Monday, March 25, 2013

Wines for Spring's Lighter Fare

It's a spring fling

Let's toast to toastier weather hopefully arriving soon.
Spring has sprung and with it the annual transition to lighten up our fashions and our foods. 
Coats give way to capris and hot soups are replaced with refreshing salads. 

As chefs welcome warmer weather with new crops of fresh ingredients their menus begin to morph with brighter notes and lighter fare. Wines change with the seasonal menu shift too. 

“More white wines and roses are emerge in the spring while chunky reds are not as much in full force,” says Michael Bryan, of Vino Venue and the Atlanta Wine School. Offering over two hundred classes a year on food and wine, Bryan’s team of wine and culinary experts present guidelines for pairing, “The goal is to find the right balance like able dance partners.”  
Michael Bryan of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School

Spring’s fresher flavors call for wines with fresh flavors. For instance, Bryan says a halibut dish presented with a mango, lime, jalapeno chutney would partner well with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc because the wine has melon and fresh tropical notes.
Pairing wines with vegetables
Springtime in Shafer Vineyards in Napa

Most of the time wines are chosen based on the protein portion of a dish. But, Annette Shafer of Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley offers advice for vegetable focused menus. Shafer, who is the wife of winemaker Doug Shafer, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a wellness coach in Napa.
Visit Shafer Vineyards when you're in Napa 

Annette Shafer says, Certain vegetables and herbs virtually always complement wines such as shallots, leeks, corn, peas, fava beans, and mushrooms. Among herbs and seasonings, good choices are thyme, sesame oil, and a hint of lightly cooked garlic.”

Shafer notes that how vegetables are cooked can change things a bit too.  “Roasting vegetables in a hint
of olive oil adds a rich quality that makes wine a good partner.” One of her favorites is butternut squash
roasted until just tender. “Finish it all off with a bit of shaved Asiago or manchego and you can enjoy
any wine in the gamut from a lively Chardonnay to a rich, bold Cabernet,” she suggests.

Grilled vegetables crave bolder bottles
Grilling vegetables creates a savory quality with toasty caramelized flavors that can match deliciously with wines such as Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel and even a less tannic Cabernet.  Bryan says the char created when grilling foods asks you to bring up the intensity of a wine, “You need a bigger dance partner.”

Shafer is known for their big reds but they make beautiful wines for lighter fare too.

Annette Shafer is ready for spring!

Annette Shafer’s wine and vegetable matches
   The earthiness of mushrooms with an earthy Pinot Noir or a fruit-forward Merlot
   The high acidity of tomatoes with the crisp acidity of a Pinot Gris or Sangiovese — even a fruit-forward Syrah
   The sweetness of corn or sugar snap peas with the off-dry fruit of a Chenin Blanc, 
            or a well-balanced Chardonnay

Cheers to Spring!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Sports & Nutrition Month!

The daffodils are beginning to bloom and trees about to bud here in Atlanta. 

Spring arrives mid-March, right after St. Patrick's Day. 
Green is a good thing. Even if it's not a four leaf clover. 

But the whole month is a celebration for eating right because March is  National Nutrition Month!!!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics serves up heaping helpings of advice on food, nutrition and cuisine. This year's theme is Eat Your Way, Every Day!

It's all about you!

A personalized approach to nutrition advice is the most successful plan. Take snacking, for instance.
Snacking between meals, whether it's mid-morining or mid-afternoon is a way of life in the USA. As dietitians we like to say, "Make your snack count!" Choose healthy snacks that serve up good taste and good nutrition.

A lot of families are ramping up their snack attack because Spring sports are starting!

He's safe! Because his parents packed  healthy snacks in his sports bag. 

If your kids need to snack after school on their way to sports practice or after practice to tide them over  until dinner - then you might need a bit of coaching to help choose the healthiest snacks.

Snacks can help fill in nutrient gaps when you choose foods rich in calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin A.
That's easy if you like granola bars with a carton of milk. Or baby carrots in a plastic bag to go.

