WHO European Chief Said the Mediterranean Diet is Gone in the Mediterranean Region

Sarah Boseley wrote . . . . . . . . .

For kids in Greece, Spain and Italy, the Mediterranean diet is dead, according to the World Health Organisation, which says that children in Sweden are more likely to eat fish, olive oil and tomatoes than those in southern Europe.

In Cyprus, a phenomenal 43% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese. Greece, Spain and Italy also have rates of over 40%. The Mediterranean countries which gave their name to the famous diet that is supposed to be the healthiest in the world have children with Europe’s biggest weight problem.

Sweets, junk food and sugary drinks have displaced the traditional diet based on fruit and vegetables, fish and olive oil, said Dr Joao Breda, head of the WHO European office for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases.

“The Mediterranean diet for the children in these countries is gone,” he said at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna. “There is no Mediterranean diet any more. Those who are close to the Mediterranean diet are the Swedish kids. The Mediterranean diet is gone and we need to recover it.”

Children in southern Europe are eating few fruit and vegetables and drinking a lot of sugary colas and other sweet beverages, said Breda. They snack. They eat sweets. They consume too much salt, sugar and fat in their food. And they hardly move. “Physical inactivity is one of the issues that is more significant in the southern European countries,” he said. “A man in Crete in the 60s would need 3,500 calories because he was going up and down the mountain.”

The data comes from the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative of the WHO’s European region, which has been running since 2008 and now involves more than 40 countries that submit weight and height data for their children. The latest figures come from data collected between 2015 and 2017. “It is very high quality data,” said Breda.

The countries with the lowest levels of child obesity are Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan – but those are all undergoing a “nutrition transition”, moving towards a western diet which may change the picture. Children in Tajikistan already consume large quantities of sugary soft drinks.

France, Norway, Ireland, Latvia and Denmark also have low rates, ranging from 5% to 9%. The UK does not contribute data to the study, but about one in three children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school at the age of 11.

But the good news is that the Mediterranean countries are addressing the problem and having some success is bringing their childhood obesity rates down. At least three-quarters of Italy’s children are now eating fruit every day or most days, for instance. “There is progress,” said Breda. “They recognise there is a problem and they are trying to do something.”

Source: The Guardian

Mediterranean-style Stewed Fish with Chorizo


2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced dry-cured chorizo sausage
1 onion, diced
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 can (796 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 can (540 mL) no-salt-added white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
340 g skinless tilapia fillets or other white-fleshed fish, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp red wine vinegar


  1. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook chorizo, stirring often until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add onion and hot pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add beans and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and stew is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in fish. Simmer until fish flakes easily when tested, about 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Gently stir in cilantro and vinegar before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mediterranean Flavours

Video: The Tuna King of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan

Watch video at You Tube (11:54 minutes) . . . . .

Shave Ice Dessert

Whitney Filloon wrote . . . . . . . .

One of the world’s oldest desserts is suddenly everywhere. Chef Sota Atsumi of Paris’s iconic Clown Bar recently served a foie gras kakigori, or Japanese-style shaved ice, at a menu preview for his highly anticipated forthcoming restaurant, Maison. At the Lobster Club in New York City, pastry chef Stephanie Prida serves a dolled-up kakigori dressed with blood orange in three forms: as a puree, candied zest, and a flavored creme anglaise. On the west coast, kakigori is also on the menu at chef David Chang’s white-hot new LA restaurant, Majordomo; the current version is flavored with horchata. For her forthcoming restaurant Nightshade, chef Mei Lin plans to serve kakigori, and is playing around with different shapes of ice, which, when shaved, result in different textures.

But the snow-like Japanese dessert is just one of shave ice’s many iterations. The frozen dessert — in which blocks of ice are shaved into snow-like mounds; thin, feather-like shards; or curly swirls — is particularly popular in Asian countries, where it can be found in different forms. It’s also popular in other parts of the globe, including but not limited to Mexico, South America, the Middle East, and of course, the United States. While the names, flavors, and forms might differ from country to country, shave ice is typically a street food, and priced accordingly.

Here now, a look at a variety of ice-based sweets from across the world.

JAPAN: Kakigori

A traditional summer treat found all over Japan, kakigori is said to date back as far as the 10th or 11th century — though at that point it was reserved for Japanese nobility, and didn’t trickle down to the common people until the late 1800s, when industrialization made transporting ice much easier. A kakigori machine is fitted with a sharp blade that finely shaves ice off a large (sometimes square, sometimes round) block; like Hawaiian shave ice or snow cones, it is typically made with plain, unflavored ice, piled into a towering mound in a squat cup or bowl, and then topped with flavored syrups. Commonly seen syrup flavors in Japan include fresh fruits like melon or strawberry; matcha (often paired with a drizzle of condensed milk); and mizore, which is a mild but popular white sugar syrup.

