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Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Soup for summer

April 21, 2010

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Q: What is gazpacho?

A: The history behind gazpacho (aka gaspacho) is much like classical music with a theme and many variations. This vibrant, cold soup dates back to southern Spain in the Andalusian area before Columbus came to America.

The word gazpacho is the Arabic word for “soaked bread.” It first appeared in English literature sometime before 1615. Original recipes were made of bread, oil, vinegar, onions and garlic. Some versions were thick, hot or cold. It was often garnished with chopped eggs, bread cubes, peppers, onions and scallions.

When Spanish explorers came to America, they discovered tomatoes and a variety of peppers. They took those new ingredients back to Spain, and a new form of gazpacho was created.

Today’s version of this cold summertime soup typically include tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumber, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. The ingredients may be left in chunks or the soup is pureed and served as a drink. It is still often garnished as in the original versions with bread croutons and chopped hard cooked eggs.

Here’s a recipe for from the University of Illinois Extension:

3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

2 green onions, sliced

2 cups low-sodium vegetable juice cocktail

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon basil, dried

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

Q: There seems to be so much false information out there about food that is intended to frighten consumers. How can you tell if it’s true or not?

A: The first thing to do when you read or hear this information about food is to ask yourself — is this really true? Trust your instincts, and you will probably be right.

But to help separate fact from fiction, the website www.snopes.com can help you clarify and squelch rumors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also refers to this site for e-mail rumors. There is an entire section on food-related rumors.

So, next time you question what you’re reading, Snopes can help you bring some reality to fictitious information.

Q: What is triclosan?

A: According to Karen Blakeslee, Rapid Response Center coordinator with K-State Research & Extension, triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It may be found in products such as clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys. It also may be added to antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes and some cosmetics — products regulated by the FDA.

Triclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans. But several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient that merit further review.

Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

In light of these studies, FDA is engaged in an ongoing scientific and regulatory review of this ingredient. FDA does not have sufficient safety evidence to recommend changing consumer use of products that contain triclosan at this time.

For some consumer products, there is clear evidence that triclosan provides a benefit. In 1997, FDA reviewed extensive effectiveness data on triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste. The evidence showed that triclosan in this product was effective in preventing gingivitis.

For other consumer products, FDA has not received evidence that the triclosan provides an extra benefit to health. At this time, the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.

— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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