What’s for Dinner?

7-course Chinese Dinner at T’ang Court in Hong Kong

The Menu

Fried Shrimp with Cucumber and Wood Ear Fungus

Stuffed Crab Shell

Stewed Bird’s Nest and Mixed Seafood in Pumpkin Soup

Baked Fresh Lobster in Chicken Broth

Stir-fried Wagyu Beef with Vegetables

Fried Rice with Abalone, Duck and Chicken

Dessert – Fresh Fruit and Pastries

The 3 Michelin-star Restaurant

Chinese-style Lobster with Chicken Broth


1 fresh lobster, about 2 lb
3 oz spring onion, sectioned
3 slices ginger


2/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp sugar
dash of sesame oil
pinch of ground white pepper
2/3 cup chicken broth

Thickening Solution

1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water


  1. Prepare, wash and cut the lobster into pieces. Crack the claws. Drain and mix with 1 tbsp cornstarch. (Add 1/2 tsp chicken broth mix if frozen lobster tail is used.)
  2. Blanch lobster in hot oil. Remove and set aside.
  3. Saute ginger, spring onion with 2 tbsp oil. Add lobster and stir-fry until lobster is nearly done. Add seasoning and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, over high heat for 30 seconds. Add thickening solution. Remove to serving platter when sauce thickens.

Source: Chinese Cooking

U.S. News Unveils New 2020 Diet Rankings

Diets come and go, teasing and tempting with dreams of that elusive hot body. Eat what you want! Pounds melt away overnight! The reality, as frustrated dieters know well, is that dieting is hard, and frankly, most diets don’t work. Some can even threaten your health. And digging out the truth about dieting, let alone deciphering whether particular plans live up to the hype, is laborious enough to burn off a pound or two by itself.

Best Diets 2020 cuts through the clutter of claims. Now in its tenth year, Best Diets delivers the facts about and ranks 35 diets on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help you lose weight.

Many of the diets, like WW (Weight Watchers), are household names, while others, like the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, should be. To create the the latest edition of the rankings, U.S. News editors and reporters spent months winnowing potential additions to our diet roster and then mining medical journals, government reports and other resources to create in-depth profiles for those that made the cut.

Each profile explains how the diet works, determines whether its claims add up or fall short, scrutinizes it for possible health risks – and reveals what it’s like to live on the diet, not just read about it.

A panel of nationally recognized experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease reviewed our profiles, added their own fact-finding and rated each diet in seven categories: how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease. We also asked the panelists to let us know about aspects of each diet they particularly liked or disliked and to weigh in with tidbits of advice that someone considering a particular diet should know.

After every diet received robust scrutiny, we converted the experts’ ratings to scores and stars from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest). We then used those scores to construct nine sets of Best Diets rankings, which are as follows:

  • Best Diets Overall combines panelists’ ratings in all seven categories. All categories were not equally weighted. Short-term and long-term weight loss were combined, with long-term ratings getting twice the weight. Why? Quick results are important after the holidays or when summer looms, but a diet’s true test is whether it can be sustained for years. That’s especially the case for those who are overweight or obese; losing as little as 5 percent of body weight can dramatically reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. And safety was double-counted, because no diet should be dangerous.
  • Best Commercial Diets uses the same approach to rank 13 structured diet programs that require a participation fee or promote the use of branded food or nutritional products.
  • Best Weight-Loss Diets was generated by combining short-term and long-term weight-loss ratings, weighting both equally. Some dieters want to drop pounds fast, while others, looking years ahead, are aiming for slow and steady. Equal weighting accepts both goals as worthy.
  • Best Diabetes Diets is based on averaged diabetes ratings.
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diets uses averaged heart-health ratings.
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating combines nutritional completeness and safety ratings, giving twice the weight to safety. A healthy diet should provide sufficient calories and not fall seriously short on important nutrients or entire food groups.
  • Easiest Diets to Follow represents panelists’ averaged judgments about each diet’s taste appeal, ease of initial adjustment, ability to keep dieters from feeling hungry and imposition of special requirements.
  • Best Plant-Based Diets uses the same approach as Best Diets Overall to rank 12 plans that emphasize minimally processed foods from plants.
  • Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets is based on short-term weight-loss ratings.

In all nine rankings, scores are rounded to one decimal place; diets with the same scores are ordered alphabetically.

