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I recently received a super cool cook book entitled ‘Green Black Red’ from California Table Grape Commission geared specifically towards, you guessed it, GRAPES!    I have to admit, I really only consume grapes in their natural state.  In fact, my mom shamed me last night because I don’t like them in their other, also popular, form – raisins. (Ew)

So why not talk a little about grapes and showcase a few unique recipes from my fancy new cook book!

Grapes, of any color, only have 90 calories per 3/4 cup with no fat, cholesterol and on a hint of sodium.  They DO have a very good amount of vitamin K, antioxidants and polyphenols!  Check out the nutrition facts label below for more specifics.

Nutrition Facts Label for Grapes

(Spoiler alert:  I’m about to geek out)  The power of antioxidants and polyphenols can be profound.  (Woah, I know you already read about antioxidants being superheroes, but what’s a polyphenol (poly-fee-noll)?  Basically a compound similar to an antioxidant that also prevents and/or neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals.)

There are gobs and gobs of research showing how beneficial grapes are for our health. Check it out:

  • Grapes are chock full of antioxidants and polyphenols:  Your grape color of choice in any variety of choice contains a variety of antioxidants and polyphenols.  They go to work neutralizing harmful free radicals to prevent the process of oxidation that damage cells.  Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals aren’t man-handled by antioxidants and is associated with all sorts of health conditions and chronic illnesses.
  • Make your heart happy:  The inclusion of grapes in a diet is very good for your heart by improving blood flow, arterial flexibility and blood vessel function.  It can also help prevent platelet aggregation (which can lead to clot formation).  Grapes can also aid in the prevention of oxidation process of our LDL (bad) cholesterol, a contributor to the build-up of plaque in our arteries.
  • Improved blood pressure:  Studies show that a salty diet (which is well known for leading to elevated blood pressure) with the addition of grapes aided in a drop in blood pressure levels, improvement in heart function, and a reduction in inflammation.
  • Colon health:  Grapes have shown an ability to inhibit certain genes that promote tumor growth in the colon.
  • Eye heart grapes, do you?:  Grapes can help prevent blindness to those who are prone to developing retinal damage in old age!
  • Brain food:  Prelim studies show grapes having a role in protecting brain health by counteracting oxidative stress and inflammation, also by targeting actions of certain genes involved in age-related diseases of the brain.

Selecting Grapes is pretty basic.  Make sure the stems are green and pliable and the berries are nice and plump.  The white coating is called the bloom – a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay.  Store your grapes for up to two weeks in refrigeration, unwashed (but wash before eating!), and in avoidance of high odor food (like onions, leeks, etc.)

Okay, on to more exciting stuff… RECIPES!  Who here doesn’t stray too much past eating grapes straight up, in a salad, or on fruit pizza?  Yup, that’s what I thought.  I’d like to include some more adventurous grape recipes for you all – all of which are courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission.  Oh – and to keep myself from going to far, I’m just going to pick ONE recipe from each of the categories they have listed.  Want to check out more, just go to the link above.

Appetizer

Tostadas-with-Grape-and-Jicama-Salsa-HORIZONTAL

Tostadas with Grape and Jicama Salsa

Ingredients

  • 8 handmade-style corn tortillas
  • As needed cooking spray
  • 1 cup black seedless California grapes, chopped
  • 1 cup red seedless California grapes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped jicama (about 1/2 medium jicama)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans, warmed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and mist them with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes, flip and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the grapes, jicama, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, and salt.
  3. Spread the beans on the tortillas and top them evenly with the salsa mixture.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 tostadas): Calories 408; Protein 17 g; Carbohydrate 67 g; Fat 11 g; 22% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 758 mg; Potassium 862 mg; Fiber 14 g.

Beverage

Grape-and-Green-Tea-Smoothie

Grape and Green Tea Antioxidant Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup California green seedless grapes, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened green tea powder (If green tea is unavailable, substitute ½ cup tepid brewed green tea and 1 tsp. sugar for the water and green tea powder.)

Directions

Combine grapes, water, pineapple, ice cubes and green tea powder in a blender. Purée all ingredients in blender until smooth.

Nutritional Information

Calories 181; Protein 1.4 g; Fat 1 g; Calories from Fat 6%; Carbohydrates 46 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Fiber 2.5 g; Sodium 8 mg.

Condiment

Green-Grape-and-Tomatillo-Salsa

Green Grape and Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. wt. tomatillos, husked and rinsed (about 5-8 tomatillos)
  • 1 3/4 cups California seedless green grapes, separated and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped, seeded if you like it not too hot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions

Process all ingredients in food processor, pulsing until slightly coarse in texture.

