Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ultimate Birthday Present – a $900 cupcake?

By: Erica Schecter 

Earlier this year we wrote about a sundae that costs $1000. Now the bakery gods have gone berserk again, this time with a $900 cupcake.
The owner of Toronto’s Le Dolci bakery, Lisa Sanguedolce, was approached by a client who wanted an extravagant cupcake created for his wife’s birthday.

$900 cupcake

So what exactly goes into a cupcake with a $900 price tag? Well there was a pastry cream filling, flavored with champagne that costs about $1,000 a bottle. Buttercream frosting, made with butter from Normandy, chocolate from luxury Italian chocolatiers, specialty coffee, French sea salt, organic cane sugar, and Tahitian vanilla beans. Obviously. Tiny champagne bubbles sprinkled over the cake were created using molecular gastronomy  and “diamonds” carved out of sugar were placed around the edge of the cupcake.  Fondant flowers  etched in edible gold and stylized gold strips crisscrossed the sides of the cupcake, complete with edible gold branches and leaves. And finally, because the previously mentioned items weren’t enough, there was a pipette of the Courvoisier cognac, to be drizzled on top before it was eaten.
The cupcake required the work of two pastry chefs, a cake designer, two days of labor and many hours of planning.

Whether the lady thought her husband was absolutely brilliant for doing this for her or absolutely furious for wasting all that money, no one knows.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gummy Bear Bratwursts

 By: Peter Pham


Nope, that’s not a misprint. Apparently the demand for sausage made with gummy bears is actually a real thing and it’s spreading across the United States. Bratwurst, as we all know, is made from the finest cuts of beef, pork and veal. Gummi Bears, on the other hand, are sugar incarnate.

 Spencer Grundhofer, owner of Grundhofer’s Old-Fashioned Meats, located in Minnesota, came up with the idea of gummy bear bratwurst initially as a joke. A friend of his suggested that he make a flavored bratwurst using gummi bears. The joke took a life of its own, however, demand for the crazy combination began to grow once folks discovered they actually tasted good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scientists are Working on a Pill for Celiac Disease

Researchers believe that they have found a way to help those with celiac disease.
A study conducted in the Gastroenterology journal found that the gluten-specific enzyme ALV003 reduced a patient’s exposure to gluten better than a placebo.
While most people don’t seem to know what gluten really is , you’ve probably seen it linked to Celiac Disease, a digestive disease that damages the intestine when consuming gluten.
Researchers hope the ALV003 enzyme can lead to a pill that aids gluten-intolerant folks. Even with a gluten-free diet, there is still potential harm being done to the intestines through accidental gluten consumption. Theoretically, the pill would reduce the harm done by the sneaky protein composite.

In the study, researchers randomly selected 41 people in Finland diagnosed with celiac disease to take either ALV003 or a placebo pill every day. They then asked them to eat 2 grams of gluten daily for 6 weeks and took samples of the small intestine to analyze. Daniel Adelman, the lead researcher found that the those who took the placebo pill had a notably higher amount of intestinal injuries and inflammation than those who took the ALV003 pill. There a was no visible change in the intestines of the subjects who took ALV003, suggesting the pill protected them from  harm.
 By: Isai Rocha

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beer brewing waste could help bone regeneration


Researchers at the UPM and the CSIC have developed biomaterials for bone regeneration from beer brewing waste.

As a result of a research study conducted by researchers from the Centre for Biomedical Technology of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and the Institute of Materials Science and the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), all in collaboration with the Mahou and Createch Co., have developed biocompatible materials to be used as support for bone regeneration from the food industry waste, mainly bagasse (residue) from beer brewing. These new materials can be considered as an alternative to the prosthesis made from processed sheep bones or synthetic materials which are more expensive and more harmful to the environment.

The waste obtained from the beer brewing process contains the main chemical components found in bones (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and silica), that after undergoing modification processes, this waste can be used as support or scaffold to promote bone regeneration for medical applications such as coating prosthesis or bone grafts. The waste usage from the food industry is a great source of raw material recovery rich in chemical diversity, and simultaneously it can reduce the impact generated by the accumulation of waste in the environment
So far, the usage of synthetic materials as bone substitutes is the most used therapy for treatment of bone diseases. The therapeutic strategies are based on stiff porous scaffolds made of biocompatible materials to be used as molds. These molds will provide mechanical stability and will promote the growth of the new bone tissue that helps its regeneration.
The synthetic calcium phosphates are frequently used as matrices and coatings for orthopedic implants because of their resemblance to the composition of a bone. These materials are often obtained through chemical reactions of complex synthesis that use toxic reagents (for example benzoyl peroxides benzene and aniline) and calcinations at high temperatures close to 1500 ° C. As a result of this process, we obtain bioceramics but just after adding silicon through the hydrolysis of TEOS and sintering over 1,100 ° C.
The billing of the brewing sector was €2,990 million in 2012, almost covering completely the total production of malt and hops in the country. The most common products in the production process are bagasse, yeast and malt dried residues.
Bagasse is constituted by organic waste from malt, never experiencing modifications afterwards. This is the reason why bagasse is considered a subproduct, commonly used to make fodder and it is inexpensive. The treatments applied to bagasse residue in this research give as a result a new material rich in silicon, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. The analysis of this new material shows the presence of interconnected pores of between 50 and 500 microns in diameter which is similar to the porosity of cancellous bone. All this would facilitate the complete vascularization after the bone implant.
A first approach using cell cultures has established the biocompatibility of the materials by analyzing the cell viability of cultured osteoblasts in the presence of powder materials components. Then, after compacting and sintering the materials that became 3D solid matrixes, the ability of bone-like cells to adhere to these materials were analyzed. Also, researchers analyzed how these materials proliferate and distinguish from the mature bone cells which are able to express typical markers of bone phenotype such as alkaline phosphatase and to conduct the collagen synthesis and mineralization of the extracellular matrix.
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Monday, June 9, 2014