I'm thrilled to be working with Sunbelt Bakery to get the good word out on healthy snacking for families. The best news is that the right snack can not only be good for you - it tastes good and is ready to be on the go with your busy schedule. The granola bars in the photo below are one of my faves- chocolate chip! At only 140 calories each, they're just the right portion size too. Their whole grain goodness comes from whole grain oats. Pair with a cup of low fat or fat free milk and you'll add 8 grams of high quality protein to your snack break, too.

Meanwhile, back at Spring are on the move and need fuel and fluids to keep them going.  Water is great of course but  fruits and vegetables provide good hydration, too.

Think of snacks as mini-meals with what I call a "Tasty Snack Trio" including:

Protein foods (cheese, milk, yogurt, hard boiled egg, slice of turkey or ham)
Whole Grain foods (whole wheat crackers, granola cereal on yogurt, granola bars )
Garden foods ( fruits, vegetables) TIP: always cut up fruit so it's easier to eat. Apple slices will disappear while the whole apple may go uneaten. I love those pre-cut carrot chips in the supermarket produce section too!
Carrot chips and a 1/4 cup portion of hummus is perfect on the go sports snack for kids.

Tasty Snack Trio: protein in hummus, whole grain crackers and veggies.

So how much is enough for a snack? Well, it depends on the age of the child and how active they are. Generally, I like to recommend about 150 calories for snack occasion. That places granola bars right in the sweet spot! Add a handful of grapes or easy-to-peel clementine orange ( which are in season right now! ) and you're good to go.  Game on!
Healthy snacks help kids win by fueling their bodies with good nutrition and energy they need.

Portable Nutrition 
Dietitians and Moms, Liz and Janice have lots of sporty ideas for good nutrition!

Meals on the Move is the name of the game for smart snacking for game or practice for the Meal Makeover Moms- registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex. 
They Say:
-       Get kids hydrated before they head out the door by whipping up a naturally delicious fruit smoothie. Blend together 100% fruit juice, fresh and/or frozen fruit, and low-fat yogurt. For added protein, opt for Greek yogurt.

-       On-the-go snacks can include:

     Homemade trail mix with granola cereal, nuts, whole grain pretzels, dried fruit, and  maybe a few dark chocolate chips tossed in!l
      Low-fat cheese sticks, squeeze yogurts (go for Greek squeeze yogurts for more protein), mini fruit cups packed in juice or applesauce, hummus with pretzels or baby carrots for dipping, popcorn (it’s a whole grain!)

-       Pack along a homemade “sport” drink by combining your child’s favorite fruit juice with water and a few ice cubes.

Note on sports drinks: Make sure to read the nutrition facts label. They can contain just as many calories as a soft drink. They are not for guzzling. One cup ( 8 ounces ) is enough to replace electrolytes in young athletes who are practicing or competing rigorously. Still thirsty? Drink some more water.  Carolyn O'Neil 

The Home Team 
Make ahead to makeover easy sports night dinners!

Having meals at the ready when you get home from a practice or game is ideal when both parents are at the side line … and not minding the kitchen stove.  Fast ideas from Liz and Janice, The Meal Makeover Moms include …
-       Omelet made with sauteed veggies and low-fat cheese. Eggs are rich in protein and cook up in minutes.
-       Slow cooker: Load the slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home!
-       Keep a well stocked pantry to make quick-assembly meals possible. One of our favorite fast meals – Drain and rinse a can of black beans, thaw some frozen corn kernels, chop up some leftover roasted chicken, and you’ve got the makings of a quesadilla. Top a flour tortilla with beans, corn, leftover chicken, shredded low-fat cheese, and BBQ sauce, fold in half, heat some canola oil in a skillet, and sautee  about three minutes per side.

Liz Weiss, MS, RD and Janice Bissex, MS, RD are the dietitian duo behind the popular website, and authors of, No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011)

What about Dessert Mom?!

Crunchy Granola Fruit Bake is an EZ dessert for a busy school plus sports night. Place frozen blueberries ( you can use fresh but frozen are nutritious and ready when you are) in a baking dish, top with Sunbelt granola cereal and bake for 20 minutes. Top with frozen yogurt.  Yum!

Go Team!