Character Sweets

Rilakkuma & Korilakkuma Japanese Sweets with Pumpkin

The sweets are available for a limited time period at Lawson Stores in Japan for 280 yen (tax included) each.



Chinese-style Braised Duck in Plum Sauce


1 whole duck (approx 4 lbs), head and wings removed, cleaned, pat dried
1 tbsp dark soy sauce, rubbed over duck skin
1 lb taro peeled, cut into 4 pieces


3 tbsp minced garlic
2 stalks spring onions, cut into 2″ sections
2/3 cup plum sauce
3 tbsp soybean paste
5 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp five-spice powder
3 cups water


  1. Deep-fry or pan-fry duck until skin is crisp and golden.
  2. Deep-fry taro until golden, drain and set aside.
  3. Stir-fry garlic and seasonings until fragrant, add remainder of seasonings.
  4. Stuff half of the stir-fried seasonings into the duck, stomach facing up.
  5. Boil the remaining seasonings in water and braise duck in the seasonings over low to medium heat for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn duck over, add taro, continue to braise for 20 minutes or until tender.
  7. Cut duck into pieces and slice taro. Arrange on a platter and pour sauce on top. Garnish with spring onions and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Gourmet Do It Yourself

The 10 Most Dangerous Foods In The World

Vikas Shukla wrote . . . . . . . . .

It’s no secret that hot dogs are one of the biggest choking hazards in the United States and many other countries. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, they are the biggest cause of choking injuries in children. But many other food items out there are far more dangerous than hot dogs. They could make you sick or even kill you if not prepared properly. Here we take a look at the top 10 most dangerous foods in the world. If you are a big foodie, eat them at your own risk.

Some of them are mouth-watering. But they could prove fatal if they are not prepared correctly.

Raw cashews

People who don’t have nut allergies don’t mind eating cashew nuts from the tree. But few people know that the raw cashews contain urushiol, which could be fatal if eaten in large quantities. The cashews you buy at stores are safe because they undergo heat treatment to remove toxins.


Cassava is a popular delicacy in South America and Africa. The root vegetable is primarily cultivated in South America. It must be cooked correctly before being eaten. If you chew it raw or cook it incorrectly, cassava releases a harmful enzyme called linamarase that turns a compound in the root into hydrogen cyanide. The sweet variety of cassava is not as deadly as the bitter one, but it still contains 20mg of cyanide per root.

Blood clams

Blood clams are harvested in the Chinese waters, the Atlantic, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. These bivalves carry a number of diseases such as Hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid because they live in lower oxygen environments. Blood clams have even been responsible for massive hepatitis outbreaks.


If you are one of the adventurous foodies, you might want to try this Korean delicacy made with raw baby octopus. The octopus is chopped up and seasoned before it’s brought to the table. But their suction cups remain active with some gripping power. Unless you chew carefully and thoroughly, the suction cups could stick to your throat and suffocate you.


Rhubarb is the primary ingredient in the rhubarb pie, but you should avoid leaves of this vegetable at all costs. Both raw and cooked leaves of Rhubarb contain a toxin called oxalic acid, which could cause kidney failure and even kill you. The symptoms include eye pain, trouble breathing, diarrhea, and red urine. An estimated 15-30 grams of oxalic acid is enough to kill an adult.


Elderberries are not cultivated in the United States, but their ripened flesh is used in jam and jelly that you buy from the grocery stores. Homeopathic experts use elderberries to treat various ailments such as the flu, cold, and skin wounds. But raw elderberries, their leaves, seeds, and twigs could be toxic. According to the CDC, they contain a toxin that causes cramps, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and even death.

Cherry seeds

Cherry seeds or pits contain a compound called amygdalin, which converts into the deadly hydrogen cyanide when you ingest them. Fortunately, an adult will do just fine even after consuming 703mg of hydrogen cyanide a day. Unless you are consuming hundreds of cherry seeds, you don’t have to worry much.

