How Many Extra Calories Are You Getting From Food At Work – Bruce Y. Lee

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Apparently a fair number of people take a lot of %#$% at work and eat it too.

Yesterday at the Nutrition 2018 meeting in Boston, Stephen Onufrak, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), presented what he described in a press release as “the first national study to look at the food people get at work.” Nutrition 2018 is the American Society of Nutrition’s annual meeting. Onufrak also indicated that “our results suggest that the foods people get from work do not align well with the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” This is a polite way of saying nutritionally some of it may be %#$%.

For the study, Onufrak and his colleagues analyzed data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey (FoodAPS), administered to a nationally representative sample of American households. The data included what food and beverages 5,222 employed adults had indicated they had purchased and “acquired” for free at work over a 7-day period.

During the week, 8% of respondents had purchased food or beverages at work during the week, and 17% had acquired it for free. Those of you skilled in the art of acquiring food for free know that potential sources include the communal coffee machine, catering for meetings, birthdays and other celebrations, and that person or persons in the office for whom baking is a hobby or emotional outlet.

Free food may sound good but it accounted for 71% of all of the calories acquired at work. (Those who got food or beverages at work, got an average of 1277 calories from work). Also, food from work, whether purchased or obtained for free, tended to be “high in empty calories, sodium, and refined grains and low in whole grains and fruit.” And surprise! The leading foods were “pizza, soft drinks, cookies/brownies, cakes and pies, and candy.” Not exactly broccoli florets and kale.

Thus, with all the pizzas and pies around, what this study suggest is that you may want to shut your pie (you know what) at work. There are a lot of distractions around you such as the conversations that you are having, the other people that are walking around, the cat videos on your computer screen, and oh, of course, the work that you have to do. You may not realize or be keeping track of the extra calories, salt, fat, sugar, and other bad stuff that is going into your mouth.

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Remember, you spend a lot of your waking hours (and in some cases sleeping hours) at work. Thus, workplace food can really affect your diet. What, then, do you do besides convincing the baker in your office to find a different emotional outlet? Here are some possibilities:

  • Don’t talk to or interact with anyone: You can reduce your chances of getting free food by hissing at everyone when they see you. Of course, this could have other negative consequences.
  • Eat selectively: When food comes around, pay attention to its nutritional content.
  • Don’t position yourself close to food: If your desk is in the office kitchen, then that not only is a bit odd (assuming that you don’t do kitchen-related work) but also makes you more likely to eat unconsciously.
  • Convince your workplace to bring or offer healthier options: It may not seem appealing to be known as “that kale guy who took our pizza away” or the woman who “made the workplace grapes again instead of cakes the workplace again.” But in the long run people may thank you.
  • Be careful about drinking at work: Not just drinking alcohol but anything sugar-sweetened. Beverages can be a prominent source of empty calories and sugar.
  • Eat when you are not at work: Don’t regularly rely on free food for your meals.
  • Pack and bring your food: This requires some time, planning, and organization. That’s why fast food is called fast food. One possibility is to form a “foodpool” with some co-workers and take turns preparing food for each other. Just make sure that your “foodpool” doesn’t have more than a hundred people because it may be overwhelming when it is your day to bring the food.
  • Scout out places around the workplace that serve healthy food: This could also get you to walk around more.

Finally, keep in mind, you often get what you pay for nutritionally. Workplaces may try to save money by getting cheaper and more convenient foods and beverages, which tend to be highly processed and higher in salt, sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients. You may still be able to find healthy food at work but may have to work at it.

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Amazon Is Getting Ready To Crush LaCroix – Alison Griswold

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Amazon and Whole Foods are about to shake up the US seltzer market.

Whole Foods is currently offering steep discounts on 12-packs of flavored sparkling water by 365 Everyday Value, its private label, at stores in the San Francisco area. The $3.99, buy-one-get-one-free deal is exclusive for Amazon Prime members who download the Whole Foods app and sign in with their Prime accounts. It’s also a clear shot at LaCroix, a popular seltzer brand among American millennials, a 12-pack of which retails for $5.99 at Whole Foods stores in San Francisco.

The deal highlights how Amazon is using Whole Foods, which it bought for $13.7 billion in June 2017, to go after some of the hottest brands in consumer-packaged goods. Whole Foods introduced 365-branded canned sparkling water in September 2017, a month after Amazon closed the acquisition. The drink is available nationally in five flavors—lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, and “pure”—with a new ginger flavor set to launch this September, a Whole Foods spokesman told Quartz.

“I’ve got to laugh when they do grapefruit,” said Barry Joseph, author of the forthcoming book, Seltzertopia. “LaCroix made grapefruit a standard flavor for seltzer. If someone’s putting out seltzers that include grapefruit, they’re clearly going after the market that LaCroix developed, even if they don’t call it pamplemousse.”

A deal for Amazon Prime members on 365 sparkling water at Whole Foods in Berkeley, California.

More Americans are drinking seltzer than ever before. From 2008 to 2017, sales of unflavored carbonated water more than doubled in the US to 770 million gallons, according to data from industry research firm Euromonitor.

The frothiest company in the market is National Beverage Corp., LaCroix’s parent, which reported $827 million in sales during its 2017 fiscal year, up 17% over the previous fiscal year. Once a favorite of Midwestern moms, LaCroix has been reborn a millennial status symbol whose shiny pastel cans fill the fridges of Los Angeles screenwriters and Silicon Valley startups, and have even inspired a line of T-shirts.

