As the final days of summer tiptoe away, there’s nothing I’d rather do than whip up a deliciously healthy meal and toast our final days of the season. And I’m in luck. With the month of September comes the seasonal sensation, the muscadine grape, ripe and ready for the picking. And when it comes to the muscadine, there’s so much to celebrate. The muscadine grape packs quite the healthy punch with its copious amounts of antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamin C and super compounds like resveratrol.
In a joint study funded by the USDA and Mississippi State University, researchers found potentional cancer fighting benefits of the muscadine from natural plant compounds like resveratrol and ellagic adic. Both are thought to protect against cancer while reducing the signs of aging. And that’s not all the grape is praised for. The USDA also touts muscadine grapes as an excellent source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, essential minerals and vitamin C. Eating a diet rich in dietary fiber can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while protecting against heart disease, gastrointestinal disease and colon cancer.
And what better way to enjoy the super healthy benefits of our State’s most amazing grape than a nice tall glass of grape soda or muscadine sorbet? Here are two refreshingly healthy twists on the sweet treats. For an extra boost of fiber, antioxidents and resveratrol, skip the steps to strain the juices from the pulp. The muscadine’s skin and fibrous fruit are the healthiest parts of the grape.
In celebration of September’s Seasonal Sensation, lift your fizzy glass of grape soda, and cheers to a healthy and happy September! Enjoy.
Muscadine Grape Soda
Soda recipe from EatingWell Magazine, www.eatingwell.com
This sweet and tangy homemade soda packs 35 percent of your daily vitamin C – that’s 2.5 servings of fruit in one glass. If your grapes are on the sweeter side, go easy on the honey to cut the calories. Freeze extra whole grapes ahead of time and float them in the drink like ice cubes.
4 cups seedless mascadine grapes, halved and seeds removed, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups seltzer
Puree grapes in a blender. Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. Add lemon and honey to the juice; stir until the honey is dissolved. Add seltzer water. Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with whole grapes.
Per serving: 138 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 4 mg sodium; 303 mg potassium.
Serves 8 (Yields about 1 1/3 cups of sorbet)
2 pounds (about 2 quarts) of muscadine grapes
¼ cup of superfine sugar or honey
The juice and zest of one lemon
Working in batches, puree the grapes with the sugar in a food processor or blender until the sugar is dissolved (about three minutes). Over a bowl, pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer or sieve. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. Add the lemon juice and zest to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap or pour into an airtight container and let cool for several hours. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instruction
Per serving: 115 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 6 g fiber; 4 mg sodium; 250 mg potassium
This post is part of the NC’s No Diet Diet series. View previous posts here: February Sweet Potato, March Lettuce, April Strawberries, May Broccoli and Cabbage, June Peaches, July Vegetables, August Watermelon
Amy Bowen, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital