Asparagus Risotto


700 g green asparagus
200 g risotto rice
100 g almonds
1 white onion
1 Tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup soy milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper


  1. Cut off the end of the asparagus and save it for the vegetable stock. Set aside 8 asparagus whole (without the end part). Cut off the top part of the remaining asparagus and set it aside. Cut the middle part of the remaining asparagus into small discs.
  2. In a large pot with about 4 litres of water add 1 tbsp of vegetable bouillon and the ends of the asparagus. Bring to boil and keep this vegetable stock hot on slow boil throughout this recipe. Add a pinch or two of coarse sea salt.
  3. In a non-stick pan, add a finely chopped white onion and a ladle of the vegetable stock. Let the onion cook for 1 minute, then add the asparagus discs and let them cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Add some more vegetable stock if necessary and season with some sea salt.
  4. In a small pot with boiling water, blanch half of the almonds for exactly 60 seconds. Then drain them under cold water and remove their skin. It should be very easy to do, just squeeze the almonds through your fingers and they should pop out of their skin.
  5. In a small blender, add the peeled almonds, soy milk, 2 tbsp of cooked asparagus discs, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Blend very well until you have a very smooth cream.
  6. On a baking tray with some parchment paper or a silicon mat, season the tip of the asparagus with a crushed clove of garlic, olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. On the same tray, but separate from the asparagus, season the second half of the almonds with olive oil and salt. Bake in the oven for 10 min at 180˚C (360˚F). Then crush the almonds into small pieces.
  8. In a large pan, add the risotto rice and start toasting the rice on medium heat for about 1 minute while stirring with a wooden spoon.
  9. Add a small quantity of hot vegetable stock to the rice (about 1.5 ladles) and stir. When the vegetable stock has evaporated, add some more, little by little. Keep stirring often. Repeat this for the next 10 minutes.
  10. Take the 8 whole asparagus and with a potato peeler, start shaving them, creating thin slices of asparagus. Season this with some salt, olive oil, and a drizzle of lemon juice. Set aside. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the risotto, you need to keep adding vegetable stock and keep stirring.
  11. After 10 minutes, add the asparagus discs to the rice, some extra vegetable stock, and keep stirring. Keep adding vegetable stock and stirring for about 5 more minutes, until the risotto is cooked al dente. It needs to have some bite.
  12. Turn off the heat and add the almond-asparagus cream into the risotto while stirring. Add some more vegetable stock if necessary. At this point taste and add some salt if necessary.
  13. Keep stirring until the cream is fully incorporated. Remember that the consistency of your risotto needs to be wavy, or as we Italian’s say, “all’onda”. Not too thick, not too watery, just like a wave.
  14. Remove risotto to a flat plate. Let it set into the place without touching it. Then add the roasted asparagus tips on top.
  15. Sprinkle with some crushed roasted almonds. Top with a bush of asparagus shavings, and drizzle with some drops of extra virgin olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Vegan Food and Living

New Vegan Cheese Wedges

Nicole Axworthy wrote . . . . . . . . .

In late June, artisanal cheese brand Cheeze & Thank you will launch at nine locations of Whole Foods Markets in Chicago, IL. The cheeses will be available at Edgewater, Gold Coast, Hyde Park, South Loop, Halsted, Streeterville, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and West Loop locations in flavors such as Dill Havarti, Herbed Feta, Black Garlic Truffle Fontina, Mustard Seed Smoked Gouda, Giardinera Jack, and Mozzarella Capri. Cheeze & Thank you offers cheese options that are soy-based, nut-based, and seed-based.

The woman-run brand was created by Megan Schmitt when she began transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. At the time, she wasn’t satisfied with the vegan cheese options on the market, so she began making her own. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and initially I thought about starting a vegan restaurant when I lived in St. Louis, MO” Schmitt told VegNews. “It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that Cheeze & Thank You really started. I didn’t have many friends here so to occupy my time, I started getting back into cheese-making.” One of Schmitt’s vegan friends told her she should start selling her cheese and put her in touch with local collective Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen. “That’s where I started actually selling my product and it all just kind of took off from there,” she said.

With the debut of Cheeze & Thank you at Whole Foods, Schmitt plans to expand to smaller local shops in Chicago and St. Louis, MO. “I’d love Cheeze and Thank You to be available at all major grocery stores as well as independently owned shops,” Schmitt said. “I just need to figure out logistics from a distribution side.”

Source: Veg News

Music Might Help Soothe Ailing Hearts

Music influences people’s heart rates, and one piece of music will affect individuals’ hearts differently, a new, small study shows.

The findings could lead to novel, drug-free treatments for such conditions as high blood pressure and heart rhythm disorders, or to help people relax or stay alert, the researchers said.

Previous studies that examined physical responses to music measured changes in heart rate after participants listened to recordings simply categorized as sad, happy, calm or violent.

