Black tea boosts weight loss by altering gut bacteria

    Black tea is one of America's best-loved beverages, accounting for around 80 percent of all tea consumed in the country.

    When it comes to the health benefits, however, black tea is often overshadowed by green tea, which many studies have hailed for its ability to boost weight loss.

    But the new study indicates that black tea should not be disregarded; it may be just as effective as green tea for losing the pounds - it just works in a different way.

    Lead study author Susanne Henning - of the Center for Human Nutrition at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - and colleagues recently reported their findings in the European Journal of Nutrition.

    Both black tea and green tea contain polyphenols. These are antioxidants that protect cellular structures - such as DNA and cell membranes - against damage from free radicals.

    Polyphenols from green tea are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream and body tissues, and studies have shown that they can alter the liver's energy metabolism in a way that promotes weight loss.

    As Henning explains, "Our new findings suggest that black tea, through a specific mechanism through the gut microbiome, may also contribute to good health and weight loss in humans."

    Black tea vs. green tea

    The team came to its findings by studying four groups of mice. Each group followed a different diet for a period of 4 weeks: a high-fat, high-sugar diet; a high-fat, high-sugar diet supplemented with green tea extract; a high-fat, high-sugar diet supplemented with black tea extract; and a low-fat, high-sugar diet.

    The researchers collected liver tissue samples from the rodents in order to measure fat deposits, and they also collected samples from the large intestine, which enabled them to assess bacterial diversity.

    At the end of the 4-week dietary intervention, the researchers found that both the green tea and black tea groups lost weight, and their weights became comparable with the low-fat, high-sugar diet group.

    The study also revealed that both tea groups experienced increases in gut bacteria related to lean body mass and decreases in gut bacteria associated with obesity.

    'A new reason to drink black tea'

    On further investigation, the researchers noticed that black tea and green tea affected the liver metabolism of rodents in different ways.

    Henning explains that the smaller green tea molecules are absorbed more easily, meaning they can reach the liver directly to affect energy metabolism.

    However, black tea molecules are too large to be absorbed in this way. Instead, they remain in the intestine, where they boost the growth of "friendly" gut bacteria and form metabolites that help to control liver energy metabolism.

    It was also found that the black tea group had higher levels of a bacteria called Pseudobutyrivibrio, which they suggest could play a role in the differing effects of green and black tea on energy metabolism.

    Overall, they believe that their findings indicate that black tea may be just as beneficial for health as the widely acclaimed green tea.

    The Best Juice for Healthy Skin


    "Fruit and vegetable juices, prepared in the right combinations, can help you to remove crud from your blood and tissues and restore alkalinity and balance to your system," says Noelle Swatland. "You see the benefits of this crud removal in younger looking skin and greater energy."

    Swatland's favorite skin booster? Cucumber. "Consisting of over 90-percent water, cucumbers are a naturally cooling and hydrating food," she says. Plus, they're rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and silica, which is believed to improve complexion and youthful radiance of your skin.

    1 to 2 cucumbers
    1 small piece apple (optional, for sweetness)

    Shrimp and avocado salad with miso dressing

    One thing about me at a restaurant: I’m an obsessive pre-orderer. The beautiful thing about the fancy techno world of today is that menus are available online, right from my phone, so no matter where I am (at the grocery store? on the elliptical? cleaning the basement, like all the one times per five years that I do that?) I can look up a menu and place my mental pre-order. It’s either more fun or less fun to decide what I’m going to order before I even get to the restaurant, but I must do it. I have to. It’s just a thing.

    I’m sure it’s totally fun for the people I dine with (read: Bjork) when I do this. We get in the car to drive to the restaurant and before we’ve even pulled out of the driveway, I’m asking him what he’s going to order, and he’s giving me THAT look, and I remember, oh yeah, you don’t understand the concept of the pre-order (ahem, weirdo) and you definitely haven’t even looked at the menu. And it’s really likely that you’re not even sure what kind of food is served at this restaurant, but you’re just chill. I think it’s called laid back? I don’t know, it’s foreign to me.

    This salad reminds me of one of my most locked-in-pre-orders of all time from California Pizza Kitchen. That’s right, I just brough CPK to the blog. I was never a huge huuuge fan of CPK but let me tell you what I was a huge huuuge fan of: their miso shrimp and crab salad. Oh my good greens. It was deliciously fresh, crispy, and wonderful. Or is it still? I guess all the CPK’s in our neck of the woods have since closed down, but they probably still exist somewhere, right? Go order this salad if they do.

