Category Archives: Feature

Why Superfood Can Save Your Eyes, Research Suggests

Within the spectrum of visible lights, the blue light is among that has the highest energy. It is actually found everywhere like for example when the sunlight collides with air molecules in the atmosphere, that causes the sky to go blue. On a smaller scale, the blue light is also found on electronic devices such as laptop computers, cell phones, or the LED lights and fluorescent bulbs.

While the blue light has its benefits such as boosting our alertness, helps our cognitive function, and even elevates our mood; it also has its downside. Among which is something that many of us might be unaware of – it is hazardous to our eyes.

The macula functions as the filter of harmful light for our eyes and as it degenerates, we may experience the loss of vision. It is currently the leading cause of blindness in the West and an estimate of 1 in 10 people over 65 suffers from advanced age-related macular degeneration. 

On the bright side; superfood is known as the source of nutrients with large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. We see many kinds of superfoods now on daily basis as they are incorporated with modern culinary techniques to create not just for an alluring presentation or the usual important features such as textures or taste, but also for their health benefits.

Macular degeneration can be fought by consuming more lutein and zeaxanthin found in superfood, and this is based from the recent study by Harvard University. Several types of superfood vegetables with the highest quantity of lutein and zeaxanthin are kale, cress, spinach, peas, asparagus, and more. 

Rated as an ingredient with the highest count of lutein and zeaxanthin, kale is easily the most famous among superfoods. It is ubiquitous and can be obtained in local markets quite affordably. From appetizers to main courses, kale is a highly versatile ingredients fit for everyday use. Professional chefs love to play around with the ingredients and there are a lot of easy recipes for us to try.

For more information about macular degeneration, you can check this elaborated infographic below. Let’s keep our eyes healthy with superfoods!


Infographic credit: Focus Clinics

Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor (via PRI)

Tacos al pastor from Carmela’s Mexican Restaurant in Beaumont, Texas

At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.

It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At the hole-in-the-wall Al Waary restaurant, there’s a vertical rotisserie of beef spinning next to the flames, flavored by tangy vinegar. Shave some off into a pita, and you’ve got shawarma — the quintessential Middle Eastern street meat.

If you’re thinking these beloved dishes might be linked, you’re right. So we hit the street food trail to find out, starting in Jerusalem.

“Shawarma is very, very interesting,” says Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, sitting at the Al Waary shawarma joint. The origin of the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.”

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, in front of Al Waary shawarma stand in Jerusalem

You can find some version of shawarma everywhere in the Middle East where the Ottoman Empire once reigned.

“Turks call it döner kebab; Greeks call it gyro; Iraqis call it kas,” Qleibo says. “This shows you the all-pervasive influence of the Ottoman Empire, because all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire eat shawarma even though they call it by different names.”

Of course, the people of the Ottoman Empire didn’t all stay there. About 36,000 people under Ottoman rule left for Mexico between the late 19th and early 20th century.

“People came from as far as Egypt. I found some people [who] came from Iraq,” says Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, a history professor at Sonoma State University who has tracked the migration of Middle Easterners to Mexico. “The majority came from the Levant, as it was called during that time, which is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria.”

The migrants left for the usual reasons: looking for economic opportunity, dodging army conscription and escaping sectarian violence. And when they arrived, they brought their food with them. “By the 1930s, there were restaurants that served shawarma,” says Jeffrey Pilcher, a historian and author of the book “Planet Taco.”

A shawarma sandwich in Jerusalem. Swap in pork for lamb, and a tortilla for a pita, and you’ve got the Mexican classic, Taco al Pastor

Then the cuisine morphed: “During the 1960s, the Mexican-born children of these Lebanese migrants … start opening up their own restaurants, and they start to create a kind of a hybrid cuisine,” Pilcher says.

“They take the technology that they grew up with in these Lebanese restaurants, the vertical rotisserie — but instead of using lamb, they use pork,” Pilcher says. “They marinate it in a red chili sauce, which gives it that distinctive color, and they cook these up and serve them and call them tacos al pastor.”