This new study of three patients with mild heart failure requiring a pacemaker took a more targeted approach.

During a live, classical piano concert, researchers used the patients’ pacemaker leads to measure the electrical activity of their hearts during significant changes in tempo, volume or rhythm.

“We used precise methods to record the heart’s response to music and found that what is calming for one person can be arousing for another,” said Elaine Chew, a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.

“Even though two people might have statistically significant changes across the same musical transition, their responses could go in opposite directions. So for one person the musical transition is relaxing, while for another it is arousing or stress-inducing,” Chew said.

For example, someone who doesn’t expect a transition from soft to loud music could find it stressful, while another person might find it relaxing.

The small study was presented recently at the European Society of Cardiology virtual meeting. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“By understanding how an individual’s heart reacts to musical changes, we plan to design tailored music interventions to elicit the desired response,” Chew said in a society news release.

Pier Lambiase, a professor of cardiology at University College London in the U.K., was the study’s medical leader.

He said tailored interventions could be used to reduce blood pressure or lower the risk of heart rhythm disorders without the side effects of medication.

The researchers are now conducting tests with eight patients to further confirm their findings.

Source: HealthDay

Antibody Designed to Recognize Pathogens of Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have found a way to design an antibody that can identify the toxic particles that destroy healthy brain cells – a potential advance in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Their method is able to recognise these toxic particles, known as amyloid-beta oligomers, which are the hallmark of the disease, leading to hope that new diagnostic methods can be developed for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The team, from the University of Cambridge, University College London and Lund University, designed an antibody which is highly accurate at detecting toxic oligomers and quantifying their numbers. Their results are reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“There is an urgent unmet need for quantitative methods to recognise oligomers – which play a major role in Alzheimer’s disease, but are too elusive for standard antibody discovery strategies,” said Professor Michele Vendruscolo from Cambridge’s Centre for Misfolding Diseases, who led the research. “Through our innovative design strategy, we have now discovered antibodies to recognise these toxic particles.”

Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and costs more than £26 billion each year, a figure which is expected to more than double in the next 25 years. Estimates put the current cost to the global economy at nearly £1 trillion per year.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, leads to the death of nerve cells and tissue loss throughout the brain, resulting in memory failure, personality changes and problems carrying out daily activities.

Abnormal clumps of proteins called oligomers have been identified by scientists as the most likely cause of dementia. Although proteins are normally responsible for important cell processes, according to the amyloid hypothesis, when people have Alzheimer’s disease these proteins -including specifically amyloid-beta proteins – become rogue and kill healthy nerve cells.

Proteins need to be closely regulated to function properly. When this quality control process fails, the proteins misfold, starting a chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells. Misfolded proteins form abnormal clusters called plaques which build up between brain cells, stopping them from signalling properly. Dying brain cells also contain tangles, twisted strands of proteins that destroy a vital cell transport system, meaning nutrients and other essential supplies can no longer move through the cells.

There have been over 400 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, but no drug that can modify the course of the disease has been approved. In the UK, dementia is the only condition in the top 10 causes of death without a treatment to prevent, stop, or slow its progression.

“While the amyloid hypothesis is a prevalent view, it has not been fully validated in part because amyloid-beta oligomers are so difficult to detect, so there are differing opinions on what causes Alzheimer’s disease,” said Vendruscolo. “The discovery of an antibody to accurately target oligomers is, therefore, an important step to monitor the progression of the disease, identify its cause, and eventually keep it under control.”

The lack of methods to detect oligomers has been a major obstacle in the progress of Alzheimer’s research. This has hampered the development of effective diagnostic and therapeutic interventions and led to uncertainty about the amyloid hypothesis.

“Oligomers are difficult to detect, isolate, and study,” said Dr Francesco Aprile, the study’s first author. “Our method allows the generation of antibody molecules able to target oligomers despite their heterogeneity, and we hope it could be a significant step towards new diagnostic approaches.”

The method is based on an approach for antibody discovery developed over the last ten years at the Centre for Misfolding Diseases. Based on the computational assembly of antibody-antigen assemblies, the method enables the design of antibodies for antigens that are highly challenging, such as those that live only for a very short time.

By using a rational design strategy that enables to target specific regions, or epitopes, of the oligomers, and a wide range of in vitro and in vivo experiments, the researchers have designed an antibody with at least three orders of magnitude greater affinity for the oligomers over other forms of amyloid-beta. This difference is the key feature that enables the antibody to specifically quantify oligomers in both in vitro and in vivo samples.

The team hopes that this tool will enable the discovery of better drug candidates and the design of better clinical trials for people affected by the debilitating disease. They also co-founded Wren Therapeutics, a spin-out biotechnology company based at the Chemistry of Health Incubator, in the recently opened Chemistry of Health building, whose mission it is to take the ideas developed at the University of Cambridge and translate them into finding new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other protein misfolding disorders.

The antibody has been patented by Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm.

Source: EurekAlert!

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