Vegan Chocolate Easter Egg

A vegan creme egg called The Chuckie Egg (a Cadbury Creme Egg-style Easter treat), made by UK based chocolatier, Mummy Meagz, is selling out in stores all around the UK in the approach to Easter.

Meagan Boyle, co-founder of Mummy Meagz, says: “We’re delighted that the UK loves our Chuckie Eggs as much as we do, and that someone is enjoying one of our delicious creations every half a minute. With more than 600,000 people now following a plant-based diet in the UK, demand for products that give vegans what they really want will continue to grow. They also help to pique interest in veganism and cast aside a few outdated assumptions, especially that vegan food doesn’t taste good!”

Meagan continues: “Our kitchen team has been busy keeping up with demand, because I’m adamant that no one should miss out on the sweet things in life. This is exactly why I came up with the Chuckie Egg recipe: it’s free of nuts, dairy, gluten and animal products, meaning it can be enjoyed by almost anyone.”

Source: Vegconomist

Creamy Leek, Pea and Spinach Risotto


1 onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely sliced
300 g Arborio rice
500 ml unsweetened soy milk
700 ml vegetable stock
1 lemon, juice and zest, plus extra wedges to serve
100 g spinach
200 g peas
50 g vegan parmesan, optional, plus extra to serve
flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve


  1. Put the stock into a medium saucepan and gently warm through, keep on a low heat until ready to use.
  2. In a large deep casserole, heat 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat and add the onion and leeks. Gently cook for 10 minutes until soft and starting to turn translucent, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the rice and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice starts to turn clear.
  4. Turn the heat up and start slowly stirring in a ladle of stock at a time. Stirring with a wooden spoon constantly and letting the stock absorb into the rice.
  5. Once the stock has been added, slowly add the soy milk. Keep cooking on a medium heat, stirring regularly until the rice is almost tender.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice, spinach and peas and season to taste. If using vegan parmesan, stir in the cheese now and garnish with the parsley, extra lemon wedges and Parmesan. Serve hot.

Makes 5 servings.

Source: Vegan Food & Living

In Pictures: Food of Vegetarian Restaurants in London, U.K.

Scientists Spot Early Markers of Coronavirus in Lungs of Patients

U.S. researchers report they have spotted early, subtle signs in the lungs that point to coronavirus infection.

This could help doctors diagnose patients in the early stages of the disease, when it may not be obvious on lung scans, according to the Mount Sinai Health System doctors.

They say they’re the first U.S. experts to analyze chest CT scans of 94 patients in China with COVID-19. Their findings appear in the February issue of the journal Radiology.

“This work augments our initial study, which was the first published research study on the imaging findings of COVID-19, and now we are able to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of how lung disease in coronavirus patients manifests and develops,” said study co-author Dr. Michael Chung. He’s an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, in New York City.

“If coronavirus should continue to spread and impact the United States or elsewhere more significantly, this study equips radiologists with the knowledge to recognize and more confidently suggest if a patient has COVID-19 or pneumonia due to another cause,” Chung said in a school news release.

“This is necessary for prompt diagnosis for any individual patient (which will lead to more rapid and effective care), but also for patient isolation to prevent the spreading of the highly contagious disease,” Chung explained.

Of 36 patients who had CT lung scans zero to two days after reporting symptoms, more than half had no evidence of lung disease, which suggests that CT scans cannot reliably rule out COVID-19 that early in the disease, the study authors noted.

Among the 33 patients scanned three to five days after they developed symptoms, there were patterns of hazy findings in the lungs, and these abnormalities became more round in shape and more dense, according to the report.

Among the 25 patients scanned six to 12 days after they developed symptoms, the researchers could see fully involved lung disease. The patterns in those lung scans resembled those in related coronavirus outbreaks, including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

According to study lead author Dr. Adam Bernheim, “Just as clinicians are evaluating more patients suspected of COVID-19, radiologists are similarly interpreting more chest CTs in those suspected of infection.” Bernheim is an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at Mount Sinai.

