Crab Bisque from a robot kitchen

Is this the future of cooking?

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited along to a warehouse in north London to see what is being billed as “the world’s first automated kitchen.” The system, made by Moley Robotics in the UK, can only make crab bisque right now—and it requires that all of the ingredients and utensils are pre-positioned perfectly. The goal, though, is to have a consumer-ready version within two years, priced at around £10,000 ($14,600). The company envisions an “iTunes style library of recipes” that you can download and have your robot chef prepare.

More at ARS Technica.

How Tenderized Beef Could Make You Very Sick

If you enjoy a nice juicy steak when going out to eat, be sure to read this article.

Apparently the process used to tenderize and marinate steaks can actually lead to more bacteria inside the steak then would normally be present.  And if the meat is not properly cooked, as often happens at restaurants, people eating it could get very very sick.

Hollow needles are sometimes used to inject flavorings, or what the industry calls “digestive agents.” Marinades also may be added to meat, which can add to contamination risks.

Surveys of beef producers by the USDA found that most use mechanical tenderization to improve quality.

A large percentage of mechanically tenderized meat – the industry produces at least 50 million pounds a month – winds up in family-style restaurants, hotels, hospitals and group homes.

But a more recent study published last year in the Journal of Food Protection found that bladed and marinated steaks were two to four times riskier than those that had not been mechanically tenderized.

For example, some in the beef industry acknowledge that they do not test their mechanically tenderized steaks for E. coli, as they do ground beef, because they believe the risk of illness is lower.

Plants that do test meat must make results available to federal inspectors if asked, but they are not required to alert the government of results that are positive for pathogens.

Don’t eat undercooked meats and when in doubt, throw it out. Or ask the chef how the meat was really prepared.  It’s your life and it’s too important to risk it on bad food.

Want To Live to Be 90? Eat Like a Greek Islander!

On the Greek island of Ikaria the residents are twice as likely as the rest of us to live to be 90. How do they do it? A healthy diet and laid-back lifestyle apparently does the trick. And what islanders are eating is different then in the West:

[A] breakfast of goat’s milk, wine, sage tea or coffee, honey and bread. Lunch was almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion or a spinachlike green called horta) and whatever seasonal vegetables their garden produced; dinner was bread and goat’s milk. At Christmas and Easter, they would slaughter the family pig and enjoy small portions of larded pork for the next several months.

Islanders also enjoy a warm beverage which translates as “mountain tea,” “made from dried herbs endemic to the island,” a rotating, seasonal list that includes wild marjoram, sage, mint, and dandelion leaves. They also drink a lot of wine and coffee, and eat far less meat then we do.

Their diet does not include processed foods that are a common staple of our western diets. They also take naps in the afternoon, stay up late, and sleep in on most mornings.

If this is what helps get people to age 90 or beyond, we’re all for it. Sign us up for a Greek Island cruise!

Diet Changes & Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Hot Flashes

A new study from the Kaiser Permante Women’s Health Initiative has shown that dietary changes and modest weight loss helped significantly ease the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats in study participants. Of the over 17,000 post-menopausal women studied, those who ate a low-fat diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and also lost weight during the year-long study experienced the highest reduction of their symptoms.

While previous studies had shown that weight gain and high body weight were most associated with increased symptoms like hot flashes, this was the largest survey to date that attempted to answer the question of whether eating a healthier diet could help women reduce the level of symptoms they experienced.

“Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause,” said Bette Caan, DrPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the senior author of the study.

“Weight loss, especially loss of fat mass but not lean mass, might also help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats,” according to the study’s authors.

Other studies have shown similar symptom reductions in breast cancer patients when weight gain is prevented after their initial diagnosis.