Vegan Ketchup Caviar Launched for Valentine’s Day

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

American food company Heinz unveiled vegan Ketchup Caviar in time for Valentine’s Day.

The innovative product was developed with the help of molecular gastronomy and features spherical pearls of the brand’s classic liquid ketchup—made with tomatoes, vinegar, salt, sugar, celery, herbs, and spices.

According to Heinz, the elevated ketchup condiment was created “for an exquisite Valentine’s Day experience,” and can be used in the same way as its liquid ketchup or as a tomato-tinged replacement for fish-based caviar atop classier dishes.

The only catch is that Ketchup Caviar is not available for purchase. Instead, Heinz will randomly select 150 participants in its social media campaign to receive a free jar in time for Valentine’s Day.

Check out Heinz’s campaign

Heinz Ketchup 2019 Caviar Valentine’s Program Official Rules . . . . .

Source: Veg News

Tandoori Sweet Potatoes and Rice


3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick slices
6 cups cooked, hot brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried sage


1 cucumber, 12 oz, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. To make the marinade, in a large nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and cayenne.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the sweet potatoes in a crisscross pattern about 1/4 inch deep at 1-inch intervals. Add to the bowl with the marinade and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, tossing once after 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Coat a large, shallow nonreactive baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Reserving the marinade, arrange the sweet potato slices in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake, brushing with the reserved marinade every 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. To serve, toss the rice with the sage. Divide the rice, sweet potato slices, and sauce among individual plates.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Mayo Clinic

In Pictures: Food of Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in North America

Home Meal Replacements Are Changing Instant Food in South Korea

David Lee wrote . . . . . . . . .

Picture something you can make in an instant. You’re probably thinking of noodles or rice, or an egg, fried or boiled.

Depending on where you’re from, you may have tried instant mashed potatoes before. There’s also instant gravy, oatmeal, custard and soup. These foods all contain a very limited number of main ingredients – in many cases, just one.

That’s because until relatively recently, the technology needed to make anything more complex simply didn’t exist. So for decades, instant foods remained a convenience beloved by students, singletons and busy home cooks in need of a quick and dirty fix for rounding out a meal. That was until the rise of the home meal replacement (HMR).

Billed as ready-to-eat repasts that can increasingly provide all the elements of a healthy, balanced diet, HMRs are big business – especially in South Korea, where the market for them almost quadrupled over the course of five years, from 800 billion won (US$716 million) in 2011 to 3 trillion won (US$2.68 billion) in 2017.

The secret to HMRs’ success in the East Asian nation is undoubtedly down to the time they help save, which matters even more in its ppalli-ppalli, or “hurry hurry”, culture that places such great emphasis on speed.

This culture, a legacy of the country’s rapid industrialisation in the 20th century, also explains the long hours many in South Korea spend at work, allowing little time for them to relax.

Ian Hoffman is a native Chicagoan who moved to Busan – South Korea’s second-biggest city – two years ago to teach. The 24-year-old is learning the language and hopes to receive his long-term resident visa soon. It means he doesn’t have a lot of free time.

“I don’t want to be using it for cooking,” he says. “The reasons for purchasing HMRs are multifaceted. It is cost-efficient to buy this pre-prepared food, especially if you buy it online or in bulk. Also, I’m not Korean but I’ve been living here for a while and I can feel the social pressure of looking weird eating alone. I feel quite uncomfortable eating alone at affordably priced food places. There’s also not a tonne of restaurants where I can eat alone because of serving or table culture reasons.”

Korean families, too, find themselves with little time to cook.

“I always buy some packaged curry rice or hamburger steak when I go grocery shopping,” says Park Jung-min, a housewife from Seoul.

“My daughter … doesn’t have a lot of time between school and [the] after-school [activities] she attends every day,” the 44-year-old says from inside Homeplus, one of the largest food retailers in South Korea, which has aisles and aisles filled with HMRs.

Park Jong-dae, a researcher at the Korea Food Research Institute, says the emergence of this type of meal owes much to modern technology.