“WOW… what a year!” declared Nick Caporella, National Beverage Corp.’s 81-year-old chairman and CEO, in the 2017 annual report. The company’s stock price (ticker: FIZZ), rose 90% in the 2017 calendar year, hitting an all-time high of $126.40 in September.

Whole Foods’ 365 seltzer line was in the works before the Amazon acquisition, a spokesman told Quartz. Late last year, Whole Foods named sparkling water as a “top food trend” for 2018.

“Some people say LaCroix was the peak of seltzertopia,” Joseph said. “When we see things like Bubly from Pepsi and this from Amazon, it’s clear that we’re just moving up toward the next stage of the national battle over flavored seltzer.”

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How to Minimize the Risk of Food Poisoning – Chiara Zarmati

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The year is not yet half over and already there have been seven documented multistate outbreaks of food poisoning. The latest involved eggs in their shells containing salmonella and packaged chopped romaine lettuce contaminated with the especially dangerous “hamburger bug” E. coli O157:H7.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the romaine outbreak involved 172 people sickened across 32 states, with one death.

The other outbreaks so far this year, all involving salmonella, were traced to dried coconut, chicken salad, an herbal supplement called kratom, raw sprouts and frozen shredded coconut. Last year, there were eight multistate outbreaks, and in 2016, there were 14.

With summer and its accompanying picnics and outdoor food fests fast approaching, more outbreaks are likely to mar the fun of unsuspecting diners this year. We live in a global food economy and most people purchase and consume foods produced thousands of miles away that are often packaged in bulk to simplify food preparation at home and in restaurants.

Meat, poultry and fish may come from huge farms where hundreds of thousands of animals are raised together, increasing the chance that food poisoning organisms will spread widely before they are detected.

More than 40 million cases and 3,000 deaths are estimated to result from food poisoning in this country each year. One person in six is typically sickened each year, according to the C.D.C., and the problem is getting worse.

Cases are no longer mainly tied to foods made with raw eggs (like homemade mayonnaise and eggnog) or undercooked meat and poultry. Harmful organisms now show up in foods that were not considered a problem years ago, like raspberries, cantaloupe, ice cream, salami, scallions, parsley, apple cider and even toasted oat cereal.

You can protect yourself up to a point if you take proper precautions with the foods you purchase. Most important: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If a food is meant to be refrigerated, don’t keep it at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit any longer than it takes you to get from store to home — an hour or two at most. In hot weather or a sun-drenched vehicle, transport the food in an ice-filled cooler or insulated bag.

Once home, store the foods safely. Never place raw meat, poultry or fish in the fridge where it can drip onto other foods, especially foods already cooked and fresh fruits and vegetables that may be consumed raw.

Don’t defrost frozen foods on the counter. Take them out of the freezer in ample time for them to thaw in the fridge or use a microwave oven with a defrost feature.

Food safety experts advise against rinsing raw meat, poultry and fish in the sink; it risks spreading noxious organisms on surfaces that will later come into contact with foods eaten raw. However, produce can and should be washed even if you plan to peel or cook it unless it comes in a package labeled triple-rinsed or ready to use. Rinsing, again, risks cross-contamination.

Be doubly sure to wash melons, especially cantaloupe and others with rough skins, before cutting into them lest you transfer nasty organisms from the surface of the fruit to the flesh within. But experts do not recommend using soap or bleach on foods.

Don’t assume that because the food was locally grown or from a farmers’ market, it’s free of potential hazards. Large producers operate under strict rules to prevent contamination; small local farmers may not adhere to the same constraints.

Before preparing to cook, use soap and warm water to wash your hands, under your nails and up to your wrists. Use a commercial cleanser or a solution of one teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water to clean kitchen surfaces.

When prepping foods, use separate cutting boards and knives for raw animal foods and produce, even produce you plan to cook, or wash the equipment thoroughly with soapy water between the two.

Always refrigerate foods that are being marinated, even if the marinade is acidic. Never use the same marinade on the food after it has been cooked — unless you boil it first for 10 minutes — and don’t reuse it to marinate something else.

Cook animal products to the proper temperature: 160 degrees for ground meat; 165 for poultry; 145 for pork and fin fish; until the flesh is opaque for most shellfish, and until shells open for clams, oysters and mussels. After a food is cooked, put it on a clean platter.

If you’re hosting a buffet and expect prepared or raw food to remain unrefrigerated for hours, use a portable burner (like a chafing dish) to keep hot foods hot and set those that should be cold over crushed ice.

But no matter how carefully you handle food at home, it is difficult if not impossible to reduce your risk of food poisoning if you rely heavily on restaurant-prepared and takeout foods. All it takes is one food handler along the line who harbors a noxious organism and fails to take needed precautions against contaminating the food being prepared and served.

You may be able, however, to help protect others. If you have good reason to suspect a particular source of your resultant misery, you may curb its spread and prevent others from getting sick by reporting your experience as soon as possible to your local health department and the establishment where you purchased or consumed the food.

That said, pinpointing the cause of a food poisoning incident can be very tricky. It may — or may not — originate with the last food or drink you consumed. Different organisms take varying amounts of time to produce symptoms that might be recognized as food poisoning, and the “transit time” it takes for food to make its way through the digestive tract varies from person to person.

For example, while an attack of Staphylococcus aureus typically occurs in two to four hours after consuming a contaminated food, it can take as long as two days for a norovirus or Yersinia infection to cause misery, and E. coli O157:H7 can take up to 10 days before it results in bloody diarrhea and possible kidney failure.