Casu Marzu

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese. It contains live insect larvae for extra fermentation. The larvae partially decompose the sheep milk cheese. Stay as far away from it as you can because the larvae can survive being ingested and cause trouble in your intestine. Thankfully, casu marzu is banned in the United States and European Union for hygienic reasons.


Ackee is a Jamaican fruit. You should consider eating it only when it’s fully ripe and properly prepared. If you eat it when it’s still yellow (raw), you could suffer from hypoglycemia, vomiting, and even death. If you want to eat the yellow part, make sure it’s cooked properly. The fruit contains a toxin called Hypoglycin A, which makes it one of the most dangerous foods in the world.

Fugu (Pufferfish)

Fugu aka pufferfish is the most dangerous food in the world. Pufferfish is banned in the United States, and for good reasons. It’s 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide. It contains a concentrated amount of Tetrodotoxin, which is a neurotoxin. The delicacy could prove lethal if you don’t prepare it correctly – you have to carefully and completely remove the organs containing the toxin. It kills several dozen people in Japan every year. Even a tiny dose of the toxin stops the nerve conduction between the victim’s body and the brain by blocking sodium channels.

Source: ValueWalk

Personalized Nutrition

Ben Warren wrote . . . . . . . . .

I think fad diets will be around for a while yet, and they do help people change their eating habits (when it comes to rethinking your diet, the hardest thing to do is actually make the change). Yet the real future of ‘what to eat’ lies in ‘personalised nutrition’ – eating the right diet for you. We are all different, we are genetically varied and our immune systems and autonomic nervous systems respond differently to the foods we eat. We also now know that we all have varying needs for vitamins and minerals, which depend on both our genetics and our environment. We truly need to individualise our nutritional intake for optimal expression of our genes.

To personalise your diet, you need to know what your body might be lacking in or need more of, and there are a number of tests you can take:

The HbA1c test is traditionally used to monitor type 2 diabetes; it’s a measure of how much glycation has occurred to your hemoglobin from sugar (or how much damage has been done to your red blood cells from sugar). Higher levels of HbA1c are associated with eating too many simple carbohydrates for your genetics.

If you are feeling a bit flat, get your vitamin D levels tested, as low vitamin D is associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to low exposure to sunlight. We really want to be above 80nmol for health, yet one study found 84 per cent of New Zealanders were below this threshold. If you are low, make extra effort to get more safe sun exposure and eat more foods containing vitamin D, such as sardines.

If you are tired, you may want to undertake a full iron studies test, as well as B9 and B12 tests, as without adequate levels you can’t make high-quality red blood cells. Adequate and high-quality red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around your body, which is essential to your energy levels on a daily basis. If yours are low, increase your consumption of red meat and leafy greens.

Moving into more advanced testing, you can test to see how your body’s immune system is responding to the foods you are eating. Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is probably the most common problem. At the extreme end of gluten sensitivity is someone who is celiac – basically, a celiac has a severe immune reaction to gluten, resulting in a lot of collateral damage to the intestines and associated inflammation. Others have less severe reactions, which are regarded as sensitivities to certain foods.

Gluten is not the only problem; any food can drive an immune response, leading to increased immune activity and associated inflammation, giving rise to gut issue symptoms and immune dysfunction. I like people to do a blood test to measure the amount of immune molecules the body is making in response to 96 different foods, so people can then eliminate these foods to help improve how they feel.

The next level of testing comes in the form of genetic testing. With genetic testing we can see future risk and even tell you what foods you should or should not be eating. For example, if you have the DQ 2 or 8 gene it puts you at a much higher risk of being celiac (94 per cent of celiacs have this gene). If you have low copies of the AMY1 gene it puts you at an eight-fold increased risk for being obese from eating carbohydrates, indicating that high-quality natural fats and proteins will be a better choice for you.

