Colorful Cooking column: Healthy raisin olive spread
VAIL CO, Colorado
A healthy snack or meal on the go is one that you need to pre plan for and this Mediterranean-inspired spread makes a hearty sandwich on the go and a stuffing for your chicken, pork or halibut dinner. Most of us have heard of the Mediterranean diet and how good for you it is. The premise for the diet is little meat and lots of vegetables, so we here at Colorful Cooking love and live it.
Olives and olive oil are a big part of the Mediterranean diet and proven to be good for you. Olive oil is considered a super food and olives have been shown to help prevent cancer and inflammation. Hydroxytyrosol is an olive phytonutrient that is being studied for its benefits on preventing bone loss.
Figs and raisins mixed in with the olives make up the base of this spread and they are all fruits. Studies show that adults eat less fruit than recommended. Two and a half cups each of fruits and vegetables are what we are supposed to consume on a daily basis. Both figs and raisins are available dried year round. They both have high amounts of potassium and my vision here was to make a snack that would keep me going on the slopes (or hiking trail).
Potassium helps to prevent muscle cramps, helps cell growth and controls blood pressure, and figs are high in potassium so it was an easy ingredient to use to meet my mission. However, I didn’t want a dried out feel in this spread. The method I used with the dried raisins (and you could do this with figs too) was to place them in hot water for 20 minutes to plump them up. It worked and made my dip creamy versus dried.
For a mountain top picnic, mix this spread and stuff it in a pita, the pita remains pretty firm for about three hours.
When pulsing the spread in the food processor, you can choose to make it chunky or keep pulsing until it is nice a smooth – it tastes great both ways. This recipe makes about 2 cups so it can be used for a few meals. It lasts three days in the refrigerator; I suggest not mixing in the feta until you are ready to eat it.
Olive raisin spread
Makes: 2 cups
1/2 cup each raisins and golden raisins
12 Kalamata olives
10 dried Mission figs, stems removed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Italian parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 ounces feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
Place raisins in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain well.
In a food processor, mix all ingredients except cheese. Add cheese when ready to serve.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and veggies to all her meals. She teaches cooking classes and shares recipes on TV8’s Good Morning Vail. To contact her, email Tracy@colorfulcooking.com or visit Colorfulcooking.com.