Posts tagged ‘Food and Drink’

Cats Cannot Taste Sweetness in Food

My favorite classic science fair exhibit is the taste buds booth.

It’s like going to the electronics department in Costco — you eat free food samples while some kid tells you stuff you’ll never remember because all you’re thinking about is how you can get away from the booth without it looking like you just came over for the free food samples.

Taste has been studied for a long time. In 1901, Harvard professor Edwin G. Boring  published a paper that stated different taste receptors can be found on different parts of the human tongue. His last name was Boring, but his work was not. In fact, his work is slightly controversial since all areas of the tongue are sensitive to all tastes; however, some areas are more sensitive than others.

Some wine and beer glasses are shaped to encourage the liquid to hit certain parts of your tongue first, this is supposed to deliver the ideal taste sensation for that drink.

There are five generally accepted taste sensations:

  • Sweet
  • Bitter
  • Savory
  • Salty
  • Sour

Most mammals can experience all of these sensations. There are some exceptions, particularly with sweetness. New world monkeys do not perceive aspartame as sweet. Humans, apes and old world monkeys do. Cats cannot taste sweetness at all.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (taste buds, sweetness, wine glass), Scientific American

June 17, 2010 at 12:38 am 7 comments

Why Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs and Not Humans

Whether it was your idea or not, your dog or cat may swallow chocolate at sometime in their life.

You want to avoid that since there are two toxins in chocolate that can have adverse affects on your pets: caffeine and theobromine.

Both of these drugs are very similar, but chocolate contains a lot more theobromine than caffeine. Theobromine does not affect the human nervous system as much as caffeine, nor is it as addictive as caffeine. But, theobromine is still addictive and believed to be the agent that causes Chocolate addiction. It is also believed to be responsible for chocolate’s notoriety as an aphrodisiac.

Although theobromine increases heart rate in humans, it also dilates blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. In fact, it is superior to codeine at suppressing cough and can be helpful in relaxing muscles to alleviate symptoms of asthma.

Humans are able to consume chocolate in moderation because we can breakdown theobromine fairly quickly. In dogs, cats, rats and other species, they cannot digest it efficiently. This leads to a buildup of this toxin and is known as theogromine poisoning. Actually, this can also happen to elderly people who consume large quantities of chocolate.

For animals, a dangerous quantity of chocolate depends on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate is not as dangerous as semisweet chocolate and it’s not as dangerous as cocoa powder.

Milk chocolate contains approx 44-64 milligrams of theobromine per ounce. Semi-sweet chocolate is about 150-160 mg/oz. Cocoa powder is 800 mg/oz.

A toxic dose for pets is 100-200 mg/kg of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). That said, problems can still be evident with smaller doses.

Signs of toxicity include:

  • Excitement, nervousness, trembling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death (usually a result of other problems caused by the toxin)

As much as people like to treat their pets like humans, they are not human and should not be treated like humans when it comes to diet. There are many other human foods that are not recommended and poisonous to pets:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Coffee
  • Fatty Foods
  • Onions
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Salt
  • Yeast dough
  • Garlic
  • Artificial sweetener

Pet’s digestive systems are very different from humans. Checkout Vetinfo for more details on why some of the above foods should not be fed to your animals.

Thanks to Ryan W for suggesting this secret.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Theobromine), About.com, Vetinfo

June 16, 2010 at 1:09 am 7 comments

You Can’t Grow Hemp in the US But You Can Import It

Hemp is a plant with a long and interesting history, especially in the United States.

Farmers cannot freely grow hemp in the US, but many companies import hemp products for resale, mostly from Canada and the UK.

The problem is that hemp is from the same plant family (genus) as marijuana. But hemp is not a drug, it is a raw material that is used much like cotton. We all know that cotton is great, we use it for making: t-shirts, socks, denim for blue-jeans, fishnets, coffee filters, paper and many other things. Considering everything we use it for, it’s a miracle plant.

But, cotton has some limitations. It can only be grown in areas that get a lot of sunshine, have consistent rainfall and long frost-free periods. Cotton also requires a lot of pesticides: 50% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton.

Imagine a plant with all the benefits of cotton, but it has even stronger fibers, could be grown anywhere in the country and doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.

That plant is called hemp.

At the risk of sounding like a huge hippie, hemp is a perfect plant. Frankly, I am not a hippie — I only own one hemp product: hemp protein powder.

Hemp as a food source is one example of why it’s so perfect. The seeds contain all of the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids required for a human to be healthy. It also contains a lot of fiber, another essential part of the human diet.

When used as a textile, hemp is stronger and more mildew resistant than cotton. For that reason, hemp is an excellent material for making canvas boat sails, and it was used for that exact purpose by Christopher Columbus. (more…)

June 1, 2010 at 5:00 am 12 comments

You Can Stop Your Microwave From Rotating

My friend Neil is pretty healthy, he lived for a few years with no microwave at all. It forced him to eat fresh food, a healthy alternative to frozen foods that are made for the microwave. That said, the microwave can also be your best friend.

It’s great for heating water, making rice and one of my favorites: bacon (use a bacon tray to do it well). I remember the first microwave we got, I think it was 1986. That thing changed out lives. No longer did we have to wait 4 minutes for popcorn on the stove, we could do it in the microwave in 3.5 minutes. It was a magical device.

Some microwaves rotate inside, which is great — that heats food more evenly. Although, it’s not great when a large dish doesn’t fit on the turntable, it sounds like tennis shoes in the dryer.

