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Nutrition

Pro tips for perfecting pasta

With a nearly endless variety of pasta types, sauce pairings and recipe ideas, the options are aplenty, and cooking is often a breeze.

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Next time hunger calls in your home, turn to a filling family favorite: pasta. With a nearly endless variety of pasta types, sauce pairings and recipe ideas, the options are aplenty, and cooking is often a breeze.

Consider these pasta cooking tips from Rouxbe, an online culinary school training people of all abilities to become better, more confident cooks.

  • Use a large, straight-sided pot with 6 quarts of water for every 1 pound of pasta. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water and stir to dissolve.
  • Wait for rapidly boiling water before adding pre-made pasta then cook according to package instructions for al dente, which means the pasta offers a slight resistance. For stuffed or fresh pasta, aim for a gentle boil and cook 1-5 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for use in sauces then drain (never rinse) your pasta. 
  • Add pasta to your sauce; never the other way around. Pair thin pastas like angel hair with lighter sauces, seafoods, basil and light oils. Fettucine, penne and rigatoni complement spicy sausage, heavy creams and chunky ragu. When in doubt, spaghetti offers a versatile option.

Pasta is a natural fit for fresh veggies, and you can put your skills to the test with Pappardelle with Garden Vegetables or create Homemade Potato Gnocchi to freeze and enjoy later.

For more information, visit rouxbe.com.

Pappardelle with Garden Vegetables
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 3-4

            Salted water
3          tablespoons olive oil
3          tablespoons shallots or white onion, minced
2          cloves garlic, minced
1/4       teaspoon chili flakes
1          cup white wine
2          cups pappardelle noodles
3/4       cup vegetable stock
3          tablespoons capers (optional)
2          vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced in wedges
1          handful baby kale
1          fresh lemon, juice only
2          tablespoons butter (optional)
            sea salt, to taste
            freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1          handful fresh basil, torn

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.

In fry pan on medium-high heat, add olive oil and onions; saute 2 minutes. Lower heat slightly and add garlic and chile flakes. Saute on medium heat 2-3 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze pan. Cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm until ready to add freshly cooked pasta.

In pot of boiling water, add pappardelle. Cook according to package instructions then drain.

Place fry pan back on medium heat. Add drained pasta; vegetable stock; capers, if desired; tomatoes; baby kale; and lemon juice. Add butter, if desired, and toss well. Cook 2-3 minutes, tossing occasionally, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, and fresh basil.

Toss again, remove from heat and serve.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi
Total time: 2 hours
Servings: 2-4

2          medium Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
3/4       teaspoon sea salt, divided
2          teaspoons water
1          cup all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional, for surface
1/4       teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8       teaspoon white pepper
2          large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place potatoes on sheet of foil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and water; wrap. Bake 40 minutes, or until cooked through.

Peel potatoes while hot. Cut and rice potatoes. Let potatoes cool completely.

To make dough, sprinkle potatoes with flour. Aerate with bench scraper then add remaining salt, nutmeg and white pepper.

Break up egg yolks and pour over potatoes. Cover surface with flour. Continue cutting and gently lifting dough.

Test dough by squeezing gently; it shouldn’t stick. Add flour, if needed.

Shape dough into rectangle and fold several times, using fingertips to bring together. Flatten dough out until it reaches finger thickness. Sprinkle with flour and let rest 5-10 minutes.

Cut finger-width strips of dough and sprinkle strips with flour. Roll out each strip and cut ropes into 3/4-inch pieces. Separate slightly and flour well.

Fresh gnocchi can sit at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.

To freeze: Place gnocchi on tray, making sure they aren’t touching. Once frozen, transfer to plastic freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. Cook gnocchi from frozen and serve with desired sauce.

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Nutrition

It doesn’t matter much which fiber you choose – just get more fiber

The benefit of dietary fiber isn’t just the easier pooping that advertisers tout. Fermentable fiber — dietary carbohydrates that the human gut cannot process on its own but some bacteria can digest — is also an essential source of nutrients that your gut microbes need to stay healthy.

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Photo by Nadine Primeau from Unsplash.com

That huge array of dietary fiber supplements in the drugstore or grocery aisle can be overwhelming to a consumer. They make all sorts of health claims too, not being subject to FDA review and approval. So how do you know which supplement works and would be best for you?

A rigorous examination of the gut microbes of study participants who were fed three different kinds of supplements in different sequences concludes that people who had been eating the least amount of fiber before the study showed the greatest benefit from supplements, regardless of which ones they consumed.

“The people who responded the best had been eating the least fiber to start with,” said study leader Lawrence David, an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University.

The benefit of dietary fiber isn’t just the easier pooping that advertisers tout. Fermentable fiber — dietary carbohydrates that the human gut cannot process on its own but some bacteria can digest — is also an essential source of nutrients that your gut microbes need to stay healthy.