And if you want to know how efficient your digestive tract usually is, eat a cob of corn and notice how long it takes before undigested kernels appear in your stool. This could help you pinpoint the source of a suspected food poisoning attack.

Also, while the most common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, several organisms — shigella, Yersinia and Clostridium perfringens — only cause diarrhea, and a severe infection with Listeria monocytogenes involves mainly fever. A hospital-based lab may be able to quickly identify the cause with a DNA test on a stool sample.

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How to Stop Eating Sugar – David Leonhardt

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The first thing to know: Added sugars, of one kind or another, are almost everywhere in the modern diet. They’re in sandwich bread, chicken stock, pickles, salad dressing, crackers, yogurt and cereal, as well as in the obvious foods and drinks, like soda and desserts.

The biggest problem with added sweeteners is that they make it easy to overeat. They’re tasty and highly caloric but they often don’t make you feel full. Instead, they can trick you into wanting even more food. Because we’re surrounded by added sweeteners — in our kitchens, in restaurants, at schools and offices — most of us will eat too much of them unless we consciously set out to do otherwise.

How Did We Get Here?

It’s not an accident. The sugar industry has conducted an aggressive, decades-long campaign to blame the obesity epidemic on fats, not sugars. Fats, after all, seem as if they should cause obesity. Thanks partly to that campaign, sugar consumption soared in the United States even as people were trying to lose weight. But research increasingly indicates that an overabundance of simple carbohydrates, and sugar in particular, is the No. 1 problem in modern diets. Sugar is the driving force behind the diabetes and obesity epidemics. Fortunately, more people are realizing the harms of sugar and cutting back.

 

What to Cut

Health experts recommend that you focus on reducing added sweeteners — like granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, stevia and molasses. You don’t need to worry so much about the sugars that are a natural part of fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Most people don’t overeat naturally occurring sugars, as Marion Nestle of New York University says. The fiber, vitamins and minerals that surround them fill you up.

A typical adult should not eat more than 50 grams (or about 12 teaspoons) of added sugars per day, and closer to 25 is healthier. The average American would need to reduce added-sweetener consumption by about 40 percent to get down to even the 50-gram threshold. Here’s how you can do it — without spending more money on food than you already do.

 

The Gameplan

Changing your diet is hard. If your strategy involves thinking about sugar all the time — whenever you’re shopping or eating — you’ll likely fail. You’ll also be miserable in the process. It’s much more effective to come up with a few simple rules and habits that then become second nature. (One strategy to consider: Eliminate all added sugars for one month, and then add back only the ones you miss. It’s easier than it sounds.)

Above all, most people’s goal should be to find a few simple, lasting ways to cut back on sugar. Once you’re done reading this guide, we suggest you choose two or three of our ideas and try them for a few weeks.

Eliminate soda from your regular diet. Just get rid of it. If you must, drink diet soda. Ideally, though, you should get rid of diet soda, too.

That may sound extreme, but sweetened beverages are by far the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet — 47 percent, according to the federal government. Soda — along with sweetened sports drinks, energy drinks and iced teas — is essentially flavored, liquefied sugar that pumps calories into your body without filling you up. Among all foods and beverages, says Kelly Brownell, an obesity expert and dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, “the science is most robust and most convincing on the link between soft drinks and negative health outcomes.”

Get this: A single 16-ounce bottle of Coke has 52 grams of sugar. That’s more added sugar than most adults should consume in an entire day.

As for diet soda, researchers aren’t yet sure whether they’re damaging or harmless. Some scientists think diet soda is perfectly fine. Others, like the Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, think it may be damaging. Dr. Krumholz recently announced that after years of pounding diet sodas, he was giving them up. There is reason to believe, he wrote, that the artificial sweeteners they contain lead to “weight gain and metabolic abnormalities.”

The Soda Alternative

Many people who think they’re addicted to soda are attracted to either the caffeine or the carbonation in the drink. You can get caffeine from coffee and tea (lightly sweetened or unsweetened), and you can get carbonation from seltzer, flavored or otherwise.

For many people, the shift to seltzer, club soda or sparkling water is life changing. It turns hydration into a small treat that’s still calorie-free. Buy yourself a seltzer maker, as I have, and gorge on the stuff at home, while saving money. Or buy fizzy water in cans or bottles. Sales of carbonated water have more than doubled since 2010, with the brand LaCroix now offering more than 20 different flavors, all without added sugar.

If they’re not sweet enough for you, you can also add a dash of juice to plain seltzer. But many people find that they lose their taste for soda after giving it up. And many Americans are giving it up: Since the late 1990s, sales of full-calorie soda have fallen more than 25 percent.

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Breakfast Strategies

There are two main strategies to ensure that breakfast doesn’t become a morning dessert. The first is for people who can’t imagine moving away from a grain-based breakfast, like cereal or toast. If you fall into this category, you have to be quite careful, because processed grains are often packed with sugar.

A few grain-based breakfasts with no or very low sugar:

  • Cheerios. They’re quite low in sugar.
  • Plain oatmeal. Flavor it with fresh fruit and, if necessary, a small sprinkling of brown sugar.
  • Bread. A few breads have no sugar (like Ezekiel 4:9 Whole Grain). A longer list of brands have only one gram, or less, per slice (including Sara Lee Whole Wheat and Nature’s Own Whole Wheat). Authentic Middle Eastern breads, like pita and lavash, are particularly good options and a growing number of supermarkets sell them.
  • Homemade granola. You can also make your own granola and play around with the sugar amounts.

