Pandemic Inspires ‘Illusion Cakes’ in Hong Kong

Yoyo Chow wrote . . . . . . . . .

A bakery studio in Hong Kong is aiming to bounce back from its COVID-19 slump with “illusion cakes” that appear to be everyday objects until you take a slice.

Dear Harley Cake Studio’s founders Alison Chan and Cony Lam came up with the idea after baking a custom cake for Chan’s nephew, who loves bananas: a thin layer of yellow fondant wrapped around dark chocolate and Italian meringue butter cream.

Posting such creations on social media brought a new wave of customers to their shop, prompting them to switch the focus of their business to special orders and workshops for wannabe cake illusionists.

Now they can make-to-order cakes that look uncannily like almost anything, from a pair of flip-flops to sea-urchin sashimi or even a dish sponge.

“This illusion cake wave is … kind of saving our business,” Chan said.

From a crisis level of three-to-four weekly orders during March and April, the studio is now receiving 15-20 orders a week. An illusion cake costs at least HK$1,500 ($194), with some going for HK$12,000-HK$13,000.

“I’m personally super thrilled that we have reached this stage … We never expected that this will blow up,” Chan said.

“We were just making things that we love, we love baking, we love cake decorating, and we are just making things for fun.”

Customer Chase Ko attended one of Dear Harley Cake Studio’s private classes to learn how to make custom cakes for her boyfriend’s birthday.

“My boyfriend likes Japanese food and Pokemon a lot. Their sushi illusion cake is very cute so I want to design another version with dolls on top of the rice,” Ko said.

Source: Reuters

Egg White Omelette with Asparagus


200 g asparagus, cut into short sections
4 bacon rashers
2 green onions, sliced
90 g grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
8 egg whites
300 g unsliced mixed-grain bread


  1. Boil, steam or microwave asparagus until tender; drain, rinse under cold water, drain well.
  2. Remove rind and fat from bacon, chop bacon.
  3. Heat a dry, non-stick pan, add bacon and onions, cook, stirring, until bacon is browned.
  4. Combine asparagus with bacon mixture and cheese in bowl; cover to keep warm.
  5. Beat egg whites in large bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  6. Spread a quarter of egg whites into a heated, non-stick pan, cook until lightly browned underneath. Place pan under grill until top of omelette is just set.
  7. Spoon a quarter of the asparagus mixture over one half of omelette, fold in half; slide onto serving plate. Repeat with remaining egg whites and asparagus mixture to make 4 omelettes.
  8. Cut bread into 4 slices and toast bread.
  9. Serve omelettes immediately with toast slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Simply Lite Food

In Pictures: Breakfast Toasts

How is COVID-19 Different from the Flu?

James J. Sejvar wrote . . . . . . . . .

Although COVID-19 has some symptoms in common with seasonal influenza, it can be more severe than the flu—and deadlier. Between 24,000 and 60,000 people in the United States died from the flu last season, according to figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, an average of 390,000 people die of the flu each year. The coronavirus, on the other hand, has killed more than 130,000 people in the United States and more than 500,000 worldwide just through June this year, according to a coronavirus tracker established by Johns Hopkins University.

Knowing the symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu, as well as their similarities and differences, is critical to preventing spread of the infection and seeking medical care if symptoms worsen with either condition.


Fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and achiness are common for both COVID-19 and the flu.

Chills, dry cough, shortness of breath, a sudden loss of smell and taste, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea are more prevalent in COVID-19.

Approximately 20 percent of patients with COVID-19 have moderate to severe symptoms. Of those patients, less than half a percent are hospitalized. The most common symptom in moderate cases is difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, patients have experienced strokes and heart attacks, and many have died—outcomes that may be linked to the virus’ impact on blood vessels.

In some cases, neurologic symptoms have been reported, including loss of taste and smell, delirium, dizziness, confusion, numbness in hands and feet, seizures, muscle weakness, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.


The flu and the coronavirus are thought to spread primarily in droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person. This can happen through talking, laughing, singing, sneezing, or coughing when people are in close proximity. The risk of transmission decreases if you stay at least six feet apart from others, interact outdoors, and wear masks.

While less likely, you also can catch either virus by touching a surface an infected person has touched and then putting your hand to your mouth or nose, which can transfer germs to the respiratory tract.

