Archive for the ‘Food and Dine’ Category


Healthy eating choices to get you through the season.

Red or White Wine?

The Better Choice: Red Wine
For that you can thank the skin of the grape. “That’s where the antioxidant resveratrol is found,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at
Tufts University, in Boston. Resveratrol, a phytochemical with a structure similar to estrogen’s, has a number of beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and cholesterol-improving effects.
But… The grape skins that make red wine healthy are also the source of tannins, which can cause headaches in some people. White wine doesn’t contain tannins, so it’s less likely to trigger headaches.


Mixed Nuts or Olives?

The Better Choice: Olives
Like olive oil, olives are high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. They’re also low in calories. Each olive has only about five calories and less than a gram of fat, while one pecan, for example, has almost 14 calories and nearly two grams of fat. And though you can toss back numerous nuts almost too easily, olives often require a little more work. And when you’re left with a plateful of pits, you’ll know exactly how many you’ve put away.
But… Nuts are also high in monounsaturated fats, and they’re a good source of fibre and arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open.

Cheese and Crackers or Crudités and Dip?

The Better Choice: Crudités and Dip
A platter of nutrient-rich vegetables wins over a saturated fat–filled cheese board. But even here some offerings are better than others. “Favour colourful vegetables, like red peppers, carrots, and broccoli,” suggests Kristine Clark, a registered dietician and the director of sports nutrition at
Penn State University, in State College, Pennsylvania. Filling your plate with such a mix guarantees that you’re eating a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants.
But… If the dip contains sour cream or mayonnaise, you’ll be scooping up lots of extra calories and saturated fat along with every bite. So don’t double-dip.


Roast Beef or Ham?

The Better Choice: Roast Beef
Roast beef is less processed, contains about half as much saturated fat, and has three times as much iron. It’s also rich in B vitamins. Both meats are great sources of protein, but the ham has almost three times as much sodium.
But… Research has linked red-meat consumption with an increased risk of colon cancer. One study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who ate two or more ounces of red meat a day were 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate little or none. Whichever option you choose, eat it sparingly.


Champagne or a Cocktail?

The Better Choice: Champagne
Bring on the bubbly. From a purely caloric standpoint, Champagne is the clear winner of this contest. A flute has about 75 calories, while a mixed drink, like a whiskey sour, can have up to 240 calories. Some experts say the bubbles may even help fill you up, so you won’t feel as tempted by the endless cocktail-party treats.
But… You can slim down a cocktail by using a sugar-free mixer or club soda instead of fruit juice, tonic, or a sugary mix. And although a screwdriver or a Cosmo does contain juice, the health benefits are probably not worth the extra calories.


Source: realsimple.com


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When pairing wine and cheese, you want a wine that’s going to complement the flavours of the cheese and not overpower it – and vice versa. You wouldn’t drink a really light wine with a strong-tasting cheese, or a mild cheese with a full-bodied, robust wine.


There’s a general rule of thumb to follow: the stronger the cheese is, move up the spectrum of the body of wine.


Mild, hard cheeses such as cheddar are best paired with Gamet Noir, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, unwooded Chardonnays or Cabernet Francs. While stronger hard cheeses such as aged Gouda or Asiago go best with a full-bodied Shiraz, Zinfandel or Bordeaux blends.


Aromatic wines such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer are great with soft cheeses like brie and Camembert; while a Sauvignon Blanc and Rose are classic pairings for goat cheese.


When it comes to blue cheeses, you want to pick an ice wine, late harvest wine or port. Going for higher sugar content will smooth out the edges of a strong blue cheese


Source: canada.com

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When entertaining friends and family during the festive season, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. Nothing beats this good old-fashioned roast beef recipe, which is guaranteed to have guests asking for seconds!



4 small onions, quartered

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 1.8 kg boneless rib or roast



Heat oven to 190° C. In a roasting pan, toss the onions, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Push the onions to the edges of the pan. Season the beef with 1 teaspoon each and pepper and place in the center of the pan.

 Roast the beef to the desired doneness, 65-80 minutes for medium-rare (remove from oven when the internal temperature registers 50° C).

Transfer the beef to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the onions.

Serves 8 people



This dish goes well with big wines like the Arniston Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. This well-balanced, full-bodied wine has a deep red colour with fruit and berry aromas.


Source: Real Simple Magazine

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The festive season is famous for bringing family and friends together. This will undoubtedly result in more social eating and of course drinking. Here are some principles to apply this season:


Know your limits:

Safe and healthy alcohol intake levels are 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women (women generally have less of the enzyme that helps break down alcohol in the body).

