“The answer to the snacking conundrum isn’t so much whether or not to snack,” says Ellie Krieger, host of “Healthy Appetite,” now airing on The Cooking Channel. “It’s rather about how to snack strategically.”
Grapes fit right into her philosophy. “Both adults and kids want snacking options that are quick and easy, but also flavorful and interesting,” she says. “Any way you dress them up or down, grapes add a sweet sparkle, crunch and color to snacks, and they can double for appetizers when entertaining.”
Krieger has created five new fresh snack concepts for the California Table Grape Commission: Grape, Ricotta, and Honey Pita Pizza; Grapes in Port Wine Sauce; Cheddar Cheese, Jicama and Grape Skewers with Lime and Cilantro Yogurt Dip; Frozen Grape and Banana Kebabs with Chocolate Drizzle; and Grapes in a Canoe (celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with grapes).
In addition to developing healthy snack recipes with California grapes, Krieger is also promoting the new “Makeover Your Snacks with Grapes from California” contest, which is active on the Grapes from California Facebook page and includes a $5,000 cash grand prize. The commission is looking for easy-to-make concepts that use fresh grapes to “makeover” snacks into delicious, healthy super snacks.
A decade’s worth of research suggests that grapes may offer numerous health benefits. Grapes of every color contain a variety of antioxidants and other polyphenols, natural components in grapes that may contribute to a healthy heart. A 3/4-cup serving of grapes contains just 90 calories, no fat, no cholesterol and virtually no sodium. Apart from being a natural source of beneficial antioxidants, grapes contain potassium and are a good source of vitamin K, which plays a role in helping blood to clot.
When it comes to snacks, Krieger urges people to snack only in response to true hunger and not out of habit; plan a healthy snack instead of give in to impulse; choose nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains; try to keep snacks under 200 calories; and eat regular and balanced meals to prevent hunger munching throughout the day.
Kreiger, a registered dietitian, is the author of four cookbooks, including her latest, Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy, a collection of healthy versions of comfort food classics.