But there is also a more creative alternative. Move away from grain-based breakfasts. If you do that (as I have recently, after decades of eating cereal), avoiding added sugar is easy. My new breakfast routine actually feels more indulgent than my old one. Most days, I eat three or four of the following:

  • Scrambled or fried eggs
  • Fruit
  • Plain yogurt
  • A small piece of toast
  • A few nuts
  • A small portion of well-spiced vegetables, like spinach, carrots and sweet potatoes.

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Forgetting the Madeleine

A pastry chef reflects on taste, memory, and literature’s most famous confection.

via Forgetting the Madeleine — Longreads

Why Asparagus Makes Your Urine Smell

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If you’ve ever noticed a strange, not-entirely-pleasant scent coming from your urine after you eat asparagus, you’re definitely not alone.

Distinguished thinkers as varied as Scottish mathematician and physician John Arbuthnot (who wrote in a 1731 book that “asparagus…affects the urine with a foetid smell”) and Marcel Proust (who wrote how the vegetable “transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume”) have commented on the phenomenon.

Even Benjamin Franklin took note, stating in a 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels that “A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour” (he was trying to convince the academy to “To discover some Drug…that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes”—a goal that, alas, modern science has still not achieved).

But modern science has, at least, shed some light on why this one particular vegetable has such an unusual and potent impact on the scent of urine. Scientists tell us that the asparagus-urine link all comes down to one chemical: asparagusic acid.

Asparagusic acid, as the name implies, is (to our knowledge) only found in asparagus. When our bodies digest the vegetable, they break down this chemical into a group of related sulfur-containing compounds with long, complicated names (including dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl sulfone). As with many other substances that include sulfur—such as garlic, skunk spray and odorized natural gas—these sulfur-containing molecules convey a powerful, typically unpleasant scent.

All of these molecules also share another key characteristic: They’re volatile, meaning that have a low enough boiling point that they can vaporize and enter a gaseous state at room temperature, which allows them to travel from urine into the air and up your nose. Asparagusic acid, on the other hand, isn’t volatile, so asparagus itself doesn’t convey the same rotten smell.

But once your body converts asparagusic acid into these volatile, sulfur-bearing compounds, the distinctive aroma can be generated quite quickly—in some cases, it’s been detected in the urine of people who ate asparagus just 15-30 minutes earlier.

Of course, the whole asparagus-urine scent issue is complicated by an entire separate issue: Some people simply don’t smell anything different when urinate after they eat asparagus. Scientists have long been divided into two camps in explaining this issue.

Some believe that, for physiological reasons, these people (which constitute anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the population) don’t produce the aroma in their urine when they digest asparagus, while others think that they produce the exact same scent, but somehow lack the ability to smell it.

On the whole, the evidence is mixed. Initially, a pair of studies conducted in the 1980s with participants from France found that everyone produced the characteristic scent, and that a minority of people were simply unable to smell it. People with the ability to detect the scent, though, were able to smell it even in the urine of those who couldn’t smell it, indicating that the differences were rooted in perception, not production.

More recent studies, though, suggest the issue is a bit more complicated. The most recent study, from 2010, found that differences existed between individuals in both the production and detection of the scent.

Overall, scientists now conclude that most of the difference is in perception—that is, if your urine doesn’t seem to smell any differently after you eat asparagus, it’s likely that you simply can’t perceive the sulfurous compounds’ foul odor, but there’s a small chance it’s because your body digests asparagus in a way that reduces the concentration of these chemicals in your urine.

It’s still unclear why some people don’t produce the smell, but we do seem to have a clear explanation of why some people don’t perceive it. In 2010, the genetic sequencing company 23andMe conducted a study in which they asked nearly 10,000 customers if they noticed any scent in their urine after eating asparagus, and looked for genetic similarities among those who couldn’t.

This peculiarity—which you might consider useful if you eat asparagus frequently—appears to stem from a single genetic mutation, a switched base-pair among a cluster of 50 different genes that code for olfactory receptors.

We’re still waiting for some enterprising team of scientists to attempt gene therapy to convert smellers into non-smellers—but given other priorities to use genetic modification to cure blindness and breast cancer, it seems likely that those suffering from asparagus-scented urine might have to wait a while.

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DNA From Ancient Latrines Reveal What People Ate Centuries Ago

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There’s treasure to be found in mining excrement. At least, it’s treasure to scientists studying the diets, habits and health of people who lived centuries ago.

In a new study, Danish researchers dug up old latrines and sequenced the DNA they found in the ancient poop. The results paint a picture of diets and parasites spanning times and places that range from an ancient fort Qala’at al-Bahrain, near the capital Bahrain in 500 B.C.E. to the river-ringed city of Zwolle in the Netherlands in 1850. The researchers published their results in the journal PLOS One.

The team collected samples of old latrines and soil deposits at eight different archeological sites. They screened the samples for the eggs of parasites, which can last for centuries, and analyzed the DNA in each sample to determine species. They also gleaned the DNA of plants and animals from the samples to determine what people ate.

In some ways, the team found that life centuries ago was unhygienic as might be imagined. Most people probably dealt with intestinal parasites at least once in their life, veterinary scientist and paper co-author Martin Søe, with the University of Copenhagen, tells Angus Chen at NPR. “I think it’s fair to say it was very, very common,” he says. “In places with low hygienic standards, you still have a lot of whipworm and round worm.”

Søe explains that the types of parasites they found could also give insight into the animals people consumed. Parasites that live in fish and pigs but that can also infect humans were a common find, indicating that undercooked or raw pork and fish was a diet staple.

The analysis also identified a handful of parasites that only infect humans such as the giant roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and the whipworm (Trichuris trichiura).

By sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of the parasite eggs, the researchers found that Northern European whipworms from 1000 C.E. to 1700 C.E. were more closely related to worms found in present-day Uganda than to those in present-day China. Findings like this offer “hints about ancient patterns of travel and trade,” writes Charles Choi for a blog post at Discover magazine.

Researchers also found parasites that don’t infect human but are more commonly found in sheep, horses, dogs, pigs and rats. This suggests the critters all likely lived near the latrines, leading people to dispose of the animal waste in the ancient toilets, Søe tells Choi.

The menagerie of ancient DNA helps paint a picture of life at some of the sites. For example, samples from Gammel Strand—a site in Copenhagen’s old harbor—include DNA from herring and cod, horses, cats and rats. The harbor was ”[l]ikely a very dirty place by our standards, with a lot of activity from humans and animals,” Søe says.

The findings also reveal information about ancient diets. DNA in Danish samples shows that the people probably ate fin whales, roe deer and hares, writes Sarah Sloat for Inverse. The study also delves into the analysis of plant DNA, which included cherries, pears, cabbages, buckwheat and other edible plants. The ancient Danes’ waste had an abundance of DNA from hops, showing the people’s fondness for beer, whereas the samples from the Netherlands showed people there had a preference for wine.

This isn’t the first time that scientists have looked to unappetizing leavings to learn more about the past. Researchers have traced the path of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by looking for traces of mercury in the soil. The metallic element was in pills the men took to treat constipation and its presence indicates where the expedition dug latrines and camped. And parasites in a castle latrine in Cyprus attest to the poor health endured by crusaders. But the DNA analysis of the new study offers a uniquely detailed picture of the past.

Together, the new findings offer intriguing hints about ancient life. Following up on some of these leads could lead future researchers to tell us more about ancient people’s health and the migrations of our ancestors. As Maanasa Raghavan, a zoologist at Cambridge University who wasn’t part of the new study, tells NPR: “Having these datasets will help us look further at how these pathogens evolved over time or how people moved around.”
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25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School

If your kids are picky eaters, you know that every meal can be a battle. Their growing bodies are in need of vitamins and nutrients, yet all they crave are unhealthy foods with no nutritional content. What you need are creative meal ideas they can eat for lunch at home or at school, designed to appeal to their palate.

The recipes listed here contain lots of vegetables, minimal or no processed ingredients, and most importantly, flavors that even the pickiest kids will love! The ingredients for each meal are listed below. Click on the name of the dish to see the full recipe!

Finger Foods

1. Asian-Style Fish Cakes with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Do you have a finicky eater that refuses to eat fish? This is a great way to make this omega-3 fatty acid rich protein appealing and fun to eat. And it’s much better for you than frozen fish sticks.

Just so you know, these fish cakes freeze amazingly well! To save time, make a big batch and freeze them for whenever you need a quick meal or snack.

View recipe here.

2. Chicken Zucchini Poppers

Some kids don’t like the texture of zucchini, but in this recipe, they add moisture and the zucchini is barely detectable. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water in the zucchini so that the poppers stay together and don’t fall apart. They can be pan-fried or baked! The poppers pair perfectly with the citrus avocado dressing.

View recipe here.

3. Baked Crispy Chicken Fingers with Apple Fries

If your kid asks for chicken fingers, you don’t have to say no. This version is made with white meat chicken and baked. Substituting fries with apple fries makes this an appetizing lunch that both you and your kids will approve of. Turkey breast can be used instead of chicken.

View recipe here.

4. Broccoli and Cheese Nuggets (Vegetarian)

Broccoli is notorious for being a hard sell. Who knows why kids don’t like eating these miniature trees? But when mixed with cheese and formed into a fun shape for easy dipping, kids may give these broccoli-filled nuggets another try. Another positive is that they are baked, not fried.

View recipe here.

The Salad Bar

5. Chicken Taco Salad

Kids love tacos, so why not make them a healthy taco salad? This one is packed full of leafy greens, tomatoes, corn, avocado and grilled chicken. Adding crushed chips on top gives it the perfect amount of texture and appeal for your young kids to enjoy without a single complaint.

View recipe here.

6. Chicken Salad with Grapes

A colorful chicken salad with crunchy roasted nuts, dried cherries, grapes and celery, it can be served alone, in a sandwich, or on a bed of lettuce. Apples can be used in place of the cherries or in addition. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of the mayonnaise to up the healthy factor even more!

View recipe here.

7. Salad Stuffed Pepper Bowls with Creamy Avocado Dressing (Vegan)

As many of you moms know, a huge part of the appeal of a meal is the presentation. These pepper bowls are such a clever idea for a kid-friendly lunch. The salad AND bowl are made from a plethora of colorful, nutritious veggies. How often do you get to tell your kids to eat their bowl? You can add a protein to the salad if you prefer, such as grilled chicken.

View recipe here.

Soup of the Day

8. Vegan Chili

This vegan chili recipe contains primarily of vegetables and beans, making it very healthy and filling. Making a flavorful and rich tasting chili doesn’t have to take all day. By blending a small portion and adding it back in, the chili will be thick and satisfying, and no one will be able to taste the difference! Make a big batch because the leftovers keep very well.

View recipe here.

9. Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Get all the flavors of chicken pot pie in half the time with this chicken pot pie soup recipe. This is such a comfort food, but also contains a lot of nutritionally dense ingredients, such as carrots, celery, peas, corn and green beans. The crust and filling are cooked separately, which is a major time saver for busy moms.

View recipe here.

10. Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Another spin on the beloved taco, a fan favorite of young kids. This recipe is slow cooker friendly, so you can prep all of the ingredients in the morning, throw it in the slow cooker and come back to a house smelling of aromatic taco soup. Serve with tortilla chips or over a baked potato.

View recipe here.

Oodles of Noodles

11. Baked Eggplant Parmesan Penne

Swap out typical Chicken Parmesan with healthier but just as tasty eggplant, which is sauteed instead of deep fried. But you don’t have to sacrifice the crunch from the breading by adding panko on top. You can also use whole wheat pasta to cut calories and add fiber, minerals, and protein.

View recipe here.

12. Roasted Chicken and Tomato Pesto Spaghetti Florentine

This recipe incorporates roasted grape tomatoes, baby spinach leaves and rotisserie chicken breast for a light and easy lunchtime pasta. You can make your own homemade pesto if you have the ingredients on hand. Store-bought also works just as well.

View recipe here.

13. Thai Noodle Salad (Vegan)

Filling your meals with plants of different colors will ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need. This recipe alone covers four colors! You can use any type of noodle (wheat, rice, soba, etc.) to make this dish, and customize the veggies to your heart’s content.

View recipe here.

14. Southwest Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

This pasta salad is bursting with flavor — with tons of spices, lime juice and chipotle peppers. Don’t worry about making too much because the leftovers will be even more flavorful, after marinating in all of the seasonings overnight. And there is no heating needed! Use a lentil and quinoa pasta to make this dish gluten free.

View recipe here.

15. Avocado Hummus Pasta (Vegan)

This recipe is one that I created when I had no clue what to do with the vegetables, ripe avocados and leftover hummus I had to use up in my fridge. The textures and flavors of each ingredient somehow just works magically together. The creaminess from the avocado and hummus ties it all together. This accidental discovery is a huge hit with my husband and son!

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

A 30-minute creamy vegan pasta loaded with veggies and tossed in a creamy sauce made from ripe avocados and hummus.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rotini pasta (substitute as needed)
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 3 oz sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 2-3 ripe avocados, chunks
  • 10 oz hummus, any flavor
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  2. Chop veggies and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large saucepan. Saute minced garlic until aromatic. Add mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until tender.
  4. Add pasta, avocado, and hummus to the pan and mix gently.
  5. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  6. Serve warm. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days.

Some Assembly Required

16. French Bread Pizza

This is one of the most versatile recipes I’ve ever come across. Not only can you completely customize the toppings on the pizza, you don’t even have to use French bread. Deli rolls, Italian rolls or hoagie rolls work just as well! The possibilities of toppings that you can add are endless. Have your kids customize their own individual pizzas with their favorite toppings to ensure they will create a meal they love.

View recipe here.

17. Rainbow Pizza

Look at the colors on this pizza! Not only is this pizza visually appealing, it’s also extremely healthy and delicious. The combination of bell peppers, broccoli, red cabbage and beets add a variety of complementary textures and flavors to this creative pizza recipe.

View recipe here.

18. Asian Lettuce Wraps

Chicken lettuce wraps are a crowd-pleaser at P.F. Chang’s, but there’s no reason you can’t make a just as good if not better version at home. Requiring only 15 minutes, these lettuce wraps are scrumptious and fun to eat. Your kids will love assembling their own lettuce wraps and devouring this healthy lunch.

View recipe here.

19. Fish Tacos

Another way to get kids to eat fish is to serve them into tacos! These flaky pieces of fish are topped with a tangy, crunchy slaw loaded with veggies. The fish can be pan-fried or grilled and served in a flour or corn tortilla. Your kids will be requesting this dish over and over again.

View recipe here.

20. Skirt Steak Fajitas

This tortilla friendly recipe that incorporates skirt steak, onions and bell peppers has decided to go the fajita route. All of these ingredients can be combined on one baking sheet. That means fewer dishes and easier clean-up! You can serve with your favorite toppings such as avocado, sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese.

View recipe here.

No Utensils Needed

21. Avocado Egg Salad Wraps

Eggs are a great ingredient to include in a nutrient-dense lunch for growing kids. Egg salad is one of the best ways to serve it, but the large amounts of mayonnaise introduces a lot of unnecessary saturated fats. This recipe cuts out a lot of the mayo and uses nature’s mayo — avocados, for creaminess.

View recipe here.

22. Spicy Tuna Avocado Wrap

Canned tuna is such a convenient ingredient and is also a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and potassium. This wrap contains lots of hearty vegetables and uses avocado and Dijon mustard to flavor the tuna. Sriracha is used for added spice if your kids can handle spicy food! These wraps can be packed easily in a lunch box to take to school.

View recipe here.

23. Chicken and Avocado Roll-Ups

These easy roll-ups take only 10 minutes to make! And they’re packed with great veggies like avocados, tomatoes and onions. You can pack it with even more veggies like spinach, cucumber, or whatever you might have in your fridge.

View recipe here.

24. White Bean Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

Do you have kids that love eating burgers? These 100% vegan burgers with plant-based bacon and cheese will be so delicious that they won’t even realize they’re not eating meat. Beans contain lots of vitamins and fiber and are a great source of protein. You can bake or grill these delectable burger patties.

View recipe here.

