Category Archives: Food For Thought

Finger Lakes Wine Country

Budget Travel recently voted the Finger Lakes Wine Country “the most beautiful wine region in the world.”  I might be extremely biased, but I do believe that the Finger Lakes region is unlike any other wine region in the world.  Not only is this region idyllic and home to almost 80 wineries, it also produces some of the best wines, especially Rieslings, in the world.

This past weekend, my family and I went to Seneca Lake to stop by a few of our favorite wineries (Fox Run, Anthony Road & Glenora).  Most of the Finger Lakes wineries produce exceptional and often times, award-winning wines.  Wine tastings are also extremely reasonable; for $1 or $2 (depending on the winery), you can taste anywhere from 5-6 wines.  Sometimes the wines are already chosen for you to taste and other times you can choose which ones you’d like to try.  What’s great about this is that if you are partial to dry reds, you can taste all dry reds if you’d like.  I personally like to try all of them; sometimes I like a nice dry red and other times I like a sweet port.  The Finger Lakes also produces some very good fruit wines; my favorites are Raspberry Rose and Blueberry Breeze from Glenora.  There are also some very unique grape varieties that are used in Finger Lakes’ wines:

Baco Noir – a French-American hybrid that is used to make fruity, red wines

Cayuga – a French-American hybrid that was “bred by Cornell University to be perfectly suited to the growing season of the Finger Lakes.” Glenora winery was the first commercial winery to release a varietal Cayuga white back in 1977.

Niagara – an American cross that is used for off-dry and dessert wines

Vignoles – a French-American hybrid that is typically used for dry, white wines

Have you ever visited the Finger Lakes wine region before?  If so, what are your favorite wineries and/or wines?

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Food for Thought: Farm Trucks

Urban centers have been inundated with numerous food trucks that drive around the city stopping at varying locations delivering everything from homemade cupcakes to Salvadorian papusas. Food stands are not anything new to cities; hot dog stands have canvassed New York City for years. However, there is a recent transformation in the typical food truck. Farming trucks have now ingeniously come into existence; in NYC, there is a farm truck that distributes its CSA (community supported agriculture) to those individuals who subscribe to it. Normally, farmers drop their CSAs off at a pre-determined spot each week, and the person buying the CSA generally does not have any say as to what kinds of produce or how much they are getting each week. However, the Farm Truck, powered by Holton Farms, has a “fresh direct-like approach, allowing its subscribers to order whatever products are available, in whatever quantity desired, on the Web site up to 36 hours ahead of pickup.”

While this Farm Truck has not got the license to sell its produce to passersby in NYC, it is working on eventually being able to do that. Being able to sell fresh produce to passersby is a wonderful idea; I work in downtown Washington, DC, and yesterday I had a wonderful salad for lunch. But it was not enough, and I was craving some fresh fruit. However, there aren’t any grocery stores or supermarkets close by that I can walk to buy fresh produce. Once a week, we have a small farmer’s market that sets up shop around the corner (thank goodness for that), but the other 4 days of the week I am out of luck. I am stuck going hungry at work or stopping by a CVS for an unhealthy, processed snack. For now, the CSA concept of being able to pick and choose which products you want that week is a brilliant idea. While I have not seen any of these Farm Trucks in DC yet, I am sure there are local farmers working on implementing this idea as we speak. I look forward to that.

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Food for Thought: Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave (WW) is an organization that I recently came across and decided to share with you guys because of the wonderful work it’s doing for both underprivileged, urban communities as well as small, rural farms. WW seeks to “nourish neighborhoods by supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh, and affordable locally grown food for the well-being of all.”  In other words, WW uses farm-to-community programs that allow small farmers to provide their fresh ingredients to urban, underprivileged communities. The benefits are twofold: struggling farmers are able to increase their revenue by supplying these communities with fresh ingredients, while underprivileged communities that normally do not have the money and/or access to fresh produce are now given that opportunity.  One of the most significant programs that WW implements is its Double Value Coupon Program. There are numerous participating farmers markets that are a part of WW.  Individuals that have Federal Food Stamps can not only use them at participating WW farmers markets, but they are also doubled in value. This incentive allows individuals who are on the Federal Food Stamp program access to fresh and local ingredients (also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

