If you have children and have been to the local farmers’ markets, maybe you’ve seen the Food Hero booth and sampled a new and tasty grape recipe.

The Umpqua Valley is a fertile valley, loaded with produce throughout the year, but you can’t drive outside of town without seeing a vineyard somewhere along the way. That’s because our soil is rich with nutrients that grapes thrive on like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and grapes often don’t require much water to grow, which is perfect for our summer climate.

Soon, the markets will be loaded with varieties of grapes, but you may be stumped on what to make with them instead of just eating them off the stems. There are the standard recipes, like Waldorf salad or various fruit salads, but we’ve come up with a few fresh and new ideas to try.

Grape salsa, grape and cucumber salad and fruited tabbouleh are the newest recipes to hit www.foodhero.org. Adults and children alike have given their thumbs up to grape salsa!

While the soil provides essential nutrients to the grapes, the grapes provide essential nutrients to our bodies. Grapes are high in vitamin C and K, packing in around 27% of your daily value of each nutrient.

Vitamin C helps our bodies fight off illness and heal cuts and bruises, while vitamin K has an important role in blood clotting and bone metabolism. When plant foods are eaten containing vitamin K, the large intestine converts it to a form that the body can store and it is stored in body fat and the liver.

Eating a balanced diet and filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables is the best way to get all the nutrients our bodies need.

Most children seem to enjoy grapes, but as with any food, a way to get your kids to try new foods is to allow them to help with preparation. Have your kids help wash grapes, pull them off the stems, discarding brown or mushy grapes and even help cut them in half to avoid choking on them.

A fun and fast way to cut a lot of grapes at a time is the plate method. Place one plate, upside down, on the counter. Put several grapes on the part of the plate that is now facing up, and gently place another plate, right side up, on top of the grapes. Take a large kitchen knife and cut through the center of the grapes while pressing slightly down on the top plate so the grapes don’t roll out. Be sure to cut all the way through all of the grapes and separate the plates. Now you have grape halves without spending time cutting each one individually.

Use that tip while preparing the recipes listed, and enjoy.

Erin Maidlow is a nutrition educator for the SNAP-Ed program at the Douglas County OSU Extension Service.

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