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[Photography: background picture from top10n.net]

Us Brits don’t really need more of a reason to drink tea - but the news that drinking camomile tea may help women live longer has got us thinking about the health benefits of our morning cuppa.

Here we examine the advantages of regularly drinking various teas.

Coffee leaf tea

In 2013 scientists found that tea brewed from the leaves of coffee plants is high in compounds that are good for human health.

Dr Aaron Davies said: “What was surprising was how many antioxidants are in the coffee leaves. They are much higher than those in green tea and normal black tea.“

The leaves of arabica coffee plants in particular were found to have high levels of a chemical called ‘mangiferin’ which is known for its healthy properties. Mangiferin has been found to reduce the risk of diabetes and blood cholestrol, whilst also protecting neurons in the the brain.

Green tea

[Photography: Alamy]

Green tea has a high concentration of a polyphenol called EGCG which seems to affect human health and disease. The antioxidants in green tea have been suggested to help with breast, lung and stomach cancers, amongst others.

Dark chocolate and green tea is the perfect concentration combination

It has also been claimed that a cup of the green stuff can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s as well as improve cholesterol levels.

Black tea

Scientists have found those who drink two or three cups of black tea a day are 50 per cent less likely to exhibit early early signs of dementia compared to those who did not drink it.

Studies have also suggested that it may reduce the risk of stroke and protect lungs against damage from cigarette smoke.

Peppermint tea

[Photography: Alamy]

Peppermint tea is believed to aid digestion and combat stress.

The menthol present in the tea acts as a muscle relaxant which helps to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety people suffer from.

Oolong tea

Due to its high levels of antioxidants, drinking oolong tea has been found to lower cholesterol levels in a number of studies.

Camomile tea

[Photography: Rebecca Gray]

As well as being linked to longer life for women, scientists have also claimed drinking camomile tea could help keep diabetes under control.

Camomile tea is also considered to be a skincare treatment due to its cleansing and moisturising properties.


This article was published by Saffron Alexander in The Telegraph on 22nd May 2015, under the title “From peppermint to oolong: the health benefits of different teas”

Posted 426 weeks ago

[Photography: Blu Top]

Stand aside, cups and cones. Ever since Soho steamed-bun supremos Bao put Horlicks ice-cream in a doughnut-batter shell on their menu, the ice-cream sandwich (once the naffest snack in the corner-shop freezer) has been in the ascendant.

Like most food trends, it began life in the US – but at the turn of the last century, Manhattan pushcart vendors would slap their frozen wares between wafers. Today, even carb-dodging Angelenos will queue for churro ice-cream sandwiches at Churro Borough in Los Feliz, and Luca & Bosco’s adults-only whisky ice-cream squished between fudgy brownie slabs is an NYC institution.

Here in blustery Britain, the ice-cream sandwich took a while to catch on. “We had a pitch in Covent Garden when we first started, and nobody walking past knew what to make of it,” says Margaux Simon of Milo & Hector’s, who unveiled the UK’s first ice-cream sandwich truck in 2014. “Of all the countries to sell ice-cream in… But I just had a feeling they’d take off.”

[Photography: Milo & Hector]

Today, she and her co-founders dispense diner-style combinations like peanut butter with double-chocolate cookies from their dinky 1965 Piaggio van – Giuseppe – across the UK and further afield (they’ve just got back from a trip to Dubai). Demand has been so huge that they’re launching a range of packaged ice-cream sandwiches this summer.

What is it about ice-cream sandwiches that’s made them so of the moment? “There’s this weird paradox to how we eat now,” says Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur of Camden Market’s Chin Chin Labs, the first ice-cream parlour in the country to use liquid nitrogen. “We’re all having really healthy stuff for lunch, but come the evening we want maximum indulgence. Ice-cream between two brownies really captures that.”

[Photography: Richard Makin of Blu Top Ice Cream in front of their dinky van]

Launched in 2014, his ‘brownwiches’ now account for 20 per cent of Chin Chin Labs’ total sales. He stresses that they aren’t simply culinary showboating. “A cone doesn’t add much to the experience, and it’s hard to find really good ones unless you make them yourselves. But with ice-cream sandwiches, the shell has the potential to change the whole dessert for the better – and there’s no wooden spoon that’s going to impair the flavour of the ice cream when you lick it. It’s an evolution.”

A big part of ice-cream sandwiches’ appeal must be how well they slot into our camera-centric lives. The clash of colours and textures makes them gloriously photogenic – and their structure means it’s a doddle to snap them on your phone before you dive in.

[Photography: a berry-licious Blu Top sandwich]

“Food is so visual these days,” agrees Richard Makin of Blu Top Ice Cream, whose quirky ice-cream sandwiches are the toast of Instagram. “That’s the main reason I chose to add toppings to mine – it really makes them pop.”

He’s been selling hundreds of them a day on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at London street markets over the past year. Customers choose their cookies (brown-butter chocolate chip, for instance), ice-cream (his current favourite is Garden Gate: rosemary-infused sweet cream swirled with honey and candied pecans) and sprinkles, then watch as their sandwich is built for them.

