Most of my friends and aquaintances know me as the girl that knows a bit about agriculture and growing vegetables. Few of them remember or know that I started out in college as an English major, or that I actually did continue to take English classes all the way through, receiving a minor instead. All my favorite classes as an undergrad were in the English department, not the college of agriculture. I particularly enjoyed the upper division writing and research-intensive classes as I enjoyed reading others’ research even more than I enjoyed actually reading the classic literature itself.
What I’ve been particularly excited about since deciding to go back to school is the opportunity to dive back into the academic literature—this time in a way that is a little more applicable and interesting to me now than the cohesion of magic and religious practices in medieval literature. Like grape juice. Is grape juice beneficial? Will the grape juice in my freezer enhance my athletic pursuits? Can it do other things?
I’ve had a gallon of really tasty homemade/homegrown grape juice hanging out in the freezer for over a year now. My best friend’s parents gifted it to us for Christmas in 2014. Having already used half of it last year, I knew it was good. But I rarely ever crave a glass of juice, let alone a gallon of it. And William, though he’s quite keen on green juice, proclaimed grape juice is for summer, and turned up his nose when I asked if he’d drink it.
After defrosting the juice, I noticed the thick must from the home-pressing settling at the bottom. It looked, smelled, and tasted like there was a lot of nutrition there, in a good way. Since tart cherry, pomegranate, and beet juice have all been in the research and news these last few years for their benefits to athletes, I started wondering what the verdict has been on grape juice? I did a quick initial search and scan through peer-reviewed journals, and though there’s not an overwhelming amount of research on grape juice and exercise, there is enough to suggest grape juice might increase running time-to-exhaustion (1), improve recovery (2) and immune function (3). What I’m really excited about is to learn how to pick apart the good research from the bad since a study can be found to support just about every viewpoint on any given topic.
For now, I’m comfortable with the idea that eating this coconut-grape chia pudding might have helped me avoid coming down with a full-blown cold last week when I was experiencing a little sore throat and depleted energy. Or it might have been that I recognized the signs and took it easy for a few days. In any case, I’ve been wanting to turn that grape juice into chia pudding for a while now, and as it turns out, grape juice thickened up with chia seeds and some coconut makes an excellent dessert, or breakfast, if you’re of the mind.
Coconut-Grape Chia Seed Pudding, makes 4 cups
The Recipe Redux challenged us to an easy, seven-ingredient-or-less recipe this month since it’s Income Tax Season. What I like about this recipe is that it makes a big batch, can last for several days or feed a crowd, and can be interchanged with another type of juice for a flavor mix-up. I prefer to serve it with tangy yogurt and crunchy granola, to create more of a parfait, but the chia pudding is also quite nice on its own.
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup chia seeds
4 cups 100% grape juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
granola of choice, optional
plain unsweetened coconut yogurt, optional
peanut butter, optional
- In a medium bowl, whisk the chia seeds, coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and grape juice together. Let sit out for a few minutes and then whisk again to make sure the chia seeds are evenly distributed. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the fridge, spoon into dishes, and serve as is or with the optional mix-ins.
- Toscano, L.T., Tavares, R.L., Toscano, T.T., Oliveira da Silva, C.S., Monteiro de Almeida, A.E., Biasoto, A.C.T.,…and Silva, A.S. (2015). Potential ergogenic activity of grape juice in runners. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 40(9): 899-906.
- Dalla Corte, C.L, De Carvalho, N.R., Amaral, G.P., Puntel, G.O., Silva, L.F.A., Retamoso, L.T.,…and Soares, F.A.A. (2013). Antioxidant effect of organic purple grape juice on exhaustive exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 38(5): 558-565.
- UPI NewsTrack. (2008). Quercetin, found in produce, fights flu. Business Insights: Global. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.