Grapes are a smart choice, three recipes to eat your way to better health

(Family Features) - The importance of health and wellness is top of mind for many people. There are many contributing factors to wellness such as diet, physical activity, social engagement and genetics. All are important, but a first step to wellness is choosing healthy foods to fuel the body every day, ideally foods that support health in multiple ways.

Consider grapes from California: they are convenient, healthy, hydrating and provide energy to help support healthy and active lifestyles. Eating grapes is also linked to beneficial impacts on the health of specific body parts and systems, including the heart, brain, skin and colon.

Most of grapes’ health benefits are attributed to the presence of natural plant compounds known as polyphenols, which help promote antioxidant activity and influence biological processes that support overall health. Grapes of all colors – red, green and black – are natural sources of polyphenols.

Fresh California grapes are refreshing by the handful, but they also lend a tasty burst of flavor to a wide range of recipes you can enjoy any time of day. This Heart Smart Smoothie is a deliciously healthy way to start the day; pairing grapes with nuts and seeds in No-Bake Energy Bites delivers a hearty snack to enjoy midday, after school or following a workout; and Quinoa, Cauliflower and Grape Salad is perfect at any mealtime for a powerful combo of both taste and health.

Grapes and a Healthy Brain

Research suggests regularly eating grapes as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle may contribute to improved health outcomes, including brain health.

In a study of people with early memory decline published in “Experimental Gerontology,” subjects were either fed whole grape powder equivalent to just 2 1/4 cups of grapes per day or a placebo powder. The results showed consuming grapes preserved healthy metabolic activity in regions of the brain associated with early Alzheimer’s disease, where metabolic decline takes hold.

Subjects who didn’t consume grapes exhibited significant metabolic decline in these critical regions. Additionally, those consuming the grape-enriched diet showed beneficial changes in regional brain metabolism that correlated to improvements in attention and working memory performance.

Find more nutritious recipes at .

No-Bake Energy Bites

Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 energy bites

  • 1/3       cup raw almonds
  • 1/3       cup walnuts
  • 1/2       cup pitted dates
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons fresh orange juice or lemon juice
  • 1          pinch sea salt
  • 8          seedless California grapes
  • 1/3       cup chia or hemp seeds
  1. In bowl of food processor, pulse almonds and walnuts 5-6 times to coarsely chop. Add dates and process until mixture is finely chopped. Add juice and process until just combined; transfer mixture to small plate.
  2. Dry grapes. Pack 1 tablespoon date mixture around each grape, completely covering to seal. Repeat with remaining grapes and date mixture.
  3. Roll balls in seeds to coat. Store in covered container in refrigerator up to three days.

Nutritional information per energy bite: 120 calories; 3 g protein; 12 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat (53% calories from fat); 0.5 g saturated fat (4% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 20 mg sodium; 3 g fiber.

Heart Smart Grape and Peanut Butter Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

  • 1          cup red California grapes, chilled
  • 2/3       cup unsweetened almond milk, chilled
  • 1/2       cup ice cubes
  • 1/2       small banana
  • 1          tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1          tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 2          teaspoons cacao powder
  1. In blender on high speed, blend grapes, almond milk, ice, banana, peanut butter, flax seed and cacao powder until smooth.

Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories; 8 g protein; 53 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat (36% calories from fat); 2.5 g saturated fat (6% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 220 mg sodium; 7 g fiber.

Quinoa, Cauliflower and Grape Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 1          cup white quinoa
  • 1          small head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
  • 1 1/4    cups red California grapes, halved
  • 3          scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2          ripe avocados, diced 1/3 inch


  • 2          tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1          tablespoon lime juice
  • 1          tablespoon honey
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2       teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2       teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4       cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and drain on two layers of paper towels. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add cauliflower, grapes, scallions and avocado pieces.
  2. To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk vinegar, lime juice, honey, cumin, oregano and salt until blended. Gradually whisk in oil. Drizzle dressing over quinoa mixture and toss gently. Season with pepper, to taste.

Nutritional information per serving: 260 calories; 5 g protein; 27 g carbo hydrates; 16 g fat (55% calories from fat); 2 g saturated fat (7% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 6 g fiber.

Photo of the Day - November 5, 2021

SJO basketball program finishes 3rd at state!

