Raisin the bar on taste sensations
Bet you didn't know that National Raisin Day was celebrated in the US on April 30 this year. Well, it's never too late to join the party and enjoy eating this great dried fruit.
Like other dried fruits, raisins are concentrated sources of energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Raisins also contain antioxidants such as resveratrol and anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
If your only experience of eating raisins is munching boxes of them as snacks, then it's time to diversify and try sampling them in both sweet and savoury dishes such as salads, stuffings for meats, stews, in rice, granola and puddings.
Boiled raisin loaf
Popular during the Great Depression, boiled raisin loaf contained very little in the way of 'luxury' ingredients like butter or eggs, and was made by first boiling raisins with some sugar and spices to make a syrup, which was then mixed with the other dried ingredients and baked.
Ingredients (Makes 10 slices)
175g light muscovado sugar
200ml hot water
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 Place the sugar, water, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and raisins in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan.
2 Line a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper and brush with a little oil.
3 Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.
4 Place the flour and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
5 Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, then stir in the raisin mixture.
6 Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is cooked - a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.
7 Allow to cool in the tin.
8 Wrap the raisin loaf in a layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil. Store for a couple of days before eating to let the loaf mature.
Nutritional information per slice: 256kcal, 4.0g protein, 5.9g fat, 50.8g carbohydrates, 1.1g fibre
Raisin, carrot and walnut salad
This makes a good accompaniment to grilled/poached chicken. It's best served cold straight from the fridge. Any leftovers can be stored in a Tupperware box, and taken to school for lunch the next day.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
3 large carrots, peeled and grated finely
25g walnuts, chopped
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Toast the walnuts in a saucepan over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Set aside.
2 Place the carrots, raisins, oil and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Toss to mix thoroughly.
3 Sprinkle over the toasted walnuts just before serving.
Nutritional information per portion: 291kcal, 3.5g protein, 14.7g fat, 38.3g carbohydrates, 4.8g fibre
Wynnie Chan is a British-trained nutritionist. If you've got a question for her or would like to be featured in this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org