[ . . . . . . . ]

Best Diets Overall

#1 Mediterranean Diet
#2 (tie) DASH Diet
#2 (tie) The Flexitarian Diet
#4 WW (Weight Watchers) Diet
#5 (tie) Mayo Clinic Diet
#5 (tie) MIND Diet
#5 (tie) Volumetrics Diet
#8 TLC Diet
#9 (tie) Nordic Diet
#9 (tie) Ornish Diet
#9 (tie) Vegetarian Diet

[ . . . . . . . ]

Read more at U.S. News . . . . .

Journey of 5 Common Foods from Whole to Processed

Jessica Branch wrote . . . . . . . . .

Different foods take turns being the dietary demon du jour, and currently, processed and “ultraprocessed” foods are the latest to come under the hot glare of scientific scrutiny. It’s certainly warranted.

Research has linked ultraprocessed foods to a higher risk for obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Intriguing new work even suggests that they may actually encourage overeating, possibly because their particular mashup of ingredients disrupts the hormones that control hunger, or it scrambles the gut-brain signals that tell us how much to eat.

Some processing is relatively benign and even enhances healthy properties. But generally speaking, the farther your food gets from its original “whole” version, the less good it is for you.

We’ve illustrated the journey of a few common foods from their least processed to their ultraprocessed forms to show you exactly where and how the nutritional degradation occurs.


Usually what you see is what you get when you buy a whole bird or parts, but check the ingredients list. Some brands are plumped up with broth, salt, and various flavors (up to 3 percent by weight for bone-in and 8 percent for boneless). Once you take the chicken home, the seasoning and cooking you do is considered to be a type of processing.

Ground Chicken

By law, it must be entirely made from the type of poultry specified. Per the USDA’s preference (though not law), it should contain “whole muscle material” (drumsticks, thighs, necks, etc.), and other components, like skin and fat, should be present in “natural proportions.” Other animal parts, like giblets, should be excluded. If the label reads “ground chicken meat,” it can’t contain any skin, and ground chicken breast must be solely breast meat.

Chicken Sausage

The meat and spice mixture that makes up sausage is often stuffed into a casing made from pork. Chicken sausage may have nitrites or nitrates added to prevent bacterial growth and give it color and flavor. These additives, even the natural-sounding “celery powder,” can convert into potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines. Plus, sodium levels tend to be very high.

Chicken Nuggets

This finger food usually consists primarily of breast meat (with or without rib meat) sometimes augmented by dark meat or skin for flavor and texture, and sometimes marinated for flavor. The meat is chopped and formed into “nugget” shapes, which are then seasoned, breaded (generally with refined flour), and fried, often with extra fat and sodium added along the way.

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Peanuts in the Shell

After the peanut plants are pulled out of the ground, they’re left to dry in the field for a few days. The peanuts are then removed from the vine and may be further dried under forced hot air. If salted, they have probably been soaked in a brine and dried again.

Roasted Peanuts

Dry-roasted, packaged, ready-to-eat peanuts are shelled, roasted, blanched with hot air or water to remove the skins, and split into halves. If they’re oil-roasted, they’re blanched first and then roasted in oil (coconut, cottonseed, or peanut; the ingredients list will say). Both dry- and oil-roasted peanuts may contain salt. Nutritionally, both types are similar to fresh peanuts in the shell—except for that added sodium.

Peanut Butter

Some of the stuff that comes in jars is minimally processed—it might be ground peanuts with a dash of salt—so you’ll need to stir before use. But many brands on the shelf include hydrogenated oils, in part to keep the peanut butter from separating. And many also contain added sugars.

Peanut Butter Protein Bar

Peanut butter is little more than flavoring in many protein bars, such as Clif Builders Crunchy Peanut Butter Protein Bar. It contains 20 grams of protein, but much of that is from its first ingredient, soy protein isolate, which is protein powder that has been extracted from the soybean and concentrated. Next comes an avalanche of sugars. You don’t get actual peanuts until halfway through the list, which also has peanut flour, salt, soy lecithin, and other additives.

* * * * * *

Rolled Oats

Used for oatmeal, rolled oats are lightly processed to make them edible. The oat groats (grain kernels) are steamed, flattened, and dried. They still contain all three parts of the grain—the bran, germ, and endosperm—so they retain all of the fiber and other nutrients. (Even less processed are steel-cut oats, which are simply oat groats sliced into small pieces.) You can buy them with no added sugar, salt, or other ingredients.

Instant Oatmeal

To make oats “instant,” they’re pressed thinner and steamed longer than rolled oats. They’re still a whole grain but can be digested more quickly, which could potentially lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. This processing is light, but more processed versions add sugars, flavorings, and preservatives.