“To me it’s a great dish because the flavors are endless, it’s great [for] sharing, and it’s so fresh,” Prida says. The Lobster Club uses a $2,000 ice shaving machine. Large blocks of ice are loaded into the machine, and spin rapidly over a stationary blade, producing up to four and a half pounds of fluffy shaved snow a minute.

HAWAII: Shave ice

Hawaiian shave ice is one of the best-known forms of shaved ice desserts. Descended from Japanese kakigori, it was brought to the island by Japanese plantation laborers. The first stands opened in the early 1900s to serve plantation workers a cooling treat during the hottest summer months. Like kakigori, it resembles fine fluffy snow and is topped with flavored syrups, which are quickly absorbed into the dessert thanks to the ice’s powdery texture.

While most stands tend to rely on artificially flavored, brightly colored syrups that run the flavor gamut from blue raspberry to bubblegum, newer artisan-style stands make use of locally grown ingredients, with flavors like lilikoi (passionfruit), soursop, and papaya. Hawaiian shave ice is frequently served with a scoop of ice cream at its core, and/or topped with sweet red azuki beans.

SOUTH KOREA: Patbingsu/bingsu or bingsoo

In Korea, the shave-ice dessert known as patbingsu is so ubiquitous that it’s even available at KFC. Similar to bao bing, patbingsu relies heavily on toppings (though the snowy texture is more like kakigori): A mound of shave ice resembling a snowball is heaped into a bowl and adorned with ingredients like sweet red beans (the most essential patbingsu topping), condensed milk, tteok (rice cakes), fruit, toasted soybean powder, and sometimes even scoops of ice cream. The concoction is typically mixed up with a spoon before consuming.


Thought to have been served in China as early as the seventh century, bao bing is one of the oldest forms of shave ice, and is also found in Taiwan and Malaysia. It’s been popular in the U.S. for decades (as evidenced by a 1989 New York Times story discussing the “Americanization” of the dish). It is typically served piled high in a bowl, in a generous portion meant for sharing; fruit is almost always involved, such as mango, lychee, or rambutan. Red beans are also popular; other possible garnishes include taro, peanuts, mochi, grass jelly, fruit syrups, or condensed milk.

Compared to Hawaiian shave ice, the texture of bao bing is less powdery or snow-like and more like thinly shaved sheets or flakes of ice: Sometimes, it’s shaved from already flavored blocks of ice. Most Taiwanese-style shops buy pre-made, flavored blocks, though some make their own. Much like its creamier counterpart fro-yo, bao bing shops in the U.S. offer a massive array of toppings, from fruit and beans to Oreos and gummi bears.


This Filipino favorite is typically served in a tall, clear glass to show off its many elaborate and colorful layers. Ingredients can vary wildly depending on the season or personal taste, but it almost always includes shaved ice, fresh fruit such as jackfruit, evaporated milk, a jelly-like garnish such as nata de coco (coconut gel), something crunchy (frequently toasted glutinous rice flakes, or even just Rice Krispies), and ice cream (usually ube, or purple yam). Other ingredients frequently seen in halo-halo are palm nuts, mung beans, and shredded coconut. Naturally, American chefs have put their own spin on halo-halo by topping it with breakfast cereal like Cap’n Crunch.

THAILAND: Nam kang sai

Similar to bao bing and patbingsu, Thailand’s version of shave ice is all about the toppings. It’s sold by street vendors across the nation, who typically use hand-crank machines to shave their ice; patrons can choose to concoct their own combos with ingredients like jackfruit, taro, sweet corn, water chestnuts, and cubes of bread. The mixture is frequently topped with sala syrup — an artificially flavored sweet red syrup that’s also used to make a popular drink called pinky milk — and/or coconut milk.

INDONESIA: Es campur

Found all over Indonesia, from street hawkers to full-service restaurants, es campur typically looks like a bowl of larger chunks of ice rather than finely shaved snow. It is served in a shallow bowl or glass and floats in a mixture of various additions, usually including sweetened condensed milk, pandan syrup, and possibly basil seeds, grass jelly, jackfruit, fermented cassava root, coconut, or avocado.

MALAYSIA: Ais kacang

Sometimes called ABC, this sweet ice is served at hawker stands across Malaysia as well as in Singapore. Ais kacang (or “ice kacang”) is made with tall mounds of fluffy machine-shaved ice topped with various flavored syrups like rose, pandan, or gula melaka (palm sugar); popular garnishes include red beans, durian, basil seeds, peanuts (“kacang” means nuts or beans), seaweed jelly, sweet corn, sprinkles, and of course, the ubiquitous condensed or evaporated milk.


