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Salt, fat, acid, heat. That’s all that cooking delicious food boils down to, according to chef Samin Nosrat. Getting to grips with these four factors will free us from relying on recipes and enable us to throw together delicious meals from leftovers in the fridge, she hopes. Mastering these elements of cooking will also demystify feeding ourselves and prompt us to reconsider ordering in food for the third time in a week. In her new book of the same name, she shares the culmination of 17 years of cooking experience, which started out at the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California that changes its seasonal menu daily. It’s there that Nosrat first realised that cooking is all about those four components. Salt, she writes, gives food a satisfying “zing” with each mouthful. It amplifies flavour, and affects texture. She adds not to worry too much about how much salt you add to food, as it’s almost certainly less than anything you’d buy prepared outside the home. And be generous when seasoning water for boiling vegetables, as it mostly ends up in the drain and will help to seal in the nutrients.

Cooks should keep sea salt for everyday cooking, and Maldon for garnishing food. Salt, fat, acid, heat. That’s all that cooking delicious food boils down to, according to chef Samin Nosrat. Getting to grips with these four factors will free us from relying on recipes and enable us to throw together delicious meals from leftovers in the fridge, she hopes. Mastering these elements of cooking will also demystify feeding ourselves and prompt us to reconsider ordering in food for the third time in a week.

In her new book of the same name, she shares the culmination of 17 years of cooking experience, which started out at the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California that changes its seasonal menu daily. It’s there that Nosrat first realised that cooking is all about those four components. Salt, she writes, gives food a satisfying “zing” with each mouthful. It amplifies flavour, and affects texture. She adds not to worry too much about how much salt you add to food, as it’s almost certainly less than anything you’d buy prepared outside the home.

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Unfortunately, a lot of the factors that influence seasonal allergies—like the weather, where you live, humidity, and rainfall amounts—are completely out of your control. But here’s the good news: Even though you don’t have a say over if and when seasonal allergens may strike, you do have control over how your body reacts to them...and it all starts with your gut health.

So what exactly does the gut have to do with all this? You see, nearly 80 percent of your immune system resides in your digestive tract, and it turns out that the trillions of microbes that also live there—known collectively as your gut microbiome—have a huge influence on the balance and performance of your immune function, including: Crowding out and killing the bad guys. Your friendly flora (called probiotics) produce antimicrobial substances and acids—like lactic acid—that can eradicate bad bacteria and other microbes that can make you sick. Protecting your gut barrier. Your intestinal barrier is an important part of your immune system that protects your bloodstream from the external environment of your gut (and all that goes into it!). The good bacteria in your microbiome help increase your gut barrier’s protective mucus layer, and they work to fortify and seal gaps in the intestinal wall. Increasing antibody levels. Beneficial bacteria promote antibody secretion, and they also increase levels of cells that produce immune-boosting antibodies like SIgA.

It’s clear that your gut microbiome plays a big role in how your immune system handles true threats like harmful bacteria or viruses—but we now know that a lack of enough beneficial bacteria in the gut can contribute to the immune system’s inability to distinguish friend from foe, leading to the dreaded immune system overreactions known as allergies.

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When we're babies, we make a lot of mess with our food. By the time we get to be adults, we've pretty much got food messes under control. But when it comes to Nature Valley granola bars, we're all 2-year-olds again, because basically if you look at a Nature Valley granola bar, it falls apart. Fortunately, Slate decided to get to the bottom of this crumbly mess, and find out exactly why General Mills, which owns Nature Valley, doesn't make it a little easier to eat those crispy, crunchy rectangular snacks. And the answer is ... it's all our fault.

"People love the crumbs, they told me," Slate's Jeffrey Bloomer explained in a video accompanying his report. "They grew up expecting the hardness and mess from Nature Valley bars." It is true, we love the crumbs, particularly the ones we don't have to fish out of our car interiors, beds and computer keyboards: Fortunately, there are ways to eat Nature Valley granola bars that prevent a little less of a crumble catastrophe. General Mills told Bloomer that eaters could try warming the bars up in the microwave to soften them first (but take them out of the package first).

This seems to work, according to one test video, but it turned out the tester preferred the taste of the crunchy, crumbly version to the less messy one. Another solution was to eat a bar over a container of yogurt, which would send the crumbles down into the second part of your snacking experience. And a colleague of Bloomer's at Slate also suggested just pre-crunching the whole bar up in the package before opening. Then just open the package and pour the contents directly into your mouth, so all the crumbs will fall precisely where they're supposed to go!