A common misconception is that individuals that live in underprivileged communities do not want to eat healthy or fresh foods.  However, the reality is that many of these individuals do want to eat fresh and healthy foods, but they just do not have access to do so (i.e. no local farmers market) or they do not have the money to do so (i.e. the cost of eating fresh foods is more expensive).  Therefore, they turn to cheaper and more readily available alternatives like fast food or over-processed, unhealthy foods.  WW places farmers markets in Urban Food Deserts or “city regions absent of fresh healthy food, and found in low-income neighborhoods, where fast food restaurants and convenience stores are more common than supermarkets or produce stands.”  Creating opportunities that allow people the access and means to buy fresh, local foods is vital to increasing this nation’s health.  WW is always looking for volunteers and new farmers markets to open around the country.  Check out their website for more details!

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Food for Thought: Staying Fit

I’ve decided to revamp my blog by starting to write some Food For Thought posts on some of my other interests that include wine, healthy living, being green, etc… My goal is to engage my readers more and to get their feedback on the issues I discuss. With that being said, let’s get started!

One of my passions is healthy living and staying fit.  I always try to workout 4-5 times a week.  I play on a volleyball team once a week with my sister and then the other 4 days are set aside for cardio and weight training.  I’m grateful to have a gym that has really great classes like zumba, boot camp, body pump, etc… In this day and age, it’s very easy to work 40+ hours a week and get stuck in the rut of going home, eating dinner, and plopping down on the couch. Implementing a workout routine into your daily schedule can be a bit challenging, but with time, you will become acclimated to it. Your body will also crave it. Exercising gives your body the energy it needs to work those 40+ hours a week and also lets you relive the stress that ironically is usually caused by working those 40+ hours per week.  Here are some of my tips on maintaining a consistent, weekly workout schedule:

  1. Change Your Workouts:  Doing the same thing every time you go to the gym becomes monotonous and doesn’t challenge our bodies. Switch it up!  Take a spinning class, run outside, take a yoga class, go hiking, lift weights, etc…
  2. Maintain a Schedule: For me, I never workout on Fridays or Sundays, unless my schedule was so crazy during the week that I had to skip multiple workouts. Pick a schedule and stick to it.  If a co-worker asks you for drinks on a Thursday night, but that’s during your favorite spin class time, ask if you can meet up on Friday or if you really want to grab that drink (which we all need sometimes), make sure you sub your Thursday workout with Friday or Sunday for example.
  3. Be Realistic: If you never workout, don’t try to start working out 5 days a week. Start out small working out 2-3 days per week. With time and discipline, you’ll be able to and want to start setting aside more time for exercising.
  4. Drink Water: Drinking water is so important for our bodies. Water is bland though and not as fun as drinking a cup of blueberry coffee from Dunkin Donuts. I love drinking Vitamin Water because it tastes great and it’s loaded with nutrients that are beneficial to your body and health. Most health drinks now come in zero calories as well, so you can still get the same great taste without the added calories, just make sure they are zero healthy water drinks (this definitely excludes diet sodas that are chalked full of artificial sugars).
  5. Set Goals: Set goals for yourself. If you want to start running, start out running short distances mixed with walking, different speeds, and inclines. If you’re lifting weights, start out with those 5lb dumbbells and when those sets start becoming too easy for you, bump it up to 7.5lbs.
  6. Be Patient: Easier said than done right?  I was active during high school and that just spilled over into college and beyond. Exercising for me is a stress reliever: it makes me feel good at the end of the day.  If you don’t love to exercise, chances are you won’t automatically love it after a week of working out. Be patient and remember to go at your own pace and to set your own schedule!
  7. Remember to Relax: Just like our bodies need exercise to stay healthy, they also need rest and relaxation to remain sane. Overloading your schedule with work and exercise is not good either. Balance is key and that is where maintaining a balanced schedule comes into play (see #2). Remember to take the time to rest, relax, and unwind. For me, this is sharing a nice meal and a glass of wine with my hubby.

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