“We’ve evolved to depend on nutrients that our microbiomes produce for us,” said Zack Holmes, former PhD student in the David lab and co-author on two new papers about fiber. “But with recent shifts in diet away from fiber-rich foods, we’ve stopped feeding our microbes what they need.”

When your gut bugs are happily munching on a high-fiber diet, they produce more of the short-chain fatty acids that protect you from diseases of the gut, colorectal cancers and even obesity. And in particular, they produce more of a fatty acid called butyrate, which is fuel for your intestinal cells themselves. Butyrate has been shown to improve the gut’s resistance to pathogens, lower inflammation and create happier, healthier cells lining the host’s intestines.

Given the variety of supplements available, David’s research team wanted to know whether it may be necessary to ‘personalize’ fiber supplements to different people, since different fermentable fibers have been shown to have different effects on short-chain fatty acid production from one individual to the next.

“We didn’t see a lot of difference between the fiber supplements we tested. Rather, they looked interchangeable,” David said during a tour of his sparkling new lab in the MSRB III building, which includes a special “science toilet” for collecting samples and an array of eight “artificial gut” fermenters for growing happy gut microbes outside a body.

“Regardless of which of the test supplements you pick, it seems your microbiome will thank you with more butyrate,” David said.

The average American adult only consumes 20 to 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber, which is believed to be a root cause behind a lot of our common health maladies, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders and colon cancer. Instead of having to go totally vegetarian or consume pounds of kale daily, convenient fiber supplements have been created that can increase the production of short-chain fatty acids.

The Duke experiments tested three main kinds of fermentable fiber supplements: inulin, dextrin (Benefiber), and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) marketed as Bimuno. The 28 participants were separated into groups and given each of the three supplements for one week in different orders, with a week off between supplements to allow participants’ guts to return to a baseline state. 

Participants who had been consuming the most fiber beforehand showed the least change in their microbiomes, and the type of supplement really didn’t matter, probably because they were already hosting a more optimal population of gut bugs, David said.

Conversely, participants who had been consuming the least fiber saw the greatest increase in butyrate with the supplements, regardless of which one was being consumed.

In a second study the David lab performed with support from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, they found that gut microbes responded to a new addition of fiber within a day, dramatically altering the populations of bugs present in the gut and changing which of their genes they were using to digest food.

Using their artificial gut fermenters, the researchers found the gut microbes were primed by the first dose to consume fiber, and digested it quickly on the second dose.

“These findings are encouraging,” said graduate student Jeffrey Letourneau, lead author of the second study. “If you’re a low fiber consumer, it’s probably not worth it to stress so much about which kind of fiber to add. It’s just important that you find something that works for you in a sustainable way.”

“It doesn’t need to be a supplement either,” Holmes added. “It can just be a fiber-rich food. Folks who were already eating a lot of fiber, which comes from plants like beans, leafy greens, and citrus, already had very healthy microbiomes.”

“Microbiota Responses to Different Prebiotics Are Conserved Within Individuals and Associated with Habitual Fiber Intake” by Zachary Holmes, Max Villa, Heather Durand, Sharon Jiang, Eric Dallow, Brianna Petrone, Justin Silverman, Pao-Hwa Lin, and Lawrence David appeared in Microbiome.

“Ecological Memory of Prior Nutrient Exposure in the Human Gut Microbiome” by Jeffrey Letourneau, Zachary Holmes, Eric Dallow, Heather Durand, Sharon Jiang, Verónica Carrion, Savita Gupta, Adam Mincey, Michael Muehlbauer, and James Bain, Lawrence David appeared in ISME Journal.

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Nutrition

5 Reasons to add lobster to summer meals

In addition to its distinctly sweet flavor, consider these reasons to add Maine lobster to your menu this summer.

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The arrival of summer means favorites like fresh seafood are back on the menu for many families. This year, as you explore new and inventive ways to add variety to weeknight dinners and backyard barbecues, consider including lobster as a versatile, indulgent ingredient.  

Throughout the summer months, lobstermen up and down the Maine coast set off before dawn in pursuit of one of the most beloved crustaceans in the world. As one of the oldest fisheries in the country, the industry boasts a rich history with an unparalleled commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship that has allowed it to thrive for generations.

In addition to its distinctly sweet flavor, consider these reasons to add Maine lobster to your menu this summer:

Sustainability

To help protect the lobster population and the livelihood of those in the fishery, the lobstermen pioneered sustainability and traceability practices before it was fashionable. The sustainability measures developed and adapted over generations, such as protecting egg-bearing females and releasing juvenile lobsters, have preserved the fishery and produced abundant lobster stocks.

