Which Wines to Use for Cooking

When you’re trying to choose a wine to use in the kitchen, it can be a bit intimidating. Sure, drinking wine is easy, but cooking with it can be a little trickier. Here are some of the best wines you can use for cooking.

White Wines

When cooking with white wine, it’s usually a good choice to use dry, crisp whites rather than rich or oaky ones. The second option could create a bitter taste in some dishes while sweeter wines could add an unnecessary sweetness to a dish or potentially even caramelize. This is why it is best to use dry whites like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay, as long as it is unoaked.

If you have never cooked with wine before, it’s probably best to go with a Pinot Grigio, as it is the most neutral of the three and will create the lightest flavor. However, Chardonnay creates a richer flavor, which can be good if you’re more comfortable cooking with wine or at all.

Red Wines

Dry, robust reds are often good for making sauces, especially if you are cooking during the colder, winter months. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and burgundy are all great choices for cooking with reds. Fruiter wines can sometimes help an otherwise bland dish explode with flavor, but this is usually a good choice if you have spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Shiraz and Chianti can also be good choice for red wines used in cooking, but many people swear by using Port as a cooking wine.

Also…

There’s nothing wrong with following a recipe. Some recipes are very specific about what type of wine you should use while others are a little more lenient. Depending on your expertise, you may be able to experiment, but it’s usually best to play it safe at first.

Another tip: don’t use red if a recipe calls for white and vice-versa. There’s a serious reason why one type of wine was meant to be used in a recipe, and you shouldn’t substitute a completely different flavor. This means sticking to whites or reds when appropriate.

It is important to think about your dish and what flavors you are trying to create. A good way to tell if a wine is good to cook with? If you wouldn’t drink the wine with your meal, definitely don’t cook with it.

Why You Should Visit a Winery in the Fall

Any time of year is a good time for wine, right? It’s one of the most versatile drinks in the world, and people enjoy it year-round. So why is a trip to the winery so specifically special when it happens in the fall? Here are just a few reasons why you should plan your trip to one of these beautiful locations during the cooler months.

Seeing the Seasons Turn

This may be the number one reason to visit a winery in the fall. When you get to see the seasons change right in front of your eyes, you gain a new appreciation for nature and the magnificent dance it does every year as green leaves fade to yellow, orange, red, and finally, to brown. Wineries are incredible places to see these changes because you’ll be surrounded by the majesty of nature as well as comforted by the familiar.

The Harvest

Most wineries have amazing discounts and festivals during the harvest, which usually happens during the fall months. You can often find exciting packages that are only offered during this time of year or see something different that you haven’t witnessed before. The harvest is a special time at a winery, and whether you have never been to one or have been many times, this is still an option you should absolutely consider.

Lower Rates

If you want to find a time to go to the wineries when no one else will be there (and you will benefit from lower rates), consider going in the late fall. On or around Thanksgiving and especially afterward, many people are not taking trips to wine country because they are focused on traveling home for the holidays or on doing their Christmas shopping. If this isn’t a priority for you, this is a great way to save money on your trip to wine country and to beat the crowds.

The Weather

Aside from watching the leaves turn, the weather during the fall months is impeccable at a winery. The days are usually warm while the nights are crisp and cool. It’s a perfect combination and it beats nearly any other time of the year in terms of good weather.

If you do choose to visit a winery, you have plenty of reasons to do so during the autumn months when the weather will be inviting and there’s always so much to do. So what are you waiting for?

Best Wines for the Fall

The fall is on its way—and in some parts of the country, may already be here. So you’re probably asking yourself what the best wines are for this cooler time of year. Here’s a list of your best options.

Fall Wines

According to Biltmore, “full-bodied whites” and “light- to medium-bodied reds” are a great option for the chillier fall months. They’re a great sipping sensation for cooler weather, and they pair well with fall-themed foods and harvest snacks. Biltmore suggests trying a soft red blend or a Pinot Noir during this time of year. A sparkling wine could also be a great option, especially if you don’t usually indulge in this type of bubbly treat.

In general, then, many types of wine could be considered autumnal, so choosing the best option is all about which type you prefer.

Red Wines

Red wines for the fall shouldn’t be too robust, as it’s best to save those options for winter, but you’re going to want something that will warm you up as the months get colder. Grenache-based wines can be a wonderful choice during this time of year, as can a great Pinot Noir, as stated above. Beaujolais is another option that is low in tannins and great for the fall. Any time you’re looking for a fall red, try to find something that has a bit of spice to it, as well as a taste that won’t disappear when paired with strong, autumnal flavors.

