Loving the BITE: Grilled Chicken with Fresh Grape Glaze

Maybe I’m being a little selfish. This week’s featured ingredient, grapes, is probably my all-time favorite food. I can’t really think of any food I like more…to me, they are perfect just as they are: a whole-food sweet package of goodness from the earth. Love ‘em, just like ‘em, or not, there’s no denying that they offer a lot of health benefits. For cyclists, they offer a good daily nutrition carbohydrate source as a whole-food and a natural option for training fuel as raisins or grape juice (can be used in Kelli’s Homebrew). For those who enjoy wine now and again, they offer health benefits beyond other alcoholic beverages. This week, let’s raise a glass to one of nature’s best fruits while promoting our hearts’ health:

Recipe of the week:  Grilled Chicken with Fresh Grape Glaze

Ingredients:

Glaze:

  • 3 cups seedless red grapes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds), skinned, organic & free-range if possibl
  • 6 chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds), skinned, organic & free-range if possible
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Fresh rosemary leaves (optional)

Instructions:

To prepare glaze, place grapes in a blender; process until smooth. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook 10 minutes. Add garlic; cover and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in pureed grapes, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 teaspoon rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Cool slightly. Place grape mixture in blender; process until smooth. Set aside.

Prepare grill.

To prepare chicken, brush 1 tablespoon oil over chicken; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons rosemary, pepper, and salt. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 25 minutes or until done, turning and basting frequently with grape glaze. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desire

Comments:

So, obviously, grapes offer an amazing flavor. They also offer wonderful juice and wine. But, beyond taste, what’s the scoop? Glad you asked.

For nutritive benefits, grapes have been well-studied and documented. Over 100 research studies on grapes (or products made from them, like red wine) have shown many of their health benefits to come from a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols. Three types of polyphenols seem most important: (1) flavonoids, (2) phenolic acids, and (3) resveratro.

Flavonoids are phytonutrients that give the vibrant purple color to grapes, grape juice and red wine; the stronger the color, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. These flavonoid compounds include quercitin, as well as a second flavonoid-type compound called resveratrol. If you’re familiar with FRS-brand sports drinks and foods, you know that their main energy-ingredient is quercitin. Both compounds, quercitin and resveratrol appear to decrease the risk of heart disease by 1) Reducing platelet clumping and harmful blood clots and 2) Protecting LDL cholesterol from the free radical damage that initiates LDL’s artery-damaging action.

It’s these benefits that likely allow grapes to protect societies that eat both a combo of high fat foods and a lot of grapes and/or wine (Mediterranean and French societies).  Let’s take an in-depth look:

In a study in which blood samples were drawn from 20 healthy volunteers both before and after they drank grape juice, researchers found several beneficial effects from their juice consumption.

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