Character Sweets: Bathing Animals Chocolate Tarts

The tarts are available from Goncharoff (ゴンチャロフ) in Japan for 650 yen (plus tax).

Grilled Oysters with Garlic and Tarragon


2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 large slice coarse country bread, crusts removed and bread broken into small pieces
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 celery stalk, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 cups coarse salt
16 small oysters, such as Kumamotos, shucked and on the half shell


  1. Using a mini food processor, with the motor running, drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube. When they are finely minced, add the tarragon and process until minced and combined with the garlic.
  2. Add about two-thirds of the bread and process until crumbly. Add the butter, minced celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until well combined. (If not using a processor, mince the garlic cloves and tarragon and place in a bowl. Crumble the bread into fine crumbs and add two-thirds to the bowl along with the butter, minced celery, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined.)
  3. Preheat the broiler (grill). Pour the coarse salt into a large, shallow flameproof baking dish, making an even layer about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick to serve as a bed for the oysters.
  4. Smear about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the tarragon mixture on top of each oyster. Then, rubbing the reserved bread between your fingers, top each oyster with a dusting of bread crumbs. Nestle the oyster shells in the salt, keeping them as level as possible.
  5. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat source and broil (grill) until the topping is bubbling at the edges and beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes. Serve at once.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Hors D’oeuvre

Infographic: The MIND Diet

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Video: Nutrition and Dementia – The MIND Trial by Dr. Martha Clare Morris

Watch video at You Tube (38:35 minutes) . . . .

Why It’s Great to Learn a Second Language

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Julie Davis wrote . . . . . . .

Is learning a second language on your bucket list? Here’s compelling evidence to get started right away.

Numerous studies at institutions, including Penn State, have found that learning a new language is great for brain health. It can strengthen your brain just as exercise strengthens your muscles. And like muscles, the more you work at it, the stronger your brain gets.

The parts of the brain that develop in size are the hippocampus and areas in the cerebral cortex. This growth leads to better language skills overall. So, over time, the more you study and practice, the easier learning the language becomes.

Researchers say that people who speak two languages are better able to focus on key information and filter out the rest. This helps you to prioritize tasks and manage multiple projects at once.

And there are long-range benefits, too. The onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms can be delayed by about four years in people who speak two languages, research has found.

Once you’ve chosen the language you’re most interested in, there are many ways to get started, from online classes to self-driven instruction. Because pronunciation is key to feeling comfortable using a foreign language, make sure that whatever technique you use includes an audio component.

Keep in mind that you need to actively practice your new language to get all the benefits — using two languages is what works the brain. So, to keep challenging your gray matter, read books and watch foreign films (no cheating with subtitles!) in that language.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even take a trip to a country where the language is spoken and fully immerse yourself.

Source: HealthDay

Migraines Tied to Higher Heart Trouble Risk

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . .

Migraine sufferers might have to worry about more than just dealing with debilitating headaches.

Migraine patients could also face an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and irregular heart rates, a new study suggests.

The risk to heart health appears to be strongest in the first year after diagnosis of migraine, but persists for as long as two decades, said lead researcher Dr. Kasper Adelborg. He is a postdoctoral fellow of clinical epidemiology at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

“Accumulating evidence supports that migraine should be considered as an important risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases in both men and women,” Adelborg said.

Migraine affects about 15 percent of people, mainly women, and was the second leading cause of years lost to disability in 2016, according to background information provided by the researchers.

For the study, Adelborg and his colleagues gathered records from patients treated at Danish hospitals and hospital outpatient clinics between 1995 and 2013. The investigators wound up with just over 51,000 migraine patients and slightly more than 510,300 non-migraine patients matched for comparison.

The findings showed that migraine patients more frequently suffered a host of heart- and blood vessel-related health problems, though a cause-and-effect relationship wasn’t proven.

According to the researchers, for every 1,000 people:

  • 25 migraine patients had a heart attack, compared with 17 migraine-free people.
  • 45 migraine sufferers had a blood clot-related stroke versus 25 without the headache disorder.
  • 27 migraine patients developed life-threatening blood clots in their veins, compared with 18 people without migraines.
  • 47 people with migraine developed an irregular heartbeat, versus 34 migraine-free people.

Migraine remained linked to these heart problems even after researchers took into account other risk factors, such as excess weight or smoking.

The findings were published online in the BMJ.

In an editorial that accompanied the study, Dr. Tobias Kurth, an adjunct professor of epidemiology with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote: “We now have plenty of evidence that migraine should be taken seriously as a strong cardiovascular risk marker.”

Despite these observations, the absolute risk for all heart-related health problems remained low. That was expected, the researchers noted, given that the patients evaluated in this study were relatively young, with an average age of 35.

That means that an individual’s risk of heart attack or stroke won’t necessarily increase drastically if they suffer migraines.

However, Adelborg said, in the broad scheme of things, the increased risk from migraines must be taken seriously.

“Although the absolute risks of cardiovascular diseases were low at the individual level, it translates into a substantial increase in risk at the population level, because migraine is a very common disease,” he explained.

The researchers cannot say with certainty why migraines might pose a potential threat to heart health, but they have some theories.

For example, cerebral arteries sometimes suddenly constrict during a migraine, which could increase stroke risk, Adelborg said. People suffering from a migraine also often lie down for long periods of time, which can make blood clots more likely.

Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Gerald Fletcher suspects migraines and heart problems both have at least one serious risk factor in common.

“I think probably the common thing is high blood pressure,” Fletcher said. “It is related in that respect.”

Migraine patients who want to reduce their stroke risk should consider taking steps to lower their blood pressure, including exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, Fletcher suggested.

Doctors could also consider revising migraine treatment guidelines, which now do not recommend use of aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs to help prevent migraines, Adelborg added.

“Future studies should address whether [migraine] patients at particularly high risk of cardiovascular diseases would benefit from anticoagulant treatment,” Adelborg said.

Source: HealthDay

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