Wine may not be my best friend anymore.
It’s been two years since my first round of the autoimmune protocol or AIP diet to cure my shellfish allergies with food. This ride has lasted a while but I’ve noticed a few things lately that are calling me back into the realms of another 60-day leaky gut reset. Not sure if anyone else has these sorts of symptoms but I’ll list them here:
- Nuts give me acne. Any kind of nuts, about 3-4 days post consumption. Freakin’ tragic. If I lay off them, my skin is clear as a normal adult but once I pop a few almonds, pecans or walnuts, it’s off to teenager land I go.
- I’m becoming re-allergic/intolerant (still haven’t learned the medical difference) to avocados, which manifests itself as itchy eyes. Before the cleanse two years ago, my eyes swelled like my husband had knocked me around, but now it’s a mild itch. Hoping this upcoming 60-day round will clear up the avocado thing for good… me and guacamole, we’re close friends and I’d like to stay that way.
- Shellfish is starting to give me the same symptoms so, yeah, it’s time for a gut lining refresh.
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On the wine geekiness scale, the Alta Mora 2014 Rosso ranks high. Made from a decidedly geeky, native grape called Nerello Mascalese and grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicily, this robust, well-made red wine checks all the boxes for one-upmanship at a bring-your-own party. The Cusumano family owns this winery, two brothers with balls enough to plant a vineyard very near an active volcano. The largest active volcano in Europe. Yep — hope they’re insured.
Read more: Wine review: Alta Mora 2014 Rosso Mt. Etna Sicily
With a couple of fresh items and a list of pantry-clearing ingredients, this spicy sausage and garbanzo stew recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. You can substitute a bunch of things in this recipe — leftover roast chicken for the sausage (or mild sausage instead), cannelloni beans for the garbanzo beans, and add/sub other vegetables like zucchini or kale to veg it out a little more. It’s so forgiving, it’s kinda tough to mess up the flavors in this stew with additional vegetables. You can even remove the garbanzos if you’re following Paleo or Whole 30 diets, with minimal affect to this little recipe that could.
Read more: Spicy sausage and garbanzo bean stew recipe (weeknight meal)
This year, the Lodi Wine Region hosted the Wine Blogger’s Conference and several hundred bloggers enjoyed some unique fruit of their vines. Sure, there were still overly extracted, high alcohol Zins and Cabs to be had (or not), but I uncovered some pretty incredible small lot, teensy production non Zins that seriously reignited the wine geek in me. Below are some of the best Lodi wines I found.
Read more: Is Lodi the next frontier for wine geeks? The best Lodi wines I’ve tasted
It’s nearing the end of tomato season here in California and I’m always sad when this time comes. Soon, I won’t be able to simply walk outside, pick a plump favorite off the bush and maw on it with fervor. My husband professes that I have a freakish love for these nightshades and I unabashedly admit it — they are a perfect fruit that acts like a vegetable. Tomato sauce, Caprese salad, simply sliced with salt/pepper or in these recipes featuring tomatoes — I wallow in the beautiful yellow, red and green orbs all summer. I’ve been developing this paleo friendly gazpacho soup lately since this year’s massive crop has lent itself to tons of experimentation. The ingredient list might look long but this uncooked blender soup comes together in about 15-20 minutes. How easy is that? Add cooked shrimp to make it a complete meal.
Read more: Recipe: Paleo Friendly Gazpacho Soup
Back in 2007, when I was a full-time wine journalist, I spent a couple of days hanging around Flora Springs, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley. Sean Garvey, 3rd generation and a babe in the woods at the time, showed me around and expounded on the beauty of Napa Valley Merlot. So warm and welcoming, the Garvey and Kome families still hold a place in my treasured wine memories. They likely don’t know this, but, even after almost 10 years, I still recommend their wine and winery to Napa visitors. Because they’re awesome people with solid wines.
Read more: Wine review: Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot 2014
Rosés are my “thing” in summer (well, anytime, actually) but great wines aren’t just going to land in my lap — research is needed. And foresight, since the best Sonoma County rosé wines sell out quickly. I already missed the window at some wineries, like Cartographe Wines in Healdsburg, but maybe I can glom on to someone else’s forethought to buy some of theirs? Here’s hoping! On my journey to find the tastiest Sonoma County rosés, I did not want for incredibly fruit-forward, bone dry, well-balanced pink stuff in my ‘hood. I tasted my way through eight or so wineries (I could have gone to a lot more but I ran out of space in my wine racks and wallet) and uncovered many summer-worthy finds. But here’s the rub… you generally won’t find any of these on wine shelves, except maybe around Sonoma County, so you’ll need to order direct from the source.
Read more: Exploring the best damn Sonoma County rosé wines
Five ingredients… big, bang, boom. And this easy grilled zucchini is a simple pleasure anyone can afford and enjoy. With the brilliant advent of grill pans, non-stick or pre-seasoned cast iron, even those without a patio or with an evil, restrictive homeowners’ association can get in on some kitchen grilling action. One of the ingredients is a “luxury” item, lemon- or lime-infused olive oil, but worth investing in for salad dressing and drizzling over pretty much any vegetable, from steamed asparagus to sliced tomatoes. This recipes serves 2 people.
Read more: Easy grilled zucchini recipe with fresh basil
It ain’t easy being the underdog. When you have Chianti and Brunello as your big brothers and Super Tuscans as your sophisticated sister, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has to do a lot to get attention. Add to that some pretty tough Italian regulations about growing, blending and a helluva long name, it’s been a tough marketing road for this small, 76-producer, sub-region of Tuscany. But they’re making a delicious go of it with Sangiovese as the king pin. Established in 1966, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata) is comprised of 3,100 planted acres in the southeastern section of Tuscany, about 65 kilometers south of Siena. But grapes and wine have been in this region for millennia, with documents proving vineyards dating back to 790 AD. In 1980, the region was awarded a G on the DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), making them among the elite wine growing regions in Italy. This year marks their 50th anniversary of being recognized with quality Italian wine.
Read more: The new (old) wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
For me, breakfast is the most difficult part of adjusting to a whole foods lifestyle. No cereal or grains pretty much limits a lot of options. On AIP, a regimen I followed for 60 days to cure my food allergies, you can’t eat eggs and that kinda sucked, so I started experimenting. It was during AIP that I began developing this sweet potato hash recipe and still make it frequently as a satisfying breakfast or side dish. Thankfully, I learned I’m not allergy-sensitive to eggs and now serve it with a fried or poached egg on top (NB: many people are sensitive to eggs and don’t know it). This sweet potato hash is Paleo and Whole30 compliant too. Enjoy!
Read more: Sweet potato hash recipe: Paleo, AIP, Whole30 approved