This means that one unit of alcohol a day is considered safe and healthy for an adult female and two units for a male. One unit = 340ml beer, tot (25ml) spirits, 50ml port, sherry or muscadel or 120ml wine.

Moderation is key:

Spread your weekly alcohol allowance as evenly as possible over seven days. Infrequent bingeing on alcohol can bring on attacks of gout or pancreatitis, and may cause abnormalities in heart rhythms and increases your risk of cancer.

 Stretch your intake:

Use plenty of ice, water or soda water in spirit drinks or white wine (to make a spritzer); this dilutes the alcohol while increasing the volume so you drink less. Ensure your first drink is some other liquid e.g. a mineral water or a cooldrink — your alcoholic beverage should not be used as a thirst quencher.

Arrive alive:

On average it will take the liver about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. So even after a night’s sleep, if you have had six cans of beer or two bottles of wine, you could still be over the legal limit the next day. Remember that, when driving.

Being fitter makes no difference to the rate of absorption. But, the absence or presence of food and the type of fluid that accompanies the alcohol does. Alcohol consumed on an empty stomach is more rapidly absorbed. Water and fruit juices mixed with alcohol slow the absorption process, whereas carbonated drinks (because of the carbon dioxide) will speed it up. Warm alcohol is absorbed quicker than cold alcohol.

Weight gain:

The calorie content of alcoholic beverages (which depends on the percentage of alcohol, the type of beverage and the type of mixture) plus the behaviour associated with drinking all have their part to play in the effect it will have on your weight.

When drinking alcohol, you tend to snack more, especially on the high fat foods, often available in social drinking environments. Eating high in fat take-away food (e.g. pies or burgers) late at night is another typical problem which arises after drinking, especially in students and young adults.

If you are watching your waistline, consider that one unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a slice of bread. It is then prudent to occasionally substitute a carbohydrate during the day to compensate for a drink or two that night.

Apply the 24 hour rule for training:

Avoid alcohol in the 24 hours prior to exercise. After exercise, once you have rehydrated and refuelled with carbohydrates, enjoy alcohol (and here I must include the ‘in moderation’). However, if you have any soft tissue injuries or bruising, abstain from alcohol for another 24 hours.

Fake it:

My personal favourite — a Rock Shandy (soda water, angostura bitters, ice and a slice of lemon) gives the impression of being an alcoholic drink, but hardly contains alcohol and calories — a sneaky option when friends continuously want to buy you a drink when they spot you standing empty handed.

Did you know?

Using thinner, taller glasses (especially wine glasses) can help you reduce your consumption. Research shows that people consume more alcohol when drinking out of shorter, wider glasses.


By Karlien Smit RD (SA), Dietician for the SSISA Healthy Weight Programme, Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).


Source: iafrica.com

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Buying for a math geek or a collector? Experts offer tips on how to judge a person’s preferences


Picking out the right wine for someone during the holidays could prove as challenging as buying a present for the in-laws who have everything.

Which varietal? How much to spend? Go bold – or delicate? Is a bottle of Sherry the ultimate insult?

These questions become particularly difficult when you don’t know the recipient’s wine taste. Steer clear of giving wine to anyone who you’re not certain drinks alcohol.It could become awkward if the person is a recovering alcoholic or for religious reasons doesn’t drink.

But if they do, the trick is in the pairing. Our experts have a lot of tips, everything from matching personalities to wine to finding clues in the foods and beverages they drink.

Tim Hanni, a master of wine, has his own theories about people’s likes and dislikes based on how many taste buds they have on their tongue. While it might be a little presumptuous, and definitely strange, to ask your boss if you could get a look inside his or her mouth, Hanni says there are other hints to follow.

Coffee clues
“How they drink their coffee could be a telltale sign,” says the wine master. “If they prefer their coffee black and strong, their wine preference will more than likely lean toward intense wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, old-vine Zinfandels and many Meritage wines (usually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes).”
Hanni says cream-and-sugar coffee drinkers are more likely to show a preference for moderately sweet wines, such as Muscat and Riesling. Sparkling wines are also an option. He says to look for labels that have 2 to 6 percent residual sugar levels.

People who salt their food heavily are also likely to go for the sweeter wines, according to Hanni. Same goes for folks who gravitate to sweet cocktails such as mojitos and pina coladas. He says Manhattan, martini and classic margarita drinkers would probably appreciate Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Merlot and Chardonnay. For the whisky, Cognac, Tequila and Scotch crowd, try big, bold reds and oaky, expensive Chardonnays.

