New Packaging of Maple Syrup Offers No Mess, No Spill, No Waste Use and Easy to Clean Nozzle

Maple Stream

No refrigeration is required. The airtight design prevents the crystallization of the syrup as well and the growth of mold.

Watch video at You Tube (0:35 minutes) . . . . .

Maple Syrup Ice Cream


2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. In quart-sized (1 L) canning jar, combine heavy cream, whole milk, and maple syrup. Tighten lid and shake to combine ingredients.
  2. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to instructions.
  3. Place churned ice cream into an air tight container and freeze at least 2 hours before serving.
  4. Scoop into small dishes, top with Maldon sea salt, and drizzle with maple syrup.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

Opinion: 4 Ways To Reduce Plastics And Other Single-Use Disposables In Your Kitchen

Kristen Hartke wrote . . . . . . . . .

The 40 days of Lent, which began last week, are a time when many Christians around the world decide to voluntarily give up bad habits or luxuries. This year, it might be time we all consider how to give up – or at least reduce – our reliance on disposable products.

A year ago, I decided to create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable kitchen, focusing particularly on reducing my use of disposable products such as plastic sandwich bags, aluminum foil and paper towels.

It’s worth the effort: Americans toss 185 pounds of plastic per person each year while also going through 13 billion pounds of paper towels as a nation. Aluminum foil sounds like a “natural” alternative to a lot of people, but it can actually take a hundred years or more to biodegrade. If composting kitchen scraps or reusing old coffee grounds for a body scrub seems like a step too far, there are a few simple ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your kitchen without sacrificing modern conveniences.

I’m not going to sugarcoat my experience. It takes commitment and a willingness to change long-held habits. In creating my sustainable kitchen, I tried a lot of different alternative products and some plain old common sense; the result, however, has been worth the effort. I’m recycling more and relying less on single-use products. The kicker: I’m saving money too.

Want to reduce reliance on plastics in your kitchen? Here are four steps that I found can stand the test of time:

Invest in alternative storage.

I’m not kidding when I say that I used to really love plastic storage bags, from snack-size to gallon-size zip-top bags — so this was, perhaps, the biggest challenge for me. Switching to reusable storage bags was a financial investment up front, but the cost was reasonable considering that I previously spent at least $100 annually on disposable plastic bags and wrap. My favorites: Stashers, heavy-duty reusable silicone zip-top bags that can go from the freezer to the microwave ($10 to $20 each), and Food Huggers, silicone disks that slip over the ends of cut pieces of fruits and vegetables ($12.95 for a set of five), are functional and durable (except for that avocado-shaped Hugger, which I want to love but it never really fits correctly). Fabrics coated in beeswax are handy for wrapping sandwiches or oddly shaped pieces of food and for covering bowls; variety packs from Bee’s Wrap, Abeego, and Etee all run about $18, while Trader Joe’s has a pack for under $10, but you can also make your own. For packing lunches, consider the highly affordable Japanese bento box, designed with food compartments that negate the need for disposable wraps. The proof is in the pudding: I haven’t purchased any disposable plastic bags for a full year.

Recycle. Really recycle.

Americans are estimated to recycle just 30 percent of the recyclable materials that they consume each day. Plastic and glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and newspaper are common items that we’ve gotten used to throwing in the recycling bin, but milk, eggs, Tetra Pak cartons, pizza boxes and plastic deli and pet food containers are also items that may be accepted at local recycling centers; check online periodically in your local jurisdiction for recycling updates. TerraCycle offers a pack-and-ship zero-waste box for a wide variety of non-organic kitchen items, from party supplies to silicone or mixed-material food containers. The company recommends getting together a group of friends, neighbors or co-workers to purchase and contribute to the box. (They cost from $130 to $475 and range in size from 11″ x 11″ x 20″ to 15″ x 15″ x 37″, but the largest box — split among a group or sponsored by an employer — can be the most cost-effective.) Once the filled box is returned to TerraCycle, the company will sort the waste into four categories (fabrics, metals, fibers and plastics) that are then recycled, upcycled or reused — depending on the type of material. The company also works with a wide range of manufacturers to offer free recycling of individual hard-to-recycle items, like Brita water filters and Clif Bar energy bar wrappers.

Keep it clean and eco-friendly at the same time.

