Category: General Articles

Understanding French Cheeses

Understanding French Cheeses

If there is one group of people in this world who love their cheese, it’s the French. If you are new to French cuisine it may come as surprise that there are well over 400 varieties of French cheeses. They vary in color, texture and flavor and are made in different regions throughout France using milk from different farm animals. Many French cheeses are named after the areas they are produced. Some of the best known cheeses are Brie, Roquefort, Chevre, Munster, and Camembert.

In addition to the different areas the cheese is produced there are differences in the production techniques. Normal farm house production in which cheese is produced on the farms where the milk gets produced is called the Fremier variety of cheese. Artisanal cheese is produced using milk purchased from nearby areas using traditional methods. Cooperative cheese production is when local people or local dairy farms have joined together to produce their cheese as a unit.

Different kinds of milk will produce noticeable differences in flavor and texture in the cheese. Typically cow milk is the common choice for producing cheese. Langres which is a very soft variety, where the rind is not very thick. Typically eaten the year around, the best time is from March to December. The central part of the cheese is soft and the external rind is made from penicillium candidum.

Comte is a well known French cheese that gets its name from where it is made in the eastern regions of France known as Franche-Comte. This is the most produced cheese in France and has an annual production of more than 40 Kilo tones. Usually made in copper vats the production technique still in use is since the 12th century AD. The cheese is made in circular discs and has a creamy center with a light brown rind. The cheese is mainly made from unpasteurized cow milk and the texture is very creamy.

In addition to cow milk there quite a few cheeses made with milk from sheep. Ossau-iraty is one such variety which is made from Sheep milk. The production happens mainly in the south west of France known as the northern Basque Country and the Bearn regions. Ossau-iraty is one of the two varieties of sheep milk cheese made in France. It is made without the application of heat and mainly done using pressing.

Banon is a variety of French cheese that comes from mostly goat milk but also contains a small amount of cow milk. Produced in the town of Banon in south east France, it comes in smaller packages and has a strong taste.

Charouce is another French cheese that is not as well known as others and also gets its name from the village where it is produced in the Champagne region and is similar in taste to Camembert. The center of the cheese is light creamy and the rind is made form penicillium candidum.

Don’t take my word for it. Taste for yourself. The best way to learn more about French Cheeses is to attend a tasting at your local gourmet food store.…

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Relieve Neck Pain and Back Pain Caused by Computer Use

Relieve Neck Pain and Back Pain Caused by Computer Use

For the millions of us that spend our days working at a computer, it’s not at all unusual to experience chronic tension and pain in the upper back and neck areas. In this article, we’ll talk about what muscles are getting overwhelmed by this repetitive stress, and what we can do to get out of pain and integrate the upper back with the rest of the body.

The upper back and neck is an easy area to ‘hunch up’ and hold tension. The muscles there tend to volunteer themselves for all activities that the upper back needs strength for, like carrying groceries or a child, or reaching up for something on a shelf. They also tend to hunch up unnecessarily as we reach our arms forward to type on a keyboard, or drive a car, and sometimes get stuck! In this way they get stressed and overused, and other muscles that could support their function aren’t involved.

“Codependent” Muscles: They Want To Do It All For You!

A habitual place to carry tension is in the upper back and neck. The shoulder shrugging muscles have a tendency to jump in and try to do actions for us that aren’t their job (try this: lying on your back with knees bent, do an abdominal crunch, and then curl your right elbow to your left knee. See if you can get your right shoulderblade completely off the floor without lifting your shoulder up to your ear – those muscles are going to want to pitch in!). As a result, they tend to be constantly contracted to the point that they don’t know how to release, resulting in chronic neck pain and upper back pain.

In addition, the ‘hunched forward’ shape that we make with our shoulders and arms when we are typing on a keyboard (or driving a car) pulls the shoulder blades away from each other and stresses one set of ‘tug-of-war’ muscles while weakening the other.

My Job Requires That I Sit at A Computer

So how do we take care of this sensitive and overworked area, when we can’t get away from the requirements of our daily lives?

1. Take a hot bath, or get a massage. A hot bath softens the muscles (try using Epsom salts as well to draw out the ache) and a massage will increase blood and oxygen flow to the area and can release more specific areas of tension and holding.