White Wines

Chardonnay is a great every-time-of-year wine, but it is especially enjoyable during the early and late fall months. Roussanne and Viognier are also good choices if you prefer white, and Semillion is a favorite option during early fall because of its citrus flavors, which can help you make the transition out of summer. Also, if you’re looking for a white that can provide you with the same kind of spice as one of the red options above, try white burgundy, which can often be cheaper than the red option.

Other Options

Sparkling wines like champagne are good all year round, but there’s something about sipping it in the colder months that’s so enchanting. In addition, November 19th is National Zinfandel Day, which might inspire you to crack open a bottle if you’ve never tried it before. The fall is such a great time to enjoy many different types of wine, so go ahead and raise a glass!

Fall Recipes that Use Walnuts

Walnuts are a great option for all your fall recipes: they’re incredibly healthy and good for you, they provide a charming, seasonal taste that is perfect for a meal packed with autumnal flavors, and they go in almost everything, from light salads to sticky desserts. Here are some of our favorite autumn recipes that are packed with walnuts.

Monkey Bread

Monkey bread is one of the best dessert options for fall. With its sugary, cinnamony flavor and its breakaway pieces that are great for sharing, it’s an incredible dish to bring to a party or just to make at home for you and your family. You can find a recipe for monkey bread, which includes half a cup of chopped walnuts, here.

Grilled Corn with Walnut Pesto

An impeccable side dish that screams fall flavor, grilled corn is a great option for those early fall days where it’s still light out late into the evening and you can grill outside to your heart’s content. This recipe, however, kicks this old standard up a notch by adding an amazing pesto sauce that is packed flavor. Giving you an ample serving of calcium, iron, and protein, this side dish might even need to be upgraded to main course.

Autumn Chicken, Walnut and Apple Romaine Salad

This recipe uses 6 tablespoons of chopped walnuts, 4 cups of McIntosh apples, and half a cup of dried cranberries, which means it packs a punch of autumnal flavor. Chicken can be seasoned to taste, and pasta can be cooked according to the directions on the packet. Essentially, this is the easiest, most filling salad you’ve ever made, and it combines all the flavors you look for in a fall-inspired dish.

Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

Looking for something a bit different and exciting you can make this holiday season? If you are vegan but want to create a hearty and delicious stew, look no further. This combination of pomegranates, walnuts, onions, and turmeric is bursting with flavor and can be made into a completely filling and satisfying meal. Find the recipe here.

Spiced Autumn Walnut and Golden Syrup Tart-Pie

We had to get one more dessert in, and trust us, this one’s a doozy. This tart-pie can be made with a pastry crust you buy or create from scratch. With the flavors of vanilla, ground cinnamon, orange, and of course, walnuts, you’ll soon know why this is an essential dessert for your fall repertoire. The recipe can be found here.

How Much Is Too Much Wine to Drink

Over the years, we’ve been able to discover that drinking wine has a number health benefits. Wine is also a great social lubricant and can help soothe anxiety at the end of a long day. However, there is such a thing as drinking too much wine.

Too Much Alcohol

In general, doctors say people who drink more than 3 drinks per day or 7 drinks per week are drinking too much. According to the National Library of Medicine, these numbers are considered moderate drinking, and those who stick to this amount shouldn’t worry too much about their alcohol intake. However, the desire to know how much wine specifically is too much does continue to linger, especially with the many health benefits we now understand wine to carry.

Too Much Wine

Wine in Moderation suggests firmly that no more than 4 drink units should be consumed on any one occasion. While many people have probably had more than 4 drinks on one occasion in their lives, it is also suggested that women avoid drinking more than 2 drink units a day and men avoid drinking more than 3. But what exactly does this mean?

A drink unit is a specific amount of alcohol that is the equivalent of another amount. For example, a 5 oz. glass of wine has the same amount of alcohol as 12 oz. of standard beer. 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits also contains the same amount of alcohol. In general, doctors and governments agree that more than about 3 glasses of wine per day is considered too much.

How Much Is Too Much?

In a recent column for Forbes, contributing writer Katie Kelly Bell mentioned many of the variables that can make putting restrictions on one’s alcohol consumption difficult. For example, drinking wine on an empty stomach is more harmful and will make the effects more intense than eating with one’s drink. Also, drinking heavily on the weekends instead of having a glass or two several nights a week can also be more dangerous. Bell’s point is clear: it’s difficult to pin down an exact amount that should be considered too much.

