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Versatile and Delicious Meal Ideas

From Snacks to Sides, Grapes Add a Burst of Flavor

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 05/21/14 -- (Family Features) Always the convenient go-to option for snack time, grapes from California also bring great taste, texture and added flair to your favorite dishes.

From the juicy burst of flavor to the vibrant array of beautiful reds, greens and blacks -- fresh grapes are a top choice for home cooks and health-conscious eaters alike. While shoppers often choose this tasty fruit for in-between meal snacking, grapes can also boost the "healthy" factor in recipes, while adding bright, beautiful color to salads, entrees and desserts. They can make any of your favorite dishes healthier, and can make already healthy ones taste even better.

California grapes are available May through January. For flavorful, unique ways to add grapes to your meals, visit grapesfromcalifornia.com or facebook.com/grapesfromcalifornia. Or, connect with Grapes from California on pinterest.com/grapesfromCA or twitter.com/grapesfromCA.

Grape, Feta and Mint Quinoa Salad
Servings: 4
1       cup quinoa
1 1/3   cups water
1       cup red seedless California grapes
1/2     cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2     cup fresh lemon juice
8       fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
        Sliced green onion tops (optional garnish)

Rinse quinoa in fine-mesh sieve. Put in medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with fork. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Stir together quinoa, grapes, cheese, lemon juice and mint in large bowl. Top with green onions, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving (without onions): 228 calories; 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat); 25% calories from fat; 8 g protein; 36 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 17 mg cholesterol; 222 mg sodium; 400 mg potassium.

Grape and Lentil Salad
Servings: 6
3       cups green seedless California grapes, halved
3       cups chopped English cucumber
17.5    ounces (2 1/2 cups) steamed lentils
1/2     cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced into slivers
1/4     cup crumbled feta cheese
2       lemons, zested and juiced (about 6 tablespoons)
2       tablespoons olive oil

In large bowl, toss all ingredients together. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Notes:

  • Steamed lentils are sold in the produce department of most grocery stores. Canned lentils (rinsed and drained) can be substituted.
  • An English cucumber has a thinner skin and smaller seeds than traditional cucumbers.
  • Make this salad a complete meal by adding a grilled, whole grain pita on the side.

Nutrition information per serving (1 1/2 cups): 246 calories; 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat); 40% calories from fat; 9 g protein; 29 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 6 mg cholesterol; 387 mg sodium; 495 mg potassium.

Grape, Golden Beet and Brown Rice Salad
Servings: 8
4       medium golden beets, scrubbed
2       cups cooked brown rice
        Salt, to taste
1/3     cup chopped red onion
1       clove garlic, minced
1/4     cup white wine vinegar
1/4     cup extra virgin olive oil
1       tablespoon honey
        Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1       cup thinly sliced celery
1       cup halved red seedless California grapes
        Pinch cayenne
1/4     cup chopped Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Trim off all but 1 inch of stem on the beets and place in a small baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until a paring knife inserted into the center of the beets goes in easily, about 60-90 minutes. Let cool until easy to handle. Peel, then cut the beets into 1/2-inch wedges.

At the same time, combine the onion, garlic and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Whisk in the oil, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice, beets, celery, grapes, cayenne, parsley and toss. Serve warm or chilled. Makes about 6 cups.

Nutrition information per serving: 162 calories; 8 g fat (1.1 g saturated fat); 41% calories from fat; 2.3 g protein; 22 g carbohydrate; 2.5 g fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 119 mg sodium; 328 mg potassium.

Tostadas with Grape and Jicama Salsa
Servings: 4
8       handmade-style corn tortillas
        Cooking spray, as needed
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       jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1       lime, zested and juiced
1/4     teaspoon sea salt
1       (15-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans, warmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place tortillas on baking sheet and mist with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes, flip and bake additional 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp.

In medium bowl, mix together grapes, jicama, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, lime zest, lime juice and salt.

Spread beans on tortillas and top them evenly with salsa mixture.

Note: this recipe is gluten-free and vegan.

Nutrition information per serving (2 tostadas): 408 calories; 11 g fat (1 g saturated fat); 22% calories from fat; 17 g protein; 67 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 758 mg sodium; 862 mg potassium.

Smart snacking
Whether it's midafternoon or midmorning, reach for grapes whenever you need a quick, convenient snack you can feel good about. They are ready-to-eat with no peeling or coring required. Plus, grapes go where you go -- they're easy to pack along to the office, the game, in a lunch or in the car.

Here are more reasons to feel great about choosing grapes:

  • One serving (3/4 cup) contains just 90 calories.
  • Grapes have no fat, cholesterol and virtually no sodium.
  • They are also a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. In fact, some studies suggest grapes may help support a healthy heart.

Did you know?
According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, greater consumption of certain whole fruits, particularly grapes, apples and blueberries, is associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The researchers described the association as "significant."

About Family Features Editorial Syndicate
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