2. Self Massage. You can get all of the benefits of going to a massage therapist with a self massage tool at home. Self massage tools work to target areas of tension just like a massage therapist would with their fingers, while you control the duration and intensity.

3. Begin a Stretching and Strengthening routine. It’s important to take care of these muscles so that our bodies don’t become permanently stuck in this position, causing further health and posture problems down the road. There are many yoga therapy exercises that target these muscles and relieve neck pain and upper back pain.

Our lives may make certain demands on our bodies that we can’t change, but we can put in a little time and effort to relieve pain, release tension, and feel better overall!…

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Custom Molded Chocolates – Beginner’s Course Part 7

Custom Molded Chocolates – Beginner’s Course Part 7

One of the most popular versions of chocolate candy which is growing more and more in popularity as the seasons go by is flavored chocolate candies. People are no longer as interested in the plain versions of just a chocolate bar or a bar with nuts.

By adding hot and spicy additions to your chocolates, a more mellowed version of the hot and fiery blends added to the sweetness of chocolate will create a tongue tingling version which can make your hair stand on end but still you just keep coming back for more.

More popular though is adding the flavors of raspberry to dark chocolate (the sweet fruit with the bite of a good quality dark chocolate is an excellent combination) or how about trying the milk chocolate with a light touch of amaretto or hazelnut. Any of your milder flavors complement the sweetness of milk chocolate.

With a little bit of practice you can become an expert at making different flavoring blends in no time.

Melt your chocolate wafers per the instructions in lesson 1.

Purchase some candy flavoring oils to begin your journey into flavored chocolates. It is very important to remember, never use any bottle called an extract — these flavors are water-based. You can not mix the oils of chocolate with a water-based liquid. Equally important, adding fresh fruits, whether they are mashed, pureed or whatever, will yield the same impossible results. Chocolate is an oil-based product. It will not stir into the water-based liquids effectively.

Stir in 1-2 drops per each one pound of melted chocolate. This is easiest if you use an eyedropper. Add the oils, stir and taste. If you can sense just a hint of your flavor, stop there. An oil-based flavoring agent will intensify in flavor with time as the chocolate absorbs the flavor and aroma. If you would keep adding more drops until you like the flavor today, within the next few days your candy will be too strong to eat.

After you have reached the flavor consistency you like, reheat the chocolate back to pouring temperature, stir and then finish pouring in whichever design of mold you prefer.

Some more popular flavor combinations include key lime or peanut butter in milk chocolate, almost any of the fruit flavors like orange or cherry with dark chocolate and if you happen to be a fan of white chocolate, the mild flavors of butter, cheesecake, almond etc. are often the most popular selections.

Experiment with the different flavor or add flavors together into different combinations and create your own signature line of chocolates which is most popular with your friends and family.…

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A Better Way to Win the Fight Against Flu and Colds and More!

A Better Way to Win the Fight Against Flu and Colds and More!

This is flu season, and it’s on everyone’s mind how to fight the bug that seems to be so rampant today. Most days at the practice I get questions about flu jabs and things.

Today I’m going to share with you something that is better than any flu jab, and with no side effects either!

Meet the humble vitamin, the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D.

This vitamin is well known for it’s role in healthy bone development and calcium metabolism. However, for the past 30 years, other roles for Vitamin D have been emerging and some recent, well-conducted studies are coming to the fore now and we now know that:

– There is a vitamin D deficiency epidemic worldwide.

– This deficiency is worse in the winter months because there’s not enough sunlight for our skin to make its own vitamin D.

– Vitamin D boosts your immune system and helps it work better.

– Vitamin D has been shown to be protective against colds and flu when taken in adequate amounts, therefore in winter months, when vitamin D levels are particularly low, colds and flu are more common.

– Vitamin D in appropriate levels, is also protective against several forms of cancer.

– Vitamin D deficiency symptoms cause, among other things, depression, joint pain, tiredness (which has often been ‘diagnosed’ as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia), muscle ache, diabetes (Vitamin D helps regulate insulin activity), osteomalacia, osteoporosis, rickets, heart disease.

