I sometimes hear people described as those that live to eat. These are the people who enjoy food. They like the look of it, the smell of it, and ultimately, the taste of it. They rarely met a food they don’t like. On the other end, I know people who you might describe as those that eat to live. They see food as medicine or at least as a means to promote health and well-being. They focus on eating well in order to stay healthy. My question is, can’t we be both?
I will be the first to admit that I love food. I also love hard cider. For me, there is nothing better then a wonderful meal served with an awesome cider. My weekday highlight is often coming home from work to do just that. I love getting to open a cider, sitting down, and having a wonderful meal with my wife while we chat about our day. But, can’t this be both healthy and flavorful? I think it can. First, my philosophy is that you should enjoy all things in moderation. Doughnuts aren’t inherently bad as long as you aren’t eating them everyday (or even every other day). This is true for red meat, bread, or anything. You can literally drink too much water. It’s not probable but it is possible. I prescribe to the concept that you can love food and drink and use it as a means to help you be healthier.
This is why I don’t use sulfites or sorbates in my hard cider. It’s also why I don’t drink a lot of cider in one sitting. I’m usually a 12 ounce bottle kind of guy. It’s my daily glass of red wine, except it’s cider and it’s alive. It has active cultures and like red wine, fermenting on apple peels adds a significant amount of healthful polyphenols. I feel like crafting my own hard ciders, gives me the flexibility to make both healthy and flavorful ciders. Whether I make a hopped cider, a berry cider, or a more traditional cider, I believe I am making ciders that when drunk in moderation contribute positively to my health by providing good amounts of antioxidants, probiotics, and other beneficial compounds.
For food, my wife and I try to use and eat organic. You may not be a believer in the organic trend but for us, it’s about trying to eat more natural and helping to reward those who grow food in that fashion. So, how do we try to create a flavorful and healthy dinner? Let’s explore a recent dinner: Spinach Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette, Dill Chicken over orzo with garlic broccoli. This was paired with my Strawberry Blush hard cider, which is basically my Rock’n Raspberry Hard Cider Recipe but made with fresh organic strawberries instead of raspberries.
It’s a great example of a healthy and flavorful meal that any lover of food and any lover of health should be happy to sit down and enjoy. Let’s explore this wonderful meal but here’s a sneak peek.
Spinach Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
4 Cups of Fresh Spinach, Chopped
3 Porcini Mushrooms, Sliced
4 Strips Bacon, Broiled Crisp and Cut into Chunks
2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Sliced
4 Ounces Feta Cheese, Crumbled
Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing (see below)
- Place the shredded spinach in a salad bowl
- Drizzle dressing over the top and toss with spinach
- Add sliced porcini mushrooms and bacon
- Add egg and sprinkle feta on top
Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Spicy Dijon Mustard
2 Teaspoons Honey
1 Glove Garlic, Diced
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper, Fresh Ground.
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Dill Chicken and Garlic Roasted Broccoli
1 1/2 Pounds Boneless Chicken, Thighs or Breast
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper, Ground
6 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter, Unsalted
1 Cup Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill, Chopped
5-6 Cups Orzo, Cooked
- Place 4 tablespoons of flour in a wide bowl.
- Heat skillet and add oil and butter. Use medium to low heat depending on pan and cooktop.
- Sprinkle Salt and pepper over chicken.
- Dredge chicken in bowl with flour and place in skillet. Work in batches to avoid over crowding the skillet.
- Cook 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Set aside and cover to keep warm.
- Once all chicken is cooked, lower heat and add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk together until roux is formed and lightly brown.
- Whisk in chicken broth and lemon juice and increase heat to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and let cook until thickened.
- Whisk in dill.
- Place chicken on bed of orzo, cover with lemon dill gravy from the pan.
Garlic Roasted Broccoli – Air Fryer
4 Cups Broccoli
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, Diced
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 Teaspoon Basil
1/2 Teaspoon Rosemary
1/2 Teaspoon Sage
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
- Toss broccoli, olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper on a mixing bowl until well coated.
- Place broccoli in air fryer basket (or air fryer pan for convection ovens) and cook for 8-10 minutes at 400F (204C).
- Serve warm as side with chicken and orzo.
Alternative Commercial Hard Ciders:
I think this dinner pairs extremely well with fruity ciders and my Strawberry Blush Cider was perfect. However, if you are looking for some commercial alternatives, check out these options.
Hazy Strawberry by Tieton Cider Works
Gingerberry by Botanist & Barrel
Black Currant by Finn River Cider
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