Being at home surrounded by treats makes satisfying your sugar cravings too easy. During this time, we should be ensuring we feed our body with the right things and one often overlooked natural product are raisins and the best bit? They’re sweet enough to stop you from digging into calorie fuelled, teeth-rotting naughties.
Getting into healthy habits has never been so important, as it is currently. It’s also a very challenging time to make positive food choices when we’re stuck in the house. Instead of delving into a bag of sweets or chocolates, grab a handful of South African raisins, which are full of natural sugar and packed with nutrients, such as fibre, iron, calcium and antioxidants.
Because most of the water is extracted from dried fruits their nutrients are concentrated, which gives us that boost of energy. 30g of raisins counts as 1 of your 5-a-day, compared to 80g of fresh fruit.
Raisins are a cost-effective way of eating healthily, due to their long shelf life. They’re also incredibly versatile and can be added to a variety of different recipes. We’ve chosen three feel-good, healthy options below.
Being naturally sundried in the Western and Northern Cape regions, with exceptionally high levels of sunshine and water from the Orange and Olifants rivers, creates the world’s highest quality raisins.
Varieties to look out for are:
Thompson – brown to dark brown in colour with a rich and sweet flavour
Golden – light yellow to golden in colour with a soft texture Flame – dark deep red/black in colour, sweet flavour and a soft, chewy texture.
Below are some recipes using South African Raisins which should help to satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way:
South African Raisin and Three-seed Granola
Bought granola can be surprisingly high in sugar and fat – so why not make your own healthier version? It’s so easy, and tastes SO good!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Enough granola for 15 servings
250g jumbo porridge oats
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g soft brown sugar
2tbsp groundnut oil
100g hazelnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
200g South African raisins
Fresh fruit, to serve
Natural yoghurt or milk
Clear honey, to drizzle
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC, fan oven 180°C, Gas Mark 6.
- Mix together the porridge oats, seeds, sugar, groundnut oil and nuts. Spread out onto a large baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the mixture twice during the cooking time. Cool completely.
- Stir the South African raisins into the mixture, then transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 1 month.
- To serve, spoon some granola into a bowl and top with fresh fruit. Serve with natural yoghurt and/or milk, and drizzle with a little clear honey.
Cook’s tip: The slow-burn carbs in this granola should keep you feeling satisfied throughout the morning, without the need for snacks.
Juicy South African Raisin, Avocado and Feta Salad
Fresh, healthy salad with young spinach leaves, finely sliced fennel, avocado and crumbled feta, with South African raisins, plumped up in a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.
Preparation 15 minutes, plus soaking
80g South African raisins
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp lemon juice
100g young spinach leaves
1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
1 small red pepper, deseeded and chopped
50g feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the South African raisins into a small bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice, stirring to coat. Cover and leave for at least 2 hours (if you have the time!)
- When ready to serve, share the spinach and fennel between two serving plates. Slice the avocado and arrange over the salads with the red pepper. Crumble the feta cheese on top.
- Spoon the plumped-up raisins over the salads. Serve, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper.
Cook’s tip: Make a larger quantity of the soaked raisins, so that they are at the ready for adding a subtle sweet piquancy to salads. Just keep them in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Succulent Chicken and South African Raisin Supper
South African raisins add a subtle sweetness to this easy chicken dish.
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 1 hour 20 minutes
1tbsp vegetable oil
4 chicken legs or 8 chicken thighs
1 large red onion, sliced
200ml South African dry white wine
200ml chicken stock
100g South African raisins
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2-3 thyme sprigs
2-3tsp chicken gravy granules
100ml double cream
30g ground almonds
Chopped fresh parsley and toasted almonds, to garnish
- Heat the vegetable oil in a flameproof casserole dish and add the chicken legs or thighs. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally until browned on both sides (this is important for a good flavour).
- Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, then pour in the white wine and stock. Add the South African raisins, chopped parsley and thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on the hob over a low heat for 1hour 15 minutes, or cook in the oven for the same time (preheated to 190°C, Fan Oven 170°C, Gas Mark 5).
- Just before serving, stir in the chicken gravy granules to thicken, then add the double cream and ground almonds – reheating gently for a few moments. Serve, garnished with chopped parsley and toasted almonds.
Cook’s tip: Serve with baked potatoes (cooked in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes) or with creamy mash.
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