Even the term “al pastor,” which means “in the style of the shepherd,” is a nod to the original Middle Eastern lamb version of the dish.

When Mexico’s economy boomed after World War II, tacos al pastor moved from small towns to bigger cities and eventually into the US.

The fact that this classic dish was a relatively recent import from the Middle East doesn’t necessarily make it any less Mexican, adds Pilcher, the taco historian. “Authenticity isn’t always something that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas,” he says. “That meaning of Mexico is continually being recreated in every generation.”

But whether it’s lamb or pork, tortilla or pita, Jerusalem or Portland, the essentials have remained the same: Fat and fire, a handful of spices, a quick meal —  and a taste of tradition.


Source: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-07/thank-ottoman-empire-taco-youre-eating

Photography: Daniel Estrin, Randy Howards, Joanne Rathe

Pick of the Month: Seven things in food to stay livid about in 2017 (Jay Rayner, Guardian)

Good news. Comfort eating dealt brilliantly with the horrors of 2016, though sadly the effect was only temporary. Once I’d eaten all the salted caramel ice cream, the things that drove me nuts about the world were still there. This made me angry. After sticking a fork in my hand repeatedly to see if the feelings would go away, I’ve decided to stay angry. Because this year, being furious is the only way forward. Here then, are seven things in the food world to continue being livid about in 2017.

I’m exasperated by the relentless use of the word “artisan”. What does it mean? Someone who’s skilled? People working in big factories are skilled. Someone who’s not successful enough to have staff to help them? It’s meaningless marketing garbage which tells you nothing about the product. All those food stuffs with the “artisanal” tag aren’t made on grandma’s gnarly kitchen tables and thank God for it, because the result would most likely be food poisoning. They’re made in strip-lit, hygienic, light industrial units on ring roads. All that matters is whether the food is good or not.

People claiming to be gluten intolerant still make me want to hit things. You’re not gluten intolerant. That bloated feeling you have when you eat too much bread is because you’ve eaten too much bread. Stop it. You’re just a picky eater trying to control the world around you through food and, in the process, making life harder for people who are genuinely coeliac.

I’ve had enough of any restaurant or food offering with the word “skinny” in the title. That’s lunch with a side order of judgmentalism.

I am infuriated by anyone who claims they have to import sea water from a thousand miles away to make their pizzas better. I don’t even care if the pizzas are better. It’s stupid.

I’m enraged by ignorant numpties banging on about the evils of refined sugars and the glorious benefits of the unrefined stuff. Learn some basic biology. It doesn’t matter whether you get your sugars in white granules from a paper bag or by collecting the raging tears of the Honey Monster. Sugar is sugar. Whatever the source, it all gets converted to glucose in the body. Are there trace nutrients in the unrefined stuff? Possibly, but if you attempt to get your daily dose of iron from unrefined sugars you’ll have type 2 diabetes quicker than I can say Paula Deen.

The raw milk lobby drives me to distraction. Louis Pasteur was not a health and safety nut. Pasteurisation has saved millions of lives. And don’t claim raw milk is healthier than pasteurised. You only want to consume raw milk as an expression of some anti-modernist, self-satisfied, hipster lifestyle, not because you’re trying to stave off osteoporosis. The people who bang on about raw milk are plenty nourished. As are the goggle-eyed bandwagon jumpers who claim coconut oil greases the path to godliness. As with refined sugars, you’d have to eat so much of it to gain any benefits you’d be the size of a house, thus making you very unhealthy indeed.

Which brings me to all those who point at clumsy, ill-written, pseudo-science as proof that their desperate, self-aggrandising food choices are better than yours; people who don’t know the difference between a causal link, correlation and sheer coincidence. They make me really, really angry. Does getting all this off my chest make me feel better? No. I’m still livid. And I’m damn well staying that way.


Written by Jay Rayner for Guardian
Image credit: Benjamin Van Der Spek (Getty Images)