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Archive for May 23, 2012

Spike Your Sweets: Strawberry Cheesecake Jello Shots

As backyard BBQ season shifts into full swing, it’s time to start planning the perfect menu for your Memorial Day parties. Burgers and hot dogs are a staple (see: A Dozen Innovative Grills & 13 Must-Have Grilling Gadgets), but so are sweet treats and boozy bites. So how about combining both into a creative party treat? We enlisted our jello shot expert, Jaymee Sire, to transform your favorite sweet summer fruit into our newest spiked sweet: Strawberry Cheesecake Jello Shots. That’s right. Strawberry. Cheesecake. Jello. Shots.

– 2 large containers strawberries
– 1 small package of strawberry jello
– 1 cup water
– 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
– 1 cup vanilla or whipped cream vodka, chilled (or regular vodka plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
– crushed graham crackers

Carefully hull each strawberry using a strawberry huller, paring knife or grapefruit spoon.

Shave off the bottom of each strawberry with a knife so that they will stand upright. (Be careful not to cut off too much or your strawberries will leak!) Place strawberries upright in a small pan.

In a small saucepan, heat water and add jello. Stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add cream cheese and whisk until well combined. (To make it even smoother, you could use an electric hand mixer). Add chilled vodka and stir.

Pour or spoon a little of the jello mixture into hollowed-out strawberries. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

If you have extra jello leftover (which you likely will unless you hull 50 strawberries), you can mix some graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and press it into small cups. Top with remaining jello mixture and allow to set. Top with chopped strawberries and serve with demitasse spoons. Two desserts in one, and both are outrageously delicious.

When ready to serve, dip each strawberry in crushed graham crackers and place on a platter. (And get ready to watch them disappear!)


Grill-Roasted Clam Linguine

Clams cooked in the shell pop open on the grill, just like they do when steamed. And there’s a bonus for the cook: No big, heavy pot is needed.

Makes 4 Main-Course servings
Grill-Roasted Clam Linguine


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups Sauvignon Blanc or other non-oaky white wine
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 canned anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 4 dozen small clams (such as littleneck), scrubbed
  • 12 ounces linguine
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish)


  • Heat olive oil in small deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes. Add wine, increase heat, and boil until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Remove sauce from heat; mix in lemon juice, anchovies, 1 tablespoon parsley, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel. Season with coarse salt. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm before using.
  • Prepare barbecue (high heat). Arrange clams on grill rack. Cover grill. Cook clams 5 minutes. Uncover and cook without turning until clams open. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet as they open, retaining juices in shells, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams that do not open).
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta and divide among 4 large shallow bowls.
  • Arrange 12 clams in shells with juices on pasta in each bowl. Spoon sauce over. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.
Read More Bonappetit

9 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate isn’t junk food anymore! Here, the health perks of your new favorite superfood

Here, 9 sweet health benefits of chocolate.

Photograph By iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Why You Should Eat Chocolate

Superfoods don’t just come from your supermarket’s produce aisle. In fact those chocolate candy bars next to the gummy bears now qualify. Study after study proves that dark chocolate—sweet, rich, and delicious—is good for more than curing a broken heart.

The secret behind its powerful punch is cacao, also the source of the sweet’s distinct taste. Packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, this little bean is a disease-killing bullet. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky, nasty stuff.

Enter milk, sugar, and butter—good for your taste buds, not always good for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of cacao. So snack smart: Stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high, says Mary Engler, Ph.D., a professor of physiological nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, you can reap the benefits from eating only small amounts. Because of its high fat and sugar content, limit yourself to 7 ounces, or about four dark chocolate bars, a week.

Photograph By Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock
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A Healthier Heart

The latest research backs up claims that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits: In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third.

Wish that was a serving each day? Another big, long-term study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.

But since those antioxidants come with a generous portion of sugar, milk, and butter, chowing down on chocolate isn’t an excuse to skip your workout. Chocolate and exercise actually work surprisingly well together: Another recent study, out of Australia this time, showed that eating chocolate high in healthy antioxidants reduced the blood pressure-raising effects of exercise on overweight individuals. So go ahead and reward yourself. A chocolate bar has five times the flavonoids of an apple, after all.

Photograph By iStockphoto/Thinkstock
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Weight Loss

If you’re wondering how you can add dark chocolate to your diet plan without putting on pounds, the good news is that it should be easier than you expect.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than its lighter-colored sibling. That is, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So if indulging in a bit of healthy dark chocolate should not only make it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but it should make it easier for you to stick to your diet in general. Jackpot!

Photograph By Hemera
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Happier Kids

Women who ate chocolate daily during their pregnancy reported that they were better able to handle stress than mothers-to-be who abstained. Also, a Finnish study found their babies were happier and smiled more. Hmm, so your options are popping a piece of premium chocolate or sticking a pacifier in your screaming baby’s mouth?

