A Toast to Vinegar, Food as Medicine

Still Life with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar by Julian Merrow-Smith

Whether added to mixed vegetables or a mixed drink, “Vinegar’s the Zamboni for the tongue,” says one vinegar proponent discussing how vinegar-based concoctions prepare the mouth for flavor and nutrient uptake. Using an array of flavored vinegars in your kitchen keeps vegetables and cocktails lively and exciting, all while imparting health benefits.

Assume you have an angel sitting on your left shoulder encouraging healthy diet choices and, on your right shoulder, Bacchus mixing a drink. The angel offers many suggestions for incorporating vinegar into your diet to help reduce the incidence of disease and the effects of aging; Bacchus presents you with three recipes for incorporating vinegar into cocktail hour. It’s up to you how vinegar features in your diet, but it’s good to know we have options.

With nine flavors of vinegar made from organic ingredients and fermented in stainless-steel tanks to keep flavors bright, Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars lend a flavorful hand in the kitchen, which is reason enough to incorporate them into one’s cooking. However, when employed as part of a salt/fat/sugar-reducing diet, they can also help improve health. Registered Dietician Gayle Povis Alleman writes that vinegar “can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your efforts to fight serious, chronic diseases” with a focus on using vinegar in one’s diet to reduce the intake of unhealthy fats, salts, and sugars. Replacing or reducing these ingredients with a flavorful vinegar can lower stroke and heart disease risks. Furthermore, vinegar helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help those suffering from Type II diabetes. Finally, consuming vinegar prior to and with meals helps increase the body’s absorption rate of minerals taken in from foods.

Bacchus interrupts and says you should really try these vinegar cocktails.

Vinegar Cocktails

Bacchus by Caravaggio (1595)

Flavored vinegars impart acid to a beverage and play the role often filled by citrus in cocktails. Whether you have issues with citrus or you just want something new, consider using a delicious Chaparral Gardens vinegar as an ingredient in a shrub, or vinegar cocktail.

Embrace the challenge of these cocktails that incorporate the flavor and tang of vinegar or, keep it easy and mix Winter Ambrosia with your favorite whisky.

Now that you have a drink, says the very reasonable angel, let’s talk about using vinegar in the kitchen.

Vinegar Veggies

Angel 1887 by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1887)

The key to getting the most out of vinegar in your diet? Use it to encourage yourself and your family to eat more vegetables. “By enhancing the flavor of vegetables with vinegar,” writes Alleman “you and your family will be inclined to eat more of them. And that—many researchers and doctors would agree—will likely go a long way toward protecting your body’s cells from the damage that can lead to cancer and other problems of aging.” Antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables may lower certain cancer risks and slow aging, but they only work if you eat them.

Home cooks can easily incorporate vinegars into their cooking with marinades, drizzles, reductions, and other creative uses of this ingredient. Use a splash of vinegar to replace a portion of salt. Using vinegar in the kitchen also helps replace unhealthy fats in your diet.

Consider these cooking ideas using Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars, for health.

Limit Fats

  • Using 1/2 cup Fuzzy Navel Peach vinegar to make a salad dressing rather than 1/2 cup mayonnaise results in a much less caloric dish without sacrificing flavor. Fatty mayo features 800 calories while the same amount of vinegar only amounts to 25 calories.

Eliminate Sugar

  • Reduce the need for sugar in a recipe by drizzling a flavorful Blackberry Balsamic vinegar reduction over fruits, ice cream, cakes and other desserts.

Avoid Butter

  • Splash Raspberry Basil vinegar over steamed vegetables rather than the fattening old reliable, butter and salt.

Reduce Salt

  • Add Cari’s favorite Italian vinegar to beans at the end of cooking to reduce the amount of salt needed for bringing out the earthy flavors of the beans.

Cook Lean

  • Purchase a less fatty cut of meat such as venison or bison; tenderize and flavor the meat with a portion of Blackberry Roasted Pepper vinegar and fresh spices.

Add Flavor

  • Using an array of flavored vinegars such as Champagne Mimosa vinegar to marinade and prepare vegetables makes it deliciously easy to get your recommended daily intake in a salad, from the steamer and off the grill.

To get yourself and your family to eat their vegetables, especially nutrient rich winter vegetables, jazz up your cooking with bright, flavorful artisan vinegars. Just ask Becky Barlogio of Jack Creek Farms, who relies on Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars to help make a flavorful difference in preparing night after night of winter squash. Variety is the spice.

Make Mine a Vinegar Solution by Robert Simonson (NYT)

Foodie Awards:

  • Blackberry Balsamic 2011 SOFI Gold for best salad dressing
  • Pacific Spice 2011 SOFI Silver for best flavor enhancer
  • Champagne Mimosa 2012 SOFI Silver finalist for best shelf stable foodservice product


You can purchase Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars online at ChaparralGardens.com, at more than a dozen local wine tasting rooms, and at a number of specialty food outlets including Nature’s Touch Harvest and Nursery and J & R Meats in Templeton, Lazy Acres Market in Santa Barbara, A Matter of Taste in Cambria, and all three Central Coast We Olive stores. View a list of outlets offering these wonderful products If you would like to have a private tasting in their Highway 41 tasting room, contact Craig to set up a time: 805/703-0829

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Julian Merrow-Smith painting reproduced with permission

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