Scientists May Have Found a Way to Keep Your Pasta From Sticking Together

iStock.com/zeljkosantrac
iStock.com/zeljkosantrac

It's not hard to turn a pot of delicious pasta into an inedible mess. Forget about it while it's boiling on the stove or drain it and let it sit out for too long, and you run the risk of eating a mushy, sticky clump of spaghetti for dinner. Now scientists think they've found a way to prevent pasta from sticking together even if you don't follow the cooking instructions to a T.

As Foodnavigator reports, the secret is an enzyme developed by the German company Mühlenchemie. High-quality pasta made with high-protein flour is better at holding its shape when cooked or left out for a long time. But cheaper pasta tends to use softer, low-protein flour, which makes noodles more likely to turn gummy, fall apart, or stick together if you don't cook and eat them quickly enough. When the enzyme, dubbed Pastazym PD, is added to low-protein pasta flour, it stabilizes it, achieving the texture and high cooking tolerance of higher-quality products at a much cheaper price.

This means that consumers would need to go out of their way to overcook pasta with the added enzyme, even if they're inept in the kitchen. Mühlenchemie debuted their enzyme system last year and it's still new to the food manufacturing world. When it does start appearing in products, it won't be listed on the label because it's technically a processing aid, not an ingredient. But you may notice your pasta turns out better.

If you're looking for a way to improve your pasta as quickly as possible, check out these tips from real chefs.

[h/t Foodnavigator]

The Great Tryptophan Lie: Eating Turkey Does Not Make You Tired

H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images

While you’re battling your cousins for the best napping spot after Thanksgiving dinner, feel free to use this as a diversion tactic: It’s a myth that eating turkey makes you tired.

It’s true that turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep. Your body uses it to produce a B vitamin called niacin, which generates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which yields the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleeping patterns. However, plenty of other common foods contain comparable levels of tryptophan, including other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.

Furthermore, in order for tryptophan to produce serotonin in your brain, it first has to make it across the blood-brain barrier, which many other amino acids are also trying to do. To give tryptophan a leg up in the competition, it needs the help of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer tells WebMD that the best way to boost serotonin is to eat a small, all-carbohydrate snack a little while after you’ve eaten something that contains tryptophan, and the carbs will help ferry the tryptophan from your bloodstream to your brain.

But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly about eating small, well-timed snacks. It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal. Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else. And since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows down your brain and other organs.

In short, you can still hold turkey responsible for your Thanksgiving exhaustion, but you should make sure it knows it can share the blame with the homestyle mac and cheese, spiked apple cider, and second piece of pumpkin pie.

[h/t WebMD]

How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie

MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images
MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

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