Photograph By iStockphoto/Thinkstock
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Diabetes Prevention

Candy as a diabetes foe? Sure enough. In a small Italian study, participants who ate a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. “Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production,” says lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., a professor at the University of L’Aquila in Italy. “And that helps control insulin sensitivity.”

Photograph By Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
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Reduced Stress

UC San Diego researchers recently confirmed what your fat pants could have told them back in college: When times get tough, people tend to dip into the chocolate stash more often than they might otherwise.

And as it turns out, that kind of emotional eating might not be such a bad thing. You know what kind of havoc stress and its sneaky sidekick cortisol can wreak on your body. Swiss scientists (who else?) found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated. After a breakup, break out a dark chocolate bar rather than a pint of ice cream.

Photograph By Zoonar/Thinkstock
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Sun Protection

London researchers recently tested chocolate flavanols’ sun-protecting prowess. After 3 months eating chocolate with high levels of flavanols, their study subjects’ skin took twice as long to develop that reddening effect that indicates the beginning of a burn.

Subjects who ate conventional low-flavanol chocolate didn’t get the same sun protection. Watch for brands boasting high levels of the healthy compounds.

Photograph By iStockphoto/Thinkstock
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Higher Intelligence

Next time you’re under pressure on a work project, don’t feel so guilty about grabbing a dark chocolate bar from the vending machine. Not only will it help your body ward off the effects of stress, but it’ll boost your brain power when you really need it.

A University of Nottingham researcher found that drinking cocoa rich in flavanols boosts blood flow to key parts of the brain for 2 to 3 hours, which could improve performance and alertness in the short term.

Other researchers from Oxford University and Norway looked at chocolate’s long-term effects on the brain by studying the diets of more than 2,000 people over age 70. They found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.

Photograph By iStockphoto/Thinkstock
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Cough Relief

One study found that chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine, thanks to the theobromine it contains. This chemical, responsible for chocolate’s feel-good effect, may suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve.

Maria Belvisi, a professor of respiratory pharmacology at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, says, “It had none of the negative side effects.” Codeine makes most people feel sleepy and dull—and doesn’t taste anything like fine chocolate.

Photograph By Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock
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Diarrhea Relief

Both South American and European cultures have a history that dates back to the 16th century of treating diarrhea with cocoa. Modern-day science has shown they were onto something.

Scientists at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that cocoa flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine, potentially stopping the trots in their tracks.


Rewritable DNA memory shown off

DNA artwork
The researchers say that biological systems are “one of the coolest places for computing”

Researchers in the US have demonstrated a means to use short sections of DNA as rewritable data “bits” in living cells.
The technique uses two proteins adapted from viruses to “flip” the DNA bits.

Though it is at an early stage, the advance could help pave the way for computing and memory storage within biological systems.

A team reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences say the tiny information storehouses may also be used to study cancer and aging.

The team, from Stanford University’s bioengineering department, has been trying for three years to fine-tune the biological recipe they use to change the bits’ value.

The bits comprise short sections of DNA that can, under the influence of two different proteins, be made to point in one of two directions within the chromosomes of the bacterium E. coli.

The data are then “read out” as the sections were designed to glow green or red when under illumination, depending on their orientation.
Integrase molecule
The trick was to balance the effects of two competing proteins – integrase and excisionase

The two proteins, integrase and excisionase, were taken from a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria. They are involved in the DNA modification process by which the DNA from a virus is incorporated into that of its host.

The trick was striking a balance between the two counteracting proteins in order to reliably switch the direction of the DNA section that acted as a bit.

After some 750 trials, the team struck on the right recipe of proteins, and now have their sights set on creating a full “byte” – eight bits – of DNA information that can be similarly manipulated.

The work is at the frontier of biological engineering, and senior author of the research Drew Endy said that applications of the approach are yet to come.

“I’m not even really concerned with the ways genetic data storage might be useful down the road, only in creating scalable and reliable biological bits as soon as possible,” Dr Endy said.

“Then we’ll put them in the hands of other scientists to show the world how they might be used.”

As the DNA sections maintained their logical value even as the bacteria doubled 90 times, one clear application would be in using the DNA bits as “reporter” bits on the proliferation of cells, for example in cancerous tissue.

But longer-term integrations of these computational components to achieve computing within biological systems are also on the researchers’ minds.

“One of the coolest places for computing is within biological systems,” Dr Endy said.


Hospital infections down but new strains emerging

E. coli
E. coli can cause urinary tract infections

Controlling hospital infections such as salmonella and E.coli must be a priority, say experts.

While there has been a drop in rates of the superbug MRSA and C. difficile, other infections like E. coli appear to have taken their place, they say.

