alcohol-free, Blog posts, Cheese, Coffee, Healthy Living, holiday, Italian Food, Keto, Recipes, thirsty thursday, vegan, What's In My Glass, wine, Wine and Food Pairing, yoga

*UPDATE* Dry January and Whole 30…It’s a Healthy #ThirstyThursday!

*UPDATE* Here are some links to the #Whole30 friendly foods and specifically, the coconut aminos Mandy and I discussed.

Siete Jalapeno Shrimp recipe: here. Whole 30 sauces and spices: here.

Whole 30 ABC Chicken recipe: I used two cans of shredded chicken from Trader Joe’s, 1 bottle of Primal Buffalo Sauce, 1 container each of Kite Hill Ricotta and Cream Cheese, 1 jar of Primal Ranch Dressing, a little garlic powder. Heat on low until everything melts and is creamy and gooey. Serve warm with chicken wings (I air fried mine), carrots, celery, or any crudité. Siete chips are also good with this dip or wrap in a tortilla and warm for an instant burrito.

Here are the coconut aminos I mentioned…

I have absolutely no idea where 2021 went…all I know is it left my son and me dealing with the Rona after Christmas (very, very mild and we are both fine) so my Dry January started a little early (but since my Whole 30 started on time, I won’t be resuming my actual wine tastings until February.) That means Mandy has to try mocktails, wines (yes, I have those this time), vegan foods, and some Whole 30 friendly nosh for our first Thirsty Thursday of 2022. It’s a Healthy #Thirsty Thursday!

As some of you may know, I like to take an assessment of my wine consumption pretty frequently since I have alcoholism in my family and have a personality that can lend itself to addiction (addicted to work, always striving for excellence, working out…although that one hasn’t been as big a problem as it once was.) I like to make sure that I am in charge of the wine and that it isn’t in charge of me. Working in an environment where wine, beer, and spirits are always around, present, offered, etc., it can be easily to slip into habits that lead down paths I personally do not want to take, so I take 30, 45, 60 days at times to assess what my relationship with wine truly is (I don’t consume beer too often and spirits even less…so, those are never a concern for me.) After the past two years, the stress, the loss, the grief, the anger, the loneliness, the isolation, the sadness…well, you know. I had slipped into the habit of a glass of wine with dinner too often and given my family history, it was definitely time to evaluate this relationship.

Taekwondo was one workout I took to excess…we trained for five years non-stop until we earned our black belts in 2016…
Tman and I just returned to our dojang to take up training again. I move a lot slower and kick a lot lower now. And I am now officially the short one in the family.

Since I was choosing to eliminate this food group (yes, wine is a food group) from my diet, I decided I would go ahead with the elimination diet called Whole 30 (and make my husband, who is my snack habit enabler join me), to also address some other bad habits we had picked up these past two years (Cheese Its while binging The Witcher, anyone?) Whole 30 is not focused on losing weight but instead on determining how the body responds to various types of foods, so you eliminate those food groups for 30 days and see what happens. So, obviously, no alcohol is part of the plan. You also have to eliminate all dairy, sugars (except naturally occurring in fruit and vegetables), legumes (peas are allowed), processed foods and associated chemicals, and grains. We attempted this a few years ago…I always joked that I was so type A that I finished my Whole 30 in 26 days. Actually, I forgot when tasting a wine before The Wine Gallery’s complimentary tasting that I was supposed to spit so the rules were I would have to start all over at Day 1. I am a rule follower, so there was no way I was going back to square one. So, we concluded that round on day 26.

This time has been a lot easier, well, at least in terms of the wine. I am not running wine tastings or classes this month (yes, complimentary tastings are back on Fridays and we still offer classes on Saturdays. Click here for more information.) So, despite having a house full of wine, that hasn’t even been a temptation or something I have thought much about, except in terms of this blog and the alcohol-free wines I have for our Thirsty Thursday segment. I had to think about how long it had been since I had my last glass as I sat down to write this blog, so that tells me I haven’t really missed it. I have found other things to fill my evening relaxation rituals and slipped easily into them (they are named brand new therapeutic hot tub and some amazing teas and CBD waters.)

Now, what I can tell you…down to the very bite and sip, is when I had my last bite of cheese and real dairy half and half in my coffee. My focus these past 10 days has been solely, utterly, and without a doubt, the lack of dairy in my life. Oh, I miss sugar, too…honey in my tea, a little maple syrup in my coffee, but half and half in my morning cup of Joe and a nibble of cheese here or a slap of butter there. I never knew I had such an intense love affair with all things dairy, but there it is. Every day I have lamented how “Nut Pods are not the same as grass fed half and half.” I haven’t been able to exchange my coffee for straight tea (I like cream in my tea, too) yet, but I would wager by the end of this month, that I will (I certainly have reduced my coffee habit, so I suppose that is a good thing.)

While I joke that my issue resides with dairy, anything taken to an extreme is not good for us. Thus, I will continue to work my Whole 30 program, with a hope that I can create some positive habits as I emerge from January into my birth month. If you are finding yourself in a much more dire place, either with overeating or alcohol and/or drugs, please, please seek appropriate help. Mandy often speaks of Step Denver (we have donated two cars to them!) and Go Sober. So, if you are exploring making some changes in your life in regard to alcohol, here are two organizations that can assist.

