Post # 262 Book Review “The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet”

June 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 262 Book Review “The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet”

People who know me know that I like wine.  It’s a constant source of amusement.  I typically drink just the one kind of wine, chardonnay.  The drier the better.  As one of my friends once said, I want to taste the splinters!  As a home cook, I’m also very aware of nutrition.  I know how foods metabolize in the body, what impacts what, and how food is prepared so it nourishes to the best of my ability.  Like most men my age (50+) who are cooks, I carry a little extra weight.  Okay, a lot of extra weight.  So I’m constantly looking for ways to calories but not flavor.  Herbs, veggies, etc. are excellent ways to do that.

I’m also a book collector.  I’ve had as many as three thousand books in my possession at one time.  I’ve seriously scaled down on that, but it’s so easy to get more and more.  Many (!) of those are cookbooks.  So imagine my amusement when I found a book titled “The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet: 28 Days of Delicious Weight Loss”.  It ticked about 97 of my boxes to be a favorite book.  Or it should have.  I don’t remember if I picked up and we bought it, or Partner/Spouse picked it up and we bought it, or it was a gift from someone.  But I’ve had this book for quite a while.

Originally, I read it from curiosity.  I wanted to know what foods to pair with what wines.  I know the basic.  Red wine with red meat.  White wine for white meat.  Sparkling wine for the hell of it, or a celebration.  I’m always looking to increase knowledge and experience.  Then, I read it to see how the “diet” portion worked.  It surprised me because it was actually based on some nutritional knowledge, and is no better or worse than any other diet making the rounds.

First, it’s based on the very sound theory that any weight loss comes from increasing calories burned over calories ingested.  Common knowledge, sure, but something that’s often overlooked by diet makers and diet takers.  One of my oldest friends from high school struggled with a weight problem her whole life.  Then, in her early twenties, the iron entered her soul and she started eating sensibly and added a regular course of exercise to her routine.  It took some time, but eventually the pounds fell away and she reached her target weight.  Because she did went about it intelligently, the weight stayed off.  This book makes a very strong point about that.

Second, it makes certain the reader understands the concepts behind the diet and why it works.  It’s mostly based on making smart choices about pairings of carbs and proteins.  And it counts the wines as carbs.  It also discusses the effects of dieting and the impacts of dieting.  Overall, it is a fairly well rounded presentation.

The first third of the book is given to that discussion.  Then there’s the small section for the Getting Started phase.  If you don’t want to take the time to understand the reasons behind the diet, or that kind of thing bores you, you can skip to the part immediately.  That’s what I did the first time I read the book.  It gives a brief overview of the fundamentals of the diet, then gives another brief description of the actual diet.

Then it gives the full 28 day menu plan.  Each day has breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus the wine to go with dinner.  That was my biggest disappointment.  I wanted wines to go with breakfast and lunch, too.  Most of the time, he gives a choice of wines.  The full month of menus makes it easy to plan for, but it’s rigidity makes it difficult to be flexible with, and offers no “party” or “restaurant” choices.  However, in the Getting Started section, he does offer advice for those times when you are in those situations.

Then on to the recipes!  The recipes are broken up by meal and type:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Salad, etc..  Nothing is left out.  For instance, there is no ban on any particular ingredient or choice.  Most of the recipes has a picture so you have some idea what it’s supposed to look like when it’s done.  There’s a very good mix guaranteed to avoid boredom.  It wouldn’t work for Partner/Spouse since there are several fish recipes.  However, the author gives guidance on how to modify recipes in case there’s an allergy or dislike.  The recipes are simple.  None of them need any special equipment.  Many of them do require attention to detail, and if you’re an inexperienced cook, might require some practice.

Once the month is over, you can start over right away.  You can mix it up by moving days or weeks around, or you can begin to try some of your own recipes.

Here’s a sample recipe for dinner:

halibut

Roast Halibut with Spinach Salsa –

  • 2 cups baby Spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (good quality)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 pinch each Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 5oz Halibut fillets
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp each Kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper

Bring four cups lightly salted water to a boil and add spinach.  Boil one minute, drain, and plunge into ice water for five minutes to stop the cooking process.  Drain, and squeeze all excess water out by hand.  Roughly chop the spinach.  Using a food processor or blender, process the spinach, olive oil, and garlic until smooth.  Scrape mixture into a bowl and add shallots, cucumber, and cilantro.  Fold gently until mixed, then chill.  Preheat your oven to 450.  Pat the fillets dry and season both sides with salt and white pepper.  In a large oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium heat until very hot.  Add fillet and cook two minutes per side.  Place skillet in the oven and cook 7-9 minutes, until fish is opaque throughout.  Place fillets on plate and spoon salsa evenly over top.

The book recommends serving with Sweet Pea Shoots with Garlic, and Barley Risotto with Lemon and Tomatoes.  It’s paired with a Sauvignon Blanc.  Chilled, of course.

glass of wine

My kind of book, huh?

Enjoy!

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