Health Protection Agency data gives a snapshot of infection rates and antibiotic use by NHS hospitals in England in the autumn of 2011.

It shows, overall, that infection rates are down but new bacteria are emerging.

The total prevalence of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) decreased from 8.2% in 2006 to 6.4% in 2011.

But much of this decrease was due to lower rates of MRSA and C. difficile – infections that the government has repeatedly targeted with policies.

At the same time, rates of other infections, like E.coli, appear to be rising.


  • A family of bacteria which include E. coli that we all have in our gut
  • In most people they are present but harmless
  • In the frail – the elderly, sick and very young – they can cause significant illness
  • Infections can occur in wounds, the urinary tract, the lungs and the blood
  • Infection can be spread by contamination of equipment, such as catheters
  • Good hygiene, including the sterilising of equipment, can help prevent their spread

In the 103 hospital trusts surveyed, covering more than 52,000 patients, a total of 3,360 patients (6.4%) had been diagnosed with a healthcare-associated infection.

In a third of cases, bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli – collectively known as coliforms – were the cause.

And 12% of these were resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat these infections – cephalosporins.

Experts are concerned that coliforms infections are becoming more prevalent and harder to treat.

When you get rid of one bacteria, another one will sneak into its place”

Dr Susan Hopkins Healthcare epidemiologist at the HPA

Surveillance figures gathered by the HPA suggest rates of infection are creeping up.

Over the last five years, there has been a 35% increase in reports of E. coli blood infections.

Report author Dr Susan Hopkins said: “When you get rid of one bacteria another one will sneak into its place. We are seeing a slow but steady rise in E. coli.

“It is clear that we need to find ways to control and prevent transmission of these bacteria, and this is an important priority.”

Most HCAIs developed during the patients’ stays in the hospital.

But a fifth of HCAIs were present on admission to hospital.

Unlike MRSA, which can be screened for, everyone possess coliform bacteria. In most people they exists harmlessly in the gut. But in some people – typically the elderly, very sick or very young – they can cause serious and even life-threatening infections.

Dr Hopkins said: “Everyone has it, so we can’t screen and get rid of it. We need to look at better hygiene to prevent infections.”

The report reveals that MRSA and C. difficile infections have gone down by more than 70% over the last five years. There was an 18-fold decline in overall MRSA infections (1.3% to 0.1%) and a five-fold decline in C. difficile infections (2.0% to 0.4%) between the 2006 and 2011 surveys.


NICE releases new pain relief guidelines

Morphine is one of several powerful painkillers known as opioids

Many patients with advanced cancer and other debilitating conditions are being “under-treated” for their pain, new guidance from the health watchdog says.

NICE wants doctors in England and Wales to make more use of morphine and other strong opioids – the only adequate pain relief source for many patients.

The guidelines recommend doctors discuss patients’ concerns.

These may include addiction, tolerance, side-effects and fears that treatment implies the final stage of life.

The guidance deals with five opioids: morphine, diamorphine (heroin), buprenorphine, fentanyl and oxycodone. They come either from the opium poppy or are synthetically produced versions.

NICE – the National Institute for Clinical Excellence – says “misinterpretations and misunderstanding” have surrounded the use of strong opioids for decades, which has resulted in errors “causing under-dosing and avoidable pain, or overdosing and distressing adverse effects”.

There is also the legacy of Dr Harold Shipman who used diamorphine to murder his victims. It has made many doctors wary of prescribing strong opioids.

NICE says the aim is to improve both pain management and patient safety.

Mike Bennett, St Gemma’s professor of palliative medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “Almost half of patients with advanced cancer are under-treated for their pain, largely because clinicians are reluctant to use strong opioids.”

Prof Bennett said the issue also applied to the late stages of other conditions such as heart failure and neurological disorders.

In a summary of the guidance in the British Medical Journal, he said doctors should address patients’ concerns and reassure them that addiction is “very rare”.

Doctors are also told to advise patients about side-effects, including constipation, which can be treated with laxatives.

Dr Damien Longson, Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group said: “People worry they can become addicted, particularly if opioids are prescribed over an extended period of time. This guideline puts a strong emphasis on good communication between healthcare professionals and patients, which is key to ensuring any worries or uncertainties are addressed with timely and accurate information.”

Dr Fiona Hicks, chairwoman of the Royal College of Physicians’ recent working party on improving end-of-life care, said she welcomed the new NICE guidelines with its “emphasis on strong communication with patients, including how to help patients cope with both taking opioids and deal with the side-effects.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Compassion in Dying, said: “This guideline will support healthcare professionals in providing good end-of-life care across all settings, and will help to ensure that many people have what they consider to be a good death with their pain properly managed.”


尊重胎兒生命及性別 拒做性別篩選 醫界響應

2012-05-22 中國時報 石文南/台北報導











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