Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad

Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad By Marta Diaz Megias This salad is not a specific recipe from Spanish cuisine, but its ingredients are very basic and available everywhere. Its preparation is quick and easy, and once it is prepared it can be kept in the refrigerator without losing any of its quality. It is a great accompaniment to many meals and snacks. Ingredients: 12 oz chopped cauliflower florets 1 chopped red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed) 1 oz pumpkin seeds 1/3 cup chopped pitted oil-cured black olives ¼ cup sundried tomatoes Dressing: 4 Tbsp virgin olive oil 2 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 tsp Dijon Mustard 1 tsp salt ½ tsp ground black pepper Preparation: 1. Place all ingredients for the salad in a bowl, pour dressing and mix it very thoroughly. 2. In a screw-top jar mix all ingredients for the dressing. Then pour over and toss the salad and it’s ready to serve. Enjoy!

Trofie

Trofie By Elisabetta Ciardullo A couple of weeks ago we spoke about the recipe for the Ligurian Pesto sauce. Well, Pesto is used in many ways, but for sure it was created to go hand in hand with the pasta called Trofie, also typical of Liguria. This is a hand rolled pasta, so easy to make that it can be a great and fun family project. The name of the pasta derives from a verb in the Genovese dialect that means “to rub”, from the movement that you have to make to obtain its shape: rubbing the dough against a wooden table or between your palms. As with many other Italian pasta types that require an incredible amount of love and dedication, the Trofie were traditionally made by the women of the family, who would get together around a large table and make the pasta while chatting away all afternoon. Of course, the invention of a machine to make this shape of pasta made everything easier (and scrapped the therapeutic collective process), but surprisingly the mechanical production of Trofie started only in 1977, by Pastificio Novella. To tell you the truth I do not remember eating Trofie in Rome as a kid; the first time I saw them was during a vacation in Liguria, just around that period. The ingredients to make Trofie are only three: semola (which is the result of the grinding of hard wheat), water, and salt. It is important to use this kind of flour, as it is coarser and has a more rustic taste and texture than regular flour. Semola can be purchased in any Italian food store or on the internet, and it is very different from any other flour. It is made from the hard wheat; it is grinded twice “rimacinata" and has a fine texture. The color is more yellowish than the baking flour. Careful though, as it cannot be substituted with “semolina”, which is a much coarser grinding of the durum wheat. This recipe is a poorer version of egg noodles. Once more the economic need to make something appetizing with very little ingredients gave birth to one of the most scrumptious dishes. The pasta is of course high in carbs; but with the help of this amazing, healthy sauce and a generous serving of Extra Virgin Olive oil, it becomes an acceptable trade-off, that will soothe the mind and resource…

Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health?

Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health? By E. Dylan Mayer If you are into personal fitness and have ever used a fitness tracking device or app, chances are you’ve heard that taking 10,000 steps per day is recommended. Have you ever asked yourself, who came up with this number? Interestingly this number is not based on science. Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard, and an expert on step counts and health, claims that the 10,000-step target became popular in Japan during the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. A clock maker mass-produced a pedometer with a name that translated to “10,000-steps meter”. This name, he believes, became rooted in the fitness industry, and therefore in our fitness trackers. What Does the Science Say? 10,000 steps, or ~5 miles, takes the average human 1:15 – 1:30 minutes, and I can assure you that the vast majority of Americans do not meet that number, nor even half of it. According to recent estimates, most adults in North America and other Western nations average fewer than 5,000 steps per day. A 2019 study from Dr. Lee and her team found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps per day, reduced their risk of premature death by ~40%, compared to women completing 2,700 steps or fewer per day. The risk for premature death continued to drop for women walking more than 5,000 steps per day, but these benefits topped out at 7,500 daily steps. This study included a sample size of over 16,500 US women who agreed to participate by wearing an accelerometer during waking hours for 7 days between 2011 and 2015. Another study looking at both women and men also found that 10,000 steps per day are not required for longevity. In this 2020 study, 4,840 participants aged 40 and older wore accelerometers for 7 days. The researchers found that those who walked for 8,000 steps per day were about half as likely to die prematurely from heart disease or any other cause as those who walked 4,000 steps. However, those who passed 8,000 steps per day were not negatively impacted, but rather the extra steps did not provide a statistically significant difference from those who only had 8,000 steps per day. While the 10,000-step count may not be completely science-backed, getting outside (or onto a treadmill), and getting…

High Fiber vs Fermented Foods – Who Wins?

High Fiber vs Fermented Foods – Who Wins? By Emeran Mayer, MD “The chronic disease epidemic in industrialized societies has been paralleled by the rapid ‘‘westernization’’ of the microbiota in developing countries” There is growing consensus that the epidemic of non-communicable chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson and Alzheimer disease and colon cancer are largely driven by chronic systemic immune activation. The epidemic has gradually unfolded during the past 75 years with accelerating industrialization affecting food production and processing, and dramatically changing lifestyles. As I have explained in The Gut Immune Connection, while an increasing percentage of the US population has gotten sicker from these diseases, the enormous healthcare expenditures thrown at these problems is keeping people alive on multiple medications and has even led to an increase in life expectancy. The chronic disease epidemic in industrialized societies has been paralleled by the rapid ‘‘westernization’’ of the microbiota in developing countries and in US immigrants coming from other parts of the world, with reduction and loss of microbial functions and taxa accompanied by deteriorating, markers of host health, obesity and rising inflammatory markers typical in industrialized populations. Changes in dietary habits, in particular a reduction in the ratio between plant-based (a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables) and animal-based (meat, dairy, and eggs) paralleled by a decrease in the consumption of dietary fiber, and an increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods with high sugar/low fiber content and chemical additives have been identified as a major factor in these global changes in health. The decrease in the amount and variety of dietary fiber (referred to as microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs)) in the diet has generally been considered an important cause of the decrease in diversity and richness of the gut microbiota, and even the loss of certain taxa. “While there has been a significant increase in the popularity of probiotic supplements and pills, the consumption of a wide variety of fermented foods has been lagging behind.” Another less often mentioned aspect of the standard American diet (SAD) when compared to Asian or European diets is the limited consumption of fermented foods, such as fermented dairy products, Kimchi, Kombucha or Sauerkraut which contain microorganisms often referred to as probiotics. While there has been a significant increase in the popularity of probiotic supplements and pills, the consumption of a wide variety of fermented foods as part of the regular diet has…

How Diet and Socioeconomic Deprivation Intersect with COVID-19 Risk

How Diet and Socioeconomic Deprivation Intersect with COVID-19 Risk By Juliette Frank Although the threat of COVID-19 is slowly receding in many countries due to the help of mass vaccinations, many doctors and public health officials are still trying to make sense of the highest risk factors in order to reduce the burden of the pandemic as the world is still struggling to combat it. It has become clear early on that individuals with underlying health conditions and chronic diseases (so called “comorbid conditions'') such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension were at an increased risk of death from COVID-19. Although there is extensive data suggesting unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are one of the leading causes of metabolic disorders and our chronic disease epidemic, there is little data around the association with diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19. A preprint of a study conducted by Jordi Merino, Ph. D. from the Harvard Medical School and colleagues from the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London was just recently posted in June looking at the association between diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19. The study used data from more than half a million participants from the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) from the smartphone-based COVID Symptom Study from March 24, 2020 to December 2, 2020 to look at the association between diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19 and its intersection with socioeconomic deprivation, i.e. the relative disadvantage an individual or community experiences in terms of access and control over economic, material or social resources and opportunities (Lamnisos et al., 2019). Diet quality was assessed using a healthful plant-based diet index (hPDI) which focuses on intake of nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which supports a healthy gut microbiome and has been associated with lower risk of metabolic diseases. Individuals with a high diet score reported eating a healthier, plant-based diet while individuals on the lower end of the diet score reported less healthy eating behaviors. Participants in the highest 25% of the diet score, e.g. those eating the healthiest diet, tended to be older, female, healthcare workers, less obese (lower BMI), more likely to engage in regular physical activity, and have a higher socioeconomic status than participants in the lowest 25%. The study looked at over 3,886,274 participants within the ~9 months of the study of follow-up with 31,815 COVID-19…