Many different American and international associations have put their mark on how much wine is too much, and while it is important to know these levels, it is usually easy to be certain yourself whether you’re drinking too much or not. So try thinking about your habits and if you think they may require a tweak or two.

Can Walnuts Actually Stop Your Brain from Craving Food?

Are walnuts controlling your mind? Well, they could be, but you’ll probably notice some beneficial results, like not wanting to eat as much because of their ability to convince your brain it doesn’t need fatty foods.

The Study

According to Forbes, a recent study published in the medical journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism found that walnuts may actually be able to minimize your desire for food by changing the way certain parts of the brain work. In the study, several individuals were given a smoothie with 48 grams of walnuts in it for 5 straight days. Another group was given a similar smoothie that did not contain walnuts. After they were allowed to return to their regular diet for a time, the groups were then switched.

During the study, participants were subjected to an fMRI machine twice, once before and once after drinking the smoothies. While the fMRI occurred, the participants were shown pictures of desirable foods with lots of calories (onion rings and cake), less desirable, healthy foods (vegetables and fruits), and non-foods (rocks and flowers).

The Results

The results were actually very interesting. Participants who had eaten the walnut smoothie diet for 5 days found they felt less hungry after they started the diet. The fMRI also showed some interesting results. When participants were shown the desirable, high-calorie food after eating the walnut smoothie for several days, the right insula of the brain seemed more active in the fMRI scan. This part of the brain is involved in satiety and inhibition.

In general, it seems that those who ate a diet high in walnuts were actually less hungry and that their brains even reflected these results. In short, eating walnuts did actually cause some changes to the way the brain worked, making it easier for the participants to avoid eating fatty foods.

Can Walnuts Control Your Mind?

Of course, one study can’t prove much alone, especially something as odd as the existence of mind-controlling walnuts. But it is possible that eating these nuts often and regularly will help you avoid eating foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition, potentially making it easier for you to lose weight. While the result may well wear off with time as your brain and body get used to the influx of walnuts, it’s always worth a shot, especially with scientific research to back it up.

Best Foods for Stress Relief

Thinking about killing two birds with one stone and making yourself a healthy dinner that can also reduce your feelings of stress? Well, look no further. Here is a list of some of the best food and drink options for a stress relieving meal.

Milk

We all know milk does a body good and contains vitamin D, but what you may not know is that this particular vitamin has been found to boost happiness in those who drink milk regularly. Those who don’t have enough vitamin D have even been found in certain studies to have an increased risk of panic disorders and depression. So go ahead; drink up.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has been found to offer a number of benefits to those who indulge regularly but not too much. Eating a bite or two of dark chocolate can actually help regulate your stress levels and create euphoric effects that feel similar to those associated with falling in love.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great stress relief option. They have a good crunch to them, especially when roasted, which can be satisfying in the middle of a long day. They boost your immune system, too, which is important during times of stress when you’re even more likely to get sick. Walnuts can also help to lower blood pressure, and they help the body deal with tension more easily. So next time you’re looking for a stress-relieving snack, go ahead and pop a handful of walnuts in your mouth.

Salmon

Salmon is actually one of the better meal options if you’re feeling extra stressed. The fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties, and these can help to counteract the effects of stress. In addition, some individuals even take supplements containing many of the properties found naturally in salmon for anxiety and other stress-induced issues.

Tea

Whether you prefer herbal, black, or green tea, it really doesn’t matter. All of these options can be extremely helpful for battling stress and allowing you to feel calmer and happier immediately and over time.

Wine

Having one or two glasses of wine at the end of a long and stressful day can actually help reduce your feelings of anxiety. While drinking too much could exacerbate this issue, it’s not hard to find the line and to drink responsibly, especially if you can enjoy a glass or two with loved ones after a seriously long day.

Why Nature Is Good for You

Have you ever wondered why people always say they want to get back to nature? Well, for one, being out in nature is extremely serene, and it is also very good for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Whether you’re looking for a weeklong retreat or just an afternoon away from it all, nature is good for you, and getting back to it is always a healthful choice.

Nature Is Good for Our Bodies

Going out into nature is actually good for all of our bodily functions. For example, being outside has been found to reduce hypertension. In addition, it can minimize issues normally associated with respiration, partially because the individual is able to breathe in fresh air. Cardiovascular problems can also be highly improved by just getting outside for a bit each day. As long as you wear sunscreen to protect your skin, it’s a good choice to be outside and in a natural environment as often as possible.