Small Business Support

Unlike many commercial fisheries, the Maine Lobster industry consists of more than 5,000 independent lobstermen who own and operate small day boats. Many lobstermen are from multi-generational lobstering families, which, along with a mandatory apprenticeship program, ensure its continued survival.

Front Lines of Science

Mother Nature and science guide the fishery, meaning ongoing collaboration between scientists and fishermen to research the health of the lobster population and adapt to the effects of climate change to help protect the oceans.

Protection of Endangered Species

Sustainability for the industry means taking care of the larger marine environment and the species that rely on it. Since the 1990s, Maine lobstermen have taken proactive steps to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales by eliminating surface float rope, incorporating weak links to allow whales to break free in the event they encounter gear and marking rope to ensure traceability.

Community Engagement

The lobster industry goes well beyond the fishermen on the water; including the dealers, processors, restaurant owners, trap and boat builders and more. The fishery is part of the identity of Maine, which means enjoying lobster rolls, grilled tails or steamed lobsters this summer directly supports the community and the lobstermen who call it home.

To find more ways to support the industry and recipes to enjoy this summer, visit lobsterfrommaine.com.

Chilled Lobster with Orange and Basil Vinaigrette 

Recipe courtesy of Erin Lynch on behalf of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative 
Servings: 4Dressing:

1          tablespoon minced shallots
2          tablespoons olive oil
2          tablespoons fresh orange juice
1          tablespoon fresh lime juice
2          tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1          tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2       teaspoon salt, plus additional, to taste, divided 
1/4       teaspoon Dijon mustard
            pepper, to taste
1          pound cooked Maine Lobster meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

1          head butter lettuce, torn
1          ripe avocado, peeled and diced
3          radishes, thinly sliced
            kosher salt 
            freshly ground black pepper

To make dressing: In medium bowl, whisk shallots, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, basil, parsley, salt and Dijon mustard. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

Add lobster to bowl; toss to coat. Chill at least 1 hour, or up to one day.

To serve: Arrange lettuce on serving plate and place lobster on top. Sprinkle with avocado, radishes, kosher salt and ground black pepper.Traditional Lobster Rolls

Recipe courtesy of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative 
Yield: 4 rolls

1          pound cooked Maine lobster meat 
            mayonnaise, to taste, for binding
            freshly ground black pepper, to taste
            salt, to taste
            fresh lemon juice, to taste
4          buttered, toasted rolls or preferred bread 
            sliced chives, for garnish

In bowl, combine lobster meat; mayonnaise, to taste; pepper, to taste; salt, to taste; and lemon juice, to taste.

Place 3-4 ounces lobster salad on each roll.

Garnish with chives and serve.

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Nutrition

Revamp your pantry, start living healthy

Eat and live better with products that make healthy living a lifestyle.

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In the past, many Filipinos put wellbeing and wellness on the back burner until major health concerns arose. But since the pandemic began, health has been thrust into the forefront, taking on a new importance for many.

Now more than ever, individuals are finding ways to live healthier lifestyles. Whether that means taking precautions against getting sick, eating wholesome and nutritious food, or managing a healthy weight. 

A quick Google search about healthy living and dieting will result in a ton of information that it can be hard to know what is accurate. Be wary of fad diets all over social media that promise quick and easy results. The truth is these quick fixes don’t work. What does work is a lifestyle change. It’s more sustainable too. Here are a few tips to make a healthy change to one’s lifestyle.

Munch on good snacks

Not all snacks are bad. Go for snacks that include protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Good snacks also help curb sugar cravings. In fact, snacking is beneficial when increasing intake of nutrient-rich foods for a burst of energy. Snacks that are good to have on hand are those that will keep the stomach full throughout the day. Consider the Macro Fruit Free Muesli Bar and Classic Fruit & Nut Muesli Bar for great sources of fiber. 

Eat whole, organic food

Whole foods are those that have not been overly processed. They have many benefits because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help keep the immune system and body strong. Try products that can be used in more ways than one such as Macro Tomato Garlic & Basil Chunky Pasta Sauce which can be used as a sauce for fish or chicken. Another versatile product is Macro Quick Oats which can be used in baking or to make a classic oatmeal recipe or overnight oats. These products promise more than just great taste, but also healthier alternatives to traditional ingredients.    

Stock up on superfoods

Superfoods are those that are rich in antioxidants, good fat, and fiber. Instead of foods that are high in sugar, consider superfoods like Macro Turmeric Latte and Macro Black Chia Seeds. Turmeric helps lower inflammation levels in the body and reduces the risk of health problems. Chia seeds on the other hand are packed with antioxidants and fiber which can help lower high blood pressure and regulate the digestive system.

All Macro products are available in Shopwise, Robinsons Supermarket and The Marketplace Rustans branches nationwide. Woolworths products are also available via the GoCart website.

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