Last week I had the opportunity to “break biscuits” with one of my favorite chefs and Food Network personalities – Alton Brown! Thanks to a very generous invite on behalf of Welch’s, myself and a few other phenomenal dietitians were able to sit across the table from Alton himself and discuss the nutritional benefits of grapes and the juice that comes from them.
Welch’s also brought along a couple of their farmers and a member of their nutrition board to help answer questions we had about the grape harvesting process and to talk research. All in all, it was a very informative night with a lot of great food and networking to boot.
The dinner took place at Table 52 in Chicago and the food was phenomenal! Of course, why wouldn’t be? This is Chef Art Smith’s restaurant after all! And if you aren’t sure of who he is, you may want to do a quick Google search for him after reading this post. He’s probably most famous for having been Oprah’s personal chef, but he’s prepared meals for many, MANY well known people.
His specialty is southern cuisine and there was definitely a southern feel throughout the meal. From the biscuits to the fried chicken, southern comfort was all around us.
Many of the dishes were also inspired by Welch’s grape juice, and I thought this was quite an interesting pairing. South meets North, perhaps? But the two ideas worked well together.
My biggest take away from this experience is that juice isn’t just for kids anymore. Maybe it is because I’m a dietitian or that I have kids of my own, but I often think of juice as something my kids adore and something I have to track so that they don’t over do it on calories or sugar. But the dinner opened my eyes to a new, functional use of juice and it goes beyond the glass.
Cooking with juice! Aha! Why have I never thought of this before? Apparently, Alton does this all the time and I love that he has incorporated juice into cooking so the flavor of the dish becomes more familiar and perhaps a bit more kid-friendly. For picky eaters, this could be a really great thing and help them become less intrepidatious about trying more “grown-up” flavors. In fact, according to a colleague of mine, Natalia Stasenko, RD from Tribeca Nutrition, even just a splash of grape juice in dishes like meatloaf or ratatouille could make them taste a little sweeter and more acceptable to a child who prefers things more on the sweeter side.
As a grown up, it also seems like a great, all-natural way to enhance the flavor of a dish.This dish would probably also pair up well with a nice 4 oz. serving of 100% grape juice too. Serve it up like wine and now we’re talking! Known for its rich polyphenol content, it could be a great way to protect your heart without any of the added alcohol. Okay, that may not sound as fun, but it could be a nice alcohol-free option to consider from time to time.
What do you think? Is cooking with grape juice an appealing idea to you? Do you think it would help your picky eaters more open to newer, bolder flavors?
Disclosure/Disclaimer: I was invited to dinner with Alton Brown at Table 52 by Welch’s and one of the PR companies they are affiliated with. I was treated to dinner and received some coupons and a few wine/beverage accessories at the event. I was not asked to write this post or financially compensated for it in anyway. The opinions expressed are mine alone. I just thought you should know. For a full list of our disclosure and disclaimer policies, please check out our legal page.