Cookies “Walnuts”

As a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of sweets (not like now), but there were few types of cookies that I absolutely adored. I think part of the reason is because my mum never made them, as some of them needed a lot of time to prepare and she never has time. Another reason might be that we didn’t have some type of devise needed for some them, an example is a type of cookies that are called “Walnuts”, which I am presenting here. I remember looking forward for some special occasions (like Easter, weddings etc.) where one of my mum’s friend will always bring them. This was long long time ago and now thinking about it I don’t remember when was the last time when I had one.

Few months ago a friend was showing me pictures from her travel to Algeria, and she was telling me about it and how she remembers them from her childhood so we shared some memories about it. A month after she sent me a present – a form to make them. To be honest I was quite happy and if it wasn’t me been in between jobs and having my mum over I would have probably tried to make it then immediately this same day. Unfortunately it took some time. Anyway, now everything is a bit more stable and the best part is the guys from new job absolutely love home made cakes and cookies (no one is on diet), so I promised to spoil them … a lot.  My hands were itching to do some backing, so I now I had the time and the occasion to do my childhood beloved “Walnuts” cookies :o) So here is my recipe which was very very delicious, I even made a second batch to bring to a friend:

Ingredients:

For the dough :

  • 125 g butter ( at room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup of yogurt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 t.s. bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 t.s. vanilla
  • pinch of salt

For the cream:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tb.s. flour
  • 4 tb.s. sugar
  • 1 t.s. vanilla
  • 60 g butter
  • 80 g walnuts (grounded)

Method:

First prepare the dough: Start with whisking the butter (125g) at room temperature and the icing sugar (150 g) for about 5 minutes until creamy, then add the egg, the pinch of salt and the vanilla. Next add the yogurt with the soda and whisk quickly to just incorporate. Then add the flour and mix by hand until all is mix well and you have a soft dough.

Make a small balls the size of a hazelnut.

Put the device on the hob and leave it to heat up.

then carefully put each of the small dough balls in the wells and then close it tightly and leave back on the hob, around 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown (see picture). When all of them are ready leave it to cool down and in the mean time make the cream:

Put the milk and the sugar to warm up, dissolve the flour in a bit of cold milk and add to the other milk. Mix constantly while it thickens take it out of the fire and add the butter, vanilla and walnuts. Mix it nicely and the cream is ready.

Now after everything is cooled, with a small spoon fill up the wholes in the shells and then stick them together. Press until the cream start coming out. Clean it carefully and set them aside.

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Although they are really nice looking at this stage I would advice to hide them for at least few hours for the shells to soften a bit and it is absolute winner.

ENJOY!!!

BEST

Katya

Nutrigenomics and Omega 3 – is the knowledge make us choose differently?

Toady I wanted to present a paper that I saw on Friday just coming out form the journal “Nutrients” [Nutrients 2017, 9, 240]. As we discussed before the aim of the Nutrigenomics is to reviled the genetic basis of why people are responding differently to same nutrients and/or food. In long-term the nutrigenomics is expected to give personal advise on what type of foods to eat in order to stay slim and healthy – that the reason why I am fascinated by this branch of the genomics.

The question is always if people knows about there genetic predisposition, are they really going to make the change and go for good toward healthier lifestyle. The few nutrigenetic intervention studies performed to date suggest that YES – individuals who receive personal genetic information may make more changes to their diet compared to controls.

The article I wanted to discuss today is focusing on the Omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), which represent an ideal nutrient to examines they has been shown to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular, metabolic, developmental and cognitive health, but still the western diet is poor on it. Additionally, there is a variant (rs174537) of a gene called FADS1, which is responsible for lower levels of omega 3, so increased consumption of food rich of it is needed to keep healthy levels. The authors aimed to give information about this variant  and see if this will make change on the diet. They had 2 groups of females age 18-25, which were monitored for a period of 12 weeks. Individuals who took omega-3 supplements or in had a diet including fish intake more then 2 times a week were excluded. The two groups are: (1) group 1 (genetic) knew there FADS1 variant and (2) group 2 (non-genetic) didn’t. All were given generic information on the omega-3 consumption and guidelines with the food recommendations.

