Video: How do Earthworms, the Earth’s Little Garbage People, Eat?

If you’re enjoying some tasty food today that has at least one ingredient that was farmed somewhere, you probably owe a little thanks to earthworms.

How is it that these detritivores – literally dirt eaters – turn what humans find inedible into beloved compost?

After the biology and physics of swallowing and “chewing”, like us it’s all chemistry for digestion. But earthworms have an extra enzyme that allows them to munch through cellulose, the ultimate fiber of that makes tree bark a non-starter in human diets. Yet all this powerful chemistry means not everyone sees earthworms as the greatest creature to crawl.

Watch video at You Tube (5:06 minutes) . . . .

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Vegetarian Paella with Spring Vegetables

Ingredients

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive or camelina oil
1 medium-sized red onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups Spanish bomba rice
1/3 cup organic sweet white wine
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, boiling hot, plus extra, if needed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp saffron threads, crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 small bunch fresh asparagus spears, cut into 1-1/2 in pieces
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into slivers
14 oz can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 small bunch Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
salt and fresh pepper, to taste

Method

  1. In large paella pan or deep-sided large frying pan, heat oil. Add onion, garlic, and fennel and saute just until soft and clear. Do not brown.
  2. Add diced tomatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring often until mixture thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in rice until grains are coated.
  4. Add wine and deglaze pan. Stir in boiling stock and seasonings. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed into rice, leaving rice al dente. Gently shake pan over top of burner occasionally to allow even cooking and to prevent rice from sticking. If rice is cooking dry and still not tender to the bite, add a little more boiling stock.
  5. Gently fold in asparagus, peas, and sun-dried tomatoes. Scatter beans over top.
  6. Turn heat to very low, cover tightly, and let rest for 10 minutes to slightly warm vegetable toppings and for rice to create a bit of a crust on the bottom.
  7. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Add salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

Opinion: The Vegetable Cookbook You Need

Paula Forbes wrote . . . . . .

Six Seasons is the first cookbook I’ve trusted in a long time.

As a cookbook reviewer, I am required to be suspicious of every new book I crack open, in order to figure out what traps it has set for the unsuspecting home cook. What shortcuts did the author take? What assumptions did he or she make? I want to be able to hold up the book to you and say: This book is watertight. Buy it with your hard earned money; trust it with your groceries.

But in order to say that with authority, I must hunt for the leaks. Cookbooks almost always have leaks. Sometimes it’s obvious at a glance that a book’s basically a sieve; other times hairline fractures take time to discover. My shelves are filled with cookbooks that have a fabulous premise and recipes that just don’t work. Books from beloved restaurants that feel hollow in print. Gorgeous books that either under- or over-estimate their readers, becoming pretty doorstops in the process. Books that are great, but…

Portland chef Joshua McFadden and his co-author Martha Holmberg have produced a great book. Period. No except. It’s a book to lean on, to cozy up to. It’s a fever dream of what tomatoes tasted like when you were a little kid. It’s your grandmother’s advice on dealing with a bumper crop of zucchini, if your grandmother cooked at the hippest Portland restaurants.

Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables is the latest in a recent batch of cookbooks (Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork, Steven Satterfield’s Root to Leaf) that aim to help readers cook seasonally. Its title refers to the idea that, as far as vegetables are concerned, the concept of four seasons doesn’t really cut it. McFadden instead splits the year into six: Spring, Early Summer, Midsummer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. This allows him more nuance with his recipes, which pair same-season produce with punchy, often Italian ingredients like olives, salami, citrus, cheeses, and fresh herbs.

And it passed every test I could throw at it. McFadden’s goal here is “to encourage and energize cooks of all skill levels…in your efforts at seasonal and local eating.” It’s a noble and lofty aim, but Six Seasons accomplishes this in part by providing a monstrous volume of recipes: 225, by the publisher’s count. Imagine going to the farmers’ market—as seasonal, local cookbooks cajole you to do—and returning home with snap peas. On one hand, we have a cookbook that has one recipe for snap peas; on the other, Six Seasons has three, plus advice for preparing them simply. Which one will you reach for again, when you return home with broccolini, or collards, or perfect, tiny sweet potatoes?

Another goal the book achieves is addressing “cooks of all skill levels.” Never before have I seen so many fascinating, delicious, easy recipes in one book. “I hate chef books that presume home cooks have the time, money, and skills—and desire—to replicate restaurant-style recipes,” McFadden writes. “Not to mention the dishwashing staff!”

I promise you, beginner cooks, there are dozens of recipes in Six Seasons that are well within your grasp, and they result in sophisticated, modern, fun dishes. McFadden’s great talent is his ability to combine unexpected ingredients (turnips and radicchio and prunes, fennel and Tallegio, snap peas and pickled cherries, collards and hazelnuts and grapes), which means he can do so in simple preparations as well as complex ones. In other words, Six Seasons and its delicious good ideas are accessible to most. And, in a world full of chef cookbooks that view simplification as condescension, I’m grateful for it.

