(Family Features) Boosting immune function through a healthy diet has become an important new focus for many people these days. One key dietary recommendation is to eat more fruits and vegetables each day to improve immune function and prevent heart disease and diabetes. When looking to guide your family to healthier snacks and meals or simply trying to mix up your at-home menu, success can be as simple as rethinking the ingredients you choose to use, including your favorite produce, such as grapes.
Fresh California grapes, for example, make for an ideal snack because they are tasty, healthy, hydrating and refreshing, but grapes can also be used to make good-for-you dishes that are also satisfying and delicious. Grapes of all colors – red, green and black – are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols. Plus, they are naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free and contain virtually no sodium.
Try recipes like Moroccan Grape and Grilled Chicken Bowls with Grape Vinaigrette, Spiced Chickpeas and Grapes with Yogurt, and Cauliflower Steaks with Grapes to pair heart-healthy grapes with other nutritious ingredients and add variety and fresh appeal in the kitchen.
Moroccan Grape and Grilled Chicken Bowls with Grape Vinaigrette
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup parsley, leaves only
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 chicken breasts (8 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup green California grapes
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 1 preserved lemon, rind only
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- salt, to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup red California grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- To make couscous: Cook couscous in boiling salted water. Drain, rinse with cold water and combine with olive oil. Add carrots, tomatoes, parsley leaves, ras el hanout and salt. Mix well and set aside.
- To make chicken: Heat grill to medium-high heat.
- Rub chicken breasts with harissa paste, olive oil and salt. Grill on both sides until just done. Set aside to cool. Slice into 1/4-inch slices.
- To make vinaigrette: In blender, puree green grapes, lemon juice, lemon rind, olive oil and cilantro until smooth. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Toss couscous mixture with vinaigrette and portion into four bowls. Top with sliced chicken, red grapes and almonds.
Nutritional information per serving: 590 calories; 30 g protein; 44 g carbohydrates; 32 g fat (49% calories from fat); 4.5 g saturated fat (7% calories from saturated fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 720 mg sodium; 3 g fiber.
Spiced Chickpeas and Grapes with Yogurt
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
- 1 cup California grapes
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 garlic clove, grated
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- In large bowl, mix chickpeas and grapes.
- In small skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mustard seeds and cover. Cook until seeds stop popping then add cumin and fennel seeds; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper flakes; pour over chickpeas and grapes. Mix well.
- In separate bowl, stir yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and remaining salt. Spread on serving platter and top with chickpea mixture, cilantro and scallions.
Nutritional information per serving: 220 calories; 11 g protein; 31 g carbohydrates; 6 g fat (25% calories from fat); 1.5 g saturated fat (6% calories from saturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 280 mg sodium; 1 g fiber.
Cauliflower Steaks with Grapes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 large head cauliflower, leaves trimmed off
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup halved California grapes
- 1/4 cup chopped Castelvetrano olives
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped, toasted pistachios
- Heat oven to 450 F.
- Cut stem off cauliflower and cut remaining head crosswise into four 1-inch-thick slices, keeping as intact as possible. Place on sheet pan and brush sides with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast until browned and tender, about 25 minutes.
- Combine remaining olive oil, remaining pepper, grapes, olives, parsley and pistachios. When cauliflower is roasted, transfer to serving plates and top with grape mixture.
- Nutritional information per serving: 210 calories; 5 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat (60% calories from fat); 2 g saturated fat (9% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 480 mg sodium; 5 g fiber.
- Healthy Eating is Easy with Grapes
- Grapes are prized for their taste and crisp, juicy texture, but fresh grapes are also a heart-healthy, hydrating snack choice. Grapes contain more than 1,600 natural plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols, which help protect the health and function of the body’s cells. Grapes can be paired with other healthy foods to enhance flavor and nutrition, including dark leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins.
(Family Features) Constantly seeking out recipe-specific ingredients that may only be used once or twice can be a burden. Instead, keep your home stocked with necessities to simplify dinner prep with dishes made using common household staples.