Nature Is Good for Our Minds

The calmness of nature is actually extremely beneficial. Have you ever been to a walnut tree grove? If not, we highly suggest you go, as just setting foot in an area where trees are growing can be instantly calming, and it can help issues of stress and anxiety begin to melt away.

In addition, nature can reinvigorate your mental state. Spending time at the ocean or in a vineyard will allow you to feel closer to the natural activities of the world around you. Getting you out of your stuffy office and your daily routine will help you recharge your batteries like nothing else.

Nature Is Good for Our Spirits

Whatever you believe, being out in nature has some sort of benefit we can’t entirely explain with scientific principles. The beauty of the sights mentioned earlier—a vineyard, the ocean, a grove of walnut trees—is something that cannot be recreated with manmade items. Even lovely architecture can’t stand up to the way we feel inside when we see a spectacular piece of natural life, brimming with new possibilities and connecting us solidly to the earth.

Being in nature is a great way to feel better about yourself and the world around you. It’s also a perfect option for beating fatigue or frustration with your day-to-day life. So the next time you need a minute away, try merely stepping outside.

5 Foods for More Brain Power

We all want to have a better ability to focus, sharper memories, and stronger brain power. However, these effects are especially important for those who are getting older and need to be sure their minds are working as well as possible. While there are still no ways to completely reverse the loss of brain power as we age—and no cures for illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, which claims many individuals each year—there are certain foods you can eat in order to increase your brain power and stay sharper for longer.

1. Walnuts

Walnuts are a type of food rich in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and manganese, all of which support brain power. While these nuts support a healthy gut, they are also able improve mental health. In fact, recent studies have even found that eating a handful of walnuts every day helps to boost brain health and minimize one’s chances of experiencing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental disorders later in life.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is extremely beneficial for brain health, but it is important to make sure you are buying actual olive oil and not a fake product. Still, this food is high in antioxidants that protect the brain called polyphenols and high in vitamin E and K, which help to slow down mental decline. It may also be able to protect older individuals against Alzheimer’s, according to a recent study.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil provides the body with saturated fat. This is a nutrient needed to help the brain cell membranes function properly and to increase the integrity of this part of the brain as well.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are great for mental health. While they provide an individual with the necessary antioxidants for the brain to function correctly and healthily, they can also reduce inflammation. This is important because many of the known brain-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, are associated with the issue of inflammation.

5. Eggs

Eggs are very rich in choline. When a person eats eggs, the brain uses the choline in order to make acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Acetylcholine is often associated with preserving the brain’s memory storage and with communication between one brain cell and another. Essentially, eggs help the brain in all of its most important functions, allowing your mind to stay sharper and your memory to stay intact.

5 Drinks to Boost Productivity

Everyone’s looking for another way to boost their productivity, and grabbing a quick drink on the way into work is usually how many people try to achieve this goal. Here are some of the best drinks to use to boost your focus and energy when your deadlines are drawing nigh.

1. Water

When you’re trying to make sure your body has enough energy to make it through another day, your first option is water. Your body will always need it to function, and if you aren’t getting enough water, your mind and body will both suffer. Making sure you have enough throughout the day is absolutely essential then.

2. Coffee

This is the most popular choice for people on the go who need an energy boost and need it now. Coffee is one of the best natural supplements to choose for a productive morning (and afternoon), so when you need to make sure you’re prepared to get things done, get yourself down to the local café and purchase your morning java.

3. Tea

An alternative for those who don’t like coffee, tea is always a great energy booster. Most teas contain caffeine, but certain herbal teas can also generate focus and pep. However, if you’re looking for the right tea to get you through a long day of work and to make sure you get stuff done, go with either black or green tea. The former increases one’s circulation and is full of polyphenols, which are great for brain health. The latter, however, can also improve memory and has more caffeine than the former.

4. Smoothie

A smoothie is a healthy, natural way to boost your productivity. Make yourself a smoothie with ingredients like blueberries, chia seeds, and pomegranates for a great, brain-healthy option. Smoothies that are rich in protein, including those that have protein boosts, can be great for your productivity as well and help you stay peppy long into the afternoon.

5. Wine

Believe it or not, alcohol can actually help boost your productivity. Having a glass of wine with lunch can increase your creativity and allow you to view problems differently than you would have if you were completely sober. You will naturally want to avoid drinking too much, but if you feel stuck or stymied in your daily work, one of the best cures is to take yourself out to lunch and order a glass of wine. When you’re ready to return, your productivity will be at a whole new level.