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Time Honoured Food Traditions, Pleasing for Palate and Planet




Alia Chughtai (standing at the back), a journalist with filmmaker Akhlaque Mahesar (right, behind the table), and others in their team at Aur Chaawal (And Rice). Chughtai believes in using local fresh ingredients that are healthy and planet-friendly. Her method of cooking fits in with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition’s Double Pyramid. Credit: Zofeen T. Ebrahim/IPSby Zofeen Ebrahim (karachi)Friday, November 19, 2021Inter Press Service

She knows what she is talking about. Suffering from gastrointestinal issues, Chughtai’s journey towards healthy eating started a decade ago. Once she understood the science behind nutrition and what balance of eating meant, she understood what her body had gone through. And thus began her quest for cleansing it.

“I couldn’t have garlic or onions for eight straight weeks,” the two most essential ingredients one cannot imagine cooking desi (slang for Pakistani) food without, she told IPS.

Two years ago, Chughtai decided to turn her food journey into a small side business.

“I got into this because there was a personal need for clean desi food without the bad oil, chemical-laced spices and food colouring,” she said. Today her fight is against processed food which she believes is the reason behind the multitude of ailments in people, and she swears by “heartily grown vegetables and fruits”.

“But it’s not a solo ride,” she said. For a well-oiled business to run successfully and expand, the pair have divided their tasks. While Chughtai oversees the day-to-day operations and “menu ideation”, Mahesar looks after the background logistics.

Surmai (fish) korma and rice with crispy okra and fried chillies on the side. One of the balanced dishes found at Aur Chaawal. Credit: Zofeen T. Ebrahim/IPS

While navigating the ‘farm to fork’ path, trying to find the balance between sustainability, nutrition, and access, Mahesar said they try their best “to use locally grown, locally made products”.

In turn, the duo has become acutely aware of fairer returns for small businesses and farmers.

“Ours is a small business, and we are all for supporting other small businesses,” said Chughtai’s partner.

The pandemic also acted as a catalyst for many Pakistanis to think and produce locally.

“We try to source as much as possible from around Pakistan, including the different types of cheeses and even the pasta,” he said.

But looking for quality produce requires quite a bit of research, which they both enjoy doing.

“We get a month’s supply of spices from small towns in Sindh; a certain species of chillies from Muzaffarabad, in the Punjab province; saffron and buckwheat from Hunza, in Gilgit-Baltistan region and saag (mustard plant) from Lahore, also in Punjab. They substitute ghee (a type of clear butter) for oil to cook in, which they get from Matiari, also in Sindh, weekly.

Fayza Khan, president of the Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetic Society (PNDS), strongly feels those in the food business must preach and practice healthy and sustainable eating, advocate for science-based diets, recommend reduced intake of meat and highly processed foods and demand from the government better labelling on packaged food.

To “reduce the burden of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases”, those in the food business should “play their part” in promoting healthier ways of cooking food and minimizing food waste.

Frowning upon overconsumption of fat-laden food, including bakery products, fast food, and sweetened beverages, she said: “Nutrition and lifestyle-related chronic diseases in Pakistan among adults as well as in children including the prevalence of obesity and an onset of diabetes in young age is spreading fast.”

Khan, therefore, recommends “traditional foods” which are healthier if “home-cooked with better cooking techniques”.

Finding the balance between food systems and the planet. Credit: BCFN

And that is what the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) advocates: that healthy diets, especially traditional foods, play a significant role in food sustainability as they have a low environmental impact.

For example, the Mediterranean diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish rather than red meat, and cereal-based products, such as pasta, and cooked in olive oil, help prevent heart disease. Little wonder Italians are ranked healthiest in the world. Italy has the highest number of centenarians in Europe.

As Chughtai and Mahesar fine-tuned their business model, they have increasingly understood the integrity of sustainable food strategies and started employing caution to minimize any environmental or climate impact it may be causing.

“As an entrepreneur in the food business, it is our responsibility to reduce greenhouse emissions, of animal welfare and protection of small farmers and workers in the food business,” said Chughtai.

“We initially used bagasse bowls and containers,” she explained but had to opt for cheaper recycled packaging boxes because bagasse was too expensive.

“We use regular reusable plastic boxes which we refill with food for 10% discount on the food,” she said, adding: “People don’t want to pay higher costs for desi cuisine!”

They also compost their wet kitchen waste and use it as manure for their vegetable roof garden, where they grow their red bell peppers, chillies, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, gourd, and some herbs.
But Chughtai, says Aur Chaawal, is not just a business; it is a quest for “clean food”.

It took her several years to find out that the root cause of her stomach issues, said Chughtai and said everything pointed toward the pre-packaged spices with their overdose of flavourings and colours. Averse to them, at Aur Chaawal, they use the old-fashioned pestle and mortar to pound fresh garlic, smash the ginger or chillies or grind the whole spices into powder.

