So the Holidays are over, and the realization has hit us: once and for all, we need to make Living a Healthy Lifestyle a major goal for the New Year. So where do we start? Well, according to Jennifer Cole Conn, owner of Food Integrated Training, good health is 80% food-driven and 20% exercise-driven. Good news indeed!
But I know what you’re thinking…….. oh, no, I have to give up my favorite adult beverage………….wine. Think Again! Instead, Jennifer suggests one of the best ways to slim down is to adjust your eating habits away from animal products and toward hearty and satisfying greens (such as kale, arugula, spinach, collard, turnip and mustard greens), legumes (which include peas, beans, lentils, peanuts) and root vegetables. So, being a crafty wine writer who is devoted to keeping wine in her food plan, I worked with Jennifer to concoct some great pairings to start us on our magical journey.
Everyone’s talking Beans and Greens these days, and with good reason. Moving away from animal-based foods does not mean giving up protein! In fact there’s just as much protein in a serving of vegetables or legumes as in meat, with the added bonus of fiber (not found in meats), helping us digest our meals and keeping us feeling well-stated.
Perhaps some of you grew up learning the Sacred Bean Chant: “Beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat the more you toot” (you know the rest). And you’ve also heard the wine is considered magical fruit for its many curative powers, so Magical Fruits, come and sing together for us!
To start us off, Jennifer prepared 3 different dishes so that we could discuss what makes a great meal, and which wines are the best complement.
1.) Beans, Greens and Some Other Things is a fabulous combo of kale, cannellini (white) beans, couscous, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted almonds. The couscous (pasta) has 8 grams of fiber/serving and the beans 6 grams of fiber. The kale gives the bitterness, the white beans lend the creaminess, the sundried tomatoes add chewiness, and the almonds add crunch. Some shredded parmesan for topping lends the piquancy, and the lemon juice gives a satisfying bitterness. Jennifer explains this kind of blend gives a qualitative, not quantitative feel.
The wine profile that works best is one that’s light-bodied, with crisp acidity and refreshing minerality, as the tantalizing bitterness of the kale marries well with the acidity and mineral notes of the wine. Several terrific ones are: Quinta da Romeira Arinto, Portugal: dry, aromatic, zesty white with hints of melon.
Pazo de Serantellos Albarino, Spain: rich, vibrant mouth-feel with tropical fruit and juicy, slightly mineral finish.
Scarpetta Pinot Grigio, Italy: (scarpetta is an Italian term for wiping up the last sauce on the plate with bread). Again the minerality and delicate fruits just sing.
2.) Not Yo’ Mama’s Sweet Potatoes is a great example of eating seasonally and finding a nutritious way to satisfy those sugar cravings. Jennifer’s recipe is as follows:
4 cups sweet potatoes, roasted
2 TB Dijon mustard
2 TB agave nectar or honey
2 TB balsamic vinegar
˝ tsp dried thyme
2 TB capers
˝ cup dried cranberries
˝ cup goat cheese, crumbles
˝ cup pecans
To roast sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and cut sweet potatoes (4-6 potatoes) to about ˝” and place on sheet pan coasted with cooking spray. Cook in oven for about 12–16 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool on pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, agave nectar, vinegar and thyme. Gently fold in the sweet potatoes, capers and cranberries…toss to coat.
To serve, place sweet potato mixture on large platter, sprinkle with goat cheese and pecans.
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are one of nature’s best sources of beta-carotene, plus they improve blood sugar regulation, and contain 3 grams of fiber per serving!
How now to pair the all-important wine? As the main ingredient gives the impression of sweetness, a wine with a similar personality is key. Two delightful entries made the cut: Peirano Estate Viognier, California: Peaches, pineapple, and tropical fruit with scents of lemons and ginger. Viognier has lower acidity, giving the impression of a rounder, creamier feel, which blends perfectly with the sweet potatoes.
Champalou Vouvray, France: Vouvray, in the Loire Valley of France, is planted to chenin blanc grapes. Most wines from chenin blanc retain a hint of sweetness, bringing this in perfectly with the dish.
3.) Magical Fruit Frittata which
combines black beans, red and green onions, bell peppers,and cilantro. A
poster child of protein-plus-fiber (15 grams of fiber per serving),
black beans have rich flavor and a velvety texture that’s been favorably
compared to mushrooms. Pairing wines with notes of stewed fruits and
earthy flavors hit the spot:
Torremoron Tempranillo, Spain: Tempranillo, the major red varietal of Central Spain, is a vibrant, aromatic varietal offering spicy, red-fruit aromas and flavors. This Tempranillo is unburdened by oak, creating a wine of terroir and substance.
Mont Tauch Fitou “Silver Label”, France: From the Languedoc region , this blend is of syrah, grenache and carignane, all native grapes to the area. The stewed dark fruits play beautifully with the beans, yet the lighter body of the wine doesn’t weigh down the pairing.
And now the question on all your minds: “How can I work with Jennifer Conn to learn new healthy eating habits?” A Certified Holistic Health Care Professional and Food Educator who holds a culinary degree and is a member of the American Culinary Federation, she can be reached at: http://www.food-