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Winner of Ballston Restaurant Challenges Seeks More Funds on Kickstarter

August 26, 2014 Jessica Sidman 0

Christiana Candon won a year of free rent, a $245,000 interest-free loan, free legal services, and free financial advising as the winner of Ballston BID’s controversial Restaurant Challenge. Now she’s seeking an additional $15,000 via Kickstarter for her Spanish restaurant, which will be called SER (Simple, Easy, Real). The restaurant, located at 1110 N. Glebe Road, […]

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Red Light Expands Beyond Sweets

August 26, 2014 Jessica Sidman 0

If you didn’t want to wind up in a sugar coma at 14th Street NW’s Red Light, you were previously limited to cheddar straws and popcorn. Now the cocktail and dessert bar has expanded its savory options with a “crostini bar,” flatbreads, and other bar snacks. The crostini options ($6 to $8) include toppings like infused […]

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Gut Bacteria Could Provide Peanut Allergy Protection

August 26, 2014 Amanda L. Chan 0

By Charles Choi, Contributing Writer
Published: 08/25/2014 07:33 PM EDT on LiveScience

Bacteria in the gut can help protect mice against peanut food allergies, according to a new study. The findings suggest that probiotics might help treat or prevent these potentially lethal food allergies in people, researchers say.

Food allergies, which are sometimes deadly immune system reactions to certain foods, currently affect about 15 million people in the United States. Food allergy rates among children rose by about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

“We’ve seen a generational change in the prevalence of food allergies,” said senior study author Cathryn Nagler, an immunologist at the University of Chicago. “When I was in elementary school, my brothers and I ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch every day. Now, my children’s classrooms are peanut free — it’s estimated that, in the U.S., there are now two children in every classroom with potentially life-threatening allergic responses to food.”

The causes of food allergies remain unknown. Although researchers suspect genetics plays a role, “this kind of change in such a short time frame must be explained by something in the environment,” Nagler told Live Science. [8 Strange Signs You’re Having an Allergic Reaction]

Previous studies have suggested that modern changes in diet, hygiene and the increased use of antimicrobials might disturb the body’s microbiota, the population of bacteria that naturally live in and on people. This change, in turn, might increase people’s susceptibility to food allergies, researchers say.

To see how changes in the microbiota of the intestines might influence allergic responses to food, Nagler and her colleagues experimented with germ-free mice, which were born and raised in sterile conditions to possess no microbes inside them, and mice treated with antibiotics as newborns, which have significantly reduced gut bacteria levels compared with normal mice. The researchers exposed these rodents to allergens — the substances that cause allergic reactions — from peanuts. Both groups of mice experienced strong immune responses, generating significantly higher levels of antibodies against the peanut allergens than mice with normal gut bacteria.

The scientists then investigated which types of gut bacteria, if any, could be given to mice to prevent them from developing peanut allergies. They found that when a class of bacteria called Clostridia was implanted into the mice’s intestines, it could both prevent these mice from developing a peanut allergy and reverse any sensitivity they had to peanut allergens.

Clostridia are a highly diverse class of bacteria, and are also common in humans. There are toxic Clostridia, such as Clostridium difficile, but the types of Clostridia used in the new study did not include the toxic kind, Nagler said.

The scientists analyzed the genetic activity of intestinal cells in mice that possessed Clostridia. They found that Clostridia spurred the cells of the outermost layers of the mice intestines to generate high levels of a molecule known as interleukin-22, which reduced how permeable the intestines were to food allergens. When the intestines were less permeable, fewer allergens reached the bloodstream, where they could have otherwise triggered allergic reactions.

Other recent findings have made it increasingly clear that gut microbes have many important functions within the body. For instance, they help make some essential vitamins and break down otherwise indigestible dietary fiber. They also release signals that help the immune system function.

“We have co-evolved with our microbiota for millennia,” Nagler said. “It seems that a consequence of some of our 21st-century lifestyle habits has been the disruption of our relationship with the communities of commensal (friendly) bacteria that reside on our skin and mucosal surfaces, and particularly in the gut.”

The researchers have filed a patent to develop ways to prevent food allergies, and they plan to work with biotechnology companies to engineer such probiotic therapies.

The researchers suggested that other commensal bacteria may also help to regulate the body’s tolerance of food allergens. “We still have a lot to learn about the commensal microbiota,” Nagler said.