“Our cooking may be labour intensive, alright,” she admitted, but insisted it was “clean and healthy”.

Chughtai may not be aware of it, but Aur Chaawal has uses Barilla Foundation’s Double Pyramid model of placing the health and climate pyramids side-by-side, encouraging healthy eating for humans and remaining respectful of the planet.

In a city like Karachi, which has a deluge of caterers, food joints and restaurants and a huge population of discerning gourmands, securing 10,000 followers on Instagram, and a steady daily clientele of between 35-45, in just two years, is no mean feat.

“We have to be innovative,” said Mahesar, but puts their success down to the awareness among their regular customers (that include many working women who want her to cook for their family), that the Aur Chaawal menu will be nothing but wholesome.

The business also caters to those who are counting their calories. But Chughtai insisted a one-size-fits-all formula does not work for here.

On average, she said, every body’s plate should be 1/4th filled with protein, 1/2 with greens and 1/4th with complex carbs”.

But she emphasized: “Everyone is different; you have to eat according to your health needs.”

For instance, on her plate, the portion of protein would be 1/3rd protein since she was low on iron. And this, she said, was the mistake many nutritionists in Pakistan make.

“You cannot apply the 1400/1500 calorie rule to everyone!” said Chughtai, who was fortunate to train under Adrian Leunga, a certified nutrition coach and personal trainer and who helped “reconfigure my brain about good food and bad food”.

One day, when her inner writer gets restless, she plans to document her “journey”. She intends to travel from the coastal villages to the mountain peaks and include recipes she picks up “of the unconventional eats and the ones we’ve adapted because Karachi is such a smorgasbord of ethnicities” in a “beautifully designed” compilation.

Till then, having brought up eating home-cooked food made by her mother, she said, Aur Chaawal will continue serving “clean” meals using the healthiest, organically grown produce and spices for their customers.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Protein subunit COVID vaccine, which can be manufactured using engineered yeast, shows promise in preclinical studies





While many people in wealthier countries have been vaccinated against COVID-19, there is still a need for vaccination in much of the world. A new vaccine developed at MIT and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center may aid in those efforts, offering an inexpensive, easy-to-store, and effective alternative to RNA vaccines.

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13 Ghost-Hunting Apps That Claim To Find Paranormal Activity




You don’t have to wait for Halloween to use a ghost hunting app. It’s a thrilling thing to do if you’re stuck at home, and even more fun to do with friends. Whether you go down to your creepy basement to talk to spirts, or venture through the woods looking for apparitions, you never know what you might find lurking in the dark.

In fact, an October 2021 survey of 2,000 people conducted by OnePoll revealed that over 63% of respondents believe in the paranormal in some form, and 44% have even had a personal paranormal encounter of their own. A third of respondents said they’ve felt a vague “unexplained presence” in their home, whether it was due to flickering lights or doors closing at random. And for the 23% who said they don’t believe in the paranormal, they admitted that they still wouldn’t want to “provoke” anything. (Looking at you, Ouija boards.)

Whether you want to debunk these claims, or prove once and for all that your hallway really is haunted, a ghost hunting app will come in handy. Most of them have heavy disclaimers stating that they can’t actually verify the presence of ghosts. But you know what? That shouldn’t stop you from playing around with tools like EMF meters or EVP recorders — and having yourself a spooky time.

Here, the 13 best ghost hunting apps that might help you detect paranormal activity.

Ghostcom Radar Spirit Detector

This highly-rated ghost hunting app allows you to exchange messages with ghosts while locating where they’re standing. (Yikes!) It also provides “spiritual statistics” about the ghost’s emotional state, zodiac sign, etc. The creators call it spooky, mysterious — and a great party game.

Download Ghostcon Radar Spirit Detector for Apple

Download Ghostcom Radar Spirit Detector for Android

GhostTube SLS

The GhostTube SLS app uses your phone’s technology to detect “humanoid bodies” in your environment by projecting a grid of infrared light. If your phone is new enough, it’ll also give you night vision capabilities. Open the app the next time the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and see if someone — or something — is hanging out in the shadows.

Download GhostTube SLS for Apple

Download GhostTube SLS for Android

Ghost Hunting Tools

Ghost Hunting Tools, available for iPhone users only, includes an EMF reader that detects fluctuations in the electromagnetic field, and an EVP recorder, which picks up electronic voice phenomena — things IRL ghost hunters rely on to detect otherworldly spirits. It uses a 1000-word dictionary to help you guess the intention of the spirit. And while the app says it’s just for fun, the reviews claim otherwise: one June 2021 review is titled, in all-caps, “100% REAL.”

