Thursday, November 12, 2015

Make Wine a Key Part of Your Thanksgiving

The arrival of autumn brings with it cooler days, colorful leaves and rich, hearty foods as the last of the harvest is brought in.
Thanksgiving is the cornerstone feast of the season, with a traditional approach of turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, seasonal vegetables like corn and squash, pumpkin pie for dessert … the menu options are only limited by your imagination. But to make the meal truly complete, make wine the centerpiece.
“The versatility of wine makes it the perfect complement for a big meal like Thanksgiving,” says Marcel Morgenstern, a sommelier from Pondview Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. “Adding a bold red wine to your gravy adds amazing flavor and heartiness. Pour table wines that pair well with turkey. A sweet dessert or late harvest wine goes nicely with your slice of pie.
“And of course, there is also the social side, swapping stories and catching up with family and friends over a shared bottle of wine. It brings the whole day together.”
To fully integrate fine wines into your Thanksgiving celebration, Marcel offers the following tips.
·         If you won’t drink it, then don’t cook with it. You cook with wine because it brings out new and exciting flavors to enhance your palate. If you aren’t willing to put it in your glass, don’t put it in your gravy.
·         Decant those big, beefy reds. Allowing a full-bodied red to breathe releases flavors and aromas that will delight. Decanting will also filter out any sediment from a wine that has been aging. You don’t want to treat younger reds too carefully: don’t be scared to aggressively pour them into a decanter and swish them around to help the bouquet to open up. Marcel suggests pouring the 2011 Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon into your decanter up to an hour before sharing it with your guests.  
·         Pair it up. Wine and food are a great match, with the right pairing complementing each other. For fans of white wines, put a crisp Riesling or Gew├╝rztraminer on the table. A Thanksgiving “must try” is the slightly off-dry Gew├╝rztraminer-Riesling blend. If you happen to favor reds, a medium-bodied Cabernet Merlot blend with soft tannins is a beautiful match with turkey with a rich gravy or reduction.
·         Make it fancy. Many amateur wine lovers discount the importance of glassware, but it can make a huge difference in the enjoyment of your wine. The size, shape and style of the glass can influence everything from the flavor to the aroma to the temperature of the wine inside. A large bowl and narrow opening functions as a loudspeaker, intensifying the nuances of the wine. And if you can, avoid stemless wine glasses. They may be trendy, but the stem of the glass is there to keep your hands (and, thus, body heat) away from your wine — and greasy fingerprints really don’t look great on beautiful wine glasses!

About Pondview Estate Winery:
Drawing on more than three generations of winemaking experience, Pondview Estate Winery is one of the newest additions to the Four Mile Creek appellation in the heart of Niagara’s wine country. Family owned by Luciano and Adriana Puglisi, Pondview crafts exceptional Ontario VQA wines rooted in an Italian heritage. Luciano’s enthusiasm and respect for the winemaking process, alongside his dedication and commitment to excellence, earned him the prestigious title of Grape King in 2008, awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture to the finest vineyard operator in Ontario. The secret to the success of Pondview Estate Winery is the long-held belief of the Puglisi family: Great wine is a harmony of earth and vine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Five Tips for a Happy and Healthy Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. We take time to be with our loved ones and be thankful for our relationships, our health, and our opportunities. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest and all of the wonderful flavors and colors and textures of autumnal foods – and the best part? All of the best fall foods are plant-based! And there are plenty of ways to celebrate and incorporate them into the holiday season.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to give some of my best holiday tips so that you can feel joyous about the holiday and celebrate what Thanksgiving means to you while still doing what feels good for your body.

Here are five tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving:

Have fun planning a menu. Don’t limit yourself by thinking only of traditional foods. If you’re cooking for a larger group and they’re expecting their holiday favorites, there are ways you can emulate those foods with a healthier recipe, like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. But if your guests are adventurous, go outside the box! There are tons of amazing seasonal recipes you can make to celebrate harvest time without loading them full of meat and dairy, but you could also look to other cultural dishes to really explore the world in your menu.

Invite people who share your values. This might be easier said than done! It can be a fun way to recharge with people who actually share your values and will appreciate every second you put into planning and cooking for them. People are often busy visiting their families, but with many people living far away from loved ones, an invitation to a fun plant-based holiday gathering can be a great thing.

Start a new tradition. I love this! Traditions can be anything, whether it’s Frisbee in the park, watching a certain movie, or silly things like hiding something that everyone has to try and find. Have fun with it. If you’re not sure what to do, look up traditions of other cultures and use it as a teaching lesson for your kids.  

Spend time with your loved ones creating memories. What may just be a silly song or movie time or a walk through a pumpkin patch today, could end up being one of our most cherished memories. Remember that the holidays aren’t just about food. It’s about spending time with your loved ones, celebrating the reason you can come together, and being thankful for what your blessings.  

Take time for yourself! It’s not uncommon for us to spend so much time trying to make an enjoyable experience for our children and loved ones that we end up exhausted at the end of the day or weekend. Make sure that you have time to unwind. Get in a workout, meditate, and relax. Whether you enlist help making food or spend some time prepping for your meal in the days before, do what you need to do to keep from getting burned out and overscheduled during the holiday.

Keep in mind that your holiday can still incorporate your healthy habits. There’s no reason why post-Thanksgiving fun can’t be a walk around the block or an hour at the park. You can even pick up a football and play together! The most important thing is to take this time to recharge and take time to feel the joy of gratitude for your blessings, the things you’ve worked hard for, and the people who love you.

Here’s my favorite holiday recipe for Cauliflower Mash to get you inspired for your plant-based Thanksgiving!

Cauliflower Mash

• 1 lb. bag frozen or fresh cauliflower
• 1/4 cup fat-free soymilk
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp poultry seasoning
• 1 tsp nutritional yeast
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 2 Tbsp water to mix with corn starch
• 1 Tbsp fresh parsley

In a pot, steam cauliflower for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Drain well using a colander. In a saucepan, combine soymilk, garlic, 1/4 cup water, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning and yeast over medium heat. When it begins to boil, slowly mix the cornstarch/water mixture into the sauce, stirring constantly until thickened.

When cauliflower is cool enough, squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the cauliflower in the processor or high-powered blender and blend for about a minute. Add sauce and fresh parsley to cauliflower and process until creamy and smooth. If it’s too thick, you may adjust the consistency by adding a little bit of soymilk. Makes 4 servings.

Vanessa Chamberlin is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet. For more information, please visit, and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin