Category Archives: Opinions

Celebrate Oktoberfest With These German-Inspired Cheese and Beer Pairings

Market District German cheese beer pairing

Last week, I was the lucky invited guest of Market District at a cheese and beer paring event in its Robinson Township store.* Because of the time of year (Oktoberfest, anyone?), the evening’s activities centered around those two hallmarks of Bavarian cuisine. Yes, they’re not exactly hallmarks of an anti-inflammatory diet, but I am a firm follower of the rule of moderation, so a night of cheating with cheese and beer still works with that philosophy.

Giant Eagle’s cheese category manager, Gianfranco DiCarlo, Jr., led the group through a tasting of five beer and cheese combinations, most of them German inspired, which really opened my eyes to how beer can influence the taste of food. I’ve done the same thing with wine many times, but never beer, but as DiCarlo pointed out, beer is actually much easier than wine to pair with foods, especially cheese. I’m totally editorializing here—DiCarlo did not use this particular analogy, merely the essence—but wine is like a cat, a little finicky and difficult to get along with unless you find the right combination. Beer is more like a dog, friendlier with a variety of foods and generally easygoing with everyone. Continue reading

What Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet, and Why Am I Eating It?

anti-inflammatory dietCopyright Natalie Maynor,

Remember the food cleanse that wasn’t? Turns out, all I need to follow a plant-based diet is a little extra motivation.

Somehow, beyond all reason, in the past year I’ve become a runner. As any runner will tell you, runners are crazy—they’ll do anything and continue to push themselves in order to get that running fix. Threaten to take that away from them, and they resort to desperate measures.

Such as essentially going vegan. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Continue reading

Why a Cleanse Isn’t Always for Everyone—Plus a Healthy Chili Recipe

vegetarian chili

Yesterday, my husband and I started a dietary cleanse for the New Year. After more than a month of less-than-healthy holiday eating, it seemed like a great idea. But then we chose to base ours off the concept of the Daniel Diet, an extremely restrictive cleanse that allows no meat, dairy, refined carbs, leavened breads, sugars of any kind (even the healthy ones, like honey and molasses), caffeine, and alcohol. Instead, you eat legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. You’re supposed to do it for three weeks, which I thought would be easy-peasy. I used to nearly eat that way before as a flexitarian, and anything could be done for three weeks, right? Plus I love a good challenge, and new diets and recipes are always good blog fodder.

Today, I quit the cleanse. Continue reading

New Wexford Whole Foods Is Dedicated to Sustainable Eating

Whole Foods Cooking

If Giant Eagle Market District is the Mecca for your foodiest of food nerds, then Whole Foods is the Holy Grail for clean, sustainable eating food gurus.

On Wednesday, May 2, Whole Foods will celebrate the grand opening of its Wexford, PA, store, a spacious, well designed, 34,000 square foot food destination. It is the 41st mid-Atlantic region store for the brand and the second in the Pittsburgh area. If you can make it for the 9:45 am ceremony, you’ll be in for a special treat—the brand’s tradition is to cut a 4.5-foot loaf of challah bread in lieu of a standard ribbon.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek* at the new store today, taken from department to department by enthusiastic, passionate employees. It was evident that the staff knows their stuff and was excited to share that knowledge with us. Here’s a general overview of what you can expect starting May 2. Continue reading

Food Trend: Black Bean Desserts

Copyright cookbookman17,

You know how I’m obsessed with desserts that feature unusual ingredients, like beet cake or beet ice cream? Well, now I’ve gone and taken it a step further. I’m trying to join the craze around black bean desserts.

Never heard of them? You’re probably not alone. I vaguely remember reading something about black bean brownies on Twitter over the summer, but at the time I was obsessed with beets and paid those brownies no mind.

But during a recent visit to my mother’s home, I stumbled across a tiny blurb in one of her issues of Family Circle, claiming that all you had to do to prepare a healthy dessert was puree a can of black beans, add it to a box of brownie mix in lieu of oil and eggs, and then bake according to package directions. No one will be able to tell the difference, the page proclaimed.

Challenge accepted. Continue reading