With COVID-19, many people seem to be contagious before they have symptoms; with the flu, people become contagious three to four days after symptoms begin. Wearing a mask can help protect you and others.


Rest, fluids, and medication to reduce fever (such as acetaminophen) are standard treatments for both flu and COVID-19 in cases that don’t require hospitalization. If you have mild symptoms of COVID-19, you should take your temperature before taking each dose of fever reducer. Call your doctor if your temperature goes above 100.4 degrees or if any other symptoms worsen.

No vaccine currently exists for COVID-19. For the flu, a new vaccine is developed each year that matches that year’s dominant strains of the virus. While a vaccine doesn’t prevent the flu 100 percent of the time, it can prevent cases and reduce the illness’ severity.

Flu Season

Getting a flu shot is especially important this year for several reasons. First, the flu kills thousands of people each year. Second, you risk contracting COVID-19 in the hospital if you are admitted for severe flu symptoms. Finally, contracting the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously may result in more severe illness and may lower your defenses in combatting the coronavirus.

Ask your doctor’s office to alert you when flu shots are available and inform you of the precautions the office is taking. If you opt for a flu shot at a supermarket, pharmacy, or urgent care clinic, call to find out if an appointment is required. Wear a mask and respect social distancing rules, such as where to wait for your turn.

Source: Brain&Life

Plant-Based Diets May Support Healthy Testosterone Levels

Men who follow plant-based diets have testosterone levels that are basically the same as the levels in men who eat meat, a study shows. This finding dispels a widespread notion that men need large amounts of animal protein to support healthy levels of this hormone.

“We found that a plant-based diet was associated with normal testosterone levels, levels that are the same as occur in men who eat a traditional diet that includes more meat,” says Ranjith Ramasamy, MD, an associate professor and director of reproductive urology at the University of Miami Health System. He coauthored the study, which appeared in the World Journal of Urology, with Manish Kuchakulla, a medical student, also at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“The old idea that men needed to consume a traditional diet with plenty of meat to have a healthy testosterone level was based on pure conjecture, not based on evidence,” Ramasamy says.

Recent years have seen a dramatic uptick in public interest in various forms of plant-based diets, as measured in many ways, including trends for the terms “vegan,” “vegetarian,” and “plant-based” in Google searches. “The number of US consumers who say that they adhere to a plant-based diet increased by 500% between 2014 and 2017, and sales of plant-based foods rose 20% in 2018 compared to the year prior,” the authors wrote.

Meanwhile, previous studies on the effects of different types of diets on testosterone levels have been inconsistent. Some research has shown plant-based diets to be associated with lower levels of testosterone, while others have shown that plant-based diets don’t affect testosterone levels.

The researchers used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data about 191 men between the ages of 18 and 75, which had been gathered in 2003–2004, because that data set was the only available one that included both testosterone levels, as measured in blood samples, and details of each person’s diet.

Unlike most previous studies that treat all plant-based diets as equal, the researchers distinguished between healthier and less healthy plant-based diets. “You can eat a lot of soda, chips, and juice, which are plant foods but aren’t healthy foods,” Kuchakalla says.

To see whether men with more healthful and less healthful plant-based diets had different testosterone levels, the researchers divided the men who ate mostly plant-based foods into two groups—those who scored high on an index for healthful plant-based food consumption and those who merely scored high on an index for plant-based food consumption.

The researchers considered testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL to indicate a deficiency, in keeping with the American Urological Association. Their analyses showed that the kind of diet a man followed didn’t affect testosterone levels.

“Whether a man ate a traditional diet with lots of animal foods, a healthy plant-based diet, or a less healthy plant-based diet simply did not matter. We found no differences,” Kuchakulla says.

The researchers emphasized that, in addition to supporting healthy testosterone levels, plant-based diets confer many health advantages to individuals, populations, and the planet.

Plant-based diets have proven to reduce the risks of many conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and many cancers.

“Plant-based diets also reduce a person’s carbon footprint, so they can help us address global warming,” Kuchakulla says. “Studies have shown that a shift to a more sustainable eating pattern with a reduction in animal-based foods can result in more than a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” the research team wrote.

Source: University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

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