Wine reviews: Five Rhone style wines rocking my world

Anglim 2014 RoseThe Rhone Rangers, a group of wine producers who have a passion for Rhône grape varietals, spreads the gospel of grapes like Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne… all descendants of France’s Rhône Valley that grow quite happily in areas around California. Especially Paso Robles in the south-central area of the state where the intense heat coaxes these grapes into a ripening groove. Rhone Rangers holds regular tasting events across the country to introduce wine lovers to the beauty of these often overlooked yet sublime varietals. If you see one in your town, run to get tickets. Their website.

I found these wines at one of their events, as well as in my wanderings. My round up of the best Rhône style wines I’ve had recently.

Anglim Winery 2014 Rose Paso Robles: From a Paso Robles based winery, this Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier recipe is what all pink wines should taste like. Light, flirty, fresh and fruity with plenty of tart acids to make it dance on the tongue and stay interesting. Bone dry, it’s got bright red strawberry, watermelon, red cherry and cranberry with a refreshing, herby finish. So lovely, complex and so timeless. Love it. $18, only available direct from the winery. Anglim’s website. Read more »

Cookie recipe: Gluten free chocolate chip cookies

If you’re still reading this after seeing “gluten-free” in the title, then welcome. Many people don’t make it this far when “gluten free” is included. During my food allergy food cleanse, I discovered that I’m gluten sensitive. I’m not celiac or anything serious but post ripping into anything wheat-based, I get bloated and feel crappy. So I started eating as gluten free as I can. And that ain’t easy in our culture. As a former pastry chef who studied and used gluten for a living, it has been a tough, lonely road. But I’m learning to bake GF (as it’s called in this world and you’ll see on labels) while trying to avoid the scary sounding ingredients like xanthan gum, which acts as a thickening agent in the absence of gluten. It’s easier than you might think and you might even feel more comfortable after scarfing a few of these down.

Read more: Cookie recipe: Gluten free chocolate chip cookies

Uncover five healthy foods with hidden sugar

Sugar Foods

Sugar is enduring a brutal smear campaign these days. With good reason. It’s condemned as the cause to everything from diabetes to cancer. It’s so pervasive in the American diet — to the tune of 90 pounds of sugar per year per person — that everyone should be reading ingredient lists and weeping. Or getting saddlebags, saggy butt or belly. Or all of the above. Due in part to the silly low fat craze of the past 20 years, sugar became the substitute to make processed “food” low fat, since sugar only turns to fat in the body once it’s not burned off as energy. Think of sugar as a fuel that must be used immediately or it will end up somewhere. Like getting settled into your fat cells. But not all sugar is bad. It occurs naturally in fruit, called fructose, but eating too much fruit could still pack on the pounds if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. And the naturally occurring sugars in milk are called lactose.

Read more: Uncover five healthy foods with hidden sugar

Wine Review: Anderra 2013 Carmenere and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Anderra Cabernet and Chicken

I possess a Daredevil-like sense of smell. I notice aromas floating in the air that few people do, from potpourri, blooming flowers the next block over, sauteed onions from outside the front door and — my least favorite thing on the planet — incense burning in a nearby apartment. Inherited from the chef-side of my family, this intense sense is both a blessing and curse, since there are also plenty of not-so-fabulous aromas floating in the air too. As you likely know, taste is heavily dependent on smell (think about when you have a cold) so my taste factor is also influenced by this, ahem, blurse. But that’s where tasting wine becomes really cool. I smell and taste a lot of things in a wine. Like green pepper(aka pyrazine vegetal-ness) in many Chilean Carmenere wines. I whiff it first, then it bursts into my mouth. Generally experienced in grapes that haven’t ripened enough, the green pepper experience in Carmenere is part of its DNA. I never warmed up to this flavor and still don’t care for it. So when I get a sample bottle of Carmenere, I’m rarely psyched. However, the Anderra 2013 Carmenere surprised me. It helps that the wine is is the Chilean project by Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. Yep, that Rothschild.