“In the past, it was not possible for instant foods to have multiple main ingredients that would be preserved and heated in the same package,” he says. “Now, it is possible to microwave different ingredients in the same package and maintain the original taste.”


The most oft-cited reason for South Korea’s HMR boom over the last decade is the corresponding rise in one- or two-person households. In the capital of Seoul, for instance, with a population of almost 10 million, nearly 55 per cent of households consist of one or two people.

Another factor is women, long consigned to the home in the traditionally conservative nation, increasingly joining the workforce and further expanding the market for convenient meals.

According to Yoon Ji-hyun, a professor of food and nutrition at Seoul National University, many Koreans spend half their monthly food budget eating out, leaving HMRs as the best, cheapest option for when they eat at home.

The rise of e-commerce has further added to the convenience of ready meals. Online purchases of HMRs increased 60 per cent from 2017 to 2018, yet 82 per cent of total sales still go through traditional, offline shops.

It is here that retailers such as Dongwon Home Food – a subsidiary of the country’s third-largest manufacturer of HMRs – see an opportunity.

Its online shopfront The Banchan, or “side dish” in English, lists about 400 traditional dishes such as kimchi stew and Korean barbecue, prepared by hand in its Seoul kitchen whenever an order is placed.

With overnight delivery available in the capital, extending to same-day shipping elsewhere, the service has certainly proved popular. According to the latest figures, the website’s annual profits have reached 40 billion won (US$35.7 million).

Meanwhile, at CJ CheilJedang, South Korea’s biggest HMR manufacturer with a 35 per cent market share, Korean-style dumplings, or mandu, are one of the best sellers under its popular Bibigo brand. In the US alone, about US$150 million worth of Bibigo Mandu are sold every year.

Jin Jung-tak, floor manager for the Bibigo Mandu production team, says the company has invested about 120 billion won (US$107 million) in its production facilities over the past five years.

In 2013, CJ CheilJedang’s state-of-the-art factories made the switch to only using fresh vegetables that are in season and have since introduced processes to ensure their dumplings are constructed and frozen within 20 minutes “to prevent the loss of nutrition and to keep the natural juices and flavours of the food”. “It has done wonders [for] the popularity of our products,” Jin says. “Our rival companies have been trying to catch up.”


Consumers, however, are still wary of eating too many HMRs. A recent report widely circulated in South Korea revealed people who regularly eat instant foods are four times more likely to develop stomach cancer than those who do not.

Park, of the Korea Food Research Institute, said that while it’s certainly “a problem if one eats too [many] HMRs, it’s also dangerous for one to eat too much of anything, really”.

However, HMRs are not necessarily the healthy alternative some food companies claim, he admits. “We started to define such products as HMR because of the refined taste, texture change and enhanced convenience, not because of an improvement in nutritional values like the amount of sodium.”

However, HMRs often contain fewer calories and less sodium than their traditional instant counterparts, such as ramen. Park predicts such health concerns will become less of a problem in the future “as current HMRs are able to provide a more balanced diet”.

Yoon, from Seoul National University, sees the rise in HMRs as a natural outgrowth of the country’s industrialisation.

“Among the necessities of life, which include food, clothing and shelter, the last one to be industrialised is providing for one’s food,” she says. “We have had the refrigerator and the electric rice cooker for some time but these provisions have come quite late compared to the industrialisation of making clothes or houses.”

Yoon predicts many more households will adopt HMRs in the next decade or so, although she notes there is still an issue with “a sense of guilt” among the older generation over serving processed food.

“Even for me, I feel guilty if I feed my kids [takeaway] Chinese food, but I don’t feel the guilt if I open up a package of fried rice from CJ CheilJedang because I’m actually preparing the food inside our kitchen,” she says.

Source: SCMP

Blood Test Detects Alzheimer’s Damage Before Symptoms

A simple blood test reliably detects signs of brain damage in people on the path to developing Alzheimer’s disease – even before they show signs of confusion and memory loss, according to a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Germany.

