High Antioxidant Fruit Recipes
A simple way to incorporate antioxidants into your diet is to cook and bake with fruits that are high in antioxidants. The following recipes are simple and delicious as well as high in antioxidants because of the fruits they contain.
After acai berries, prunes have the highest level of antioxidants in fruit, with an ORAC score over 2,000 points higher than the trendy yuppy-fruit, the pomegranate. Prunes aren't half as popular, however, being a dusky shriveled fruit with a larger fan club amongst the old folks at home than with the surfing, working, smoothie crowd. For a high level of anti-oxidization as well as an inexpensive and easy-to-find food option, however, you can't get anything better than a prune. Or a can of prune juice, for that matter.
Prune and Walnut Spinach Salad: 1 serving
Gently wash a handful of spinach leaves under running water. Dry with a paper towel, then top with 1/4 c. chopped prunes (chopped to the size of raisins), one or two tablespoons of chopped walnuts, and a simple sweet vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar dressing. A few crumbles of feta cheese or hard boiled egg will add some nice protein!
Baking with Prunes
Muffins, quick breads, and cookies recipes that usually contain raisins, Craisins, or chocolate chips can easily be transformed into high antioxidant muffins or cookies with little sacrifice to taste and texture. Just substitute the same amount of chopped prunes for the raisins or Craisins in your recipe.
A subtle way to add prune to any quick bread recipe is soak the prunes in a cup of water overnight, then chop up or blend the prunes into a paste with a food processor. This paste can take the place of banana, applesauce, pumpkin, or zucchini in your favorite quick bread or muffin recipe. This paste can also make great baby food, by adding a bit of applesauce to dilute the strong flavor.
Blueberries Without the Blues
Blueberries also have a high antioxidant value, with an ORAC level of 2,400. Summertime is the best time to buy or pick fresh blueberries, but for all the other seasons, dry or frozen blueberries work well too.
Though blueberries are delicious by themselves, a thick and syrupy blueberry sauce can be a fun way to add berry sunshine to a blue day. Stir together over medium-high heat and bring to a boil: 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries, 3-4 tablespoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 c. orange juice. Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with another 1/2 c. orange juice, then stir into your blueberry mixture until it thickens. Add 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract if desired. Drizzle this sauce over pancakes, waffles, shortbread, pound cake, ice cream, cheesecake, yogurt, or granola.
Cranberries also top the list of highly antioxidant fruits, but they are a tricky fruit to cook with because they are so sour. Craisins are an easy remedy --a spoonful of sugar will help anything go down! This recipe is a favorite of my family's, and with a few small variations it can become cherry almond, cinnamon, or blueberry granola.
Orange Cranberry Granola
8 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 to 2 cups coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tb. orange zest (grated orange peel)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups dried, sweetened cranberries
Mix together dry ingredients and orange zest. In saucepan combine all liquid ingredients except vanilla extract. Stir while bringing to a boil, then remove from heat once a thick foam forms as it boils). Remove from heat, stir, then slowly add extract and stir again. Drizzle this liquid over dry mixture and stir thoroughly. Bake in a greased, flat pan (13 x 20 x 4) or on two greased cookie sheets at 275° for 30 minutes. Stir, then bake for another 15 minutes. Stir again and bake for 5 to 15 minutes more, until surface of granola turns golden brown. Take out of oven and let cool. The less the granola is stirred as it cools, the more the chunks and clumps will hold together. Add dried cranberries after granola has cooled, and mix evenly.
Raisins as an Antioxidant
Raisins and dark grapes are also high in antioxidants, which is a good thing for you because your cookbook probably contains a wealth of recipes with raisins as an ingredient. Here are a few ideas to have at your fingertips:
Trail Mix is also sometimes known as G.O.R.P (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts), because of the overwhelming amount of raisins and peanuts you can sneak into it without compromising the taste! A typical trail mix contains 1 part raisins to 1 part M&Ms to 2 parts mixed nuts and/or cereal. Play around with the ratio to get the best amount of your favorite ingredients into every handful!
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies can be found in almost any cookbook and they're nearly impossible to mess up because the raisins and oatmeal are so forgiving. A tip to make your raisins chewy and soft before baking is to soak them overnight or for several hours in the egg or milk that your recipe may require. Also consider adding extra cinnamon or apple pie spice, vanilla extract, or chopped walnuts for a richer flavor.
Freeze 2 to 4 cups of any of the antioxidant fruits listed above (and/or acai berries, pomegranates, cherries, dark grapes, mangos, plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries).
Blend frozen fruit with 1/2 cup yogurt, frozen yogurt, icecream, or 1/4 cup cream or milk.
Add honey if needed and lime juice, lemon juice, or orange juice to taste.
Play around with different combinations of high-antioxidant fruits, creams, and sweeteners for the best smoothie!