The study found that both groups had an increase intake of omega-3 rich food by the end of the study and providing individuals with their personal FADS1 genetic information did not lead to significant differences in dietary intake. However, the results suggest that providing individuals with genetic information can increase awareness of omega-3 FA terminology, render generic omega-3 nutritional information more useful in the context of the genetic information, and minimize barriers to the consumption of omega-3 FAs. Consequently, providing individuals with their personal FADS1 genetic information may have an impact on longer-term omega-3 FA intake. One of the criticism for this article I have is that the subjects were only 54 in total, so may be more people need to be included and may be a bit longer period.

The nutrigenomics is relatively young -omics I would be interested in the results in long term, are the changes permanent or at least how long they lasted. Yesterday I saw an article (I don’t remember where, so if I didn’t cite you I am sorry) saying that the contestants in the “Biggest looser”, gain back there wight within 6 years, as slightly they slip back to there previous “unhealthy” regiment and one by one the healthy changes they made during the show, just failed. My personal experience, as I had a very unhealthy lifestyle before and 5 years ago I try to change it for good. I did make a lot of changes and I think as things in life happened I am more prone to go back to the easy high fat unhealthy diet with irregular high in calories meals and from time to time I have my  wake up calls and put my self back on track, but is not always easy.

Please let me know your thoughts on the subject. Do you think if you new your genetic predisposition (ex. FADS1 and others) you will make the change for good?

Best

Katya

 

Peaches cookies

It has been some time since my last recipe and I actually has prepared some pictures for the new one. Few months ago we saw these cookies in a Bulgarian shop and my husband wanted to taste them as they looked very appealing. I like baking and also I always prefer to do it myself rather then buying it, as I know what goes inside and mine goes off (if they survive in a week or less) as the one that we buy form the shop can stay for months and still look and taste as they are just made.

Now I know I am on a diet and trying to be good as I gained few kilos these last few weeks, but I really like backing and this is one of my favorite recipes form my childhood. The peaches are always a hit. So here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 4 eggs
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tea spoon of backing soda
  • 1/2 tea spoon backing powder

For the cream:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped of walnuts

 

  • Marmalade
  • Food coloring (yellow and red)
  • sugar for coating

Preparation:

Switch on the oven to 180 degrees C. Whisk the eggs and the sugar until well blended (1 min). Add the rest of the ingredients and make a soft dough (without over kneading it). Leave it for min 30 min (but no more then 1 hour and a half) in the fridge. After this make a small balls (as big as a a walnuts) and put them on a backing sheet. Have in mind that they will rise so leave them space. Bake for 10-15 min or until golden at 180 degrees C. when the cookies are ready and nicely cooled, dig in the middle part as shown on the picture bellow. (Do not throw the crumbs)

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For the cream put the milk on the stove and when warm add the butter and sugar and mix until the sugar dissolves. take it out of the fire and let it cool for 10 min, add the walnuts and the crumbs from the cookies. It should look something like this:

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Now with using a tea or coffee spoon fill up the cookies with the walnuts and crumbs mixture. After they are ready use the marmalade to stick two of them together. Prepare two bowls with milk – in one add form the yellow coloring in the other one red coloring.

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dip one half in the red coloring and the other half in the yellow one, then sprinkle some crystal sugar on top. In Bulgaria they used to put some green leaves to make it look authentically, but I didn’t have so hope you like it even without. Also if you prefer you can do the coloring before you stick the two halves, it is up to you. Here is also one little secret – they taste even better the next day, if you can hide them :o)

ENJOY!!!

7 simple rules that helped me loose 10 kg

Today I was thinking about the fitness part of my blog and realize that I have not put anything there, so here it is my first fitness post. Honestly I have never though I will say this ever in my life. That is because 5 years ago I was 15 kg more and never in my life was near a gym. Then one Saturday morning I went to my first Zumba class and fell in love.

Then by and by my eating habits changed, my fitness went up and VOALA one day I put my but in size 10 (UK) jeans. The feeling was amazing!!! If I have to be honest thought after this I start been more careful with my diet and still manage to keep it. This I think is not entirely true as the last few months I started gaining weight and loosing track. Not too bad still but I put for my self a line, which I promised never to go over (unless in certain cases).

