Quick Bite: Try currants for an antioxidant boost

Allie Hardy, registered dietitian

Chilly and bleak winter days are a perfect time to make good on your New Year’s resolution to eat more healthfully. A perfect way to work toward that goal is to add vibrant, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies to your plate.

Need a new food to add excitement to your diet? Try currants — a cousin of the gooseberry — which come in a variety of colors including red, black and white. The fresh or frozen red currant is most commonly used in culinary preparations and is a popular ingredient in sauces, jellies, jams and purees.

A serving of fresh red currants has just 30 calories and 40 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. Try adding currants to a parfait or swapping them into recipes that call for dates or raisins. Photo courtesy stock.xchng.

Dried currants are more common in the United States and can be substituted into many recipes that call for another type of dried fruit, such as a scone or muffin. With a spicy-tart flavor profile and a texture similar to a raisin, these versatile and often overlooked berries are good in sweet and savory dishes alike. You can find them already added to products at the grocery store, such as Kashi’s “U” Cereal and Casbah brand couscous, or dried and ready to be eaten by Sunmaid or Bob’s Red Mill.

They are rich in antioxidants, which help the body to fight disease. Fresh currants are naturally fat- and cholesterol-free and an excellent source of Vitamin C, providing 40 percent of the daily value. A serving of fresh red currants is only 30 calories while ¼ cup of dried currants clocks in at a mere 100 calories and provides 2 grams of fiber and 7 percent of the daily value for iron.

Did You Know?
Grape jelly is the United State’s equivalent of currant jelly in England.

Ways to enjoy red currants, visit Top 10 ways to enjoy red currants

From Fruits and Veggies Matter More

Homemade currant dressing. Purée a handful of currants with olive oil, cilantro or mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Top over spinach leaves, dried cranberries, toasted almonds and blue cheese crumbles.

Perfect parfait. Layer low-fat granola, low-fat vanilla yogurt, currants and other favorite fruits for a quick breakfast or dessert. Try them in our Tropical Fruit Parfait.

Swap your dates. Have a favorite recipe that calls for dates or raisins? Substitute with red currants instead.

Currant sauce. Create an elegant dish by braising pork and topping with a specialty currant sauce: Purée 1 cup red currants, 3 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard, and 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar; simmer on low heat until heated through.

Fruit salad. Red currants pair well with almonds, raspberries, black currants, and cherries. Wash and toss this fruit and nut mixture over low-fat vanilla yogurt or enjoy the fruit salad alone as a side dish, afternoon snack or late night dessert.

Fruity shake. Currants offer a tart flavor that goes perfectly in any smoothie or milkshake. Combine low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt or ice cream, and blend with frozen currants and other frozen fruits.

Currants and oats. Add frozen or fresh currants to hot rolled oats and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar for a sweet morning treat that’s full of fiber and antioxidants.

Currant salsa. Make a sweet salsa with diced currants, mangoes, pineapples, cilantro, garlic, red peppers and chilies, drizzled with olive oil and a splash of lime juice. Serve with warmed pita.

Frozen Treat. Great for a snack or as a replacement to ice cubes at your next gathering. Just wash and place in the freezer for a couple hours!

Wash & Enjoy. Red currants are great as is, just wash and enjoy this pop-able snack.

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