If you are maybe just looking to make some changes for other reasons (we are doing Whole 30 to see if it can address some health issues my husband and I have developed these past few years, including chronic inflammation, or perhaps alcohol just doesn’t agree with you anymore), this Thirsty Thursday is for you! I started thinking about this segment back in November when I came across an article on Blake Lively (the gorgeous and funny wife of actor Ryan Reynolds) who had just released her own designer mocktail line, Curious Elixirs. I found it funny that Reynolds was a partner in Aviation Gin yet Lively was had a “booze-free cocktail” line. Turns out Lively doesn’t drink because she doesn’t enjoy the way it makes her feel (a close friend of mine develops migraines with even a small amount of alcohol…she likes the taste but clearly, the alcohol doesn’t like her!) Lively’s line uses adaptogens (consider them herbal feel-good substances that help to counteract the effects of stress) “to help you unwind,” and contain no refined sugar. Why is that important? THAT MAKES THEM WHOLE 30 FRIENDLY!!! (Well, not all of them. But I am saving No. 6 for February.) So, I decided to sign up for the monthly collection, because if I like them, I will totally enjoy these in lieu of an alcoholic night cap periodically. I will be tasting these live with Mandy, so tune in to see what we think…I will write a more detailed blog post on each after I try them all. I am super excited to try these! Whole 30 does discourage seeking these kinds of alternatives out (potatoes are allowed but you aren’t doing yourself any good if you are eating French fries every day) but at least our monthly segment won’t set me back on my Whole 30 journey.

Unlike our last time together, I decided to bring in some alcohol-free wine for this year’s dry segment. As I researched options, I discovered this great local bar that provides a sober environment but the same social aspects from the happy hour or live music scene. A coffee shop by day, and sober bar by night, Awake is a welcoming place for folks looking to gather and reconnect, especially after the challenges of the last two years, in an environment where everyone can be comfortable. With an eclectic vibe, Awake has so many options for you to enjoy on location or to go if you prefer that option. They have an array of alcohol-free options, from spirits (I have two Mandy and I will be trying in mocktails), beers, and wine.

I totally dig the vibe Awake has, even in the daylight.

Now, Mandy and I are bubbly kind of gals…and gals who love their bubbles. In fact, I got a text from Mandy on Christmas day about the bubbles I gifted her because they were, “INSANE.” So, we are going to kick off our tasting with an organic sparkling Chardonnay from Thomson & Scott called Noughty. Clocking in a 2.9g of sugar per 100mL (most wine bottles are 750mL for comparison), it is only 14 calories per glass with crisp apple notes on the nose and palate. This wine follows traditional wine making techniques in steel tanks and then the alcohol is removed using vacuum distillation with aroma recovery. This preserves the organoleptic (smell, taste) and nutritional aspects associated with wine. We are going to make an Aperol Spritz with this wine (we will also try it by itself) by mixing it with Three Spirits Livener, an elixir with a watermelon and ginger zing with a touch of hibiscus. We’ll pair the Spritz with a Buffalo Wing chicken dip and Siete grain free chips and jalapeno pineapple grilled shrimp.

We will also be trying Teetotaler Wines’ 100% Tempranillo and promises a nice tannic backbone with notes of oak, cherry, and plum. We are going to pair this with some smoked pulled pork and I already Coravined a smidge of it…it does NOT just taste like dry grape juice.

The Rosso Superiore is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that is made in the viniculture way and then the alcohol is removed using a “reverse osmosis” filtration method and certified 100% alcohol free by PoloLab. The wine is then pasteurized to ensure that no secondary fermentation happens in the bottle. While maintaining the flavor profile and healthy benefits of wine, without the alcohol this wine is also lower in sugar (Whole 30 yes!) and half the calories of its alcoholic cousins. We will pair this vegan wine with Impossible sausage balls (well, Mandy will…the vegan sausage balls are not Whole 30) and air fried chicken wings and cauliflower “wings” made with Primal Kitchen’s Buffalo Sauce.

One thing I have come to realize during this journey…while I have to compromise my dairy habit, I don’t have to compromise on taste (except for my morning coffee.) I have enjoyed the whole foods I have been cooking and my sleep has been fan-freaking-tastic. My clothes are fitting better and now that I am through the worst part of Whole 30 (at least for me) where I want to eat ALL THE THINGS, I am settling into a groove. Our meals have been flavorful and filling…if only I could have just a smidge of cheese…lol, I just looked at the timeline provided by Whole 30 creator, Melissa Urban, and I am on the day where I am “cranky, impatient, and…really, really tempted to just eat the stupid cheese.” Ha! Yes, that is exactly where I am at right now.

But I am stronger than cheese. I got this. And so do you. Whatever your intentions are for this year, there is nothing wrong with seeking healthier habits (I didn’t even mention the other things I embarked on…that’s a different blog post) whether it is cutting down on your wine and Cheese It habits, walking more, scrolling your phone less, reducing your sugar intake, or increasing your hugging of your loved ones. Choose what will help you be a little better, physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally.

Of course, 20 more days and the cheese will be mine.

Until next time (I will also update yall on this all turns out…)



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