So the last few days I am trying to remember how I kept it going 5 years ago. As they say if you did it once you can do it again :o) and here I will just try to make a list of all this things:

  1. Been active – I was training 5 times a week for an hour
  2. Reduce the calorie intake, without closing the door for certain foods if you have bad cravings. But just eat half of this nice muffin or just a small piece of chocolate. I always hated to feel restricted and this for me a basic of screwing up with the diets. Just eat everything you like but try to keep the balance.
  3. Clean eating, trying to have lots and lots of vegetables in the meal and a piece of lean meat or an egg or a bit of cheese. I started with making a huge bowls with iceberg salad and then went to small ones and kept the small ones
  4. Don’t buy anything that is naughty! I can keep my hands off putting things in my shopping basket, but if they are in the cupboard – no chance
  5. Always remember then loosing weight is 80% what you put in your mouth and 20% exercises – one doesn’t go without the other. I try with just diet as I changed job recently but it didn’t go fine so now trying to go back doing both
  6. I have seen on the internet people talk a lot about the water, this is the only one thing that I didn’t have to change as I have always drinking lots and lots of water, but if you are on the way to loosing weight and changing your habits, you have to start drinking water
  7. This is not a rule but definitely will help, research showed that if you do it with a friend you are 45% percent more likely to be successful. If you can find a friend is always better if you have a company on the way to the gym or if you feeling that you are going to fail into the trap of a craving someone to call/text and to give you a shoulder in the fight. Someone to go shopping with for the one size less cloths :o). If you can’t find a friend I am more then happy to pair up with you and try to share the experience :o) I am not joking if you want to pair up write me here or just tag me @scifoodfit

Now writing this post I had to remind myself that it is a change that need to be done for in the lifestyle, so I don’t have to put my self in the low, but trying to cut completely some staff and then making it tormenting me psychologically. Here it is the simple rules that helped me loose some weight, having said this do not be fooled, I did eat some biscuit here and there but mainly it was apples and iceberg, it wasn’t entirely flawless journey, but it wasn’t too bad and I believe that if I did it everyone can do it!!!

Best

Introduction to the Nutrigenomic

This week I wanted to introduce you to my main interest, which is the connection between the food and nutrients we consume and the genes and the balance between them. This is studied by a branch of the genomics called Nutrigenomics. To start with will try to summarise here a review paper published in 2015 from one of the leading European centers, which are interested in nutrition and nutrigenomics – Centre for Nutrition Research, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain [Trends in Food Science & Technology 42 (2015) 97e115].
More and more nutrigenetic studies about the effect of inherit variants in our genome on the response to different types of diets. This is the base for personalised approach to the problem with obesity. It is shown so far that specific genes can have impact on the wight loss and may explain the different response to the variety of diets that could be found all over the internet.
The data that is coming about the different gene variances, although it need to be improved and asses for different ethnical backgrounds. However, so far there are variety of tests on the market exploring the gene’s locuses associated with the obesity. This allowed for lots of variances connected with the different obesity related diseases to be found and I guess many more are to follow. Furthermore, the effect size of the currently identified gene-diet interactions in weight loss and the putative relationships to lifestyle or epigenetic modifications is under investigation.
My main idea for the blog was to keep it very simple and somehow it now coming to be really scientific, so will try to summarise first that there is lots of test with are studying your DNA and can tell you what kind of genetic variances you would have and to recommend a diet. (Here I will divert a bit just to clarify that “diet” is not only what is accepted widely the food regiment that is followed for loosing weight, diet is actually the food we eat in general, regardless if it is aimed to loose weight or just to go through the day).
Here I am not going to introduce different genetic variances or to try even to sum them, but I wanted to introduce the subject and I guess there will be quite a few post in good time to introduce more interesting facts about it.

Best
Katya

Gut Microbes may help us gain weigh

As a scientist I am always fascinated by interesting and also funny facts and experiments of course. I will try to keep you up in the loop with some interesting facts.

I will start with a paper that I read recently published in the Journal: “Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism” (Sep 2015, Vol. 26, No. 9). This paper reminded me of something very interesting that I heard years ago on one of my PhD courses. The paper was a review of the current knowledge about the gut microbiota (these are all the microorganisms that are normally living in a symbiotic relationship within the human guts) and its influence on the weight lost/gain and in particular how they affect the regulation of the energy. The scientists discussed few experiments with mice showing that when you put bacteria from the guts of overweight mice into normal weight mice with no bacteria in their guts, they are gaining weight and themselves become overweight. Vice versa when bacteria from the guts of “slim” mice are put in the sterile gut of mice they maintain weight similar to the donor microbiota mice and do not gain weight.