Honey Nut Oat O’s Cereals

Whether name-brand or generic, these healthy-sounding cereals are highly processed. Though the main ingredient is whole oat flour, some may contain three or more forms of sugar, such as sugar, honey, and brown-sugar syrup. Other additives may include salt, oils, and vitamin E as a preservative. Still more egregious, there may be no actual nuts, only “natural almond flavor.”

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

The typical packaged cookies are likely to be made primarily with white wheat flour rather than whole oats, and may contain processed ingredients you probably wouldn’t include if you were making them from scratch, such as hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, whey protein concentrate, and soy lecithin.

* * * * * *


Canned Tomatoes

Picked at peak ripeness, tomatoes destined for canning are washed, prepared (peeled by means of steam or chemicals, then packed whole, diced, crushed, puréed, etc.), and put in liquid (usually water or tomato juice). The cans are heated to kill any bacteria, and then cooled. This processing makes lycopene (an antioxidant in tomatoes that’s linked to a lower incidence of heart disease, prostate cancer, and other diseases) easier to absorb. Additives may include salt, herbs and spices, citric acid, and calcium chloride.

Tomato Pasta Sauce

Like canned tomatoes, those used in jarred or canned sauce are harvested when ripe, then cooked down. Depending on the recipe, however, there may be a lot more than tomatoes in the jar—and not all of it healthy. In CR’s recent test of jarred sauces, about half contained 400 mg of sodium or more per half-cup serving. Many had added sugars, too.


Typical ketchups, made largely of tomato concentrate plus sugars, salt, vinegar, and various spices, can pack a lot of sugar and sodium into a tiny serving. Heinz’s classic, for instance, lists tomato concentrate as its first ingredient, but its third and fourth are high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, followed by salt and natural flavoring. One tablespoon has 4 grams of sugars and 160 mg of sodium.

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Wheat Berries

These are whole-wheat kernels straight off the stalk with the husk removed. Boiling them—which is considered a form of processing—is an easy way to make them edible.

Whole-Wheat Pasta

Both regular and whole-wheat pasta are often made from durum wheat flour (which is higher in protein than some other types of flour), sometimes enriched with iron and B vitamins. But whole-wheat pasta is less processed because it’s made from whole-wheat durum flour, which means it retains the fiber and all the other nutrients in the whole grain.

100% Whole-Wheat Bread

The whole grain in this bread is whole wheat in flour form, and it’s an excellent source of fiber. Homemade bread may consist of little more than flour, yeast, water, and a bit of salt. But packaged whole-wheat breads may contain sugar, wheat gluten, preservatives such as calcium propionate (to prevent mold), and unspecified natural flavors.

“Wheat” or “Honey Wheat” Bread

Wheat bread is most definitely not the same as whole-wheat bread. It may contain some whole-grain flour, but it’s primarily white bread. Made with mostly refined wheat flour, its often lengthy ingredients list may also include sugar, dough conditioners such as sodium, and stearoyl lactylate. A slice usually has just 1 gram of fiber; a whole-wheat slice has 2 to 3 grams.

Source: Consumer Report

Eating Only During a 10-hour Window Improved Health for Those with Metabolic Syndrome

Melissa Healy wrote . . . . . . . . .

What if a clock did a better job than a scale at promoting weight loss, improving sleep and preventing diabetes? New research suggests it’s about time to consider that possibility.

In an early effort to explore the benefits of daily fasting in humans, researchers have found that people who are at high risk of developing diabetes improved their health in myriad ways when they ate all of their meals over a span of just over 10 hours, then fasted for the remainder of their 24-hour day.

The regimen, called time-restricted eating, is a variant of intermittent fasting — a practice growing in popularity. To lose weight or improve health, those fasting intermittently don’t eat — or follow a spartan diet that mimics fasting — for a day or more every week or month.

Time-restricted eating, by contrast, limits a person to consuming all of his or her daily calories in a relatively narrow window — say, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Practiced daily, time-restricted eating widens the period during which the body’s major visceral organs are put into a state of rest and recovery.

Ample research has shown that erratic eating patterns, shiftwork, and modern-day habits like get-up-and-go breakfasts and midnight snacks have contributed to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Satchidananda Panda, a biologist at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, said that by establishing a consistent daily cycle of feeding and fasting, one might realign the ebb and flow of fuel intake with the body’s natural circadian rhythms.

“Every cell, every organ has its clock, and every organ needs downtime to repair, reset and regain its rhythm,” Panda said.

“When all your organs have rested and rejuvenated every day, they just work well,” he added. “It’s almost like an orchestra: When all the musical instruments are in tune, and work well together, it’s a melody, not a cacophony of sounds.”

