The New Summer Food Trends

Saffron Alexander wrote . . . . . .

Summer is officially here and that means we all have weeks of alfresco dining and BBQ smoke staining your clothes ahead of us. But what will you be serving your friends and family this year?

To keep you ahead of all the latest trends guaranteed to make a splash on social media, social media site Pinterest have revealed its Summer Entertaining Report, offering its projections for the season and helping to give you all the ideas you need to make your barbecue or picnic memorable this year.

Decorative ice

Long gone are the days when ice was added to drinks to keep it cool. Nowadays, ice can serve as a way of livening up your glass simply by adding some fruits or herbs to your ice tray.

If fruits and herbs aren’t your thing, consider adding some food colouring to your trays to create a multi-coloured, Instagram perfect display in your glass.

For those with small children, the same can also be done with homemade ice lollies.

According to Pinterest, photographs of decorative ice are up 82 per cent across the site.

Edible flowers

Up 31 per cent this year are edible flowers. According to the experts at Pinterest they’re key to making “your guests feel extra special” this summer.

And, if that fails, at least you can guarantee your dishes will make both a tasty and eye-catching centrepiece on your table.

No more buns

The reign of the brioche bun is finally over, with bunless BBQ’s seeing an increase of 52 per cent on the site this year.

These days your favourite meats at being served straight from the grill and into a bowl. This often works out easier for the chef and it’s healthier for the guests (your gluten-free friends will thank you for it too).

Farewell BBQ sauce

There was once a time where BBQ sauce reigned supreme at garden parties all over the country, but not anymore. Pinterest has seen a 55 per cent increase in sauces with Middle Eastern flavours and claims Harissa and tzatziki are the new staple barbecue condiments this year.

Harissa is a hot chilli pepper paste made from red, Baklouti and serrano peppers and a variety of spices and herbs including coriander seed, saffron and caraway. It is most commonly found used in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.

Tzatziki is made using salted strained or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt and olive oil and is usually served with grilled meat or as a dip.

Smoked everything

And we mean everything.

According to Pinterest, people are “smoking everything from mac and cheese to onion rings and cocktails” and the site has seen a 170 per cent increase of smoked food posts.

Upcycled fruit

The upcycling trend makes its way to the kitchen with Pinterest reporting a 37 per cent increase in upcycled fruit posts.

If you’ve got some watermelon destined for the bin, consider getting creative with it and turning it into a healthy smoothie bowl or even a fruity cocktail.

Source: The Telegraph

Chinese Sichuan-style Braised Pork Belly


6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 piece pork belly, about 2 lb
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine
4 cloves garlic, bruised
2- x 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 piece dried mandarin or tangerine peel
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 star anise
I cinnamon stick
1-1/2 tablespoons Chinese rock sugar


  1. Cover the mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water and soak for 20 minutes, or until soft. Squeeze dry, reserving the liquid.
  2. Heat a large wok over high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the pork, skin-side-down, and cook for 5 minutes, or until well browned, then turn over and cook for a further 6 minutes, or until scaled.
  3. Add the stock, soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, citrus peel, spices, reserved mushroom soaking liquid and 2 cups water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1-1/4 hours.
  4. Add the sugar and mushrooms to the wok and cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the pork is very tender.
  5. Remove the pork from the stock and cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick.
  6. Strain the liquid into a bowl, then return the strained liquid to the wok. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until reduced to about 3/4 cup.
  7. Place the pork on a platter with the mushrooms and spoon on some of the cooking liquid. Serve with steamed rice as part of a meal.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: The Essential Wok Cooking

In Pictures: Character Food of Pop-up Village Vanguard Cafe in Shinjuku, Japan

Antibiotics and Vitamin C Could Kill Cancer Cells


“Vitamin C and antibiotics could be up to 100 times more effective than drugs at killing cancer cells – without the side effects,” reports the Mail Online.

The news comes from the results of a study that found a new two-pronged approach using the antibiotic doxycycline followed by vitamin C could kill cancer cells.

