3 Delicious Ways To Cook With Gut-Friendly Grape Leaves (Plus: Why They’re So Good for Bone Health)
With grape season—which runs between August and October—in full swing finding delicious recipes that use grapes is naturally top of mind. While we love a good sleep-boosting grape smoothie recipe or a grape-infused homemade sourdough loaf, know that the leaves of the plant are one more flavor-packed, nutrient-dense way to eat the fruits of your grape-growing labor.
Here, we gathered some of the most delicious grape leaves recipes to make this season and beyond, plus why adding grape leaves to your diet is a boon to your gut, bones, and overall health.
Health benefits of grape leaves, according to a registered dietitian
According to Marisa Silver, MS, RDN of Vivrant Nutrition, grape leaves are incredibly nutrient-dense. "For starters, research shows that grape leaves have high levels of antioxidants compounds from flavonoids and phenolics, which can be anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, antiatherogenic, antiallergic, antiulcer, antimicrobial, antiarthritic, and anti-inflammatory," she says. “Grape leaves are also packed with vitamins, including vitamin K, important for bone health and blood clotting; vitamin C, which promotes iron absorption, immunity, and tissue repair; [and] vitamin A, essential for cell growth regulation, healthy eyes, and bones, and immune function.”
In addition to those three essential vitamins, grape leaves also contain loads of gut and bone benefits. “The leaves contain fiber, which is important for gut health, regular digestion, and blood sugar control,” Silver says. "Grape leaves also have important minerals that promote bone health, like calcium, magnesium, and manganese." Finally, Silver adds that the “mighty” leaves contain iron, B6, riboflavin, folate, and copper. Talk about a mic drop.
The best ways to consume grape leaves to reap the most benefits
Silver says grape leaves can be purchased canned or bottled at the supermarket. Or, you can buy a 16-ounce jar for just under ten dollars on Instacart. If using jarred grape leaves, she says that it’s best to rinse them to remove any excess sodium used to preserve them. Now, if you happen to come across fresh, raw grape leaves, Silver says the best way to cook them is by steaming or blanching, aka scalding vegetables, in boiling water or steam for a short time. FYI: To prevent your grape leaves from overcooking, you can always "shock" them, which means quickly stopping the cooking process of blanched items by plunging them in ice water. (And in case you were wondering, you can consume them raw as well, but they might not be as flavorful as when cooked and softened.)
Some of Silver's favorite ways to eat grape leaves includes stuffing them with protein-packed fillings like ground beef, turkey, or chicken and adding even more nutrient-dense ingredients like cooked veggies and spices. “My favorite grape leaf stuffing is a sauté of onions, ground chicken, crumbled feta cheese, and spinach,” she says. Swoon.
3 delicious grape leaves recipe ideas
1. Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves
This vegetarian stuffed grape leaves recipe by Alpha Foodie is a nod to the traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish known as dolmas. This interpretation of the dish is a vegetarian and herby rice filling that’s used to stuff the leaves, which are then rolled into small logs.
Get the recipe: Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
2. Grape Leaf Pilaf
If you’re tired of eating plain ol’ rice, this grape leaf pilaf recipe by Dimitra's Dishes is the perfect solution. According to the recipe developer, it’s a deconstructed version of a popular Greek dish called dolmadakia. Best of all, it takes only 30 minutes to make, which is ideal for a protein-packed weeknight dinner.
Get the recipe: Grape Leaf Pilaf: Greek Deconstructed Dolmadakia
3. Spicy Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves
Bring on the heat with this spicy vegan stuffed grape leaves recipe by Full of Plants, made with ingredients like chili powder, ground paprika, and cumin. Plus, it’s packed with protein thanks to the lentils, which have 17.9 grams of protein per cooked cup.
Get the recipe: Spicy Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves
In need of weeknight recipe ideas? This anti-inflammatory raw celery salad might help:
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