Download Ghost Hunting Tools


This ghost hunting app produces speech from ghosts, called instrumental trans communication, based on changes to sensors on your phone. Who knows if it’s real, or if it just relies on what your phone already knows about you to send you scary messages? Either way, it’s sure to be hella creepy.

Download iOvilus for $1.99.

Spirit Board

Ask the Spirit Board questions, or input text, and then wait for a ghost to respond. To really set the mood, the creators suggest darkening your room and lighting a few candles. Then, place your fingers on the planchette, Ouija-board style, to initiate a ghostly convo. If a spirit responds to your questions, the planchette will move to show their answer. With four stars and over 30,000 reviews on the App Store, you know you’ll be in for a spooky time.

Download Spirit Board for Apple

Download Spirit Board for Android

Ghost Detector — Haunted Radar

The Ghost Detector — Haunted Radar app claims to be the most accurate ghost detecting app. It works by picking up changes in electromagnetic fields to identify whether or not ghosts are present. Use it to search for spirits, or to scare your friends.

Download Ghost Detector — Haunted Radar for Apple

Download Ghost Detector — Haunted Radar for Android

Ghost Radar: CLASSIC

If you’re a skilled ghost hunter, then you probably already know that traditional paranormal equipment can malfunction if “normal energy” interferes with the readings. Ghost Radar: CLASSIC solves that problem for you by analyzing the readings only when interesting patterns occur. So rest assured that you can go about your investigation without being fooled by something mundane, like the sound of wind or water messing with your reading.

Download Ghost Radar: CLASSIC for Apple

Download Ghost Radar: CLASSIC for Android

Ghost Tracker EMF EVP Recorder

The Ghost Tracker EMF EVP Recorder is said to be one of the most accurate and veteran-approved ghost hunting trackers out there, according to a real paranormal researcher. In fact, in an interview with VICE in 2018, Kim Johnston, a paranormal researcher from Birmingham, Alabama, said, “I find that [app] useful because it’s built by genuine researchers and not people who are just trying to have fun or make an app that’s kind of a joke.” Rely on this one if you want to get good data.

Download Ghost Tracker EMF EVP Recorder for Apple for $3.99

Download Ghost Tracker EMF EVP Recorder for Android for $5.99

Sono X10 Spirit Box

To switch things up, try the Sono X10 Spirit Box, which is another tool Johnston likes to use. To sum up what a spirit box is, the creators of the app made it simple: “It is not the spirit’s voice you hear, but the spirit can create words from the voice bank by manipulating the mobile’s sensors.” Um, creepy!

Download Sono X10 Spirit Box for Apple

Paranormal EMF Recorder and Scanner

This app is aimed at anyone who has an interest in paranormal investigation and research. It offers “fun and easy to use” EMF detection, automated EMF recording, and the ability analyze your findings right in the app. Get ready to hear some ~ghostly voices~.

Download Paranormal EMF Recorder and Scanner for Apple

OVERNIGHT Ghost Hunt Toolbox

Here’s one that has everything you need to conduct a full paranormal investigation. You’ll get a spirit box, digital dowsing rods, an entity detector, and more. Once you’ve finished collecting data, go ahead and share what you found in the “community” section.

Downloaded OVERNIGHT Ghost Hunt Toolbox for Apple

Download OVERNIGHT Ghost Hunt Toolbox for Android

Ghosthunting Toolkit

This app supplies you with five powerful ghost-hunting tools, including an EMF detector, a vibration detector, power detector, an EVP recorder, and even an interrogation tool to interview intelligent haunts. Use the vibration detector to verify if your furniture is, in fact, shaking all on its own, and the power detector to “coax entities into revealing their manifestation strength.”

Download Ghosthunting Toolkit for Apple for $5.99

Ghost Detector Radar Camera

Beware: This app is horrifying. To use it, brace yourself and walk around using the screen to hunt for ghosts. If one pops up, use the app to ask them questions. It’s an “ultra-realistic experience” that might as well be real, especially if you’re using the app alone.

Download Ghost Detector Radar Camera for Apple

Download Ghost Detector Radar Camera for Android

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SOME (So Others Might Eat) Announces Capability To Accept Cryptocurrencies Donations




WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — SOME (So Others Might Eat), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to aid men, women, and children experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty in the Nation’s Capital, is now accepting donations in the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Amp (AMP), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), ChainLink (LINK), Dai (DAI), Dogecoin (DOGE), The Graph (GRT), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Litecoin (LTC), Storj (STORJ), UMA (UMA), Zcash (ZEC), 0x (ZRX) and 1inch (1INCH) and more.

The Giving Block is a donation platform for nonprofits to accept cryptocurrency through their existing websites. The Giving Block cites that SOME is one of the first D.C.-based, human services organizations exclusively focused on those affected by homelessness and poverty issues, to begin accepting …

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