The findings, published Jan. 21 in Nature Medicine, may one day be applied to quickly and inexpensively identify brain damage in people with not just Alzheimer’s disease but other neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury or stroke.

“This is something that would be easy to incorporate into a screening test in a neurology clinic,” said Brian Gordon, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology at Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and an author on the study. “We validated it in people with Alzheimer’s disease because we know their brains undergo lots of neurodegeneration, but this marker isn’t specific for Alzheimer’s. High levels could be a sign of many different neurological diseases and injuries.”

The test detects neurofilament light chain, a structural protein that forms part of the internal skeleton of neurons. When brain neurons are damaged or dying, the protein leaks out into the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord and from there, into the bloodstream.

Finding high levels of the protein in a person’s cerebrospinal fluid has been shown to provide strong evidence that some of their brain cells have been damaged. But obtaining cerebrospinal fluid requires a spinal tap, which many people are reluctant to undergo. Senior author Mathias Jucker, PhD, a professor of cellular neurology at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Tübingen, along with Gordon and colleagues from all over the world, studied whether levels of the protein in blood also reflect neurological damage.

They turned to a group of families with rare genetic variants that cause Alzheimer’s at a young age – typically in a person’s 50s, 40s or even 30s. The families form the study population of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Network (DIAN), an international consortium led by Washington University that is investigating the roots of Alzheimer’s disease. A parent with such a mutation has a 50 percent chance of passing the genetic error to a child, and any child who inherits a variant is all but guaranteed to develop symptoms of dementia near the same age as his or her parent. This timeline gives researchers an opportunity to study what happens in the brain in the years before cognitive symptoms arise.

The researchers studied more than 400 people participating in the DIAN study, 247 who carry an early-onset genetic variant and 162 of their unaffected relatives. Each participant had previously visited a DIAN clinic to give blood, undergo brain scans and complete cognitive tests. Roughly half had been evaluated more than once, typically about two to three years apart.

In those with the faulty gene variant, protein levels were higher at baseline and rose over time. In contrast, protein levels were low and largely steady in people with the healthy form of the gene. This difference was detectable 16 years before cognitive symptoms were expected to arise.

In addition, when the researchers took a look at participants’ brain scans, they found that how quickly the protein levels rose tracked with the speed with which the precuneus – a part of the brain involved in memory – thinned and shrank.

“Sixteen years before symptoms arise is really quite early in the disease process, but we were able to see differences even then,” said Washington University graduate student Stephanie Schultz, one of the paper’s co-first authors. “This could be a good preclinical biomarker to identify those who will go on to develop clinical symptoms.”

To find out whether protein blood levels could be used to predict cognitive decline, the researchers collected data on 39 people with disease-causing variants when they returned to the clinic an average of two years after their last visit. The participants underwent brain scans and two cognitive tests: the Mini-Mental State Exam and the Logical Memory test. The researchers found that people whose blood protein levels had previously risen rapidly were most likely to show signs of brain atrophy and diminished cognitive abilities when they revisited the clinic.

“It will be important to confirm our findings in late-onset Alzheimer´s disease and to define the time period over which neurofilament changes have to be assessed for optimal clinical predictability,” said Jucker, who leads the DIAN study in Germany.

All kinds of neurological damage can cause the neurofilament light protein to spill out of neurons and into blood. Protein levels are high in people with Lewy body dementia and Huntington’s disease; they rise dramatically in people with multiple sclerosis during a flare-up and in football players immediately after a blow to the head.

A commercial kit – very similar to the one used by the authors – is available to test for protein levels in the blood, but it has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose or predict an individual’s risk of brain damage. Before such a test can be used for individual patients with Alzheimer’s or any other neurodegenerative condition, researchers will need to determine how much protein in the blood is too much, and how quickly protein levels can rise before it becomes a cause for concern.

“I could see this being used in the clinic in a few years to identify signs of brain damage in individual patients,” said Gordon, who is also an assistant professor of psychological & brain sciences. “We’re not at the point we can tell people, ‘In five years you’ll have dementia.’ We are all working towards that.”

Source: EurekAlert!

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