Doxycycline killed many cancer cells, but others became resistant. The resistant cells were then destroyed by vitamin C.

While this is encouraging news, it needs to be put into context. The experiments all took place in the laboratory. Researchers used human breast cancer stem cells, but didn’t perform any studies on animals or humans.

This means we don’t know how successful this strategy could be – and the Mail’s claim there would be no side effects is unsupported.

Though both doxycycline and vitamin C are safe to use in humans, more research is needed to find out how they interact with other cancer treatments and therapies before this can be recommended as a new approach to treating cancer.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Calabria in Italy, and the University of Manchester and the University of Salford in the UK.

It was funded by both UK universities, the Healthy Life Foundation, the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC), the European Union, and various private donations.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Oncotarget on an open access basis, so it’s free to read online.

The Mail reported on the study reasonably accurately, but didn’t point out clinical trials are needed to see if the approach would be effective – and safe – in humans.

What kind of research was this?

This research involved a series of laboratory experiments performed on human cancer stem cells.

Although both doxycycline and vitamin C are safe to use in humans, we don’t know whether the dose and combination required to kill cancer cells would be toxic in other ways.

Trials in animals first and then in humans are needed to eliminate this possibility.

What did the research involve?

The researchers performed a variety of experiments on human breast cancer stem cells. These are cells that are able to divide and become any type of cell the tumour needs in order to grow.

Cancer stem cells are different from most normal cells in that they can produce energy from glucose through a variety of pathways. This is one of the reasons they’re able to grow and replicate better than normal cells.

Most also have an increased number of mitochondria – the powerhouse of cells – which can convert glucose into energy using oxygen. And one of the side effects of doxycycline is it inhibits the production of proteins required by mitochondria.

Previous research has suggested that by stopping the protein production, doxycycline could kill the cancer cells because they wouldn’t be able to make energy.

But because cancer cells are good at adapting, there were concerns that some cancer cells would become drug resistant by using a different pathway to create energy, such as glycolysis.

This happens when certain cells, such as muscles, continue to work hard without oxygen, producing a build-up of lactic acid, and doesn’t require oxygen or mitochondria.

This study looked at whether two natural products and six different drugs already approved for use in humans could kill cancer cells reliant on making energy using glycolysis – or in other words, kill the cancer cells that had resisted the initial treatment with doxycycline.

The natural products were vitamin C and berberine, a type of salt found in many plants.

The drugs included:

  • chloroquine (antimalarial)
  • atovaquone
  • irinotecan
  • sorafenib
  • niclosamide
  • stiripentol

What were the basic results?

Doxycycline reduced the cancer cells’ ability to use different energy pathways. It did this by supressing the production of proteins important for mitochondrial function.

This wiped out many cancer cells, although some did became drug resistant. The doxycycline-resistant cells were then mostly reliant on the glycolysis pathway for energy production.

All of the drugs and natural products had some success in preventing these doxycycline-resistant cancer stem cells dividing. Vitamin C was the most successful.

The cells were 4-10 times more sensitive to vitamin C than cancer cells not resistant to doxycycline.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that doxycycline can kill some cancer cells and make others reliant on one energy pathway: glycolysis.

The doxycycline-resistant cells are then susceptible to natural products like vitamin C and drugs including chloroquine.

This, they say, “suggest[s] a new synthetic lethal strategy of i) doxycycline (to target mitochondria) and ii) vitamin C (to target glycolysis).”


This isn’t the first time vitamin C has been studied for use against cancer: it has previously been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and stop cancer growth in mice.

This new two-pronged approach may well prove to be useful in eradicating cancer stem cells in humans, but robust clinical trials are necessary first as cells can behave very differently in a laboratory environment.

Although all the drugs and natural products used in this study are already approved for use in humans, we don’t know for certain what concentration would be required to obtain similar effects without being toxic.

This study also only looked at breast cancer stem cells. We don’t know what effect the combination would have on other types of cancer cells, which stage of treatment this might be useful for, or for which types of cancer.