McFadden’s local and seasonal is not my local and seasonal—living in Texas, no cookbook’s is—but it’s not a deterrent as it so often is. Instead, the difference in geography opened the entire book to me at once. I found snap peas for a snap peas with pickled cherries and peanuts salad in the spring section, turnips for the turnips with prunes and radicchio in the early summer section, and the kale for McFadden’s famous “Kale Salad That Started it All” from the winter section. Again, this is where the sheer number of recipes came in handy: I was able to find recipes that fit the unique growing season of Central Texas because I had enough options to choose from.

I could not stop testing recipes from this book. There were just too many delicious options: grilled radishes with dates and sharp cheddar; a celery salad with sausage and provolone, beet slaw with pistachios and a Thai-ish peanut sauce. Everything is enlivened with spice and acid and a slug of good olive oil; every page I flipped to was something new, something I suddenly, desperately wanted to try. Try them I did, and with great success. I didn’t want testing to end.

My frenzy of testing taught me that I could rely on Six Seasons and its bounty of vegetable knowledge. In fact, it’s about as close to a perfect cookbook as I have seen. What McFadden and Holmberg have achieved is no small feat: This is a book that will educate nearly everyone who picks it up, a book beginner and seasoned cooks alike will reach for repeatedly. It’s the rare book that achieves what it sets out to do, and manages to do so in a manner that is both appetizing and engaging. It is accessible without sacrificing its artistry.

Six Seasons is solid. It does not leak.

Source: Lucky Peach

Infographic: When Fruits and Vegetables are in Season in North America

See large image . . . . .

See large image . . . . .

Source: Business Insider

Waist Size, Not Weight, May be Key to Life Span

That spare tire you’re toting around could be increasing your risk of an early death, a new study suggests.

What’s more, the increased risk associated with having a larger waistline occurs even if a person’s body-mass index (BMI) indicates a healthy weight, said lead researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis. He’s an associate professor with the University of Sydney in Australia.

People who carry extra weight around the middle — also called “central obesity” — but have a normal BMI have a 22 percent higher risk of death than people whose fat is stored elsewhere in their bodies, the study found. In folks with a BMI that indicates obesity, the risk of early death was 13 percent higher for those with central obesity.

The study also found that a large gut poses an even greater hazard for heart health. The risk of heart-related death is 25 percent higher for someone with central obesity and a normal BMI. It’s 26 percent greater for those with an overweight BMI and extra abdominal girth, and 56 higher percent for an obese BMI and central obesity, the study found.

BMI is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight measurements. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight is 25 to 29.9, and obese is 30 and over. Someone who’s 5 feet, 9 inches tall is considered normal when weight is between 125 and 168 pounds. Overweight is 169 to 202 pounds. Obese is 203 pounds or higher.

Waist-to-hip ratio is a measurement used to determine if there is excess belly fat. Stamatakis said waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

“If a person’s waist-to-hip ratio is over 0.85 if they are female, or over 0.90 if they are male, then they should be concerned and look into ways to alter their lifestyle to lose or reduce the ‘paunch,'” Stamatakis said.

Ruth Loos is director of the genetics of obesity and related metabolic traits program at the Charles Bronfman Institute of Personalized Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

She said these findings jibe with previous studies indicating that belly fat may be more detrimental to a person’s health than fat stored elsewhere in the body.

“Studies have been fairly consistent in showing that waist-to-hip ratio contributes to disease,” Loos said.

For this latest study, researchers looked at almost 43,000 participants in the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey. Each person’s BMI and waist-to-hip ratio was compared against their health history during 10 years of follow-up.

The study participants’ average age was 58. And, just over half had central obesity. Forty four percent were overweight. One quarter were obese. Folks who were overweight and obese were much more likely to have central obesity than people with a normal BMI.

Researchers found that the risk posed by a big belly was the same for men and women, Stamatakis noted.

However, men are more likely to store fat around their middle, which could mean they are more likely to develop this risk, Loos said. Women tend to store fat in their hips and buttocks.

“It is indeed true that men have more of the one type of body shape, and women the other,” Loos said.

Excessive fat around the waist has been linked to insulin resistance, high cholesterol and increased inflammation, Stamatakis said. These all are risk factors for heart disease.

A high waist-to-hip ratio also can indicate less muscle mass in the legs, which also increases heart disease risk, Stamatakis added.

“In fact, people who have high BMI often have larger amounts of fat stored in the hips and the legs, and this appears to be better for metabolic and cardiovascular health for reasons we cannot fully understand,” he said.

Loos said belly fat might be more harmful than fat stored in the hips because it more directly affects the central organs of the body.

“If you store fat around your belly and around your organs, it’s going to affect your liver function, it’s going to affect your heart function,” Loos said.

Both Stamatakis and Loos said people with belly fat should take steps to improve their health, by eating right, exercising and cutting out other risk factors like smoking or drinking.

Unfortunately, weight loss efforts will not necessarily eliminate your spare tire. Weight loss tends to occur evenly across the entire body, and cannot be directed toward any exact store of fat, Loos noted.

“There’s no way of specifically targeting that belly fat,” Loos said. “Even exercises like doing sit ups are not going to specifically help you lose fat in your belly.”

The new study was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: HealthDay


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