"If food is the body of good living, wine is its soul" Clinton Fadiman
I love food... well I love food paired with great wine. Truth be told, I love great wine first and then I try to discover a food that goes well with it. I have always been amazed at how good wine makes good food great and vice versa. How a nice muscat balances out a spicy Thai dish while a fruity cabernet can make braised short ribs sing! The combinations are limitless and each one offers a different possibility and experience. You can appreciate how this love affair might conflict with my recent desire to drop some weight for summer. How could anyone with such an affinity deprive themselves of their happiness? I was prepared to tackle this challenge with the following caveats (i) no shakes, (ii) the meals had to be interesting, (iii) I was not giving up wine. How could this work? I mean, most every diet under the sun involves some combination of reduced calories/carbs, portion control, regular exercise and the virtual elimination of alcohol. Well, I found a solution that has worked well for me so I want to share it with you. My routine involves no shakes, delicious meals and wine with dinner every day. How has it worked? I lost 15 pounds in the first 6 weeks and have not regained any weight to date. I continue to maintain the diet now because, frankly, I don’t feel like I have given anything up. Wondering if it works for women too? My wife is following the same diet and she lost 12 pounds in the first 5 weeks. I think my favourite part of the routine is that I really look forward to dinner every day- not because I am starving but because we are having superb culinary experiences daily and then look forward to stepping on the scales the next morning.
So come with me on this food journey, as we explore most of the meal and wine highlights from the past month. Before you do, however, a few key points to make:
- I am sharing this for entertainment purposes. There is some kind of obligatory caution that I should provide about seeing your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program. I am not a dietician or a doctor. Rather, I am a foodie who has built a recipe book and repertoire over the past few years of delicious low-carb meals and know a thing or two about pairing the right wine to make it taste even better!
- With only a few exceptions, my diet made the highlight of the day the dinner which is the focus of this blog . Without going into any great detail my breakfast has consisted of a combination of hard-boiled eggs, bacon, omelettes, low fat/calorie yogourt and cheese. Lunches have been a combination of salads including Caesar, Greek, Spinach, Cob... sometimes with chicken (when I was really hungry) and sometimes not. Snacks were a rare thing and mostly consisted of cheese strings or low fat yogourt.
- Energy can be a challenge on this diet, as carbohydrates represent an efficient form of energy for your body. Reducing carbs forces your body to find energy from your fat stores. The bottom line is that coffee will be your friend for a little while.
That is the overview, so now onto the diet...
Meal #1: Pistachio Crusted Chicken and Greek Salad (prep time 25 minutes)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of crushed pistachios
1/2 cup of fat free mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Ingredients (Greek Salad)
6 stalks of romaine lettuce
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/3 of a red onion chopped
1/3 cup of chopped feta cheese
1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of olives (optional)
- Combine pistachios and mayo in a bowl and whisk then use this mixture to coat your chicken.
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan (you can bbq this instead too!) then cook chicken for about 6-7 minutes per side. (if you are unsure here, use a meat thermometer- it should be 160 degrees).
- Remove from heat and salt and pepper for taste
Preparation (Greek Salad)
- Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and toss briefly.
- Add the balsamic vinegar first and toss. You do this because it soaks into your vegetables better before the oil gets in, which can often act like a repellant.
- Add Olive Oil and toss again.
Serve this dish with a sauvignon blanc. The sauvignon blanc stands up well to the feta and olives in the Greek salad and its crispness matches well with the mayonnaise base in the chicken coating. Plus it is not overpowering for a chicken dish that is not spicy. A full bodied, lightly oaked chardonnay also pairs well here. We had a Sauvignon Blanc from Schug Carneros Estates @SchugWinery and it was stellar but other options would work here too.