Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dried vs Fresh Herbs

Most herbs come in two forms: Dried and Fresh.  What's the difference between them?  

(Picture of Fresh Basil)

(Picture of dried basil)

Generally, fresh herbs are more expensive and potent than dried herbs.  The ratio of using fresh to dried herbs is 3-to-1.  This means that dried herbs are more concentrated because they are ground together.

Example: If a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh basil, but you only have dried basil, then you use one teaspoon of dried basil (three teaspoons = one tablespoon.  One teaspoon is 1/3 the amount of one tablespoon).

Dried herbs have a different flavor and aroma that fresh.  For example, dried basil has more of a smoky, deep flavor, while fresh basil is more minty and lemony.  Fresh oregano has a softer, herbaceous flavor, while dried is strong and intense.

Experiment with different herbs to see which ones you like.

Source: The Starter Cook by Linda Johnson Larsen

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How the Flu Works

The flu is one of the more dangerous infectious diseases, capable of causing over 45,000 deaths per year in the United States alone.  This year's strain of the influenza virus, H3N2, is one of the deadlier strains.  So far, 41 states have declared a public health emergency due to this virus.  The reason why this year's flu is deadlier is because the flu season started earlier.

Unlike previous years where the flu season started in January, this year's flu season started around the holidays.  The holidays is when a lot of people travel to spend time with their family.  Because of all this traveling, the flu spread more quickly than usual and infected more people.

How does the flu work? 

 The flu, scientifically known as haemophilus influenzae, is a virus.  Viruses work by infecting host cells. (A host cell is one of your cells)  First, the virus gains entry into the host cell.  Next, the virus establishes itself inside the host cell, and compromises (destroys) the cell defenses.  

Once, the defenses are destroyed, the virus assembles virion particles. (Virion particles are virus parts.  Basically what the virus is doing is making new viruses.) After the virus has assembled a lot of friends, it destroys the host cell.  Now, the virus and all it's buddies are free to roam around and infect new host cells.  This cycle repeats itself until your immune system is able to successfully fight off the virus.

If you do happen to get the flu this year, I recommend staying home, and drinking a lot of liquid to make sure you are hydrated properly.  Also, eat foods high in Vitamin C to help your body fight off the virus.  But the best thing to do if you are getting worse is to consult your doctor.  Your doctor is a trained professional whose job is to help you recover from illnesses like this.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to cut a Pomegranate (Plus other useful information!)

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope everyone is doing well.  The last few weeks have been crazy for me.  I just got out of the hospital yesterday, and am looking forward to recovering and living life again!

Anyways, this post will be about Pomegranates.  Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants Vitamin C and Potassium.  What's even better about them is that their peak ripeness is in December and January, which means that now is the PERFECT time to go shopping for them.  I saw them at the supermarket the other day for $1.99 each.  Pomegranates have a tart taste, and are good as an addition to other foods (ex: Salad).  Or if you want, you can eat it by themselves.

*A simple way to get the seeds from the pomegranate to the bowl is to whack the pomegranate all over a wooden spoon.  Next, cut the fruit in half using a knife, and holding the cut side down, whack it again with the wooden spoon.  The seeds should start falling out.*

When shopping for pomegranates, search for ones that have a dark pink to deep red skin, shiny, and free of cracks.  Those indicate pomegranates that are freshest and best tasting.

Source: Foot Network Magazine December 2012