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Pasta is a generic term for Italian variants of noodles, food made from a dough of flour, water and/or eggs, that is boiled. The word can also denote dishes in which pasta products are the primary ingredient, served with sauce or seasonings.

There are approximately 350 different shapes of pasta. Examples include spaghetti (solid, thin cylinders), maccheroni (tubes or hollow cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and lasagne (sheets). Two other noodles, gnocchi and spätzle, are sometimes counted as pasta. They are both traditional in parts of Italy. Pasta is categorized in two basic styles: Dried and Fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a couple of months. Pasta is generally boiled to soften it before being eaten.

Most pastas are made from a simple combination of flour and water. Pre-packaged speciality pasta often includes spices, cheese or added coloring from spinach, tomatoes or food dye.

Under Italian law, dry pasta (pasta secca) can only be made from durum wheat or semolina flour. Durum flour has a yellow tinge in color. Italian pasta is traditionally cooked al dente (Italian: "to the tooth", meaning not too soft). Abroad, dry pasta is frequently made from other types of flour (such as farina), but this yields a softer product which cannot be cooked al dente.

Particular varieties of pasta may also use other grains and milling methods to make the flour. Some pasta varieties, such as Pizzoccheri, are made from buckwheat flour. Fresh pasta may include eggs (pasta all'uovo). Gnocchi are often listed among pasta dishes, although they are quite different in ingredients (mainly milled potatoes) and therefore can't be called pasta because they don't contain flour.
Published by Margo on Dec 29, 2008
A Christmas Ham or Yule Ham is a traditional dish associated with modern Christmas, Yule and Scandinavian Jul. The tradition is suggested to have began amongst the Germanic peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god in Germanic Paganism associated with boars, harvest and fertility.

According to some folklorists and historians the Christmas ham's origins in England lay in a:

"tradition was initiated in all probability on the Isle of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, although our knowledge of it comes substantially from medieval times....[In ancient Norse tradition] sacrifice carried the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar's head with apple in mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of minstrels."

Scandinavia and England, Saint Stephen may have inherited some of Freyr's legacy. His feast day is December 26 and thus he came to play a part in the Yuletide celebrations which were previously associated with Freyr. In old Swedish art, Stephen is shown as tending to horses and bringing a boar's head to a Yuletide banquet. Both elements are extra-canonical and may be pagan survivals.
Published by RiVD on Dec 5, 2008
Want to lose weight? Try eating. That's one of the strategies being developed by scientists experimenting with foods that trick the body into feeling full.

At the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, England, food expert Peter Wilde and colleagues are developing foods that slow down the digestive system, which then triggers a signal to the brain that suppresses appetite.

"That fools you into thinking you've eaten far too much when you really haven't," said Wilde. From his studies on fat digestion, he said it should be possible to make foods, from bread to yogurts, that make it easier to diet.
While the research is preliminary, Wilde's approach to curbing appetite is one that some doctors say could be key in combating the obesity epidemic.

"Being able to switch off appetite would be a big help for people having trouble losing weight," said Steve Bloom, a professor of investigative medicine at London's Imperial College, who is not connected to Wilde's research.

Scientists in North America and elsewhere in Europe are also trying to control appetite, including through chemical injections or implantable devices that interfere with the digestive system.

Bloom said that regulating appetite through modified foods is theoretically possible. Other mechanisms in the body, like cholesterol production, are already routinely tweaked with medicines.
Published by Kristine on Nov 2, 2008
There is a strong connection between muscle mass and good health, says Robert Wolfe, director of Translational Research in Aging and Longevity at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. “As we age, we tend to lose muscle, especially if we are not using it,” says Wolfe. “These losses eventually affect quality of life, our balance, strength and ability to recover from an illness or accident.”

In fact, muscles do everything from help you move and digest your food, to — in the case of your heart muscle — pump nutrients throughout your body. “Our heart, brain, skin and other organs are in a constant state of remodeling with tissue being built and broken down,” says Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition programs at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “Muscles offer a significant supply of amino acids to ensure these vital parts stay strong.”

Active muscles not only help cut your risk of developing diabetes or osteoporosis, but the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body can burn.

To keep your muscles strong and healthy you need the right kind of diet. Click on the items to see how these five foods can help you maximize your muscle mass.
Published by Kristine on Oct 11, 2008
You probably have no interest in wearing your daughter's up-to-here skirt or your son's down-to-there baggy jeans. Well, fashion isn't the only area in which a "do" for one family member can be a "don't" for another — you, your husband, your kids, and your parents all have surprisingly different requirements when it comes to nutrition, says Connie Weaver, PhD, head of the nutrition department at Purdue University.

In fact, one may need a supplement that another should avoid. Because one size doesn't fit all, here's a guide to the shortfalls that occur at different ages — and the best ways to fill them for young, old, and in-between.
Published by Irene on Sep 13, 2008
Just a few more portions of broccoli each week may protect men from prostate cancer, British researchers reported on Wednesday.

The researchers believe a chemical in the food sparks hundreds of genetic changes, activating some genes that fight cancer and switching off others that fuel tumors, said Richard Mithen, a biologist at Britain's Institute of Food Research.

There is plenty of evidence linking a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduced cancer risk. But the study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One is the first human trial investigating the potential biological mechanism at work, Mithen added in a telephone interview.
Published by MayLoL on Jul 10, 2008
Squid is a popular food in many parts of the world.

In many of the European languages around the Mediterranean, squid is called 'calamari' (singular 'calamaro'), which in English has become a culinary name for Mediterranean dishes involving squid, especially fried squid ('fried calamari').
Fried calamari is popular in the cuisine of many Mediterranean countries. It consists of batter-coated, deep fried squid, often fried for less than two minutes to prevent it from becoming too tough. It is usually served plain, with salt and lemon on the side.

