops with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grill the chops, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop registers 125°F for medium-rare. Transfer the chops to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt. Grill the zucchini, turning halfway through cooking, for about 6 minutes, or until charred with grill marks and crisp-tender.
  6. When ready to serve, place a lamb chop on each of four dinner plates. Arrange the zucchini and pickled onions (if using) alongside the lamb, then sprinkle with the feta cheese. Spoon the gremolata around the lamb. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Curtis Stone What’s for Dinner

Want a Healthy Brain as You Age? Live a Healthy Life

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can protect the brain against several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol and avoiding obesity, smoking and diabetes are among the steps that can help preserve brain health, according to the study, published in JAMA Neurology.

Neurologists believe two aspects make up Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Amyloid deposits: Toxic proteins that build up plaques on the brain.
  • Neurodegeneration: Loss of structure and function of neurons in the brain.

The Mayo research examined whether the risk factors and protective steps against each differ.

“This is a hot topic of investigation, because the more we learn about biomarkers, the more we will learn about risk and protective factors against Alzheimer’s disease,” says senior study co-author Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “The notion of exceptional brain aging is relevant here — why some people have lower degree of Alzheimer’s disease-causing brain changes even at advanced ages and higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study found that:

  • High cholesterol was the only predictor among the midlife risk factors — apart from demographics and the presence of apolipoprotein E gene — that raises the risk of amyloid deposits, the key factor underlying Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Midlife obesity, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as late-life cardiac and metabolic chronic conditions, were associated with greater Alzheimer’s disease-pattern neurodegeneration.
  • Intellectual enrichment did not significantly predict formation of amyloid deposits or neurodegeneration, suggesting that it is mainly protective against cognitive decline.

“It is important to note that fewer midlife risk factors and fewer chronic health conditions contribute to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” says first author Prashanthi Vemuri, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic dementia researcher. “For healthier brain aging, managing one’s overall health over a lifetime is vital.”

The study looked at 942 people ages 70 to 89 enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Researchers used brain scans that show amyloid formation and neurodegeneration, and investigated what factors protect individuals from both. They also looked at “exceptional agers” – people 85 and older with no significant evidence of Alzheimer’s disease on their brain scans.

“The research shows that exceptional aging without major signs of Alzheimer’s disease may be possible with a greater number of protective factors across the life span,” Dr. Vemuri says.

Future research should investigate independent and combined protective factors against amyloid and neurodegeneration, Dr. Vemuri says. Better prevention strategies could help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, she says.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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