    So this is a completely simplified version, because maybe I didn’t happen to remember to look for a daikon radish at the grocery store this weekend, okay? And maybe my thumb was too tired from phone usage to shred carrots. AND MAYBE I LIKE SIMPLE. Whatever the reason. I just kept this shrimp and avocado salad really basic.

    Shrimp (spicy, because duh)


    Spinach or Baby Kale


    and Miso Dressing

    Right? Like that’s totally doable. I might also want to recommend this: homemade wonton strips. Just cut wonton wrappers into strips and fry them in a little bit of oil over low heat; drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. You will most likely find yourself in the same predicament that we did, which was sitting down to a big bowl of shrimp and avocado salad only to find that OOPS we ate all the wonton strips already. 900% addicting.

    I kid you not – after frying the strips and prepping the salad, we literally only had one single golden salty fried wonton strip left. Bjork let me put it on my salad. Self-sacrificial romance. One final note about the dressing: it’s a MISO DRESSING. It’s not too hard to find miso paste (I shop at a very regular grocery store and it was right there in the refrigerated food section) but it does have a really unique taste. If you’re not sure, or if you are very sure that you don’t like miso, maybe start with something more like this Chopped Thai Chicken Salad dressing. That’s pretty much a guaranteed pre-order for your own personal kitchen forever.


    White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe


    A usual twist to the regular fare. Bake this white chocolate cheesecake, serve with raspberry crush and impress your loved ones.




    125 gm of butter
    12 Tbsp of sugar
    1 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
    125 gm of all-purpose flour
    225 gm of cream cheese
    120 gm of white compound chocolate
    4 eggs
    Raspberry crush to serve
    Raspberry and strawberry for garnish




    In a large mixing bowl place 3 Tbsp sugar, butter and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, using a rubber spatula cream the butter fluffy.Add flour and fold well to form a soft dough. Do not knead itPress the prepared dough on a 9/6inch square baking tray and prick the top of the dough with a fork and bake for 20mins on 160Degc. Till the top crust is lite

    Add flour and fold well to form a soft dough. Do not knead it.

    Press the prepared dough on a 9/6inch square baking tray and prick the top of the dough with a fork and bake for 20mins on 160Degc. Till the top crust is lite brown.

    Place the chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl and melt the chocolate for about 2 minutes. Stir well and heat for another 2 minutes till the chocolate is completely melted set aside.

    Using a hand beater beat cream cheese, remaining sugar & vanilla essence in a large bowl till soft and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and eggs one by one beating on low speed after each addition of egg. Blend well.

    Shift the mixture on the baked crust. Level the top and bake on 160 Deg for 50 Minutes or till the Inserted tooth pick in the center comes out clean.

    Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool loosen the edges by running a sharp edged knife.

    Set the cake in a refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours before serving. Top with 3 to 4 tbsp of raspberry crush and garnish with strawberry or raspberry before serving.

    Glow from the Inside Out


    Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Panzanella

    We now have a three- and a one-year-old in the house as of a week ago. Two toddlers…OMG, save me. It’s loud, and crazy, and some nights cereal or smoothies for dinner feels like a major culinary accomplishment.

    But, oh, do I adore my little monsters and this crazy family.

    Lately, these are some of the questions I ask when I attempt to cook:

    Can I cut out an ingredient (or four) while still enjoying the dish? Is this step absolutely necessary to the overall dish? Why is there so much screaming going on? If I do something the night before, will it save time the next day? Adriana, can you please stop tackling your brother like a football!? Lol. 

    And probably one of the questions I ask the most: Why is there no OSG delivery service yet, damnit!?

    Goals ;)

    I’m learning more often than not that the answer to my “can I save time” question is a resounding YES. I’m learning tricks along the way. I’m cutting corners. And you know what? Almost always, the food still tastes great. (And if it doesn’t, Arlo will eat anything.)