One perfect example: pastas. These recipes for Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta, Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti and Pasta in a Pinch include easily recognizable seasonings and canned goods for simple dinner solutions. Plus, they all include dairy, an irreplaceable part of a balanced diet as a source of essential nutrients.
Another way to scale back on unnecessary grocery purchases is to give yourself permission to modify. Many recipes can be tweaked for personal preferences, such as using black beans rather than kidney beans or adjusting the amount of a spice used based on your family’s tastes.
Stock your pantry and refrigerator with versatile ingredients like these:
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned beans
- Quick-cook rice
- Small whole-grain pasta
- Stock, like vegetable, chicken or beef
- Fluid milk
- Shredded cheese
- Plain Greek yogurt
For more ideas to simplify family meals, visit milkmeansmore.org.
Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta
Recipe courtesy of Lori Yates of “Foxes Love Lemons” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 8 ounces ditalini pasta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 carrots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef (optional)
- 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water then drain pasta.
- In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add carrots, garlic and onion; cook 3 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften, stirring occasionally. Add kale and green beans; cook 3 minutes, or until green beans are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
- Add wine to skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated. Transfer vegetables to medium bowl. If including meat, return skillet to medium-high heat. Add ground beef; cook 6-8 minutes, or until meat is cooked through, breaking up with side of spoon. Spoon off excess fat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add kidney beans, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, pasta, reserved pasta cooking water and cooked vegetable mixture to skillet with beef, if using. Cook 2 minutes, or until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Divide pasta between four pasta bowls or plates and top with Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.
Pasta in a Pinch
Recipe courtesy of Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RDN, of “Jenny With the Good Eats” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- freshly chopped herbs, for garnish (optional)
- In large microwavable bowl, place uncooked penne pasta and pour water over top to cover. With food-safe plastic wrap, cover bowl, leaving small section to vent as it cooks. Cook 3 minutes longer than package directs, approximately 13 minutes.
- Once pasta has cooked, drain into colander then place back in bowl. Add salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder and milk; stir to combine. Begin to stir in cheese a little at a time. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir again.
- Add cannellini beans and diced tomatoes; stir. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Assess if ingredients are hot and cheese is melted. If not, microwave 1-2 minutes.
- Top with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti
Recipe courtesy of Marcia Stanley, MS, RDN, on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 8 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken into 3-4-inch pieces
- 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
- 1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)
- Using saute function of pressure cooker, heat oil until hot. Add meat and onion. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes, or until meat is browned, stirring to break up. Press cancel.
- Stir broth, marinara sauce, fennel seeds and cayenne pepper into meat. Stir in spaghetti, making sure noodle pieces are covered by liquid. Secure lid and set pressure release to sealing function. Select high pressure and cook 5 minutes. Press cancel.
- Allow pressure to release naturally 2 minutes. Move pressure release to venting function to release remaining steam. Remove lid.
- Stir spaghetti mixture. Stir in cream cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted. Ladle into bowls to serve. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley, if desired.
- 4 (10- to 14-ounce) Omaha Steaks rib eye steaks
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 teaspoons Blackening Seasoning (recipe below) or Omaha Steaks Blackened Seasoning
- 1 cup Creamy Horseradish Sauce (recipe below) or Omaha Steaks Creamy Horseradish Sauce
- 3 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
Creamy Horseradish Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon green onions, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot, in a well ventilated area.
- Brush steaks with olive oil.
- Coat each side of the steaks with 1 teaspoon of blackening seasoning.
- Place steaks in the iron skillet, flipping steaks halfway through cooking. To cook a 1-inch-thick steak medium rare, cook about 4 minutes on first side and 3 minutes on other side.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of Creamy Horseradish Sauce on each plate before topping with the cooked steak.
- Blackening Seasoning - Yield 1 cup -Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Creamy Horseradish Sauce - Yield 1 cup -Combine all ingredients and mix well.
SOURCE: Omaha Steaks