“Chest CT is a vital component in the diagnostic algorithm for patients with suspected infection, particularly given the limited availability and, in some cases, reliability of test kits,” Bernheim added.

“These investigative efforts not only show patterns of imaging findings in a large number of patients, but they also demonstrate that frequency of CT findings is related to disease time course,” he added. “Recognizing imaging patterns based on infection time course is paramount for not only understanding the disease process and natural history of COVID-19, but also for helping to predict patient progression and potential complication development.”

Source: HealthDay

Exposure to Sunshine is Linked to Lower Blood Pressure

Exposure to sunshine is linked to lower blood pressure, says a new study that included hundreds of thousands of patients at dialysis clinics across the United States. But don’t use this news as an excuse to book a beach vacation just yet.

For the new study, appearing Friday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers examined blood pressure readings from more than 342,000 patients at nearly 2,200 clinics over three years, starting in January 2011. More than a third of the patients were African American.

Blood pressure readings were averaged by month, then matched with reports on outdoor temperature and ultraviolet radiation, which also were averaged into monthly readings. Researchers adjusted for variables such as the subjects’ sex, age and body mass index.

When the numbers from nearly 46 million blood pressure readings were crunched, the researchers found exposure to UV sunlight was associated with lower systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) regardless of the temperature. It’s the first time a large study has shown that, said the lead author, Dr. Richard Weller.

Weller, a professor of dermatology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said researchers have known of seasonal variation in blood pressure for decades but had linked it to factors such as temperature and vitamin D, which is produced when sunlight hits the skin.

But repeated studies have failed to prove vitamin D lowers blood pressure, he said. And although this work did suggest temperature indeed played a role, “half the seasonal variation in blood pressure is independent of temperature. It’s due to the UV alone. And that is really exciting.”

Weller said the sunlight effect appeared to be small but significant – with a greater effect among white-skinned people than those with dark skin.

In practical terms, he said, the findings suggest if someone kept their exposure to temperature the same – “you know, nice warm clothing, centrally heated house, etc.” – and had summer levels of sunshine in winter, “I reckon that would lower your blood pressure by 2 or 3 millimeters of mercury. Not very much, but a 3-millimeter systolic fall in blood pressure reduces cardiovascular events by about 10%. And you know, that’s big.”

Weller, an enthusiastic proponent of the health effects of sunlight, published an earlier laboratory study showing UV light releases nitric oxide in the skin, which dilates arteries and lowers blood pressure. His TED talk on this research has been viewed more than 1.1 million times.

But before you throw away your sunscreen, remember that UV rays contribute to skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests everyone avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; wear protective clothing; avoid tanning beds; and generously apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher when outdoors.

And Weller’s enthusiasm is not necessarily contagious.

Dr. Paul K. Whelton, the Show Chwan Professor of Global Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans, called the study “interesting.” But this type of study has limits, said Whelton, who was chair of the committee that wrote the guidelines on hypertension from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association.

For starters, he said, it’s an observational study – meaning cause and effect can’t be proven. And he saw room for error in the quality of blood pressure readings taken at the clinics, which would not be done to the same standards as those in a research setting.

Overall, Whelton said, “I wouldn’t dismiss it. And I would say they should be congratulated on doing it. Am I 100% convinced? No.”

Weller is conducting further research on using UV light as treatment for people with high blood pressure. He’s hoping to spark a broad re-evaluation of sunshine, especially among his fellow dermatologists.

“Melanomas are bad news,” he said. “And that’s something all of us dermatologists worry about. But that’s not caused by simple sunlight. It’s caused by sunburn and intermittent sunlight.”

Until 150 years ago, humans lived almost entirely outdoors, Weller said. “Being outdoors all day long in the sun is normal for us. What is abnormal is the two weeks in Cancun, or the sunbed,” which blasts people with lots of UV quickly and is a known risk factor for melanoma.

Weller said dermatologists “need to stop fixating on the harm UV can do and stand back and acknowledge the fact that there is a growing body of evidence showing that it also has benefits on health.”

Source: American Heart Association

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