Source: NHS Choices

Study Highlights the Beauty Industry’s Ugly Side

When you purchase a new eye shadow or shampoo, you expect those products will be safe and that they won’t cause skin breakouts — or worse.

But new research found that’s not always the case. And, because cosmetics are woefully underregulated in the United States, and there’s no solid system in place to catch when personal care products are harmful, it’s possible you’ll never hear about a problem with a product, the study suggested.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration complaints database contains only 5,144 adverse events between 2004 and 2016 reported in connection with cosmetics, noted the study’s senior author Dr. Steve Xu. He’s a dermatologist with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“Here is a $400 billion industry with millions of products and multiple controversies, but we only had about 5,000 adverse events over the course of 12 years,” Xu said. “That’s very, very underreported.”

Just one case alone shows how badly underreported health problems related to cosmetics are, Xu said.

In 2014, the FDA opened an investigation into a shampoo/conditioner called WEN after directly receiving 127 customer reports of problems such as hair loss, brittle hair, bald patches, itching and rashes, Xu and his colleagues said in their report.

In the course of the investigation, the FDA learned that WEN’s manufacturer, Chaz Dean Cleansing Solutions, had privately received 21,000 complaints of hair loss and scalp irritation, the study authors said.

Cosmetics manufacturers aren’t required to pass on health-related complaints to the FDA, Xu said. Because of this, the FDA didn’t know there was a problem with the product until consumers complained directly to the agency.

As a result of this case, the FDA decided in December 2016 to make publicly available for the first time ever a database of adverse event complaints maintained by its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Xu said. The database serves as a repository of consumer complaints related to foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics.

“That was really a great opportunity for us to see what the database would tell us,” Xu said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t much.”

Complaints averaged around 400 per year, far lower than expected given the regularity of controversies related to cosmetics, the researchers found.

Complaints more than doubled between 2015 and 2016, rising from 706 to 1,591 reported adverse events. However, that increase followed an FDA public appeal asking consumers and dermatologists to report health problems related to WEN, Xu said.

“We saw the increase in reports secondary to this call to action,” Xu said.

Hair care products received the most complaints in the database, followed by skin care products, the investigators found. Most health issues involved rashes, hair loss and other dermatological problems, although more serious illnesses — such as cancer or severe allergic reactions — also were reported.

Under current law, the cosmetics industry is largely self-regulated, said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“It is left with all of these products for the companies to police themselves, and I think in many ways the market polices them when things don’t go so well,” Day said.

Xu said he’s not an alarmist who believes cosmetics should go through the same scrutiny as a new drug or medical device.

“Inherently there is a lower risk for cosmetic products,” Xu said. “To mandate a clinical study for every single moisturizer that comes on the market is somewhat impractical and somewhat ludicrous.”

But new laws could provide the FDA with better tools to respond to bad products, Xu said.

For example, the FDA cannot currently order a mandatory recall of a harmful cosmetic, and manufacturers aren’t required to share consumer complaints with regulators, Xu said.

The European Union is much more proactive in regulating consumer cosmetics, Xu said.

“They’ve banned more than 1,000 chemicals. We’ve only banned 10,” Xu said. “They’ve been very proactive about looking at chemical safety and putting the burden on manufacturers to prove their cosmetic products are safe.”

In the meantime, consumers can protect themselves by being more conservative when using abrasives such as facial scrubs, or harsh products containing glycolic, salicylic or retinoic acid, Day said.

“They’re putting on too much, or layering too many of these products on top of each other,” Day said. “Putting it on damaged skin, like tanned skin or burned skin or broken out skin. Or using them too often — they think once a day is good, five times a day is better.”

People worried about a product should perform a “patch test,” applying it to a small area on the inside of their forearm, Day suggested.

“That’s not a very sensitive area, so if it reacts there it is more likely to be a true allergic reaction,” she said.

The study was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Source: HealthDay