Eating healthy can be a serious challenge for many Americans. Some of these challenges may be unavoidable, whereas others can be difficult to overcome. For instance, health and economic issues related to food allergies or food insecurity can be major barriers. But making personal choices that lead to bad eating habits is also a factor, which can be more common. But thankfully, by making better choices, the latter can be easier to overcome.
By simply making the choice to cook more nutritious foods that taste great, eating healthy can be more fun and easy, rather than a difficult chore. In fact, when it comes to balancing healthy meals with appealing flavors, it’s important to lean on nutritious ingredients that pack mouthwatering taste. For example, grapes are a delicious yet subtle way to incorporate a little something extra into your diet while adding a juicy burst of flavor.
Grapes of all colors – red, green and black – can be enjoyed as a ready-to-eat, on-the-go snack anytime and anywhere. Grapes are also a healthy choice, as they are a natural source of polyphenols, and other antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, lutein and resveratrol, which is contained in the skins of red grapes.
Grapes are also fat-free with virtually no sodium. The evidence that grapes support heart health is well-established. Emerging research in other areas of health suggests that grapes’ ability to promote antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities at the cellular level may also play a protective role in eye, brain and joint health, among others.
Because of its versatility, grapes can also be used as an ingredient to add fresh appeal, vibrant color, and a light touch of sweetness to almost any dish. Grapes are in peak season from August through October, and during the month of September, this superfood can be more prime and ripe.
Try these fun and nutritious recipes with an extra burst of grape flavor and other natural ingredients. Choose to get on the path to healthier living by including more nourishing foods in your meals, starting today.
*Recipes and photos courtesy of GrapesfromCalifornia.com
Vegetarian Poke Bowl
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 5 cups cooked brown or white jasmine rice
- 2 packages (6 ounces each) extra-firm tofu, cubed
- 2 cups red California grapes, halved
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large golden beet, peeled and shredded
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
- 6 ounces light Asian ginger-sesame salad dressing
Directions: Divide rice between four bowls and arrange tofu, grapes, avocado, beets and carrots on top. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds; serve with dressing.
*Nutritional information per serving: 620 calories; 19 g protein; 101 g carbohydrates; 17 g fat (25% calories from fat); 2.5 g saturated fat (4% calories from saturated fat); 450 mg sodium; 11 g fiber.
Roasted Cod with Fennel and Grapes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 pound cod loin, cut into four equal pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed, chopped and reserved
- 1 cup red California grapes, halved
Cooking Directions: Heat oven to 400 F. Arrange cod pieces in baking dish.
In small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with lemon juice, orange zest, 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Spoon mixture onto cod in equal amounts. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached.
While cod is baking, in small bowl, combine remaining olive oil, remaining salt, pepper, vinegar, orange juice, shallot, coriander, honey and oregano; set aside. Halve and core fennel bulb then thinly slice and place in separate bowl. Add grapes and dressing; toss to combine. Serve cod topped with fennel and grape salad. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds.
*Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 19 g protein; 15 g carbohydrates; 8 g fat (36% calories from fat); 1 g saturated fat (4% calories from saturated fat); 45 mg cholesterol; 240 mg sodium; 2 g fiber.
Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Grapes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, divided
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1 cup packed arugula
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups red California grapes, halved
Cooking Directions: Heat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Using fork, poke shallow holes in skin of squash then brush with 1 tablespoon oil and place it, cut-side down, in rimmed baking dish. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until tender.
To make pesto: In food processor, process 1/4 cup walnuts, garlic, basil, arugula, lemon juice and lemon zest until well chopped. Add remaining olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper; process until well blended.
Once squash is done baking, remove from oven. Cool squash 5-10 minutes then, using fork, scrape inside flesh of squash, removing “spaghetti,” and place it in large bowl. Add pesto and beans to cooked squash and toss gently with tongs to combine. Divide equally into six bowls and top each with 1/4 cup grapes and 2 teaspoons chopped walnuts.
*Nutritional information per serving: 290 calories; 7 g protein; 24 g carbohydrates; 20 g fat (62% calories from fat); 3 g saturated fat (9% calories from saturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 6 g fiber.
Red grapes photograph by Jene Yeo
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