– The current recommended daily allowance of 400IU/day is not enough to protect you from the major illnesses and symptoms mentioned above – it will protect you from rickets though.

– The level of Vitamin D in your blood should be in a range between 75-150nmol/l. (Get your Dr to test your level asap, to know if you need more vitamin D).

You need to make sure you are well stocked up on Vitamin D, especially in the winter months.

Those at most risk of suffering from dangerous Vitamin D deficiency are: Dark skinned people, obese people, people suffering from malabsorption syndromes eg coeliac, inflammatory bowel disease, the elderly, housebound, excess use of sunscreen, anyone who’s not getting enough dietary Vitamin D.

How To Get Enough Vitamin D:

1) Stay out in the sun (sunbathe) for 30 mins each day (this makes your body produce 20,000IU of vitamin D per day.) Clearly not practical though. However, do get as much sun as you can manage.

2) Eat loads of foods containing Vitamin D. Foods like Oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolk. Still won’t give you enough per day, but these things all add up so do this as well.

3) Take a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement (there’s a cheaper counterpart, Vitamin D2, but this form is less effective so you want to avoid it). If you decide to go this route, you’d need to take at least 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day, and depending on your blood level of Vitamin D, you may need to go as high as 5000IU/day. Don’t worry, that’s not a toxic level – studies show that your body can easily tolerate 10,000IU/L (not surprising, considering the body itself can easily make up to 20,000IU per day – a far cry from the 400IU found in many supplements today). If you decide to take a supplement (pure Vitamin D3, the active form of the vitamin), then you definitely need to do a blood test before and after to make sure you remain within the normal range of the vitamin. Ask me which one I recommend if you are interested.

Take home tips: – If you want to win the fight against flu this year, increase your vitamin D levels.

– Get your Dr to request Vitamin D levels for you. Ask for the ‘serum 25-OH Vitamin D’ blood test. Optimise your intake such that you’re well within healthy levels of Vitamin D.

– Take control of your health! Continue eating your veg and fruit (ratio of 3 veg to 2 fruit, mind you)…

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Anti-Aging Properties in Tree Bark

Anti-Aging Properties in Tree Bark

Back in the Middle Ages, witches, the original healers, would boil up a piece of bark from the English willow tree and give the resulting liquid to sick people to cure pain and fever. Today we call it aspirin.

And today we have discovered another tree bark with healing properties. On the west coast of France, cleansed by the fresh winds from the Atlantic Ocean, there is a vast plantation of maritime pine trees, grown especially for a special substance in their bark.

This component of the bark of the French maritime pine tree is one of the most studied of all natural supplements and it appears to impact many diseases because of the way it improves the condition of the blood. By increasing the oxygenation of the blood and destroying free radicals, it helps the body to heal itself. Studies have shown a significant impact on autoimmune diseases that are a major function of aging, like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint conditions.

Double blind studies around the world have shown that it impacts most of the known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, blocking the damage to the lining of the arteries caused by a fatty diet, assisting in lowering high blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol and raising healthy HDL. It relaxes constricted arteries and improves circulation. It reduces the aggregation of platelets that causes blood clots. It helps to offset the damage of smoking on the cardiovascular system.

It has been shown in the laboratory to have a preventative effect on the progression of malignant ovarian cancer cells and an ability to inhibit the growth of leukemia cells.

The good news is that this is a completely natural substance needing no prescription and has no apparent side effects other than an occasional laxative action. Given its beneficial impact on so many diseases of aging, including many not listed here, it is probably going to achieve just as solid and long-lasting a reputation as aspirin. Its name is Pycnogenol.…

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How to Lose Your Belly Fat After Pregnancy

How to Lose Your Belly Fat After Pregnancy

It may not be realistic for you to burn fat quickly a few weeks after giving birth. Moreover, you cannot get rid of fats by exercising selectively on your problem areas. Based on research by the American Council on Exercise, you can lose belly fat effectively by combining regular exercise and the right diet.

