Daily Meal’s best 101 restaurants in America

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The Daily Meal has published their 2014 best 101 restaurants in the country. Created by 100 different judges from food critics to food writers, this list pretty efficiently narrows down the go-to culinary geniuses in this land of ours. I found it so thorough that I had to publish at least the top 20.

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Awesome recipe: Brown rice salad with chicken, feta and mint

Brown Rice Salad

Adapted from a recipe in a magazine read so long ago I can’t remember, this mega healthy salad will stave off hunger for hours. The whole grains in brown rice, combined with the protein in the chicken, digest slowly so you’ll feel fuller, longer. And it’s unbelievably tasty, I might add. It even gets better overnight, as the dressing spreads its deliciousness throughout the ingredients. It does take about 45 minutes to make so be patient — it’s seriously worth it. Or make it on Sunday and take this for lunch for two days. You can make this vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and adding another can of chickpeas.

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Food and wine pairing heaven: Sweet Vouvray and blue cheese

Foreau Demi Sec 2011

Some wines are for everyday… you knock them back without a care or thought. Those are freeing and ephemeral days. But then, there are wines that give pause… stay in your memory like your first dance with a sweetie. They grab you and hang on for the ride. I recently experienced a sexy slow dance . Tasted back in November, I still remember the wine’s sensations and flavors. But not necessarily when I drank it alone — it’s really too sweet for my palate. But when I paired it with some salty, creamy, thick-veined blue cheese, it transformed. My tweet read: “Blue cheese + Foreau Demi Sec is freakin’ unbelievable”. Not sure I need to say more.

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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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