As part of my healthy eating plan, I pledged to eat fruit every day. Surprisingly, I’m not a huge fruit fan, unless they are the more exotic fruits that my grandmother has lovingly plucked from the fridge, prepared, and presented to me on a cutting board in the middle of her coffee table. Then, I love them, but most fruit from the grocery store is not as appealing. I do, however, hold a few common fruits in high regard, grapes being one of them. Red grapes are amazing little fruits. They are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, plus they taste delicious and are much more versatile than you may think!
My parents used to buy pounds of grapes, wash them, and then leave them out for us to snack on throughout the day. With four people in the house, they didn’t last long. I still do this in my house now, but John doesn’t really eat many, and I certainly can’t eat them all myself just grazing during the day. I mentioned this to my mom the other day, and she informed me (though I already knew this) that I don’t have to buy the entire bag of prepackaged grapes from the store. But, I argued, I actually like to buy grapes in larger quantities because there are so many ways to enjoy these little guys!
My uncle actually introduced me to my absolute favorite way to eat grapes. When I was still living in Hawaii, my uncle was diagnosed as prediabetic. This meant that he had to reduce his sugar intake. He taught me that regular yogurt contains a ton of sugar that basically negates many of the nutritional benefits of the yogurt. He learned, though, if you eat plain yogurt with slow-burning fruits together, you get a tasty breakfast with the benefits of both the yogurt and the fruit and without excess sugar. His fruits of choice were apples and red grapes.
These days, I make it a habit of eating yogurt and red grapes together, but of course, I put my own spin on it. I add chia seeds for fiber and omega-3s and coconut milk for richness and flavor. (I buy my chia seeds from WinCo, but this one from Amazon appears to be a good deal.) The chia makes the yogurt nice and thick, even if you can’t get your hands on Greek-style, and the creamy coconut milk tastes delicious paired with the sweet grapes. It’s perfect for during the school year because I can make a bunch of it in these containers at the beginning of the week, and then I have an easy, nutritious snack every day!With my busy work schedule, however, sometimes the things in my fridge can start to get a little…aged, including my large bag-o-grapes. If you are anything like me, you know that great grapes are sweet and firm. Any bit of softness and they become unpalatable. Over the past couple years, I have made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of food we waste week-to-week by planning my meals and my snacks, but sometimes we still have food that gets past its prime. For veggies, I simply make veggie stock, but fruit is a little trickier.
When I couldn’t bear to throw out another bag of slightly soft grapes, I decided that I had to do something else. I tossed the grapes into some butter (yeah, butter) and cinnamon, and baked them in the oven on the lowest setting. After an entire evening of baking the grapes, I was convinced that I had ruined my pan and wasted the ingredients and my time, but I decided to turn off the oven and just keep baking the next day. And the next day. After a long, long time of baking, then turning off the oven for sleep and work and then more baking (it had to have been at least 8 hours actual cooking time), I had sinfully delicious cinnamon raisins. And the good sense to invest in this awesome dehydrator.Now, I totally buy a ton a grapes knowing that I will not only be snacking on them plain and in my coconut chia yogurt, but also making cinnamon raisins when they get old. The raisins are perfect for adding to oatmeal or other cereal, and I think I’m going to use them to make some whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread once the weather cools down!
Try red grapes two ways:
|COCONUT CHIA YOGURT with RED GRAPES
(Makes 1 Snack-sized Portion*)
¼ cup plain yogurt
* I almost always make at least 3 of these at a time.
** All measurements are approximate, and you can add the coconut milk to taste. If you prefer not to add the coconut flavor, you can replace it with another type of milk or water.
(Makes approximately 1 cup of raisins)
4 cups grapes, washed