Read more: Wine Review: Anderra 2013 Carmenere and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

4 ingredient Dijon vinaigrette recipe for salads (or marinades)

Dijon Vinaigrette

Have you ever read the side of a salad dressing bottle? Be in a patient mood when you do. Hard-to-pronounce words followed by a list of chemicals. My mantra is that, if I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it. Ingredients often look scary to me… preservatives like potassium sorbate, red or yellow coloring, thickeners like xanthan gum and moderately evil flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate. Not to forget sugar. Plenty of sugar in them, there bottles. When I “went healthy” many years ago, I dropped the bottled stuff and started making my own. Very surprisingly easy to do, once you get the hang of it and learn what tastes good to you. And the biggest accomplishment is knowing how to dress a salad without measuring. Bonus!

Read more: 4 ingredient Dijon vinaigrette recipe for salads (or marinades)

Shandy beer cocktail: Refreshing summertime drink

Summer is here, allowing all of us who live in a four season climate to enjoy the things that only summer can bring. For me – bring on the shandy (or radler if you prefer) perhaps the greatest beer cocktail. Like so many drinks the origins of the shandy beer cocktail are fuzzy and hotly debated. Some have suggested that the drink’s origins are found with Henry VIII who enjoyed the beverage in times of marital discord. It’s hard to imagine this, since a few shandies could never leave one in the mood to separate your spouse’s head from her body. However, he may have had issues well beyond the mood lifting properties of the shandy.

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7 healthy additions to a real food diet (paleo style)

Blackened salmon

With the medical professionals screaming at us to eat healthier and better and the food marketers saying their fake food fits into this category, it’s difficult to know where to turn. But I turn to real food — food that comes from the ground or from a tree and has never seen a factory or processing plant. I don’t have to worry about eating too much of it or if it’s going to give me hives or any… ahem… digestive issues. If you’re hoping to make the switch or just trying to expand your healthy food horizons, here are seven, deliciously real foods that you should and can enjoy with relentless abandon.

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Update on curing allergies with food: 60 days post cleanse

Enjoying shellfish again

Since January, things have changed a bit in our house. At least, the food has. We ate pretty healthy before, although my definition of “healthy” is drastically different than it was a couple of years ago. Back in the day, I espoused and lived the “low fat” mantra, counting calories and working out like a fiend. Then I started reading. A lot. Now, fat is my friend, I never count calories and work out maybe three times a week. I do try to stay active but I haven’t seen a gym in a couple of years. My blood work has improved, my weight has maintained a constant level and I feel great. And the food allergies I had before my cleanse have, all for intents and purposes, vanished.

Read more: I cured my food allergies with diet: 60 days post cleanse

French Malbec and wines of Cahors: The original

Vineyards in Cahors, France

It was called “Black Wine” for years – the Malbec wine from Cahors in France’s Southwest region. The British were the main consumers of this rich, unctuous and tannic drink until the root louse phylloxera decimated the vineyards in the late 1800’s. 100 years later, after replanting with terroir in mind, the Cahors wine producers awakened to a different Malbec world far from their shores, in Argentina. They realized they were late to an already raging party. Undaunted by the competition, Cahors wine producers now feel it’s the Golden Age of Cahors and better late than never to reclaim Malbec’s French birthright.

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Recipe: Savory gluten-free garlic and herb muffins (paleo friendly)

During my food allergy curing, gut healing exercise, I hankered for baked goods. There’s nothing quite like sinking your chompers into soft, savory goodness and I missed that satisfying sensation. I also sought an alternative gluten-free, nutrient-dense breakfast option. Enter the coconut flour muffin. Combining insight from a few paleo recipe websites, I created a fluffy muffin that fit my tastes.

Read more: Recipe: Savory gluten-free garlic and herb muffins (paleo friendly)