Nagler and her colleagues detailed their findings online today (Aug. 25) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ]]>

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India’s ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’ Reminds The World How Scarce Clean Water Is There

August 26, 2014 Mallika Rao 0

Manju Latha Kalanidhi works as a reporter for Oryza, a niche publication devoted to rice. When she saw the social media craze known as the ice bucket challenge (which asks participants to raise funds and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) taking off in India, where she lives, she immediately thought of the type of statistics she deals with routinely — a quarter of all undernourished people worldwide live in India, and 103.8 million people there lack access to clean, safe water, according to

“I put one and one together,” Kalanidhi told HuffPost in a phone call, explaining her new take on the social media phenomenon. Billed on its Facebook page as an “Indian version for Indian needs,” the “rice bucket challenge” enlists participants to share pictures of themselves donating rice to those in need. The callout has struck a nerve: In less than 24 hours, the Facebook page has amassed 15,000 “likes” and reached 80,000 users.

It makes sense that an alteration would resonate with the Indian public. Given water scarcity issues in the country, “the idea of dunking oneself in icy cold water, shrieking in horror and then uploading the bizarre video felt preposterous,” Kalanidhi told Quartz soon after the launch. “I wanted to just do something local, meaningful without wasting anything. So rice replaced water here.”

Like its predecessor, this movement is spreading. Indians who’ve emigrated abroad seem “tickled,” Kalanidhi says, by the “very Desi, local challenge,” strategizing mass donations out of American suburbs to food-based charities in India such as Akshaya Patra Foundation, an organization which aims to feed every schoolchild in the country. Because Kalanidhi’s campaign is not affiliated with a single food bank, donors choose their own recipients.

It’s yet to be seen what the returns will be, but Kalanidhi calls the response at home “astounding” given that hunger is hardly a new buzz word in India. Among the largest mass donations so far is a pledge of 2,000 kilograms of rice, from a group of college students in Hyderabad. She jokes that her math went all wrong: “I put one and one together and I got 22.”

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GoPro Captures An Egg Being Poached Underwater, Incites Benedict Cravings

August 26, 2014 Kate Bratskeir 0

There’s much debate over how to perfectly poach an egg.

The perfect poached egg? It has a runny-but-thick, drippy yolk encased in soft, smooth whites. Some swear adding a dash of vinegar to the simmering pot will help the egg properly solidify. Other…

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The Quickest Way To Make French Toast (And Other Breakfasts)

August 26, 2014 Pam Masin 0

By Lynn Andriani

One small change to the recipe, and all of a sudden a morning classic is totally doable for eight (or even more).

The Step-Away-from-the-Stove Method You’re Going to Love

banana toast
Making pain perdu (bread soaked in beaten eggs, then fried) for two is a cinch: whisk eggs with cinnamon, dip two slices of bread in the mixture and cook in a frying pan until browned. Multiply that by eight, though, and you’re spending considerably more time over the stove. Here’s the trick: Prepare the dish as you normally would (refrigerate the egg-soaked bread for an hour or more, if you wish), and then, instead of cooking the slices over the heat, lay them on a greased sheet pan and bake at 450 for about 10 minutes, flip and continue baking for about eight more minutes. You get extra points if you lay sliced bananas on top of each piece and finish under the broiler for a minute or so.

Eggs for All in 20 Minutes

shakshouka with chorizo

Quiche, watch your back: We’ve found a strong contender for one of the best brunch dishes for a group. It’s shakshouka, the popular Israeli and Tunisian dish where eggs are poached in tomato sauce. This recipe can serve six, and includes an herby tomato sauce that comes together in 15 minutes (which you can alternately make ahead of time). You crack the eggs over the sauce, slide the pan under the heat and broil it for five minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Have some thick, crusty bread on hand for sopping up the juices.

Get the recipe: Shakshouka with Chorizo and Bread Crumbs

No-Flipping-Required Pancakes

pancakes recipe

Making pancakes for the masses can be an ordeal, since it’s hard to keep the finished ones warm and prevent them from getting soggy. The solution, just as with French toast, is to use the oven, which German pancake makers have been doing for years and the rest of us are now discovering. The skillet-baked pancakes puff up beautifully; you make one large one and slice it into wedges to serve. Alternately, you can just stick with your usual pancake batter and pour it into a greased rectangular cake pan. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350, until a cake tester comes out clean, and then cut into squares. You’ll get about a dozen, and they’ll all be ready at once.

The Danish Hack That Lets You Jump on the Artisanal Jam Trend

danish recipe

Crescent-roll dough might just be one of the most versatile ingredients for hosts who want to serve freshly baked goods without waking up at 4 a.m. — and one of the best uses we’ve found is as a base for a homemade-ish cheese and fruit Danish. You cut the dough into squares, place a spoonful each of cream cheese and jelly in the center, fold up the sides and bake at 400 for about 18 minutes. Try using some of the more interesting jams that are popping up in specialty shops, such as sriracha peach or Meyer lemon, for a twist you won’t find at your standard bakery.

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