Articles filed under Food

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  • Study: Early exposure to peanuts prevents allergies Feb 23, 2015 4:05 PM
    For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do. Exposing infants like these to peanuts before age 1 actually helped prevent a peanut allergy, lowering that risk by as much as 81 percent, doctors found. Instead of provoking an allergy, early exposure seemed to help build tolerance. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the results “without precedent” and said in a statement that they “have the potential to transform how we approach food allergy prevention.” His agency helped fund the study, the largest and most rigorous test of this concept. Results were published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at an American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference in Houston. A big warning, though: The babies in the study were checked to make sure they didn’t already have a peanut allergy before they were fed foods that included peanuts, so parents of babies thought to be at risk for an allergy should not try this on their own. “Before you even start any kind of introduction these children need to be skin-tested” to prevent life-threatening reactions, said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, an allergy specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Also, small children can choke on whole peanuts, so smooth peanut butter or other peanut-based foods are safer, said Gruchalla, who wrote a commentary on the study in the journal. The main finding — that early exposure to a problem food may keep it from becoming a long-term problem — should change food guidelines quickly, she predicted. “Isn’t it wild? It’s counterintuitive in certain ways and in other ways it’s not,” she said. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade and now affect more than 2 percent of kids in the United States and growing numbers of them in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Peanuts are the leading cause of food allergy-related severe reactions and deaths. Unlike many other allergies, this one is not outgrown with age. Food allergies often are inherited, but research suggests they also can develop after birth and that age of exposure may affect whether they do. Researchers at King’s College London started this study after noticing far higher rates of peanut allergies among Jewish children in London who were not given peanut-based foods in infancy compared to others in Israel who were. The study involved more than 600 children ages 4 months to 11 months old in England. All were thought to be at risk for peanut allergy because they were allergic to eggs or had eczema, a skin condition that’s a frequent allergy symptom. All had been given skin-prick tests to make sure they were not already allergic to peanuts. They were put into two groups — 530 who did not show signs of peanut allergy and 98 others with mild-to-moderate reactions, suggesting an allergy might be developing. Half of each group was assigned to avoid peanuts and the other half was told to consume them each week, usually as peanut butter or a snack called Bamba, a peanut-flavored puff. The results at 5 years of age: • Among children with no sign of allergy on the skin test: Only 2 percent of peanut eaters developed a peanut allergy versus 14 percent of abstainers. • Among children with some reaction to peanuts on the skin test: Only 11 percent of peanut eaters developed an allergy versus 35 percent of abstainers. Hospitalizations and serious reactions were about the same in all groups. Questions remain: How much peanut protein do infants need to consume, how often and for how long, to avoid allergy? If a child stops eating peanuts for a while, will an allergy develop? Would the same approach work for other foods such as milk, eggs and tree nuts? “These questions must be addressed, but we believe that because the results of this trial are so compelling, and the problem of the increasing prevalence of peanut allergy so alarming, new guidelines should be forthcoming very soon,” Gruchalla and Dr. Hugh Sampson of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York write in the medical journal. American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines used to recommend against giving children foods with peanuts before age 3, but that advice was dropped in 2008 because there was no evidence it was preventing allergies. Now, most parents introduce peanut-based foods as is appropriate for the child’s age, like other solid foods. Gruchalla thinks that babies with some signs of a peanut allergy risk, such as parents who are allergic, should have a skin test between 4 and 8 months of age. If it’s negative, they should be started on peanut products as the babies in this study were. If they show some sensitivity to peanuts, a “food challenge” monitored by a doctor experienced at this should be tried. For children who already have peanut allergies, researchers have been experimenting with small regular amounts of exposure to try to train them to tolerate those foods. But these are still experimental and must be done with the help of a doctor.

     
  • From the food editor: Aurora grocer collects recipes for second edition cookbook Feb 23, 2015 11:18 AM
    Wondering how to make rabbit stew? Open up a copy of the newly minted second edition of “Prisco’s Family & Friends’ Cookbook.” The popular Aurora grocery store earlier this month released its new cookbook that features 329 recipes from more than 100 contributors. Not game for game? Try Baked Ziti with Sausage.

     
  • Des Plaines alderman says farmers market will return this summer Feb 19, 2015 9:34 AM
    Des Plaines Alderman Patti Haugeberg is confident that a farmers market will return to the city’s downtown this summer after being on hiatus for several years. Haugeberg, the 1st Ward alderman who represents the downtown area, said this week that she’s working with a potential operator who has nine years experience running farmers markets and other events.

     
  • Sysco sued for its attempt to buy rival US Foods in Rosemont Feb 19, 2015 4:29 PM
    U.S. trade regulators seek to block the merger of Sysco and US Foods. Sysco vows to fight.