A popular summertime treat in the U.S. island territory, piraguas can also be found in parts of the U.S. that have large boricua populations, such as New York and Florida. Typically served in a plastic cup, the ice is scraped by hand (making it coarser than the fluffy snow found in kakigori) and then mounded into a tall pyramid shape before being topped with flavored syrup; it is served with a straw to slurp up the dessert as the syrup and ice melt together. Popular flavors include tamarind, coconut, sesame seed, passionfruit, pineapple, and melon. Variations on the dessert can be found throughout South America and are sometimes topped with dulce de leche or sweetened condensed milk.

MEXICO: Raspado

Popular all over Mexico as well as in areas of the U.S. with significant Mexican immigrant populations, such as LA, raspados are Mexico’s version of the snow cone. (Raspado comes from raspar, Spanish for “to scrape.”) Raspados are traditionally scraped by hand with a metal tool called a raspador. Usually served in a plastic cup with a straw for slurping as the ice and syrup melt together, they come topped with fruit, syrup, and/or milk; the most ubiquitous flavors include tamarind and rompope (eggnog). Similar desserts are popular in Cuba (where they’re referred to as granizado) and numerous Latin American countries, including Colombia (cholado).

PERU/BOLIVIA: Shikashika

Found only in Peru and Bolivia, shikashika (also called raspadilla) has one unique characteristic that sets it apart from every other type of shaved ice dessert: It is made with glacier ice brought down from the Andes. The topic of a 2008 documentary called simply Shikashika, the process of obtaining the ice blocks can be harrowing, but it provides significant business for local rural economies. Once the ice blocks are transported from the mountains into towns, they are shaved; topped with flavored syrups, honey, and/or milk; and served in a pint glass with a spoon.

INDIA: Gola/Chuski

A popular summertime treat at street-food vendors across India, gola (also called chuski) has a coarser texture, like a snow cone, and is frequently prepared via a hand-crank machine. The ice is compressed into a cup, soaked with syrup — popular flavors include mango, rose, and kala khatta, which is made with blackberry and cumin — and then slid onto a stick before serving, looking something like a hybrid of shaved ice and a popsicle. The dessert is also served in Pakistan, where it’s typically referred to as gola ganda.

“Shaved cream,” what the proprietors of NYC’s Snowdays call “an evolution of the Taiwanese and Korean shaved ices”

Other Ice Desserts

IRAN: Faloodeh

It would be impossible to compile a list of ice-based sweets without including faloodeh. Considered one of the oldest known frozen desserts, Iranian faloodeh dates back to the fourth century B.C. and is flavored with one of Middle Eastern cuisine’s most distinctive flavors: rosewater. With a slushy texture similar to granita, it’s prepared by making a syrup with water, sugar, lime juice, rosewater, and then freezing it. (It’s sometimes made with saffron, which gives it a distinct golden hue.) It’s often topped with a sour cherry syrup, pistachios, or fresh lime juice. Faloodeh stands out from other icy desserts because it’s mixed with crushed-up noodles, which gives it a unique texture; thin, translucent rice vermicelli noodles are commonly used, but the noodles can also be made with other starches such as arrowroot or potato starch.

UNITED STATES: Snow cones, Sno-balls, Italian ice, etc.

Across the U.S., the most popular form of shaved ice dessert is the snow cone. It is typically made from finely crushed, rather than shaved, ice and therefore has a coarser, crunchier texture than Hawaiian shave ice. The snow cone is said to have been invented in 1919; one year later, a man named Samuel Bert devised the first snow cone machine and began selling the treats at the State Fair of Texas.

Seasonal snow cone stands can now be found all over the United States, with patrons lining up during the summer months to order paper cones or styrofoam cups filled with mounds of cool, crunchy ice topped with numerous flavored syrups. The most common flavors include fruits like cherry, strawberry, grape, and lemon-lime, and concoctions like “tiger’s blood” (watermelon, strawberry, and coconut). Snow cone stands also frequently offer ice cream as an addition; a scoop of ice cream (almost always vanilla) is placed in a cup and then topped off with a layer of ice and syrup. In recent years more unusual flavors, like pickle, have also become popular, as have artisanal snow cone shops that serve all-natural syrups made with fresh fruits or ingredients like Earl Grey tea.

