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.
(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.
Tostadas with Grape and Jicama Salsa
- 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
- 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.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the grapes, jicama, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, and salt.
- Spread the beans on the tortillas and top them evenly with the salsa mixture.
Grape and Green Tea Antioxidant Smoothie
- 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.)
Green Grape and Tomatillo Salsa
- 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
Grape and Pear Pie
- 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
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.
Honey-Balsamic Chicken with California Grapes
- 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
Sweet and Spicy Couscous Salad
- 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
Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Grape Bake
- 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
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.
Grape Fruit Leather
- 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
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.
What’s your favorite variety of grape?
Holiday grapes, anyone? HELLO!
Resources: California Table Grape Commission.