Tips on How to Lose Belly Fat after Pregnancy

It is important that you eat the right foods and include an adequate serving of vegetables and fruits in your regular diet. Choose lean protein sources and whole grains, which are packed with essential nutrients. However, make sure you have a sufficient supply of “good fat” or mono and polyunsaturated varieties in your diet. Excellent sources include olive oil, nuts, avocado seeds, and canola oil. You should also consider eating low-dairy food items, as these are not sources of extra calories. Typically, your goal is to consume at least 2200 calories daily, particularly if you are breastfeeding your child.

While exercising can help you lose weight effectively, you should avoid getting into any workout routine if you have given birth recently. You need to give your body some time to heal and establish the milk supply, which your baby needs for optimum health. After you have received a recommendation from your doctor to start a fitness routine, you may already engage in several cardio exercises such as swimming, cycling and walking. Keep in mind to take short breaks if you begin feeling exhausted, and it is not ideal for you to push yourself when your body is very tired.

As you exercise, you may increase the intensity and duration of each workout, so you can improve your endurance. For instance, you may devote at least 45 minutes per day for moderate aerobic exercises, and do this thrice a day. If you think you cannot allot long hours for your workout sessions, then you should maintain two to three sessions each day to eliminate belly fat. You may also include exercises that target the muscles in your abdomen such as crunches, reverse curls and stretches. Consider performing at least 10 minutes for each ab exercise thrice a week. Then, allow your body to recover if you think your body feels sore due to your intensive workout sessions the other day.

Important Considerations

You should remember that a restrictive or strict type of diet is never advisable, specifically for breastfeeding mothers. Ideally, women need at least 1,200 calories each day to ensure good health while others should receive about 2,200 calories, depending on their activity levels. In addition, nursing moms need over 2,000 calories per day to nourish themselves and their baby. Rapid weight loss can lead to a decrease or poor quality in the milk supply. This can also simulate a release of toxins into the bloodstream and into your body’s supply of milk. These toxic elements that can make their way into the bloodstream include persistent organic pollutants and environmental contaminants. With this in mind, you need to follow carefully your doctor’s advice in losing weight effectively, naturally and safely.…

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Espresso Coffee Terminology and History

Espresso Coffee Terminology and History

The original term for the modern word espresso, coffee extracted under pressure, was cream coffee from the Italian caffe crema or the variant, crema caffe. Due to the crema, which is now the light-colored, orangish head of foam on a cup of espresso, these terms were seen on the first modern Achille Gaggia steamless coffee machine in 1938. These terms were used commercially in his coffee bar, but are no longer used.

Today, espresso is known as a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under a high countable pressure, known as a Bar pressure, through finely ground coffee. Today, we also drink this concentrated coffee beverage as coffee breve, which comes from the Italian word for short. Thus, short cream becomes half and half, cream short of full cream is known as whole milk. This quick different coffee brewing method often has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of suspended solids and crema (foam). As a result of the pressurized brewing process, all of the flavors, a chemical sense of taste and smell, in a typical cup of coffee is very concentrated. For this reason, espresso has become the base for other drinks.

These drinks include lattes, which comes from the Italian word for coffee, caff?�. In Italy, the word for milk is latte. When hot milk or warm half-and-half is added it becomes caff?� latte or caffellatte in Italian. These drinks are often called lattes in America as well. A cappuccino is a latte with a steamed milk froth on the top of the drink. The light color of the robes of Capuchin friars inspired a derivation of the word Capuchin as cappuccino. The word macchiato means marked or stained. Thus a macchiato is an espresso that is marked or stained with milk on the top. This is usually an elegant drink with a design made with milk on the top. Baristas love to show off their artistic ability with fancy milk designs. Mocha is an American invention that was inspired by an old Italian drink in Turin, Italy. This drink is made in layers of drinking chocolate, whole milk or half-and- half milk and espresso. This drink is served in small round glasses, like Italians do, to show off the three layers. The word Americano comes from American GIs who toned down the strength of drinks in Italy to match the strength of their drip coffee they drank at home. The Americano was made by adding hot water to their cup after the espresso was poured. Today, an Americano is made by adding water before or after the espresso is put in the cup.

The original espresso to the present espresso and its variations all stem from Italy in one way or another. Many Americans today drink the Italian styles and strengths of Italian coffee. In fact, you can find not only the Italian espresso drinks, but there variations all over the world.…

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