Jun 16, 2010

Culinary Gad News Roundup (6-16-10)

The periodic Gadabout Roundup compiles interesting news from a variety of sources--press releases, industry associations, websites, and more--on the subjects of food, wine, spirits and/or travel.

Breakthrough for Olive Oil Consumers: At last! The US Department of Agriculture has finally revised olive oil grade standards so that they conform to industry standards commonly accepted here and abroad. In other words, if it says Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the bottle, the contents must soon meet the scientifically verifiable criteria that defines Exra Virgin Olive Oil. The revised standards--which take effect on October 25, 2010--present objective criteria for all grades of olive oil and olive-pomace oil (extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, olive oil, refined olive oil, and olive pomace oil). This is a great accomplishment on behalf of consumers.

To get a detailed look at the new standards, download the USDA publication, United States Standards for Grades of Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil.

2010 Grape Harvest Celebration News:  Charles Krug Winery recently announced dates for its annual grape harvest celebration, "The Tasting on the Lawn." The event--held on the estate's expansive, oak-shaded Great Lawn--will take place on Sunday, September 11 from 2-5 p.m. Considered the winery’s signature tasting event, the celebration began in 1951; it's one of the earliest events of its kind (possibly the first).

On the agenda: current release tastings from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon (including the winery’s Limited Release Family Reserve wines), paired with a moveable feast of nibbles selected especially for the wines. As always, live music and entertainment add to the festivities. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy special barrel tastings inside the winery's elegantly restored 1881 Carriage House. Admission for Wine Club members is free; non-members can purchase tickets through the winery's website.

Nutritarians Eat the Rainbow: I'd never heard the term "Nutritarian" until a couple of days ago, when I happened across an informative article on the subject at I suppose I've been a Nutrarian for a long time without knowing it. Simply put, a Nutritarian believes in that old adage, "You are what you eat," and follows suit with a diet geared toward high-nutrient food choices: veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts & seeds, and whole grains. From what I can gather (I'm not sure), you don't need to be a vegetarian to qualify as a Nutrarian. I do eat meat, and enjoy it, but it's certainly not the rally point for my diet.

Says the article's author, Douglas Brown: 

Central to nutritarianism is the understanding that fruits and vegetables contain thousands of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals— substances they believe are not found in any other food source. So, how can you tell if a food is high in phytonutrients? Eat the rainbow, says Jairam Vanamala, a professor in Colorado State University's department of food science and human nutrition. Since phytochemicals and color are linked, eating fruits and vegetables representing a wide range of colors provides a smorgasbord of phytochemicals.
The article also quotes Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a Florida physician/author who invented the word Nutritarian and wrote the books Eat to Live and Eat For Health. He also developed the ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) that shows at a glance a food's nutrient-richness. In this index, which tops out at 1000, the higher the score the better.

According to Dr. Fuhrman, the 10 highest ANDI vegetables are:
  1. Mustard greens, cooked (1,000)
  2. Watercress, raw (1,000)
  3. Kale, cooked (1,000)
  4. Turnip greens, cooked (1,000)
  5. Collard greens, cooked (1,000)
  6. Bok choy, cooked (824)
  7. Spinach, raw (739)
  8. Spinach, cooked (697)
  9. Brussels sprouts (672)
  10. Swiss chard (670)
The 10 highest ANDI fruits:
  1. Strawberries (212)
  2. Pomegranate juice (193)
  3. Plums (158)
  4. Raspberries (145)
  5. Blueberries (130)
  6. Oranges (109)
  7. Grapefruit (102)
  8. Cantaloupe (100)
  9. Kiwi (97)
  10. Watermelon (91)

It's Watermelon Time Again: Speaking of watermelon (which came in with a very high rating of 91 on the ANDI index for fruits, above)...Every year I receive a colorful press kit from the National Watermelon Promotional Board (NWPB), filled with recipes, photos, and all sorts of interesting information about this can't-be-summer-without-it fruit. Here's some nutritional info about watermelons:
  • Watermelons have higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable.
  • A recent study by the USDA established that watermelon can help maintain cardiovascular function and health, help maintain the arteries, and help maintain blood flow and heart health.
  • A 2-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C; and a source of potassium.
In my last post about watermelon, just about a year ago, I passed along a "cool-me-down" recipe for Watermelon Cherry Mojitos. Extremely refreshing, someething of a life-saver come the dog days of August.

This year's' recipe will also refresh you on one of the really hot days coming up, especially if you serve it with last year's recipe. The recipe below was created by Chef Katie Brown for the NWPB:

Watermelon & Shrimp Skewers

Serves 4

½ cup lime juice
1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
24 large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
16 medium watermelon cubes

  1. Put the watermelon cubes in a colander over a bowl and place in the refrigerator to drain for 30 minutes.  After the watermelon has drained, remove and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and salt.  Pour ½ the marinade over the shrimp, cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high.
  4. Toss the watermelon with the remaining marinate and begin to skewer the shrimp and the watermelon on to the skewers, alternating so that each skewer has 3 shrimp and 2 watermelon cubes.  (Toss the shrimp marinade, but save the watermelon marinade.)
  5. Place the skewers on the grill and grill for about 3 minutes each side.
  6. Serve alongside the marinade that the watermelon was tossed in.

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