Fruits and veggies: Buy organic or not? The dirty dozen

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

My husband and I “went organic” many years ago, figuring that — assuming all the research is correct — spending more money now is better than spending money in the hospital later. Eating real food is way more fun than “eating” from a tube, right? And tastier, I might add. Whether you espouse the “pesticides and fungicides suck” attitude or not, non-profit organizations like the Environmental Working Group have assembled a tome of evidence that recommends staying away from the chemical residue on food. But a huge factor that keeps people from buying organic fruits and vegetables is the higher price. It’s not the farmer’s fault — they have to spend more producing the food so they pass on the added cost to the customer. Although not all conventionally-farmed fruits and vegetables are slathered in chemical residue, there are some worst offenders. To keep track of the pesticides levels on a myriad of fresh food, I recommend a free app called Harvest but here’s a short list of those that should always be purchased from the organic section.

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Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (mmm, bacon)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Even as a adult, Roasted Brussels SproutsI hated these little cabbages. Until a friend brought a batch of roasted brussels sprouts over to our house. Now I’m addicted. The act of roasting concentrates the flavor and natural sugars in any vegetables so they emerge from the oven crusty and full of goodness. Recipes works well with broccoli and cauliflower too. Leftovers reheat really well too. And, well, bacon makes everything better!

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Four easy weight loss tips for a new year and a new you

scary weight scale

The #1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Some succeed… many do not. But those that do put in the effort and take the extra steps (literally) required to make a lifestyle change for the better. There are so many things you can do to feel awesome and lose weight but these four easy tips will start you on your way. 1. Buy a pedometer and shoot for 10,000 steps per day. Try a free app called Pacer. It’s not perfect (you have to turn it on everyday and also have your phone on you at all times), but hey, it’s free. Some things to try: Park your car as far away as possible from any door (work, grocery store, coffee shop, etc), take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, walk to people’s offices instead of calling them at work.

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French wine review: Domaine Bruno Clair 2010 Marsannay “Les Vaudenelles”

Bruno Clair 2010 Marsannay

Discovered during a blind tasting, I mistook this stellar red Burgundy for a Chambolle Musigny, a Côtes de Nuits wine region up the road which can be twice the price. This Bruno Clair hails from Marsannay, a newer, French village-level appellation (established in 1987) which is no slouch Burgundy wine region. The Pinot Noir grapes, from which this gorgeous wine is made, are aptly worshiped in this area of the world. It shows.

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Reliable hangover cure (really): Forgiven alcohol recovery shot

Forgiven

They call it an alcohol recovery shot but I call it a hangover miracle: Forgiven. The good news is that post-bacchanalia head fuzz and pain might be a problem of the past. A blend of vitamins, herbs and amino acids, Forgiven is a two-ounce post-hangover solution. To test its efficacy, I played the dubious lab rat and downed the liquid after a particular night of… ahem… fun. I felt significant relief literally within two hours. Some of the listed ingredients are an alphabet brew of B vitamins, zinc and sodium, all found on the plate of Eggs Benedict and in a glass of V8 — my former cure which took six hours to kick in. Added bonus: Forgiven only has 44 calories and no caffeine.

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Sparkling wine and Champagne: Bubblies for all budgets

champagne glasses

‘Tis the season to grab the bubblies and head to parties (or host your own at home). About 80% of all sparkling wine sales happen between November 1 and December 31st — there’s something about celebrating the holidays which creates a Pavlovian response to sparkles in our glass. We. Must. Drink. Them. And drink them we shall… whether you have a Hamilton or a Franklin in your wallet, it’s easier these days to toast with bubbles. Fairly easy to find through the U.S., ask for these wines by name at your local indie wine retailer.

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Warming winter (or summer) stew: Simmered rosemary-scented lentils

Lentils

Lentils, a dried legume loaded with nutrition, come in a variety of forms. The most commonly found are the brown ones but you can also find them in pink and green. Oddly enough, the humble brown ones have the most to offer the human body — 18 grams of protein and boat loads of fiber. They’re super easy to cook too– not requiring an overnight soak like most other dried beans. This lentil recipe — ideally cooked using brown lentils — can be made vegetarian by substituting a rich vegetable broth instead of chicken. About 5 minutes before they’re fully cooked, you can add all sorts of ingredients like 1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs (try arugula!), 1 cup of chopped, cooked chicken sausage (like Aidell’s), bite-sized pieces of rotisserie chicken and any other leftovers. But you don’t need to add anything at all.

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Seeking the unique: Food and wine gifts for all seasons

Revolution Wine and Water Glasses

Since I already own just about every food and wine gadget, I can imagine what a pain in the ass I am to shop for. Some tools I use regularly, like my J Vineyards branded Champagne opener or Microplane grater. But some ended up either being re-gifted or donated, like the cordless, electric corkscrewoddly resembling a vibrator – the thought of using it puts a smile on my face, although my old-school Screwpull openergets me there quicker. As we all know, the best gifts are the thoughtful ones; even if inexpensive, they’ll show that you took the time to be creative or find the unique. To come off as someone who thinks, here are my gift suggestions for the wine and food lovers on your list, whether they be newbies or connoisseurs. It’s always nice to give the gift of great food and wine.

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