Dessert

Grape-and-Pear-Pie

Grape and Pear Pie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 cups California seedless grapes
  • 3 cups fresh pears (about 3 medium pears), cored, pared and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 package ready-to-use refrigerated pastry for 2-crust, 9-inch pie (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, orange peel and cloves; mix well. Toss grapes and pears with sugar mixture and orange juice. Line 9-inch microwave-safe pie plate with pastry. Add fruit mixture and dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry and cut into 3/4 inch strips. Arrange strips in lattice pattern over fruit filling. Fold ends of lattice strips under edge of bottom crust; seal and flute edges.
Preheat over to 425 F.
To bake in microwave (recipe developed for 700 to 800 watt microwave ovens): Set oven at HIGH (100 percent power), bake 10 to 12 minutes or until filling begins to bubble. Transfer pie to conventional oven and bake at 425 F 10 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
To bake by conventional method: Bake pie in 425 F oven 10 minutes. Lower heat to 375 F and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling begins to bubble.

Nutritional Information

Calories 254; Protein 8 g; Fat 13 g; Carbohydrates 26 g; Cholesterol 132 mg; Fiber 1.0 g; Sodium 186 mg.

Entrée

Honey-Balsamic-Chicken-with-California-Grapes-PLATED-WITH-POLENTA

Honey-Balsamic Chicken with California Grapes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • To taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups red seedless Californa grapes, halved
  • 1 cup green seedless California grapes, halved
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet with the shallots. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring and turning the chicken occasionally, until it and the shallots are nicely browned.Add the grapes, vinegar, honey, and garlic and bring them to a boil; cook and stir for 5 minutes more. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the top with rosemary.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving (without sides): Calories 261; Protein 28 g; Carbohydrate 19 g; Fat 8 g; 28% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 68 mg; Sodium 314 mg; Potassium 486 mg; Fiber 1 g.

Salad

Sweet-and-Spicy-CousCous-Salad

Sweet and Spicy Couscous Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 3 cups instant couscous
  • 2 cups California seedless fresh grapes
  • 1 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice

Directions

Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan and stir in couscous. Remove pan from heat and cover. Let couscous stand until cool, then fluff with a fork into a large bowl. Stir in grapes, pine nuts, apricots, green onions, parsley and mint.Add remaining ingredients and let flavors blend for 30 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this versatile salad as a side dish to grilled lamb skewers, roasted chicken or sandwiches. It is also an excellent deli item or light entree. Both the flavors and textures have a good shelf life.

Nutritional Information

Calories 478; Protein 9g; Fat 26g; Calories from fat 48%; Carbohydrate 53g; Cholesterol .3mg; Dietary Fiber 5g; Sodium 609mg.

Side Dish

ButterSquashGratin

Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Grape Bake

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks or 3 1/2 pounds pre-cut butternut squash chunks (11 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups red or black seedless California grapes, stemmed and rinsed
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the squash and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, then transfer to the baking dish. Repeat browning of remaining squash with another tablespoon of olive oil and more salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish.Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the skillet and add the onion and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the broth and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Bring to a simmer and pour into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 F. Remove the dish from the oven and take off the foil. Sprinkle the grapes over the top. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the squash. Bake until top is browned and bubbling, or about 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 259; Protein 6.6 g; Carbohydrate 36 g; Fat 12 g; 38% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 10 mg; Sodium 266 mg; Fiber 4.7 g.

Snack

FruitLeather

Grape Fruit Leather

Ingredients

  • 10 cups green, red or black seedless California grapes, stemmed and rinsed (about 3 1/4 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Purée the grapes in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, until very smooth. Pour the purée into a fine sieve and press hard with a spatula to extract as much juice as possible. Purée the grapes again and put them back into the sieve. Press again and reserve the juice for another recipe. There should be about 2 cups of grape purée.Pour the purée into a small saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring often and scraping the sides, until the purée turns glossy and darkens slightly, about 30 to 45 minutes.Preheat the oven to 200 F using convection mode if available. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with a silicon baking sheet. Pour the purée onto the mat and spread into an 1/8-inch thickness using an offset spatula, leaving a 1-inch border of space around the edge. Bake 1 1/2 to 3 hours, rotating the tray halfway through, until the purée is tacky and not quite dried in the center. Let stand at room temperature until fruit leather peels easily from the tray, 24 hours to 48 hours.

Place a piece of parchment paper over the fruit leather and invert. Peel off the silicon baking sheet and starting at the long end, roll up the fruit leather and parchment. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut the fruit leather roll into 1-inch segments. Store in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 week at room temperature or 2 to 3 months in the freezer.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per 1-inch wide roll: Calories 156; Protein 1.4 g; Carbohydrate 41 g; Fat .3 g; 1.6% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 4 mg; Fiber 1.7 g.

What’s your favorite variety of grape?

Holiday grapes, anyone?  HELLO!

 

Resources:  California Table Grape Commission.
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