F&W's Tips for Healthy Eating and Drinking

In a chat with Facebook fans, F&W editor Kristin Donnelly shares the tips that allow her to eat, and drink, the French way.

Healthy Eating Practices

What’s your definition of healthy eating?
I’m a moderation girl so I try to eat really well—meaning mostly plant-based foods and no sugar—80 percent of the time so I can indulge 20 percent of the time. I also think there’s no one right diet all the time for every person. I think it’s best to listen to your body. If you’re craving a steak, for example, maybe you need one of those nutrients so buy a small bit of the best steak you can and eat it. Unless you’re totally avoiding meat of course!

How do you distinguish between healthy cravings and unhealthy ones?
To me, sweets and fried starchy foods are the most unhealthy cravings and I find if I’m craving those, it’s usually because I need a quick jolt of energy or am hungover :). I try to indulge most other ones.

What is your take on cleanses (juice or otherwise)?
So many people love them and if your doctor says it’s ok (very important!) to do a juice cleanse for a few days, then great. I know the science about the detoxing nature of cleanses is often iffy. I think a “cleanse” in terms of committing to eating vegan or raw food for a week or a few days can be great if you’re trying to cut back on tons of sugar and fat. Some people find after eating lots of vegetables, whole grains and beans for a week or so makes them no longer crave unhealthy foods.

Healthy Wine Pairings

What is your favorite healthy pasta, and can you recommend a white to go with it?
I made a pasta the other day with shredded cabbage (which is so healthy), onions and just a tiny bit of chopped prosciutto. It felt really indulgent because the cabbage gets so silky, the onions become sweet as they cook and the bit of ham helps season it. It would be great with a Chardonnay—like the Foxglove. Or a dry Riesling, maybe one from Washington State, would work well, too.

What do you think about when you want to make something healthy and plan to pair wine with it?
It depends on if I’m starting with the food or with the wine. If the food, I usually think about what vegetable I already have and build a dish around that. I keep a good pantry of grains, pasta, lentils and spices so I can be flexible. Then I hope I have a wine at home that will match already or pick one up on my way home. (Light reds, roses and medium bodied unoaked whites are versatile with a range of dishes so if I have one of those at home, I’m happy). If I have a special wine I want to open, it’s a different story. I try to keep the dish really simple. A roasted chicken, for example. That way, the wine can really stand out.

Can you recommend some red wine blends to go with pasta?
Many Chianti include a blend of grapes and I love it with tomato-based pastas. They’re definitely not sweet and have nice cherry/earthy flavors.

What wine would you recommend for a group of vegetarians and meat eaters?
I love light reds like Beaujolais, which can be good with both vegetables and meat. Especially ones that aren’t too tannic. The wine wine Grünear Veltliner is great with greens and lighter meats like chicken or pork (like schnitzel!). Rosés can also be great for a wide variety of foods. You can even try heavier ones with beef.

Cooking for Special Diets

For a vegetarian, what foods do you recommend to eat in order to get all nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Unfortunately, I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t tell you exactly what to eat but I know that people are really excited about chia seeds (yes, from the chia pet) because of their high amounts of omega 3s and iron. I’ve read that you can increase your absorption of plant-based iron from spinach and chickpeas by eating those ingredients with vitamin C, like a lemon dressing.

Any favorite slow-cooked meat recipes or side dishes?
We did some killer slow-cooked meat dishes for a story called The Ultimate Wine Geek Road Trip. They are all just fab. There’s also some actual slow cooker recipes here.

What are some healthful recipes if you need to avoid too much fat, fiber and spicy food?
I hope these help provide some inspiration:
Grilled Shrimp with Apple and Charred Scallions
Chilled Fennel-Grapefruit Velouté with Lemon Olive Oil
Whole Fish Roasted with Potatoes and Thyme
Nectarine-Buttermilk Pops
Chicken Yakitori
Quick Vietnamese Noodle Soup with Beef (minus the sriracha for serving)
Shiitake-and-Swiss-Chard Soup with Hand-Cut Noodles
Casserole-Baked Halibut with Leeks and Carrots
Creamy Chicken-and-Mushroom Fricassee (not that much dairy)
Crispy Fish Sandwiches with Herb Remoulade
Chocolate Wafers with Ginger, Fennel and Sea Salt

Video: Healthy Cooking Tips

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