To find grape leaves, look near the salads in your local grocery store. It may also be canned and in the bean aisle. Grape leaves are one of the staples of heart-healthy Mediterranean dishes, rich in vitamins and minerals.
Grape leaves are always found in cans or bottles, while raw or fresh grape leaves are better eaten after boiled or bleached.
A famous Greek dish called dolmas uses grape leaves as a wrapper for rice, onions, and meat. While they may not be the first thing in your mind when thinking of ways to brighten up your diet, they should be. Let’s look a little further into why grape leaves are just so darn good for you.
A Few Benefits of Grape Leaves
Grape leaves can reduce anemia due to their high amount of iron. Iron is essential for our bodies to have enough red blood cells. If we are low in red blood cells, our bodies cannot have enough oxygen, which is the primary job of red blood cells.
Aids in Digestion
Grape leaves also help in digesting foods. To have proper digestion, we need to consume fiber every day. Grape leaves contain a fair amount of this critical ingredient, which will help move your stool along faster. It will also help your gut better absorb nutrients.
If you are a sufferer of inflammation, you’d know it’s challenging to find foods that do not make it worse. Grape leaves contain omega-3, which can slow down mast cells’ activity, which is the primary culprit for inflammation.
Great Substitute for Grape Leaves
Canned Grape Leaves
One of the best options for grape leaf substitutes is canned grape leaves. They should have the same taste but may not be relatively fresh as freshly cut grape leaves. They still offer many similar benefits and identical flavors, so open the can and enjoy!
For a different approach, try oak leaves. Although they have similar properties and usually match well with foods commonly paired with grape leaves, they are milder in taste. Plus, they have exceptional taste!
Bay leaves are also a perfect option as a substitute for grape leaves. They are a touch smaller in size but work great. They also have very distinct flavors, which isn’t a bad thing as it will make for a significant change of pace.
How To Use Grape Leaves
Grape leaves are phenomenal when stuffed with food such as beans, beef, pork, and fish. The leaves add the perfect amount of texture to anything stuffed inside. It also provides extra nutrition to most meals.
Baked Grape Leaves
Take a few grape leaves, then bake until tender for a meal rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Baking them makes for the perfect texture, great to be used as a bottom for snacks such as rice cakes.
For a vegetarian option, substitute grape leaves for tofu. This may come as a surprise, but tofu has a similar taste to grape leaves. Plus, tofu does not carry any unhealthy ingredients, as long as it’s genuine tofu.
Grape leaves after pruning is often overlooked and seen as discarded food. However, in terms of health benefits, these small leaves are a great secondary ingredient, and if done correctly, great for the main ingredient in a meal. Get a taste of it yourself and check out the recipes available online; you won't be disappointed!