Don’t have a clue about what kind of cocktails the person you’re buying for likes or how he or she takes coffee? Hanni suggests going with personality traits. A man with a strong personality who is good at math would probably prefer a wine that’s received a high rating from Robert Parker. If he’s more artistic and a little disorganised, go with Pinot Noir, dry Riesling and wines you would describe to your merchant as delicate and expressive.

For a strong woman, Hanni suggests Shiraz, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. For an artistic woman, go for something sweet, like a fruit wine, he says. “Of course these are all generalisations,” says Hanni. “But in my experience, they tend to work.”
If you don’t know someone well enough to judge their wine taste, get something festive that they can share with other people. Good choices are Champagne, sparkling wine, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc – it goes great with food.

Source: sfgate.com

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Wine enhances the flavour of the food, makes the table look nice and can liven up a meal. But many people find it confusing. There are too many choices, it requires a special tool to open, and there’s the whole culture around wine supposedly dictating what goes with which food and what’s cool to drink.

Here’s a quick primer on how to incorporate wine into your holidays without hassles and embarrassment, and what basic items you need to present your drink perfectly.

The No. 1  rule is drink what you think tastes good, and have a couple of other offerings available that others might like.  Your palate is about as individual as your fingerprints. What you like, someone else might avoid and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean the wine is bad. So serve a couple of wines and keep your bases covered.

Secondly, serve it in decent glasses.  The shape of the glass really can affect the taste of a wine.  It has to do with how the bowl of the glass channels the aroma – which is a big component of taste – to your nose.  This is what wine lovers refer to when they are talking about the bouquet of a wine. Use a clear glass so you can see the wine. It’s worth the second or two to raise the stem toward light and just take a moment to appreciate the color.

Next, get a good corkscrew. A flimsy old corkscrew can be a hassle and an embarrassment.  Corkscrews are really not expensive and, ideally, you should have more than one in your home.

Now all you need is wine. I recommend a Merlot or a Bordeaux blend like Arniston Bay Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot. This wine is a well-balanced wine with hints of vanilla and chocolate and will be enjoyed by most red wine lovers. 

Source: LA Times Blogs

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The great outdoors



Balmy weather calls for alfresco entertaining. Real Simple magazine has offers some useful tips for a flawless outdoor party.

Make a table runner. Leftover wallpaper or wrapping paper works great and costs nothing.

Dress up outdoor chairs. Tie a colorful sash around the back and tuck a sprig of rosemary into the bow.

Do some windproofing. To avoid chasing paper plates and napkins around the yard, weight them down with pretty rocks or shells. Wrap utensils in napkins and tie with paper twine. Keep the tablecloth secure by sandwiching each corner with a pair of mutually attracting magnets.

Make a one-bloom centrepiece. There’s no need for an expensive arrangement. Place a small colored vase with one bloom inside a larger hurricane lamp or clear glass vase.

Use herbs for a centrepiece. “Herbs in small glasses look fantastic,” says event planner Yifat Oren. “You can use clear or coloured glass, everyday or vintage bottles, in the same or different shapes and heights. And you can do just a single herb in a glass — like rosemary, lavender, or thyme — or mix them.”
Use pots of lavender as combination centerpiece, place card, and favour. Onto each pot, tie a tag that has a name card on one side and a recipe using the herb on the other.

Set up a lemonade stand. To give guests something to do the minute they arrive and to help with hydration on hot afternoons. Stock it with glasses, an ice bucket, a vase of mint sprigs in water, and straws.

Freeze mint leaves in ice cubes to add to lemonade or water for a cool, refreshing zing. To make the cubes last longer outside the refrigerator, set a bowl of ice inside a larger bowl filled with half ice and half water.

Make misters. On hot days, fill spray bottles with ice water so guests can mist themselves.

For a Braai

Set up the grill or braai downwind of guests and away from the house and dining area to avoid getting smoked out.

Use a timer and a meat thermometer when grilling. Then, if you’re distracted, you won’t burn the food.

Make the main course grill-it-yourself. Get guests mingling – and lighten your load- by providing the fixings for kebabs or pizzas they can build and grill exactly to their liking.

Grill an easy dessert: Cinnamon-grilled peaches, courtesy of Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue! Bible. Skewer quartered peaches with a cinnamon stick and a mint leaf. Baste with a mix of equal parts butter, brown sugar, and bourbon. Then grill, basting and turning once so the peaches are golden brown on both sides. Serve in martini glasses atop vanilla ice cream drizzled with some of the bourbon sauce. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Source: Real Simple


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