25. Turkey Spinach Slider

One of the problems with turkey burgers is that they can be flavorless and unappetizing when prepared incorrectly. This recipe incorporates ingredients that pack a punch like cumin and garlic. There’s also spinach leaves blended right into the patty, but your kids will be too busy chowing down to even notice!

View recipe here.

Making healthy lunches for home or school doesn’t have to be daunting task. Armed with these recipes, you have all the tools you need to find meals that the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.

By incorporating nutritional but less appealing ingredients into forms your kids recognize and love, you can introduce them to new flavors and hopefully, open their minds to trying new things.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post 25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School appeared first on Lifehack.

How To Enjoy Eating Outdoors To Avoiding Wasps, Sand and& Warm Mayonnaise

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The simple pleasures of dining alfresco are a well-worn topic at this time of year: it is hardly news that food tastes better in the open air, even if it is more likely to be our appreciation, rather than our perception of flavour, that is enhanced by the novel surroundings of a cliff top, a sailing dinghy or even a park bench.

Indeed, although the rustic romance of un déjeuner sur l’herbe has inspired writers and painters for centuries, the picturesque results tend to be heavily seasoned with artistic licence. No wasps hang around the fruit basket in Manet’s painting and nary a seagull dive-bombs the bread and cheese as Virginia Woolf’s fractious family finally make their voyage to the lighthouse.

If the Famous Five’s tinned sardines ever leaked fishy oil all over the rug, I don’t remember it, while Renoir’s boating party seem bizarrely untroubled by the distinct possibility that the small dog on the table will upset their wine glasses.

These are fantasies of alfresco life, but in truth Mother Nature is a cruel mistress who doesn’t give a fig for your carefully laid plans or meticulously sliced cucumber sandwiches – which is why it pays to come prepared for all eventualities. Here’s a guide to dealing with a few of the challenges likely to crop up as soon as the words “it’s a lovely day!” leave your mouth.

Surprise! I’m vegan

These days, most special diets are easy to cater for with a little notice – but when someone texts on the day to inform you they have gone plant-based, or gluten-free, it can be tempting to reply telling them to bring their own bloody lunch. Before you do, count to 10 and channel Yotam Ottolenghi: a Middle Eastern feast will keep everyone happy. Big bowls of hummus or baba ganoush, paired with a salad of roasted or barbecued veg and some falafel or vegetable fritters are sure to go down a treat with omnivores, too – add pitta or other flatbreads to bulk it out, then finish with fruit and meringues or damp, sticky polenta cake. Most of these are gluten free and can easily be made vegan too. Failing that, almost all supermarkets carry a wide range of free-from products – and everyone likes crisps, right?

Who invited them?

Even the most committed animal lover might be hard-pressed to welcome our flying friends to the feast – but if you are eating outside, a certain insect presence is inevitable; to be fair to them, it’s where they live. The best way of deterring wasps and bees is thought to be to trap the first inquisitive scout before it returns to the nest weighed down with ketchup and alerts 250 of its nearest and dearest to the free buffet going on in your back garden. Avoid setting up camp close to ponds or the standing water beloved of mozzies and midges; instead, embrace the fresh air of a breezy hilltop – most flying insects hate both wind and smoke, which is a great excuse for a barbecue or a campfire.

Sand-wiches

The crunch of sand between the teeth may seem as inevitable a part of eating on the beach as a stiff wind and a Mr Whippy for pudding, but there are ways to reduce your silica consumption. Go for food such as wraps, filled baguettes and oranges that can be eaten straight from their wrappers (see below for eco-friendly options) with minimal contact with the gritty environment. Make sure you rinse your hands, preferably with fresh water, before you even think of unpacking anything, although even a bucket of sea water is better than nothing.

Sun

Obviously, sun is welcome whether you are planning a barbie in the back garden or a celebratory drink at the top of a mountain, but it can be problematic keeping food fresh in the heat. A good rule of thumb is to choose dishes from warmer climes: cured salami and ham are more robust than poached salmon or coronation chicken, just as parmesan, manchego or feta will do better than cheddar or stilton in sunshine. (That said, if you are eating at home, or can keep them flat in transit, bries, camemberts and their ilk come into their own after a few hours outside the fridge.) Crunchy carrots and radishes and Mediterranean veg are preferable to leafy greens, and vinaigrettes tend to hold up better than mayonnaise in high temperatures. If you are making sandwiches ahead of time, consider replacing the butter with avocado mashed with lemon juice, or a soft cheese.

Parklife: a picnic in the rain.
Parklife: a picnic in the rain. Photograph: Alamy

Rain

This is more likely to be a problem in the UK than sun, sadly – but all is not lost if the forecast begins to look grim; one of the best picnics I have ever eaten was consumed in the very damp shadow of a dry-stone wall on Scafell Pike in December. As on a beach, choose foods that can be eaten straight from the wrappers, and avoid soft bread or delicate pastry: you’d be surprised how water-repellent a pork pie or scotch egg is compared with your average loaf of sliced white. If you are taking advantage of a brief break in the clouds to picnic, pack a waterproof layer to protect the rug, and your bottoms, from soggy grass. If the forecast looks similarly grim for a long-planned barbecue and you cannot fit the grill under cover, or prop a well-weighted umbrella over it, then go for dishes such as jerk chicken or ribs, which can be cooked in advance and then finished off either on a grill or a hot pan, depending on how the sky is looking, or choose recipes that work in the oven as well as on the barbecue.