Makin cheerfully admits he’s obsessed – it took him 400 goes to bake the perfect cookie. “They can’t be too thick, or too dry, but they do need to be a bit crispy. It’s all about what I call ‘bitethroughability’ – you have to be able to get all the way through the cookie to the ice cream.”

For him, the ice-cream sandwich is much more than just a foodie flash-in-the-pan. “There’s something very nostalgic about them, and they’re simple to make yourself. In a funny sort of way they’re a very humble dessert – just good ice cream, and good cookies. That’s it.”

Salted-caramel ice cream sandwiches recipe

Easy to make ahead and with serious wow-factor, ice-cream sandwiches are perfect for parties. Try this super-indulgent recipe from Blu Top Ice Cream’s Richard Makin.


This article was published on 7th April 2016 by  Emma Hughes in The Telegraph, under the title “This summer’s coolest trend? The ice-cream sandwich”

Posted 426 weeks ago
Posted 427 weeks ago

[Photography: cups of miso soup - Credit: Andrew Twort]

Fermented soybeans mixed with fungus might not sound like culinary nirvana, but this moreish and intensely savoury Japanese seasoning – otherwise known as miso – is fast becoming an adored kitchen staple in the UK.

Sceptical? Sainsbury’s has reported a 32.5 per cent increase in sales of its own-brand miso paste in the past 12 months on the back of a boom in the popularity of Japanese ingredients. Scan restaurant menus and social media these days and it’s everywhere, anointing traditional Japanese seafood dishes right through to modern salads, desserts and even chocolate.

So what is it, exactly? Miso is as much an ancient art form as it is a highly prized condiment, made by fermenting soybeans, salt, the gut-friendly fungus Aspergillus oryzae (known as a koji mould) and sometimes rice or barley, traditionally in cedar kegs.  The paste comes in hundreds of different varieties, from sweet and mild to salty and pungent, depending on the grains, the length of fermentation and the region in which it is made.

Miso’s popularity dovetails with the current craze for all things fermented; like kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt, it contains good-for-you live bacteria believed to promote gut health. Miso is also loaded with protein, and in Japan it’s sold in vending machines alongside green tea as a hangover cure. But miso’s ’umami’ – the recently recognised complex, salty and savoury ‘fifth taste’ – is what really wins hearts in the kitchen. Miso is basically a flavour bomb; if you have a jar languishing at the back of your fridge, dust it off.

[Photography: fermented food such as miso (top right) and kimchi (bottom left) have become very popular - Credit: Haarala Hamilton]

I’ve used miso for years in Japanese dishes, from simple and soothing miso broth spiked with tofu, to glazes for poultry and fish. Australian chef and food writer Bill Granger introduced me to the wonders of miso butter; he pairs his with barbecued corncobs and I now slather my own version on everything from toast to steamed greens and roast vegetables. I also stir it into soups, stews and dressings simply to add depth of flavour.

Newly opened Frenchie restaurant in London’s Covent Garden serves a dish of veal and scallop tartare with miso and Parmesan for a double umami hit, while Peruvian restaurant Pachamama’s lamb belly with jalapeno and miso puree has won rapturous praise from critics. Some chefs are spooning miso into puddings, too. Chef and food writer Steve Parle says miso sticky toffee pudding is a winner, while London’s newest Japanese restaurant Sosharu has apple pie with miso butterscotch on the menu.

“It’s a great to use rather than salt because it imparts a totally unique level of seasoning,” says Anton Piotrowski, Chef Patron at Michel-starred The Treby Arms and executive chef at Glazebrook House Hotel in Devon. “It’s great for marinating fish and poultry, and we use it in a caramelized cauliflower puree with squid ink to go with scallops because it’s so high in umami. We’ve also used it in a white chocolate and custard tart, which was awesome, and with high quality chocolate and salted caramel.”

Bonnie Chung, founder of the UK’s first dedicated miso brand, Miso Tasty and author of Miso Tasty: The Cookbook (Pavilion, released August 11), says miso paste is a hugely useful pantry staple.

“Mix it with olive oil and mustard for an instant protein-packed dressing, and add a squeeze of lemon and a dash of rice wine for a marinade for fish, veg or chicken,” she suggests. “If you love salted caramel, melt down a teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon of red miso for a quick salted-caramel flavoured sauce. It’s also brilliant for pouring over ice cream or for making chewy sweet and savoury popcorn. “Just like cheese and wine, the longer miso is fermented, the darker its colour and the more intense its flavour, so choose according to your taste. “It has the ease of use of a jar of pesto, the depth of flavour of a rich beef stock and the versatility of butter,” she says. What are you waiting for?

