The Green Power of Grape Leaves

by Niki Kefala

Every Spring and Summer the food that I love eating is wrapped grape leaves with rice (dolmadakia as we say in Greece). This food is not only very tasty but also healthy. Grape leaves are full with calcium and magnesium, along with a number of other minerals like niacin, iron, fiber, riboflavin, folate, selenium, calcium, copper and manganese, and all of them helping your bones and nerve function. In addition, grape leaves have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Not bad for just a leaf.

For those watching their weight, grape leaves are very low in calories (about 14 calories for every five leaves) and they contain no fat or sugar. They are also good source of vitamins C, E, A, K and B6 and if you’re planning to increase your omega-3 intake, add grape leaves to your diet. This vegetables they are rich in fiber that helps reduce constipation.

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If you like to taste them and not only read about their benefits, this is the recipe.

Recipe for dolmadakia

For the filling, put a cup of oil, add an onion and stir until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rice. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Put the rice mixture into a bowl and add parsley, salt and pepper. For the grape leaves, bring a big pot of water to a simmer. Blanch the grape leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes until pliable. Drain, then trim the stems and any hard veins from the leaves.

To assemble the dolmades, put one or two tablespoons of the rice filling and fold both sides toward the middle. Then put them on a saucepan, cover it and simmer over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dolmades are tender when pierced with a fork. Bon appétit!

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