In North America, it is a staple in many Greek, Italian, and seafood restaurants, as well as a snack at some bars. It is often served as an appetizer, garnished with parsley, or occasionally sprinkled lightly with parmesan cheese. It is usually served with a dip of some sort, most often peppercorn mayonnaise, tzatziki, or in the United States, marinara sauce. In Mexico it is often served with Tabasco sauce or habanero. Other dips, such as ketchup, aioli, or olive oil, are sometimes served as well. Like many seafood dishes, it is usually served with a slice of lemon, to squirt the juice over the dish if desired.

In Australia, fried calamari is a common and popular menu item in fish and chip shops.

In Chinese cuisine, the squid is often diced, coated in a salt and pepper batter and served with a spicy hot garnishing of chili and salt.
Published by MayLoL on Jun 25, 2008
Green tea is a "true" tea, meaning it is made solely with the leaves of Camellia sinensis, that has undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originates from China and has become associated with many cultures in Asia from Japan to the Middle East. Recently, it has become more widespread in the West, where black tea is traditionally consumed. Many varieties of green tea have been created in countries where it is grown that can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, processing and harvesting time. Over the last few decades green tea has begun to be subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting regular green tea drinkers may have lower chances of heart disease and developing certain types of cancer.
Generally, 2.25 grams of tea per 6 ounces of water, or about one teaspoon of green tea per cup, should be used. With very high quality teas like gyokuro, more than this amount of leaf is used, and the leaf is steeped multiple times for short durations.

Green tea brewing time and temperature varies with individual teas. The hottest brewing temperatures are 180°F to 190°F (82°C to 88°C) water and the longest steeping times 2 to 3 minutes. The coolest brewing temperatures are 140°F to 150°F (60°C to 66°C) and the shortest times about 30 seconds. In general, lower quality green teas are steeped hotter and longer, while higher quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter. Tea Masters living in China nowadays say that boiling water must be used all the time even with green teas due to the fact that high quality leaves can handle higher temperatures very well. Steeping green tea too hot or too long will result in a bitter, astringent brew for low quality leaves. High quality green teas can and usually are steeped multiple times; 2 or 3 steeping is typical. The brewing technique also plays a very important role to avoid the tea develop an overcooked taste. If a tea claims to be high grade but the vendor instructions says that boiling water musn`t be used then there is a chance that the tea is not so high grade.
Published by Art99 on Jun 5, 2008
The weekly trip to the grocery store is getting more expensive and there’s no relief in sight, experts say. Many shoppers are wondering how to save on their food bills, without sacrificing nutrition.

There are some strategies you can follow to help avoid grocery sticker shock, says Phil Lempert, TODAY food editor. Here's what he suggests:

List it: Shopping with a list can save you 10 percent on unnecessary items like junk food.
Buy in bulk: But don’t buy more than you’ll use. Waste is costly too.
Simpler is better: The more processed the food, the more it costs—and, generally, the less healthy it is.
Dodge impulse traps: Stores are set up to spur impulse buying. Focus on staples such as milk, eggs, bread and canned or frozen veggies and avoid tempting cookies and cakes in the deli section.
Use coupons: Store discount programs and supercenters such as Wal-mart and Costco can also help generate significant savings. By being flexible and planning meals around what’s on sale, you can lower your grocery bills. “To save money, you need to switch brands and types of foods,” substituting less expensive meats or fish, and trading beans and eggs for meat, says Phil Lempert.

Rather than cutting back on healthy staples, click on the items at the left to learn how to get the most nutrition bang for your grocery buck.
Published by Caroline on May 29, 2008
LONDON - Calling all chocoholics: British researchers recruiting volunteers willing to eat a bar of chocolate daily for a year, guilt-free and all in the name of science.

The trial starting in June will explore whether compounds called flavonoids found in chocolate and other foods can reduce the risk of heart disease for menopausal women with type 2 diabetes, the researchers said on Monday.

“We are looking at a high risk group first,” said Aedin Cassidy, a biochemist at the University of East Anglia, who will lead the study. “We hope there will be an additional benefit from dietary intervention in addition to the women’s drug therapy.”
Previous studies have suggested dark chocolate is rich in the beneficial compounds linked with heart health but experts note the high sugar and fat content of most commercially available chocolate might cancel out some of the advantages.

A host of other research has also shown dark chocolate appears to lower blood pressure, improve the function of blood vessels and reduce the risk of heart attack.

This has spurred companies such as Hershey Co. and Lindt & Spruengli to market specific products containing dark chocolate. Mars Inc has introduced CocoaVia, a line of dark and premium chocolates that plays up such health advantages.

Cassidy said her team will also publish findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that flavonoids found in soy and cocoa appear to have the strongest effects of the compounds in reducing risk of heart disease.

Not just about chocolate
The next step will be recruiting 150 women past menopause with type 2 diabetes. The researchers will look at whether the compounds help reduce blood pressure, cut cholesterol levels and improve the condition of arteries.

Half the women in the year-long study will eat a super-charged chocolate bar containing 30 grams of flavonoids found in soy, cocoa and other fruits and vegetables. The others will get chocolate without the active compounds.

The researchers hope the study could have implications for the wider population if results show significant benefits from the isoflavones contained in soy and epicatechin found in cocoa.

This could help doctors tailor advice to patients on the type and amount of foods to eat to reduce heart disease risk — and it does not necessarily need to be chocolate, Cassidy said.

“If this trial works we will be able to give advice on a whole range of foods,” Cassidy said. “People won’t have to go around eating a specially designed chocolate bar.”
Published by RiVD on May 11, 2008