Microplastics Found in More Than 90% of Bottled Water

The Free Press WV

Bottled water isn’t just surrounded by plastic, it’s permeated with it, according to a new study. Researchers at the State University of New York tested 259 bottles of water bought in nine countries, including the US, and found that 93% of them were contaminated with tiny plastic particles, the Guardian reports. The team says they found an average 10.4 pieces of plastic at least the size of a hair per liter. An average of 314 smaller particles per liter were also believed to be plastic. Some bottles had thousands of particles. The researchers say that despite some bottled water brands being marketed as purer, contamination was around double that found in an earlier study on microplastic contamination of tap water.

Researchers, who used dye to detect the particles, say there are many ways the microplastics could have entered the water, including from the plastic bottle tops. The health implications of consuming microplastics are still unclear, though researchers warn that they can absorb harmful chemicals. “If you’ve ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can’t scrub the orange color out, that’s a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals,“ Max Liboiron of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research tells the CBC. The World Health Organization says it plans to review the possible risks of consuming microplastics, the BBC reports.

Not a fan of broccoli? You will be adding cheese and garlic

The Free Press WV

My sister, Mary Pat, is a great cook and an even better baker. Sweets are her thing but as the mother of three active boys, dinner always comes first_chronologically speaking!

One recent night, I had dinner at her house. When I asked if there was anything that I could do to help, she replied that it was all done. When I arrived, the house smelled divine as the Chicken Marbella was already in the oven.

We enjoyed a glass of wine as she cleaned and trimmed some broccoli, apologizing for making it because it is well known in my family that I am not a fan of broccoli, but everyone else loves it. I answered that it was OK, it would give me even more room for her raspberry-topped Tres Leche Cake that was resting in the refrigerator. When I think about eating a well-balanced meal, I have long wanted to like broccoli, but spinach always trumped broccoli_at least up until now.

As we sat down, Mary Pat brought the steaming broccoli dish to the table. It actually looked promising. Bright green florets with a dusting of Parmesan cheese and the rich smell of roasted garlic. I had to try it. It was really good. I ate every piece and had a second helping. And, the next morning, I was still thinking about the broccoli.

My sister adapted the recipe from a popular pasta that her Italian friend Roberto Broglia, owner of the legendary but now closed restaurant Pasta Mia in Washington D.C., made.

Mary Pat remembered that he blanched the broccoli florets, tossed them with a generous amount of garlic olive oil and caramelized garlic cloves. He added the garlicky vegetable to al dente pasta and finished it with lots of real Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of red-pepper flakes.

As my sister started cooking for her family, she looked for new ways to make broccoli that was both healthy and delicious. She remembered the broccoli pasta and started making it sans pasta, and the rest is history. Now, I have broccoli on my home rotation. Will wonders never cease?


Servings: 4-6

Start to finish: 20 minutes

1 head of broccoli

1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves

1/2-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

Pinch of red-pepper flakes, optional

Trim the broccoli and cut off the florets. I like to cut them in the natural clumps that you can see, but you can also slice the florets down the middle of the “trunk” and cut the florets in half or in quarters if they are really large. Place these in a bowl and run cold water to wash over them to wash away any dirt. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the raw garlic cloves and the oil in a small saucepan with a lid and simmer on low heat until the cloves are caramelized and brown and the oil is fragrant, about 15 minutes. If the garlic isn’t golden enough, increase the heat and tilt the pan until all the garlic is submerged in the oil. Season the oil with a pinch of salt. Set aside, but keep warm. If you make the oil and garlic in advance, warm on the stovetop or in the microwave before using to season the hot blanched broccoli.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a teaspoon of salt and stir. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the florets to a clean serving bowl. Do not plunge them in ice water because you want them warm to absorb the garlic and cheese.

Pour the oil and garlic cloves over the broccoli. Toss the broccoli and dust liberally with the grated parmesan cheese. If you like things a little spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Serve immediately. It is best eaten warm or at room temperature.


Nutrition information per serving: 156 calories; 112 calories from fat; 12 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 411 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 5 g protein.

Cabbage soup, not the boiled diet version, can be glorious

The Free Press WV

The mere mention of cabbage soup in my household makes my husband a little stressed, and with good reason.