There has been much work on a nutrient recycling system and the genetic aspect of it, called methylation. Genetic faults in this system are heavily associated with mental health issues, fatigue and a build-up of a toxic byproduct that is associated with heart disease.

The future of nutrition therefore lies in integrating your genetic susceptibilities and mitigating your weak genetic links with personalised nutrition to optimise the expression of your genes, not only for minimisation of future health risks but to achieve the best possible version of ‘you’.

Source: Good Magazine

Study Links Asbestos in Talcum Powder to Deadly Cancer

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

As concerns about baby powder being contaminated with asbestos mount, a new study finds a link between such contamination and a rare and deadly cancer.

A group of 33 people developed mesothelioma after long-term use of talcum powder and no exposure to other sources of asbestos, the report stated.

“All of them had significant exposure to talcum powder,” said lead researcher Dr. Jacqueline Moline, a professor with Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.

“It wasn’t like they sprinkled it on once a month. These were people who used it daily or many times a day for many, many years. They all used the powders, and then over time they developed the cancers,” Moline said.

Just last week, Johnson & Johnson recalled a shipment of baby powder after U.S. authorities found it had been contaminated with asbestos — the first such recall in the company’s history, a spokesman said.

Johnson & Johnson did not respond to a request for comment on Moline’s study, but said in its recall announcement that it has rigorous testing standards in place to ensure the safety of its baby powder.

“Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos,” the company’s statement said.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining that covers the outer surface of most internal organs, according to the American Cancer Society. It most often occurs in the lining around the lungs or the abdomen.

Asbestos is the main risk factor for mesothelioma, the cancer society says. It’s fairly rare in the United States, with about 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. But it has an average five-year relative survival rate of just 9%.

People usually inhale asbestos fibers, which are so small that 200,000 fibers fit on Abraham Lincoln’s nose on a penny, Moline said. The inhaled asbestos makes its way into the lining around the lungs and abdomen, where it causes DNA damage that triggers cancer.

Although most mesotheliomas can be tracked back to asbestos exposure, there always have been a number of cases that couldn’t be explained that way, Moline said.

Researchers have suspected that talcum powder could be one potential source of asbestos exposure, Moline said. Both minerals are mined from the earth, and sometimes asbestos and talc deposits overlap.

“The talc, when it’s mined, can be contaminated with asbestos when both minerals are present,” Moline said.

There’s no way to remove asbestos from talc, so the only way to protect consumers is to test what’s coming out of the mine, she said.

To examine the possible link between mesothelioma and talcum powder, Moline and her colleagues gathered information on 33 different people with the deadly cancer who’d not been exposed to asbestos in any other way.

They determined that talcum powder use was the only possible source of asbestos exposure among all 33 cases.

Further, a closer examination of six specific cases revealed the presence of asbestos in their tissues after decades-long use of talcum powder.

“They all had the same type of asbestos that is seen in talc in their tissues and in their mesothelioma,” Moline said. “The type of asbestos we found is not the type typically seen in commercial applications. It’s the type of asbestos you’d find in talc.”

In one case, a 65-year-old woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma around her left lung after she complained of a dry cough and short-windedness. She started using talc around age 8 or 9, and regularly used it throughout her life. Researchers found asbestos fibers in the tissue of her lungs and lymph nodes.

In another case, a 44-year-old man developed chest pain after playing hockey in 2012. Doctors found mesothelioma in the lining around his lungs. The man regularly used talcum powder after showering, as well as dousing his hockey gear with talc before donning it.

It’s hard for consumers to judge on their own whether a specific brand of talcum powder is safe, Moline said.

“The question is where does it come from and how rigorously has it been tested,” she said. “There are some mines that don’t have any asbestos, but it’s unclear whether those are being used by different manufacturers.

“The most prudent thing for folks is either to use talc-free powders, which are on the market, or cornstarch-based products,” Moline concluded.

The new study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Source: HealthDay

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