I’m a clean freak and used to go through an unseemly amount of paper towels on a daily basis, but it’s easy enough to take old T-shirts or towels and cut them up to use to wipe down surfaces. (If you’re cleaning surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish, throw those towels in the washing machine to get them really clean.) I’m also a fan of bamboo paper towels, which have the look and feel of traditional paper towels, yet are made from a highly renewable source and also break down in landfills in just 45 days. Better yet, they can be reused up to 100 times. I can attest to how sturdy they are because I bought a single roll of bamboo paper towels for $7 a full year ago and still have more than half the roll left, using a single bamboo towel to clean my countertops and stove for a few weeks until it’s worn out (rinse the sheet in hot water, then wring and let air dry). When I consider that I probably spent up to $15 a month on single-use paper towels before, that roll of bamboo paper towels was a huge bargain. As for kitchen sponges, keep an eye out for those made with natural materials, because typical polyurethane sponges cannot be recycled and end up in landfills.

Think before you buy.

In our disposable society, it’s easy to purchase items that are convenient but not sustainable — and more environmentally friendly options are generally available once you know what to look for. Juice boxes that include plastic straws, dishwasher tabs individually wrapped in plastic and coffee makers that use K-Cups are all examples of items that can create additional waste. When grocery shopping, ask yourself if you really need to use individual plastic bags in the produce section for those lemons, potatoes or apples. Consider packaging as you peruse the shelves for your favorite purchases, from cookies to pasta to frozen pizza. For instance, the plastic window on that pasta box may make it convenient for you to see what the pasta inside looks like, but the mixed-material container can be a problem for some recycling facilities. When purchasing bulk pantry or other household items online from companies like Amazon or Jet, ask to have them shipped in as few boxes as possible to cut down on the number of boxes you receive, and if you get a single small item sent in a huge box, let the company know that you’d prefer that it pay more attention to how it is packaging items for delivery.

Source: npr

Low-Carb Diet Tied to Common Heart Rhythm Disorder

Low-carb diets are all the rage, but can cutting carbohydrates spell trouble for your heart? People getting a low proportion of their daily calories from carbohydrates such as grains, fruits and starchy vegetables are significantly more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart rhythm disorder, according to a study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

The study, which analyzed the health records of nearly 14,000 people spanning more than two decades, is the first and largest to assess the relationship between carbohydrate intake and AFib. With AFib, a type of arrhythmia, the heart doesn’t always beat or keep pace the way it should, which can lead to palpitations, dizziness and fatigue. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition. It can also lead to heart failure.

Restricting carbohydrates has become a popular weight loss strategy in recent years. While there are many different low-carbohydrate diets including the ketogenic, paleo and Atkins diets, most emphasize proteins while limiting intake of sugars, grains, legumes, fruits and starchy vegetables.

“The long-term effect of carbohydrate restriction is still controversial, especially with regard to its influence on cardiovascular disease,” said Xiaodong Zhuang, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at the hospital affiliated with Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, and the study’s lead author. “Considering the potential influence on arrhythmia, our study suggests this popular weight control method should be recommended cautiously.”

The findings complement previous studies, several of which have associated both low-carbohydrate and high-carbohydrate diets with an increased risk of death. However, while previous studies suggested the nature of the non-carbohydrate component of the diet influenced the overall pattern observed, the new study did not.

“Low carbohydrate diets were associated with increased risk of incident AFib regardless of the type of protein or fat used to replace the carbohydrate,” Zhuang said.

Researchers drew data from Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), a study overseen by the National Institutes of Health that ran from 1985-2016. Of the nearly 14,000 people who did not have AFib when they enrolled in the study, researchers identified nearly 1,900 participants who were subsequently diagnosed with AFib during an average of 22 years of follow-up.

Study participants were asked to report their daily intake of 66 different food items in a questionnaire. The researchers used this information along with the Harvard Nutrient Database to estimate each participant’s daily carbohydrate intake and the proportion of daily calories that came from carbohydrates. On average, carbohydrates comprised about half of calories consumed. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of total daily calorie intake.

Researchers then divided participants into three groups representing low, moderate and high carbohydrate intake, reflecting diets in which carbohydrates comprised less than 44.8 percent of daily calories, 44.8 to 52.4 percent of calories, and more than 52.4 percent of calories, respectively.