You catch (and kill) more flies with this sweetener

Drexel University

A popular non-nutritive sweetener may be an effective and human-safe insecticide, researchers have discovered through a study that began as a sixth-grade science fair project. Erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia, was toxic to fruit flies in a dose-dependent manner in the study. Flies consumed erythritol when sugar was available and even seemed to prefer it. No other sweeteners tested had these toxic effects.

In a Drexel University study, flies raised on food laced with erythritol lived for only 5.8 days on average, compared to 38.6 to 50.6 days for flies raised on control and experimental foods without the sweetener. The research was inspired by a scientist's son's sixth-grade science fair project.
Credit: Baudier et al., Drexel University
[Click to enlarge image]
In a study that began as a sixth-grade science fair project, researchers at Drexel University have found that a popular non-nutritive sweetener, erythritol, may be an effective and human-safe insecticide.

Erythritol, the main component of the sweetener Truvia®, was toxic to Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies in a dose-dependent manner in the Drexel team's study, published in PLOS ONE. The flies consumed erythritol when sugar was available and even seemed to prefer it. No other sweeteners tested had these toxic effects.
Based on this discovery, Drexel and the researchers are pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness.
"I feel like this is the simplest, most straightforward work I've ever done, but it's potentially the most important thing I've ever worked on," said Sean O'Donnell, PhD, a professor of biology and biodiversity, earth and environmental science in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences, who was a senior author of the paper.
Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is present in small amounts in many fruits. It has been tested in humans at high doses and found safe to consume; it has been designated as a generally recognized safe food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2001 and is also approved as a food additive in many other countries.
And the new evidence that it is toxic to flies, which are drawn to its sweet flavor even when other foods are available, makes it a killer combination. It is particularly promising because it is safe for human consumption, unlike other pesticides that have caused tragic accidental poisonings such as one that killed 23 Indian school children last year.
This line of research would not have started without the curiosity of one of the paper's co-authors, Simon D. Kaschock-Marenda, who is now in the ninth grade. Three years ago, Kaschock-Marenda questioned why both of his parents had stopped eating white sugar when trying to eat healthier.
"He asked if he could test the effects of different sugars and sugar substitutes on fly health and longevity for his science fair, and I said, 'Sure!" recalled Daniel Marenda, PhD, Simon's father and an assistant professor of biology in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences -- and now co-senior author of the study. Father and son proceeded to buy supplies at their local supermarket -- as many types of sugar and sugar substitutes as they could find. Marenda's lab supplied "baby" flies and growth medium for his son to raise flies in each of the different types of sweeteners at home, in preparation for the science fair at the Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia.
"After six days of testing these flies in our house, he came back to me and said, 'Dad, all the flies in the Truvia® vials are dead...'" Marenda said. "To which I responded, 'OK...we must have screwed up somehow. Let's repeat the experiment!'"
Under more rigorous testing conditions in the lab, they replicated their result and knew they were onto something -- and could use a hand. "I only use insects to study the brain, so I needed someone who knew something about insects," said Marenda. So he brought the find down the hall to O'Donnell, whose background in entomology suited him to the task.
Working together, the team further pursued the question of how fruit flies responded to sweeteners -- testing flies grown feeding on each of multiple non-nutritive sweeteners as well as sucrose (table sugar) and corn syrup.
Flies raised on food containing Truvia® lived for only 5.8 days on average, compared to 38.6 to 50.6 days for flies raised on control and experimental foods without Truvia®. Flies raised on food containing Truvia® also showed noticeable motor impairments prior to their deaths.
"Indeed what we found is that the main component of Truvia®, the sugar erythritol, appears to have pretty potent insecticidal activity in our flies," Marenda said.
They found that the toxic effect did not come from stevia plant extract, which is present in both Truvia® and the non-nutritive sweetener PureVia®. PureVia® was included in their experiments and had no toxic effect on the flies.
"We are not going to see the planet sprayed with erythritol and the chances for widespread crop application are slim," O'Donnell said. "But on a small scale, in places where insects will come to a bait, consume it and die, this could be huge."
The scientists haven't yet confirmed which insects erythritol might kill, other than fruit flies, or how its toxic effects take hold.
The compound is even naturally produced in some insects, which use it as anti-freeze to protect their bodies against cold conditions -- but that may not mean much, as their experiments bear out that the dose makes the poison. The researchers plan to conduct further experiments on other insects such as termites, cockroaches, bed bugs and ants. They will also test erythritol's toxicity as it moves up the food chain by experimenting on praying mantids, which eat fruit flies.