Travel

If you are planning to eat a few hundred yards from your own kitchen, I probably do not need to tell you that a tray will come in handy. For picnics at distant beauty spots and barbecues on the beach, however, it pays to consider the very unromantic question of logistics. Some foods travel better than others; exquisite Parisian pastries will not look quite so pretty once they have been carted up a hill, but a sturdy British pie with a hot water crust could probably be kicked up there without much damage. Hard cheeses, cooked meats, boiled eggs and crunchy pickles are all good choices, as are soft things such as hummus or potato salad, which won’t mind being shaken about a bit. If you must take ripe tomatoes or stone fruits, then wrap them in newspaper as carefully as fine china, and put them in storage boxes. Cold drinks can be happily decanted into Thermos flasks full of ice.

This is not the time for tables and chairs.
This is not the time for tables and chairs. Photograph: Issy Crocker for the Guardian

Comfort

One of the chief pleasures of picnics in particular is their simplicity: unless physical necessity demands it, this is not the time for tables and chairs. Much lovelier to lounge about on the grass, sand or a sun-warmed rock and feel at one with nature as you shovel Pringles into your gob. In reality, all of those surfaces can be prickly, damp or downright spiky – so if you can manage to lug along a stout, preferably waterproof rug as well as the food, all the better (a sheet of plastic, or a few large Ikea bags, underneath an ordinary rug, does the job just as well). If you are planning to sit for a while, you might also like to suggest each guest brings a cushion as head support for an eminently sensible postprandial nap, and consider bringing a parasol as a sunshade: though a hat apiece is considerably easier to carry. Proper cloth napkins not only give a picnic an air of sophistication but are much more useful than paper ones, which tend to disintegrate at the mere sight of mayonnaise – and, of course, they are endlessly reusable, as well as handy for wrapping any crockery, glasses, boiled eggs and so on.

Equipment

As above, if you are eating away from home, keep it simple. Go for finger food – crudités and dips, burgers, hot dogs or samosas – and all you need are napkins to wipe your hands afterwards, although a bottle opener is sure to come in useful at most British picnics, as will some beakers. (Unless you want to be lugging those around yourself, ask everyone to bring their own – it will save on the washing up too.) If you are planning to barbecue away from home, invest in a small portable grill rather than wasteful disposable ones: some models are hardly more expensive, and you will be able to enjoy them for many summers to come. Barbecues will never be the most eco-friendly option of course, but you can also help by fuelling them with sustainable British lumpwood charcoal.

A beach firepit barbecue.
A beach firepit barbecue. Photograph: Acik/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Packaging

Naturally, this should be kept to a minimum – principally for environmental reasons, although aesthetically there is little to spoil the simple elegance of a picnic like outrageous amounts of plastic wrap strewn across the rug. This should not be a problem if you are making the food yourself: there are plenty of good eco-friendly options out there, from sandwich wraps to Indian tiffin boxes, which are not only reusable, but far easier on the eye than tin foil, and a lot better at their job as well. Unless you are feeding the 5,000, you may prefer to decant condiments and seasonings into small jars (I collect tiny jam jars from hotel breakfasts for the purpose), though always leave dressing salads and sandwiches until the last minute, if possible, to minimise the risk of things going soggy and slimy in transit.

The aftermath

In theory, without all that rubbish to deal with, this should be relatively painless: box up any leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, then sluice out dirty containers with water if it is available and going spare, and roughly dry with the aforementioned napkins before packing away. It’s always a good idea to take a couple of bags for any disposable packaging and recycling you do manage to accumulate, and if you are likely to be somewhere without water, a few damp flannels in a waterproof washbag will be invaluable for cleaning hands and faces before you release any trapped wasps, shake out the rug and head home, smug in the knowledge you have done your patriotic duty by the great British summer.

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These Are the 10 Best Food Cities in the World, According to TripAdvisor

Image result for These Are the 10 Best Food Cities in the World, According to TripAdvisor

As food experiences become more important in travel, people are spending significant amounts of time researching what they’ll be eating before booking vacations. To track this trend, TripAdvisor gathered information on the top food cities in the world—that is, the tourist destinations where local cuisine is the biggest draw.

Rome took the number one spot, with another Italian city, Florence, coming in second. Third was Parisquelle surprise—and Barcelona and New Orleans rounded out the top five. The list included each city’s most-booked “food experience.” In Rome, that was a food tour of the Prati district; in Florence, it was a cooking class and market tour at a Tuscan farmhouse. (According to their data, food tours are the fastest growing experiences category on TripAdvisor based on amount spent, which increased 61% last year versus 2016.)

“Travelers are increasingly interested in getting local insight on their destination, and food tours and cooking classes a great way to do that,” said TripAdvisor spokesperson Laurel Greatrix, in a statement announcing the list. “Guides can be a great resource for finding hidden gems or local favorite spots, and can create an unforgettable part of your trip. Coming home with a local recipe or a new favorite restaurant is the best souvenir.”

As for methodology, the best food experiences were ranked using an algorithm that considered “bookings, traveler reviews, and traveler ratings.”

See the full list below of top food city alongside the most-booked food experiences.

1. Rome (Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District)

2. Florence (Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence)

3. Paris (Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre)

4. Barcelona (Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona)

5. New Orleans (New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter)

6. New York City (Best of Brooklyn Half-Day Food and Culture Tour)

7. Venice (Venice Food Tour: Cicchetti and Wine)

8. Madrid (Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour)

9. Tokyo (Tokyo by Night: Japanese Food Tour)

10. Bangkok (Bangkok Food Tour)

By: Maria Yagoda

April 23, 2018