Extrapolating this study to human microbiota this will means that when we eat food like for example cabbage – which should be poor in calories, because in the human tract there no enzymes which will digest it fully and it will pass straight to the other end, there are certain bacteria in our guts which will be helpful and digest to glucose which means that there is more energy for us which if not used is going to be stored as fat. Therefore, you hope you are slimming down eating cabbage but in reality that is not the case. However, don’t worry guys not everything is lost and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The scientist showed that the equilibrium between the different types of bacteria can be moved towards the “good” side of the “slimming” Bacteria after a dieting. In other words if you stop overeating and start leaving the table when you are 80% full, you should be able to reduce the amount of the Bacteria that “help” you gain weight.

As interesting as I find this facts and experiments I would like to stress that this is just one isolated branch of the problem and I will make my best to meet you with different scientific facts about food and eating habits and if there is a connection with genetics or anything else, but please before making any changes in your diet or taking anything extreme consult with a dietitian and your doctor.

Pumpkin muffins with swirls

31st October 2016

Hi guys, I know that I created the blog to share mainly some science news but as I said I love baking and would love my first real post to be about this favorite hobby of mine.

It is a Halloween season and pumpkins are everywhere. I love pumpkin deserts, and knowing that the pumpkin inside has almost 0 calories makes pumpkin dessert even more desirable. The taste and the nice orange color makes it even more appealing.

Lately my husband don’t want me to do any cakes as he is trying to be good and this is almost a straggle for me as my hands ache some times to do some baking. This is what happened last weekend. We went to the shop and when I saw the pumpkin couldn’t resist. Went home and made few different things with it. First I cleaned it collecting of course the seeds and put them in the oven with a bit of salt. Few pieces of pumpkin I roasted with a bit of water, it didn’t like the taste (may be is still early for roasted pumpkins), so I looked up for some recipes found an amazing one from the novice chef (http://www.thenovicechefblog.com/2015/11/pumpkin-cream-cheese-swirl-muffins/). I made a bit of twist with adding some walnuts (they are always welcome with the pumpkin) and the result was fantastic. So here it comes:

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup of walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Small pinch of grounded clove

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup of pumpkin pure (I did it by simply mashing the flesh of the roasted bits with fork)

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sunflower oil (you can use vegetable as well)

1 tsp vanilla

For the swirls:

2 packs cream cheese (180 g each)

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180·C;
  2. Line the wells in a muffin pan with baking paper;
  3. In a bowl mix together with a whisk flour, spaces, walnuts and baking soda;
  4. In another bowl put the pumpkin pure, sugars and the eggs and whisk together (don’t over do it);
  5. Add the oil and vanilla and whisk until combine;
  6. Add the dry ingredients and either mix with a spoon until there are no Lumps and everything is well combined or I prefer to use the whisk for exactly 15 seconds no more because they won’t rise and all we need is just to combine them nicely;
  7. Full the muffin tins 3/4;
  8. In bowl whisk together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla;
  9. Put a spoon full of cream cheese mixture on the top of each muffin;
  10. With a tooth pick lightly try to move a bit from the mixture below over the cream cheese without over mixing;

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  1. Bake for 20 min.

ENJOY!

 

My First blog post … a bit more about the blog and me 

For my first post I just wanted to say few more things about why I started the blog. 

I have been over eight all my life up until 2011, when I found My perfect workout – Zumba. I hate going to the gym, jogging etc. But I love dancing and this is why Zumba wa Amy perfect fit. Then I start looking at my diet, what was I eating , when etc, change many of the old habits and among with the Zumba lost 10 kg in no time, went into the golden zone of BMI (body mass index). Since I am fitting with loosing few more kilograms and hope soon will manage to do it.

In the mean time I am passionate about food and love baking. I was always trying to make something real for my husband to have for breakfast, because I love doing it and doing it so that I can keep him away from the artificial rubbish he usually have for breakfast and replace it with something that I know what is it inside. So as you see I also like the healthy version of the food and will share my thoughts on the subject. 

The Science part will try to keep it clean and understandable and other then the nutrigenomics I will keep you posted about any interesting news I come across from the science field. 

I will be happy to hear your opinion and if you want me to include something more or less in the blog …

Welcome to my world :o)

Katya