    Months ago, I made a mental note to make the Thanksgiving Panzanella, and I couldn’t wait to make it once the cooler temperatures had set in. Because the recipe has quite a few steps, I started it the day before, and ended up creating a fun, make-ahead version. As you can tell, I’m all about make-ahead situations these days! By doing most of the prep work in advance, it became a practical option for our Thanksgiving meal. The prep work the day before is a half hour (and it’s a bit kitchen-destroying, tbh), but the next day, the effortless prep will only set you back a mere 10 minutes. Pretty sweet, huh?!

    Oh, and it’s a looker. And tasty…duh. 

    The Best Gifts for Breakfast Lovers

    Healthy food kids will love

    It always feels great to watch your child polish off a healthy, home-cooked meal, so we've chosen our favourites for the whole family to enjoy together.


    Tomato pizzas on a tray with salad

    Feeding children can be one of the most satisfying but also one of the most stressful parts of parenting – and it's not uncommon to get embroiled in a fearsome stand-off at mealtimes. So, to avoid the meltdowns, we've cooked up some sneaky ideas for giving kids the foods they love, packed full of the nutrients they need, from breakfast to dessert, with help from our nutritionist Kerry Torrens.

    Make the best of breakfast

    Apple and sultana porridge
    It goes without saying, but setting your child up for the day with a healthy breakfast will make you both feel good. Something filling and fibrous should get the digestive system going, keep kids full until lunch and help sustain their concentration and mood. Try serving porridge with a side portion of blueberries or chopped banana for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals, and there'll be plenty of fun stirring the colours in.

    Some children are less keen to eat first thing – if that’s the case tempt them with an egg served with soldiers for dipping or whizz up a yogurt-based smoothie for a satisfying combination of protein, carbs and valuable hydration.

    The Difference Between an Instant Pot and a Slow Cooker


    I am asked on a regular basis how an Instant Pot is different from a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, and I am mildly offended on behalf of my Instant Pot. My Instant Pot can do many things, many beautiful things, and pressure cooking is just one of them. Slow cooking is another. Should I go on? Of course I will because I cannot help myself where Instant Pot is concerned. 

    If you have yet to join the cult, an Instant Pot is a programmable, multi-function electric cooker sold by the Instant Pot Company. Per the official Instant Pot website, the device was "designed by Canadians with the objectives of being Safe, Convenient and Dependable." These are qualities about which Canadians do not joke, so it may come as no surprise that Instant Pot legendarily sold 215,000 units on Amazon's Prime Day in 2016, with no print or TV marketing—just by word of mouth.


    But slow cookers, rice cookers, and pressure cookers have been getting the job done since time immemorial, no? Why can't we have nice, simple things? Hey, maybe you live in Buckingham Palace or a Nancy Meyer movie or something, but some of us don't have a whole lot of counter or cabinet storage to spare. Every object that lives in my kitchen has to earn its keep, and Instant Pot more than justifies the real estate it takes up by doing septuple duty as a slow cooker, rice or porridge cooker, pressure cooker, saute pan, steamer, warmer, and yogurt maker. (Note to self: Do more yogurt making.) I'm also a ridiculously messy human and minimizing the number of objects with which I have to interact and subsequently scrub is a crucial element in my not ending up as the subject of an episode of Hoarders.

    The beauty of the Instant Pot is that it’s slob-proof. It has an easily wipeable plastic shell with a digital panel on the front with buttons that say things like "steam" or "poultry." I plop my ingredients in the removable stainless steel inner pot, twist the lid and steam valve into place, get rewarded by a series of pleasing beeps that I interpret as love and approval, jab at a button, and wait a little while. It beeps again and then there is food for me to scoop out and eat, and it is perfect every time. If I am making this same meal in a pressure cooker, I am riddled with anxiety that my kitchen will explode. If it's in a slow cooker, I must fight my impulse to lift the lid and peer inside, thus setting the clock back for at least half an hour. Instant Pot knows my peccadilloes even better than I do and physically locks itself until the cooking cycle is complete. I tend to accidentally harm myself with steamer baskets on stovetops, and Instant Pot forestalls that.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that Instant Pot protects me from myself. Even if you require infinitely less emotional engagement with your kitchen gear, an Instant Pot is a savior of space, time, effort, and possibly cash if you were to invest in all the individual pieces of gear that are consolidated within this wondrous machine. Have I perhaps been brainwashed into joining some sort of gear-based kitchen cult that will someday attempt to override my neural functions with a sequence of audio tones and have me undertake a task of their bidding? I'm cool with that, so long as my chicken keeps turning out as moist as it does. Consider joining me. (No pressure.)

    Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowl Recipe


    An easy, one pot meal with sweet potato, coconut nuts and quinoa for when you are too lazy to cook. Great for those looking out for a healthy bite without hassle.




    1 Cup Sweet potato cubes (cooked), peeled
    1 Cup Coconut (unsweetened), shredded
    1 To taste Onion, finely chopped
    1 Cup Quinoa (cooked)
    1 Tbsp Raisins /Cranberries
    1/2 Cup Cashew nuts
    1 tsp Pepper powder
    1/2 tsp Cayenne
    1 Bay leaf
    Salt (As per taste )


    How to Make It


    1. Heat the oil in the kadhai.
    2. Add bay leaves and onion and fry till onion is translucent.
    3. Add pepper, cayenne, cooked sweet potato and coconut.
    4. Fry well till nice aroma comes out of coconut.
    5. Add raisins/cranberries, cashew nut and fry till cashews are brown in color.
    6. Mix well and fry for another 5 minutes.
    7. Mix in cooked quinoa and mix well.
    8. Leave it on a medium flame for 3 minutes.9.Switch off and enjoy.



    If you like you can add some spice to your sweet potatoes. Toss them with chili powder or a combination of cumin and coriander before you fry them.


    Key Ingredients: Sweet potato cubes (cooked), Coconut (unsweetened), Onion, Quinoa (cooked), Raisins /Cranberries, Cashew nuts, Pepper powder, Cayenne, Bay leaf, Salt

    Cancer: 40 percent of all cases related to obesity, overweight

    A new report warns about the role of obesity in cancer. As many as 40 percent of all cancers are related to obesity, according to the new research, which suggests that these cancers would be preventable if weight was kept under control.

    The report, entitled Vital Signs, was compiled by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with researchers from the National Cancer Institute.

    C. Brooke Steele, of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, is the first and corresponding author of the report.

    The findings are particularly important given the alarming statistics on obesity in the United States. Between 2013 and 2014, the CDC note, as many as 2 in 3 adults were deemed overweight or obese.

    Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 kilograms per square meter, and obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 kilograms per square meter and over.

    Studying obesity and cancer diagnoses

    Steele and colleagues examined cancer incidence rates using data from the U.S. Cancer Statistics 2014, as well as looking at trends between 2005 and 2014.

    More specifically, the researchers looked at the 13 types of cancer that have traditionally been associated with being overweight and having obesity. These include a type of esophageal cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, postmenopausal breast cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, gallbladder cancer, and gastric cardia cancer.

    Processed foods linked with cancer risk in slim older women

    Additionally, the researchers looked at cancer of the kidney, liver, and thyroid, as well as ovarian and pancreatic cancer. The report also examined meningioma, which is a slow-progressing type of brain tumor, and multiple myeloma.

    Steele and team grouped and analyzed the data by sex, age, ethnicity, geographic area, and the site where the cancer appeared.

    The researchers analyzed trends both with and without the incidence of colorectal cancer. As they explain, this is due to the fact that screening for colorectal cancer can reduce incidence because the procedure often detects the colorectal polyps before they become malignant.

    Around 630,000 obesity-related cancers

    Overall, in 2014, approximately 630,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of one of the aforementioned cancers, which represents a staggering 40 percent of all diagnosed cancers. 

    The incidence rate was particularly high among adults aged 50 and above. In fact, 2 in 3 of these cancers occurred in those aged between 50 and 74.

    Gender-wise, more cancers were linked with obesity in women than in men. And more specifically, 55 percent of the cancers affecting women and 24 percent of those affecting men were related to obesity.

    Regarding obesity-associated cancers, these rose by 7 percent between 2005 and 2014. By comparison, the incidence of cancers not associated with obesity declined by 13 percent during that time. Colorectal cancer also decreased by 23 percent, most likely due to screening practices.

    "The burden of overweight- and obesity-related cancer is high in the United States," say the authors.

    They add that it "might be reduced through efforts to prevent and control overweight and obesity," and they conclude that "[c]omprehensive cancer control strategies, including use of evidence-based interventions to promote healthy weight, could help decrease the incidence of these cancers in the United States."