Until further research helps refine the safest and most effective uses of erythritol for insect pest control outside of the lab, can a supermarket dose of Truvia® help get rid of fruit fly infestations in the kitchen? The scientists aren't sure. That might be an experiment to try at home, or for the next science fair.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Clinical trial reaffirms diet beverages play positive role in weight loss

A new study published today in Obesity, the journal of The Obesity Society, confirms that drinking diet beverages can help people lose weight.
"This study clearly demonstrates that diet beverages can in fact help people lose weight, directly countering myths in recent years that suggest the opposite effect -- weight gain," said James O. Hill, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and a co-author of the study. "In fact, those who drank diet beverages lost more weight and reported feeling significantly less hungry than those who drank water alone. This reinforces that if you're trying to shed pounds, you can enjoy diet beverages."
The 12-week clinical study of 303 participants is the first prospective, randomized clinical trial to directly compare the effects of water and diet beverages on weight loss within a behavioral weight loss program. Conducted simultaneously by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Center for Health and Wellness in Aurora and Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, the study shows that subjects who consumed diet beverages lost an average of 13 pounds -- 44 percent more than the control group, which lost an average of 9 pounds. More than half of the participants in the diet beverage group -- 64 percent -- lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared with only 43 percent of the control group. Losing just five percent of body weight has been shown to significantly improve health, including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. The study was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the American Beverage Association.

"There's so much misinformation about diet beverages that isn't based on studies designed to test cause and effect, especially on the Internet," said John C. Peters, co-author of the study and the chief strategy officer of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. "This research allows dieters to feel confident that low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can play an important and helpful role as part of an effective and comprehensive weight loss strategy."
Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: those who were allowed to drink diet beverages, such as diet sodas, teas and flavored waters, or those who were in a control group that drank water only. With the exception of beverage options, both groups followed an identical diet and exercise program for the duration of the study.
In addition to losing 44 percent more weight than the control group, the diet beverage group also:
Reported feeling significantly less hungry;
Showed significantly greater improvements in serum levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) -- the so-called "bad" cholesterol; and
Saw a significant reduction in serum triglycerides.
Both diet soda and water groups saw reductions in waist circumference, and blood pressure.
This latest study adds to the body of research demonstrating that diet beverages do not hinder, but in fact help, with weight loss. In particular, two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of North Carolina in 2012 and 2013 randomly assigned non-dieting participants to drink either water or diet beverages. While both groups cut their food intake significantly, after six months the diet beverage group had a greater likelihood of reaching a meaningful (5 percent) amount of weight loss compared to the control group. The diet beverage group also experienced a greater reduction in dessert consumption than the water group. Overall, the findings suggest that diet beverages do not fuel a preference for sweet foods and drinks.
Additional research published in 2009 on weight loss maintenance, drawn from the National Weight Control Registry, found that successful weight loss maintainers drank three times more diet beverages than those who had never lost weight.

The study was supported by the American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade association in Washington, DC.It was peer-reviewed and posted on Neither ABA, nor any of its members, was involved in any part of the study, its analysis or the writing of this paper.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spicy Insect Crunch Roll, Sushi Made from Crickets and Worms

To many palates, raw fish is a big ol’ nasty no-no. But buried in sriracha, cream cheese, teriyaki sauce, and panko flakes? Even the pickiest eaters can be persuaded.
Maybe it’s time we applied the same logic to bugs. That’s what Texas sushi chef Peter Yung is thinking, anyway. At Austin’s How Do You Roll, the co-founder and executive chef partnered with edible insect company World Ento to create a new kind of sushi filled and topped with two kinds of crunchy creepy crawlies. A “Spicy Insectopia Roll,” he calls it, and it’s made by dressing a whole bunch of crickets in sesame oil and teriyaki, setting them atop a bed of rice, seaweed, cucumber, and jalapeño, rolling them into sushi form, topping the rice with marinated mealworms, and then drizzling the whole mess in enough sauce so that the insects are nearly unrecognizable. You know, until they wriggle. (Totally kidding.)


According to Prevention Magazine, mealworms in particular carry significant health and eco-benefits, such as containing 50% protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and only requiring 1/1000th of the amount of water needed to raise cows.
If that isn’t enough to sway you to the buggy side, Prevention writer Mandy Oaklander claims the roll was not at all slimy and actually retained a nice, sweet crunch.