That’s why they put the turntable on/off button on the microwave. I discovered this about two years ago and everyone I’ve told since has been completely surprised.

Don’t forget my other microwave secret, you can use foil in the microwave.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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May 27, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Use Blue Food Coloring to Make Green Beer

Yesterday, I talked about the history of St. Patricks Day — why we celebrate it, how the color green and the shamrock became the symbols they are today.

While Chicago dyes the river green, many others will be dyeing their beer.

If you’re going to dye your own beer, pick a lighter colored beer for best color results. Because lighter lagers, pilseners and ales are a yellowish color, mixing blue food coloring will give you a rich dark green color — the color of a real shamrock. Using green food coloring will work too, but you’ll get a much lighter shade of green.

This is actually quite fitting since St. Patrick’s color was actually blue.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: DIY Life

March 17, 2010 at 12:13 am 6 comments

Bad Fats Can be Hidden on Nutrition Labels

My good friend Scott is probably the fittest person I know. He works out at least once a day (sometimes more) and eats like a champion.

A little while back, I was in Toronto and staying at Neil’s place (author of The Book of Awesome). Scott came by and took us to the gym for a personal training session. At the end, I was beat and he hadn’t even broken a sweat. Then he said, lets do it again! I thought he was joking, I really did… but he was not.

The point is, Scott is very fit and extremely well read. When I asked him what book I should read to learn more about nutrition, he suggested this book.

I’ve been reading it off and on for a couple weeks now and it’s a great book. I found the section about fats very interesting. Of course, most people realize there are good fats and bad. Fats that your body needs and fats that your body shouldn’t have. But, there was an interesting little trick for identifying fat that is not itemized on the nutritional label. If you look at “total fat”, that number is often higher than the itemized fats listed below it (at least saturated and trans fats must appear itemized in the US since 2006). If you add up the saturated and trans fats and the subtract that from the total, you’ll know the approximate amount of unsaturated fats. The reason I say approximate, is because the trans fat number is regulated to be inaccurate in some cases. (more…)

March 15, 2010 at 1:13 am 3 comments

Caffeine Free Coffee Beans Discovered

In case you haven’t noticed from my video about properly pouring coffee, my various Starbucks secrets or my post about why coffee is called java, I love coffee.

I got hooked on it when a local chain started serving high fructose cappuccinos. They’re mostly sugar, but they’re also a gateway to the serious stuff: coffea arabica, the most common species of coffee bean.

As I got older, I started to notice the effects of all the caffeine. I would get headaches if I didn’t drink enough of the stuff, but I couldn’t stop drinking it entirely… I loved the taste and it was a habitual part of my day, so I switched to decaffeinated coffee. I’m not alone, decaf coffee is growing in popularity, making up 10% of the global coffee market. (more…)

March 9, 2010 at 12:43 am 5 comments

Food Nutrition Labels are Not Accurate

In 1990, the US Congress mandated that certain nutritional information be placed on packaged foods. There are some exceptions, especially for small manufacturers. Otherwise, every food product you buy has a label that lists the ingredients and nutritional value of those ingredients. Most other developed countries use a similar or even superior system.

This makes a lot of sense. Consumers can read packages and have a good understanding of what they’re eating so they can make healthy decisions. Unfortunately, this data is often inaccurate and intentionally misleading.

The misleading packages are easy to pick out if you’re looking, but often go unnoticed. These are usually products that you buy for a snack and consider to be a single serving, perhaps a small bag of chips or a small bottle of soda/pop. You read over the calories, fat and sugar content and while it doesn’t look great you know what you’re getting into. At least, you think you do until the person next to you that points out that is “per serving” and there are two servings per bag. Or worse, when there are 2.5 servings. What is 73 calories times 2.5? (more…)

March 3, 2010 at 1:14 am 3 comments

Shop at Off-Peak Hours for Time Savings

I’ve said it before, I love bananas. But there is one kind of bananas I do not like, busy grocery stores!

I went to my local supermarket yesterday to pickup a few things. Being Super Bowl Sunday, it was pretty much the worst day to go grocery shopping. Normally, I would just go another day but I needed some things for later in the day (like most other people there I’m sure).

All the cart bumping and line shoving could have been avoided if I just went early in the morning or late the night before. That’s what I usually do — try to go shopping around 8pm-9pm, that includes any stores that are open late (ex. Target). Many stores are now until 10pm and some are open 24 hours. I try to take advantage of these hours since I usually get the store to myself. It actually makes shopping peaceful and efficient. (more…)

February 8, 2010 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

How to Accelerate and Slow Banana Ripening

I love bananas.

They are a nearly perfect fruit. They taste great. They’re fairly inexpensive. They have their own protective skin and they contain many nutrients such as: vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

But, if I had to register a complaint about bananas, it would be their shelf life. Keeping them perfectly ripe is a fine art — one worth mastering.

The first trick is something my wife, Kristen, taught me: don’t buy all your bananas from the same bunch! Pick a couple green ones and a couple that are ripe/near ripe. Then you have some you can eat right away and others that will be ripe when you’re ready for them.

The interesting part is that those two bunches are likely the same age. You assume the less ripe ones are newer, but the food distributors control ripeness. They have large, air tight banana ripening vaults that give them very precise control over banana ripening. They’re usually divided into multiple sections, so bananas can be kept at different stages of ripeness. If they’re selling a lot of bananas, they can accelerate the ripening so they will be ripe when they arrive at the store. If sales are slow, they can slow ripening to avoid waste.

How do they do that? (more…)

February 3, 2010 at 1:05 am 36 comments

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