He remembers all too well the cabbage soup diet fad that I talked him into trying before our wedding. To be fair, I wasn’t alone: Everyone was making this magical cabbage soup, and eating it multiple times a day, with the hope of nourishing our bodies while also making them bikini-beautiful. I’m not proud to admit, I was caught up in the hype. But a week or two in, I couldn’t stand the soup for one more minute — the way my apartment smelled like a dirty sock, the taste of the soup itself, and according to my husband, my personality went from general pleasant to downright cranky.

Nearly 20 years later, I decided it might be worth trying to concoct a tastier version of cabbage soup, not as a diet, but just as an addition to our soup rotation. After all, cabbage is incredibly healthy, and I’m definitely a fan of veggie soups to boost nutrition. It took some major convincing for my husband to try any cabbage soup at all. In fact, he didn’t even want it cooking in the house - olfactory memory is powerful. So, I tinkered one week when he was out of the country for work. And I discovered a genius way to sidestep the strong smell and taste of the boiled cabbage of yesterday: leave the cabbage raw. It was so simple, but would it work?

It worked perfectly! The key is to cut the cabbage very thinly, or shred it on a grater or in a food processor. Or, simply buy the slaw already sliced for coleslaw. Whip up a simple vegetable broth with onions, garlic and ginger and pour the steaming broth over the cabbage just before serving. (You could even use store-bought broth and it would be fine.) The cabbage softens just enough to be pleasant - almost noodle-like - but stays fresh, light and tasty, absolutely zero hint of the old boiled soup days. Even though it’s truly delicious (my husband agrees), I’m glad we aren’t stuck eating any cabbage soup for weeks on end.


Servings: 4

Start to finish: 25 minutes

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 5 or 6 slices

5 cloves of garlic, smashed

4 1/2 cups of water

2 teaspoons mild yellow or white miso paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup shelled edamame

4 cups shredded or very thinly sliced green cabbage

1 cup shredded carrot


Chopped green onion

Chopped fresh cilantro, mint, and basil

Hot chili sauce, optional

Make the broth: In a large sauce pan, cook the onion and ginger in the olive oil, stirring, over medium heat until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional couple of minutes until very fragrant. Add the water and bring to a boil. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then simmer on medium until the broth takes on a mild flavor, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, divide the edamame, cabbage and carrot among four serving bowls. Once the broth is ready, remove the onion, garlic and ginger with a slotted spoon and discard the aromatics. (Or strain the broth through a sieve.) Return the broth to the heat, and whisk in the miso paste, soy sauce and lime juice.

Taste the broth and adjust seasoning, adding more miso, soy sauce or lime juice if desired. Pour the steaming broth on top of the cabbage in the bowls, and top with sliced green onion, fresh herbs (cilantro, mint and basil mixed together are perfect), and a dash of hot sauce, if desired. Cabbage will soften slightly as it sits.


Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories; 19 calories from fat; 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 255 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 4 g protein.

NE’s Maple Syrup Season Off to an Early Start

The Free Press WV

The annual maple season got off to another early start with warmups in parts of New England, reports the AP, and producers are hopeful the recent cold and snow will extend it. Some producers in Vermont, the country’s largest producer of maple syrup, have been going strong and producing a fair amount since mid-February, though historically the season has been later, per the Vermont Maple Sugar Producers Association. “It’s a little disturbing that we’re starting so early. It’s getting to be the norm almost,“ said Doug Bragg, of Bragg Family Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop in East Montpelier. “But the thing is that when it starts early, you know it’s going to get cold again, so you almost, so far, you get kind of two shots at it. It’s almost like a second little season.“

It takes warm days and freezing nights for sap to flow in maple trees. But when temps get too high, the season abruptly ends with the appearance of buds on maple trees. According to the USDA, Vermont’s maple season has started in early January the past three years but historically has started in late February. More sugar makers are getting their taps in earlier, so they’re ready for those early sap flows. Producers along the coast and in southern New Hampshire had early sap runs during late January and early February. In Maine, however, some syrup makers are just getting started in the northern part of the state. To the south, it’s a different story. “The fear is that it’s so warm that the season will end soon,“ said Michael Bryant, of Hilltop Boilers Maple Syrup in Newfield. The Maine governor’s annual ceremonial tree-tapping event is on March 20. “We’ll be done making syrup before then,“ he said.

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