Marvellous miso recipes

One pot ginger-miso roast pumpkin and mushrooms

Miso mushrooms

Sirloin steak with miso

Classic miso soup

Miso and sweet potato cheesecake


This article was published in The Telegraph on 15th March 2016 by Sue Quinn, under the title “Why Britain has gone mad for miso”

Posted 427 weeks ago

[Photography: Eduard Bonnin/Stocksy]

Can you drink yourself pretty? In April 2015, Japanese brewing company Suntory launched a new light beer called Precious that contains two grams of collagen in each can. Suntory claims that drinking collagen — a naturally occurring protein that gives skin its elasticity — will make you look younger. When injected, collagen does reduce signs of aging by making skin look plump and smoothing out lines and wrinkles. But there is no scientific evidence that drinking collagen will make you look prettier; in fact, because collagen is a protein, your digestive system will just break it down before it even has a chance to reach your skin.

So collagen-infused beer may not be the fountain of youth, but regular beer does come with many surprising health benefits, from brightening your smile to heading off dementia. While you may hear more about the healthy effects of red wine, beer is just as rich in beneficial chemicals called polyphenols.

Here are eight healthy reasons to enjoy a brewsky once in a while:

1 - Beer Fights Inflammation

[Photography: Getty Images]

Hops, the female flowers of the hop plant, give beer its tangy, bitter taste. These bright green buds are also chock-full of chemicals known as bitter acids, which have an array of health-promoting effects. Bitter acids are powerful inflammation fighters, according to a 2009 laboratory study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. One type of bitter acid, humulone, offers promise for both preventing and treating viral respiratory infections in a 2013 study funded by Japanese beer manufacturer Sapporo.

2 - Beer Aids Digestion

[Photography: Getty Images]

Bitter acids in beer may also improve digestion. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at five types of German and Austrian beer and found that each triggered the release of gastric acid from stomach cells. The more bitter acids a brew contained, the greater the response. Gastric acid is key for both digesting food in the stomach and controlling the growth of dangerous gut bacteria.

3 - Beer May Prevent Some Cancers

[Photography: Getty Images]

Lots of chemicals found in beer have shown promise in preventing or even treating cancer — although studies so far have been in Petri dishes and rodents. One type of bitter acid, lupulone, wiped out tumors in rats with colon cancer who consumed it in their drinking water, according to a 2007 study published in Carcinogenesis. Xanthohumol, another beer ingredient, also looks promising. A 2010 study by an Austrian research team found that xanthohumol shut down abnormal cell growth and prevented DNA damage in rats exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. The researchers say xanthohumol is likely to be good for humans too, since its cancer-fighting effects were seen at relatively low doses — equivalent to what people would get with moderate beer consumption.

4 - Beer Builds Bones

[Photography: Getty Images]

Beer is a great source of silicon, which is important for building and maintaining healthy bones. In fact, the form of this mineral that’s found in beer, orthosilicic acid, is extra easy for the body to metabolize, according to a 2013 report in the International Journal of Endocrinology. If you’re looking for a brew that will build your bones, try an India pale ale. IPAs and other beers with lots of malted barley and hops are the best  beer sources of silicon, according to a 2010 report from University of California, Davis researchers.

5 - Beer Is Heart-Healthy

[Photography: Shutterstock]

Huge studies have found a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease in people who drink from one-half to two drinks daily, compared to abstainers. And alcoholic beverages that are rich in polyphenols — think beer! — may be especially good for the heart, according to a 2012 research review.

Beer has benefits for people who already have heart disease, as well as for healthy folks. Men who had survived a heart attack were nearly half as likely to die over the next 20 years if they drank a couple of beers a day, Harvard researchers reported in 2012.

6 - Beer ‘Polishes’ Your Teeth

[Photography: Adam Hester/Getty Images]

That slimy stuff that collects on your teeth if you haven’t brushed in a while? It’s called biofilm, and beer can keep it from forming — and even help get rid of it. UK researchers tested the effects of several plant-derived extracts on bacteria that form biofilm and promote tooth decay and gum disease. Even the weakest extract of beer tested blocked the activity of bacteria associated with gum disease and tooth decay in the study, published in 2012 in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. In fact, for wiping out biofilm, beer beat out black-tea, raspberry, and all other extracts tested. It was also among the best for blocking communication among dental-disease-causing bacteria.

7 - Beer Protects Brain Cells

[Photography: Katie Nesling/Getty Images]

Xanthohumol — that chemical found in beer that can shrink liver tumors in rats — can also protect brain cells from oxidative damage, according to a 2015 study from China. Austrian researchers reported in 2013 that xanthohumol and other beer ingredients promoted the growth and development of neurons — in the lab.

8 - Beer Prevents Kidney Stones

[Photography: Warren Goldswain/Stocksy]

A study in nearly 200,000 patients published in 2013 showed that while sugary soda and punch boosted kidney-stone risk, beer drinking reduced the likelihood of kidney stone formation by 60 percent. “Our study suggests that beer consumption is associated with reduced risk of forming stones in three large U.S. cohorts,” says Pietro Manuel Ferraro, MD, of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.


This article was published on 16th March 2015 by Anne Harding in Everyday Health, under the title “8 ways beer is good for you”

Posted 428 weeks ago
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