Participants reporting low carbohydrate intake were the most likely to develop AFib. These participants were 18 percent more likely to develop AFib than those with moderate carbohydrate intake and 16 percent more likely to develop AFib than those with high carbohydrate intake.

Several potential mechanisms could explain why restricting carbohydrates might lead to AFib, Zhuang said. One is that people eating a low-carbohydrate diet tend to eat fewer vegetables, fruits and grains—foods that are known to reduce inflammation. Without these foods people may experience more inflammation, which has been linked with AFib. Another possible explanation is that eating more protein and fat in lieu of carbohydrate-rich foods may lead to oxidative stress, which has also been associated with AFib. Finally, the effect could be related to an increased risk of other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Zhuang said that while the research shows an association, it cannot prove cause and effect. A randomized controlled trial would be needed to confirm the relationship between carbohydrate intake and AFib and assess the effect in a more ethnically diverse population. In addition, the study did not track participants with asymptomatic AFib or those who had AFib but were never admitted to a hospital, nor did it investigate different subtypes of AFib, so it is unknown whether patients were more likely to have occasional episodes of arrhythmia or persistent AFib. The study did not account for any changes in diet that participants may have experienced after completing the questionnaire.

Source: American College of Cardiology

Hormone Therapy Linked to Slight Rise in Alzheimer’s Risk

Serena Gordon wrote . . . . . . . . .

Many women turn to hormone therapy to ease some of the more troubling symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

But new research suggests that relief may come at a cost — an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study found that women taking hormone therapy had a 9 percent to 17 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In women who began taking hormone therapy before age 60, this increased risk was tied to long-term use of a decade or longer.

“The take-home message is that, in absolute terms, nine to 18 excess diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease per year will be detected in 10,000 women aged 70 to 80, especially in those women who had used hormone therapy for over 10 years,” said study senior author Dr. Tomi Mikkola. He is an associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Helsinki University Hospital in Finland.

The study was published online in the BMJ, along with an accompanying editorial.

One of the authors of that editorial, Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said the findings from this study are “not a cause for alarm.”

“Overall, the research has been reassuring for younger women in early menopause who are seeking treatment for night sweats and hot flashes. Based on the totality of evidence, there appears to be relative safety for hormone therapy when taken in early menopause,” she said.

Manson also pointed out that due to the study’s design, it can only show an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

It’s been almost 20 years since concerns were first raised about the possible health effects of hormone therapy, including increased heart and cancer risks. Studies since then have often had mixed results, including studies looking at memory and thinking abilities in women taking hormone therapy.

Some research has suggested that women who take hormones to ease menopausal symptoms may be less at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, while others show no harm or benefit. Now, the latest study suggests a possible increase in risk.

Both Mikkola and Manson said hormone therapy shouldn’t be used specifically to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

But, if you’re a woman experiencing menopausal symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, Manson said, “concern about Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive [thinking] decline should not interfere with menopausal symptom management.”

However, Mikkola noted that any woman taking hormone therapy for 10 years or more should be advised that they may have an increased risk of the memory-robbing disorder.

The study looked at nearly 85,000 postmenopausal women diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in Finland from 1999 to 2013. The researchers compared these women to women who hadn’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Nearly all of the women with Alzheimer’s were diagnosed after 60. More than half were over 80 at the time of diagnosis, the findings showed.

The investigators reviewed health records to see if women were taking hormone replacement therapy. If they were, the researchers looked to see how long they had been taking it.

There are a number of different forms of hormone replacement therapy, including pills, patches, gels and creams. Ninety percent of hormone replacement therapy is given by pill in Finland, the study authors noted.

Three-quarters of the women had been taking hormone therapy for more than 10 years, according to the report.

The study didn’t find a difference in Alzheimer’s risk based on the formulation of hormone therapy. The risk was similar whether women took estrogen alone, or estrogen and progesterone together.

Mikkola explained that “the absolute risk increase for Alzheimer’s disease is small,” and said that the study “emphasizes the fact that hormone therapy should be used in recently menopausal women for symptom relief and if they benefit from the therapy.”

Editorial author Manson said that the decision about whether or not to use hormone therapy has to be individualized. She said a woman and her doctor have to take into account a woman’s risk factors, symptoms and preferences.

Source: HealthDay

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