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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
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We're Raisin Up the Bar!

In the world of cookie flavors, a chocolate chip cookie tends to win the battle of Americas favorite over its competitor, the oatmeal raisin cookie. However, this doesn't mean that the raisin doesn't have its use in our kitchens. Raisins are a versatile food that can be added to stews, sauces, desserts, baked goods, and salads.

Raisins are dried grapes that are either sun-dried or dried mechanically in a dehydrator. They're the most popular dried fruit in the United States. Coincidentally, the U.S. is the number one producer of raisins, primarily grown in California's San Joaquin Valley. Raisins can be a good way to get in the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Just one-fourth cup is equal to a half serving of fruit. Raisins are a good source of fiber, iron and potassium. They're also packaged without added sugars. However, because the water content is removed from the grape, the raisin is more concentrated in natural sugars. Just one-fourth cup serving has 29 grams of sugar!

Both dark and golden raisins are generally made from the same type of grape. The difference is that dark raisins are sun-dried for many weeks, while golden raisins are dried mechanically and are first treated with the preservative, sulphur dioxide, to prevent their color from darkening. Golden raisins tend to be more plump and juicy, but their nutrition content is virtually the same as dark raisins.

When buying raisins, give the box a shake. If the contents rattle, the raisins are likely not very fresh. Store raisins in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry area. Refrigeration will extend shelf life after opening and is recommended in hot, humid environments. Raisins will stay fresh in the pantry or refrigerator for 6-12 months or 12-18 months in the freezer. Regardless of whether you choose dark or golden raisins, try them in more than just oatmeal raisin cookies!

Carrot and Raisin Sunshine Salad Printable PDF

1 lb. carrots (5-6 medium carrots), peeled and shredded

½ cup raisins

1 (8 oz.) carton low-fat vanilla yogurt

4 to 6 lettuce leaves

Mix together all ingredients, except lettuce leaves, in a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Toss again before serving on lettuce leaves.

Yield: 5 servings

Nutritional analysis per serving: 122 calories, 0.8 grams fat, 64 milligrams sodium, 27 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams protein

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