For the new research, Panda and his colleagues measured what happened when 19 people were asked to do all their eating during a 10-hour window every day for 12 weeks. The participants were allowed to choose their own 10-hour window, and could vary it slightly, say, if they had an early breakfast meeting one day or a late dinner on another.

All the study’s subjects had a condition known as metabolic syndrome. Sometimes called pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome makes a person five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, and it doubles his or her risk of developing cardiovascular disease within five years. The condition is diagnosed when a patient tests positive for three or more of the following conditions: obesity, high blood pressure, problematic cholesterol, impaired metabolic function and excessive waist circumference (an indicator of abdominal fat).

Three in 10 Americans are thought to have metabolic syndrome. To ward it off, doctors have little to offer beyond exercising more, eating less and losing weight. But patients often ignore or abandon that medical advice and go on to develop full-blown Type 2 diabetes.

In the pilot study, the participants limited their “eating day” to fewer than 11 hours for 12 weeks. They reduced their calorie intake by almost 9%, lost an average of 3% of their body weight and reported more restful sleep — all improvements that could aid in disrupting a patient’s progression from metabolic syndrome to diabetes.

As a group, participants reduced their belly fat — a bellwether of future heart disease risk — by 3%.

Drilling down on the physiological effects of a daily 14-hour fast, researchers also found a wide range of subtler improvements among the 19 subjects.

The group’s blood pressure, typically high in those with pre-diabetes, fell. Their cholesterol readings, typically worrisome in this population, improved. And in the 12 participants whose metabolic function had already veered into abnormal territory, three months of time-restricted eating appeared to bring about improvements in two key health measures: fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c.

These changes came about without any increase in participants’ physical activity. And improvements didn’t rise or fall with changes in weight. Time-restricted eating did induce weight loss, which typically improves many bodily functions. But it appeared to effect key changes in direct ways, rather than just by helping subjects slim down.

In several cases, participants were able to discontinue or take smaller doses of medications, such as cholesterol-lowering statins or hypertension drugs. In other instances, researchers saw that shortening their eating day and observing a long nightly fast helped patients who were not sufficiently helped by medication alone to achieve normal readings.

The results were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

None of these promising findings is definitive: With only 19 participants and no control group, the work merely lays the foundation for further investigation.

But a much larger clinical trial that meets the gold standard of biomedical research is already in the works. Underwritten by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, that trial will also explore the benefits of daily fasting in people with metabolic syndrome.

The researchers who conducted the pilot study were buoyed by its preliminary findings, but even more excited by evidence that the study’s 19 participants were both willing and able to follow the regimen — often well beyond the 12-week scope of the study.

All 19 subjects — three women and 16 men — were able to maintain a regular habit of fasting between 13 and 14 hours a day for about six days a week, on average. The timing of their meals became more regular. And they didn’t skip breakfast — a shortcut that research suggests could have negative health effects.

They were not instructed or urged to continue this pattern of eating after the study was done. But when researchers followed up with the participants about 15 months after the intervention had ended, they discovered that five continued to follow the eating schedules they had adopted in the study. Seven others said they were either limiting their eating window a little less stringently or following their time-restricted eating schedule on a part-time basis.

The remaining seven said they had followed the regimen for an average of just over four months before it fell by the wayside.

Dieting fails most severely due to lack of patient adherence. But daily fasting may make it easier for people at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease to succeed, experts said.

“These are patients at the tipping point for diabetes,” said Dr. Pam R. Taub, a UC San Diego cardiologist and co-author of the new research. “This is a very critical window where you can reverse the disease process.”

But Taub said “the same old spiel — get more exercise, reduce your calories, try a plant-based diet” — has proved frustrating for both her and her patients.

“Most people just don’t sustain it, and year after year, things are getting worse for them,” said Taub, whose patients were among the participants. “So what was really exciting was that here was a lifestyle strategy where all I asked them to do was change the time of their eating.” They did, and their health improved.

Valter Longo, who studies the effects of intermittent fasting at USC, said the new study “should be treated as a promising pilot” rather than a blueprint for patients and doctors. Future studies should explore not only the health benefits of time-restricted eating, but also the risks for people who prolong their fasts in a bid to gain more benefits. Those risks include dehydration and heart arrhythmia as well as an increased likelihood of gallstones.

Trials should also probe the potential effect of more relaxed eating-and-fasting routines, including 12 hours on and 12 hours off. “Dose effects,” he said, could prove to be important.

Twelve-hour daily fasts “are very common among centenarians,” he said. Daily 16-hour fasts, by contrast, are “absolutely not.”

Source: Los Angeles Times

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