Snowballs, or sno-balls, as they are frequently referred to, are a snow cone variation particularly popular in Louisiana. Like snow cones, they are made with plain unflavored ice and then topped with flavored syrup. But as the names indicate, the treats are made with shaved ice versus crushed ice, giving them a fluffy, snow-like texture. (“The New Orleans sno-ball and the ubiquitous snow cone are as different as 10,000 thread count Egyptian cotton and an acrylic sweater,” writes Eater NOLA editor Stephanie Carter and co-author Nora McGunnigle.) One of the most iconic sno-ball shops is arguably Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in New Orleans, which has won a James Beard Award and serves unique flavors like bananas Foster. Though most popular in New Orleans, the snowball actually got its start in Baltimore during the Industrial Revolution, when ice trucks passing through the city would stop and give ice shavings to kids, and adults would add flavorings; later, they were served in movie theaters as a way to keep patrons cool during the summer.

(Also popular in the Northeastern U.S. is a Philadelphia-born treat called water ice, but it doesn’t quite fit here: Made from water, sugar, and fruit juice, it’s produced more like a dairy-free ice cream, with a texture that’s creamer than the granular or powdery feel of shave ice or a snow cone.)

Italian ice, another regional American ice-based dessert, is often flavored with lemon. Sometimes smooth enough to sip out of a straw like frozen lemonade, it’s more often creamy enough to spoon out of a cup, and is a relative of granita, a treat from southern Italy.

ITALY: Granita

The frozen dessert most often associated with Italy is gelato, but granita is another popular warm-weather treat, particularly in its birthplace: Sicily. In the summer, Sicilians frequently forego their morning cornetto pastries in favor of a cooling granita to pair with their espresso. Served in a glass, sundae dish, or a small paper cup, it has an icy, crystalline texture; unlike other shave ice desserts that are made with flavored syrups poured over plain ice, granita is made by flavoring the liquid before it’s frozen with fruit juice or other ingredients.

Rather than being shaved to order like Hawaiian shave ice or bao bing, granita syrup is agitated as it’s frozen to create a slightly gritty texture. It’s then scooped out of metal troughs, like gelato. Fruit flavors such as lemon and strawberry are particularly popular, but granita also comes in non-fruit varieties like pistachio and chocolate. It is sometimes topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Source: Eater

Exercise to Stay Young: 4-5 Days a Week to Slow Down Your Heart’s Aging

Participating in exercise 4-5 days per week is necessary to keep your heart young, according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology. These findings could be an important step to develop exercise strategies to slow down such ageing.

The optimal amount of exercise required to slow down ageing of the heart and blood vessels has long been a matter of vigorous debate. As people age, arteries – which transport blood in and out of the heart – are prone to stiffening, which increases the risk of heart disease. Whilst any form of exercise reduces the overall risk of death from heart problems, this new research shows different sizes of arteries are affected differently by varying amounts of exercise. 2-3 days a week of 30 minutes exercise may be sufficient to minimise stiffening of middle sized arteries, while exercising 4-5 days a week is required to keep the larger central arteries youthful.

The authors performed a cross-sectional examination of 102 people over 60 years old, with a consistently logged lifelong exercise history. Detailed measures of arterial stiffness were collected from all participants, who were then categorised in one of four groups depending on their lifelong exercise history: Sedentary: less than 2 exercise sessions/week; Casual Exercisers: 2-3 exercise sessions per week; Committed Exercisers: 4-5 exercise sessions/week and Masters Athletes: 6-7 exercise sessions per week. (NB: an exercise session was at least 30 minutes).

Upon analysing the results, the research team found that a lifelong history of casual exercise (2-3 times a week) resulted in more youthful middle sized arteries, which supply oxygenated blood to the head and neck. However, people who exercised 4-5 times per week also had more youthful large central arteries, which provide blood to the chest and abdomen, in addition to healthier middle sized ones.

The fact the larger arteries appear to require more frequent exercise to remain youthful will aid the development of long-term exercise programmes. They also enable the research team to now focus on whether or not ageing of the heart can be reversed by exercise training over a long period of time.

The research may have been limited by the fact that individuals were allocated to groups based on past exercise frequency, as opposed to other components of exercise programmes such as intensity, duration or mode, all of which could have large impacts on vascular adaptations. Furthermore, additional, unmeasured factors such as dietary intake and social background could influence arterial compliance indirectly through reduced adherence, or by non-exercise related means.

Benjamin Levine, one of the authors of the study, is excited to investigate this in the future:

“This work is really exciting because it enables us to develop exercise programmes to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels. Previous work by our group has shown that waiting until 70 is too late to reverse a heart’s ageing, as it is difficult to change cardiovascular structure even with a year of training. Our current work is focussing on two years of training in middle aged men and women, with and without risk factors for heart diseases, to see if we can reverse the ageing of a heart and blood vessels by using the right amount of exercise at the right time”.

Source: EurekAlert!

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