     
  • Naperville woman growing organic farm idea to help veterans Feb 20, 2015 8:16 AM
    Naperville cafe owner Veronica Porter is working to bring organic farming back to her agricultural hometown. Porter is finalizing plans to open Veterans Victory Farm, an organic specialty crop business that would employ military members returning from service with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. “I really feel strongly that this is the generation we need to take our food system back,” Porter said. “People really want food that is local and organic and seasonal.”

     
  • Beef Wellington Bites Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    Mini Beef Wellingtons stuffed with blue cheese will draw rave reviews from guests at your Oscar party.

     
  • Sweet Potato, Collard and Black-Eyed Pea Soup Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    This cold-weather soup starts with a brilliant base: a vegetable broth made from sweet potatoes, which get pureed to give it a lovely color and a body previously found only in meat stocks.

     
  • Five steps to a more germ-free kitchen Feb 18, 2015 6:01 AM
    Even the tidiest kitchens might be harboring harmful bacteria, and often where they’re least expected. Paying more attention to a few often-overlooked places can help keep your household safer, experts say. For starters, home cooks should have four watchwords, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: clean, separate, cook and chill. Watch for cross-contamination, particularly with meats and vegetables; cook everything thoroughly; and keep both raw and cooked foods sufficiently cold when needed.

     
  • Farmhouse ales, German wines the right match for Chinese takeout Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    What wine pairs best with Chinese takeout? Short answer: beer. The truth is, typical takeout, with its bold flavors of ginger, chili and soy sauce, is enough to stump even the savviest sommelier. But there’s hope for those who want wine with their wontons: Think German.

     
  • Culinary adventures: Pastry-wrapped beef-mushroom bites steal the show at an Oscar party Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    Far from the Hollywood lights suburban movie and food enthusiasts are planning their Oscar-watching parties. Forget about popcorn and Raisinettes. These menus include recipes inspired by the nominated movies or their actors. Penny Kazmier shares her recipe for mini Beef Wellington Bites that pay homage to such movies as "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything."

     
  • Vegetarian table: Broth, no bones about it  Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    Sweet potato broth. Those words made Washington Post Joe Yonan stop in his tracks. He'd been hearing a lot lately about "bone broth," and now this in a recipe out of the new cookbook “Soul Food Love.” The story is that Alice Randall needed a vegetarian substitute for her classic soup, and she and her daughter came up with the sweet potato idea. It’s simple enough: You simmer a cut-up sweet potato with aromatic vegetables and water (and some cloves) until it’s tender, and you fish out those cloves and puree the rest.

     
  • Ask the nutritionist: Making the link between vinegar and blood sugar Feb 18, 2015 6:00 AM
    Research remains inconclusive on the link between vinegar and lower blood sugar. Several controlled trials – in healthy people and those with diabetes – have found that when people consume about two teaspoons of vinegar with a high-carbohydrate meal, the rise in blood sugar and insulin following the meal are lower than after a similar meal without vinegar.

     
  • Shao Mai — Dim Sum Dumplings Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    Ground chicken or pork can be used to fill shao mai, a traditional Chinese dumpling served during dim sum.

     
  • Mike’s Tomato Sauce Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    Homemade tomato sauce is good on veal parmigiana or other pasta.

     
  • Blue Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    A bit of creole spice kicks up blue cheese-stuffed mushrooms.

     
  • Veal Parmigiana Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    Cook of the Week Michael McCraren spikes the tomato sauce for his veal parmesan with port, a trick he learned from his Uncle John.

     
  • Christmas Eve Angel Hair Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    Butter garlic angel hair pasta is a favorite Christmas Eve dish at Cook of the Week Michael McCraren’s house.

     
  • From the Food Editor: Try Chinese steamed dumplings at home Feb 17, 2015 6:00 AM
    Chinese cooking expert and author and Gurnee resident Ying Stoller admitted that it’s tough to pull off a dim sum brunch at home since one of the appeals of the experience is the ability to try a number of items. Yet that shouldn’t stop you from trying steamed dumplings — a staple of the dim sum cart — in your own kitchen.

     
  • Cook of the Week: Rail museum volunteer restores dining car recipes Feb 17, 2015 2:46 PM
    Cook of the Week Mike McCraren is a railroad buff and a foodie. He's combined these two passions by cooking and serving historically accurate meals on vintage dining cars at the Illinios Railway Museum in Union.

     
  • Carbs saddled by rap as the new diet villain Feb 15, 2015 7:00 AM
    It’s become popular to think of foods as either good or bad, something to eat or something to avoid. Carbohydrates, which had their moment as a good food back when fat was the bad guy, are now being blamed in part for the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But are carbs really so bad?

     
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