Stepping past Hillsboro's Sheridan Lyerla, St. Joseph-Ogden's Ella Armstrong attacks the paint during their Class 2A third-place game on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The Spartans, who won 68-53, led by as much as 26 points on their way to the program's best finish in school history. Armstrong, now a senior, and the Spartans will look for a post-Covid return to Redbird Arena this coming February for another IHSA Final Four appearance. (Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks)

Photo Gallery: Unity offense produces big win in football playoff opener

Chance Ingleman tosses teammate Braxton Manuel up in the air during team introductions prior to the start of Unity's first round playoff game against Newton at Hicks Field. Undefeated in the regular season, the Rockets continued their win streak with a 46-6 win over the visiting Eagles.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Matt Brown puts his shoulder into Newton player
Running with the force of a Mac Truck, Unity's Matt Brown collides with Newton's Gus Bierman during first quarter action of their first-round playoff game. Brown was responsible for 175 of the Rockets' 421 total yards against the Eagles.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Matt Brown scores first of five TDs

Stopped late by Newton linebacker and team captain Meyer Tarr, Unity's Matt Brown scores the first of five touchdown against the Eagles on a short 4-yard run. Brown finished the game with 175 yards on 21 carries.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Newton's Issac Flowers hit

Newton's Issac Flower is stopped in his tracks after a short gain by Unity defensive back Will Cowan and linebacker Boden Franklin during first half action. The Rockets' stingy defense helped the program move to 10-0 on the season.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Dance team waiting to perform

Four members of the Rockettes huddle together under a blanket while waiting to perform during halftime at last Saturday's home football game against Newton.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Austin Langendorf leaps

Junior linebacker Austin Langendorf leaps to block a punt in second quarter. Langedorf and the Unity defense held the Newton offense under 100 rushing yards.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Matt Brown scores again

Matt Brown, the unstoppable 6-foot-1 running back from Unity, drags three Newton players into the end zone for another Rocket touchdown.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Dance Team halftime show
With Halloween 24 hours a way and in the spirit of the day, members of the Rockettes, Unity's competitive dance team, perform a routine to Michael Jackson's Thriller during halftime.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity Marching Band
Alto sax players from the award-winning Unity Marching Band perform during the halftime show.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

flag girl
A Unity flag girl twirls her flag during the halftime show.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity fans

Unity fans clap for the girls' cross country team who brought home a championship title from the Decatur St. Teresa Class 1A sectional meet on Saturday. This Saturday the Rockets will attempt to bring home the state title at Detweiller Park in Peoria before their football team's 2pm home game against Paxton-Buckley-Loda.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Wide receiver Damian Knoll in action

Rockets' wide receiver Damian Knoll stiff-arms Newton's Gus Bierman as he is wrapped up by Austin Moore on a pass play in the second half.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Matt Brown runs over Newton player

Unity's Matt Brown runs over Newton's Austin Moore before being brought down from behind by Eagles' Mason Mulvey and Gus Bierman.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Camden Mette breaks up a pass play

With Will Cowan looking on behind them, Rockets' Camden Mette breaks up a pass play to the Eagles' Trevor Haarman early in the fourth quarter.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Garrett Richardson scoots by Newton linebacker Kohlten Barthelme

Unity running back Garrett Richardson scoots by Newton linebacker Kohlten Barthelme during the fourth quarter. With a running clock and the Rockets up 46-6 on the scoreboard, the two freshmen squared off in their first postseason football game.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Lineman Kalen Shoot (68) provides a big hole for running back Garrett Richardson during the fourth quarter. The two freshmen players saw their several minutes in the first playoff game of their prep football career.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Unity head coach Scott Hamilton delivers his postgame speech to his players. Saturday, Hamilton and the Rockets will host Illini Prairie newcomer Paxton-Buckley-Loda (7-3) at 2 p.m. next Saturday for a round-two. Earlier in the season Hamilton's team defeated the Panthers 35-0 at Hicks Field.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Publisher's Note: Check later for more photos from this game. Looking for photos of a specific player? Email us at with the athlete's name and jersey number for details.

Area runners qualify for IHSA state cross country championship on Saturday

Sixty-eight individual runners qualified for the Illinois High School Association's state meet in Peoria this Saturday.

Urbana High School's Celia Barbieri and University High School's Henry Laufenberg qualified as individual competitors. Laufenberg finished in 15th place with a time of 16:55.85 at the St. Teresa sectional last Saturday. Barbieri, a senior, made the cut running the Class 2A race on the same course in 20 minutes, 12.07 seconds.

The remaining 66 runners made of athletes from both St. Joseph-Ogden, Unity, and Urbana will represent their school programs at Detweiller Park.

Malia Fairbanks carries the team's IHSA sectional award

Unity cross country runner Malia Fairbanks carries the team 2021 cross country sectional plaque after the team was honored during halftime at Saturday's Unity home playoff game against Newton. "We're super excited about going to state," Fairbanks said. "It's crazy how fast the season has gone by." The Rockets' along with girls teams from St. Joseph-Ogden and Uni-High will race for a possible state title at 9am on Saturday at Detweiller Park in Peoria.

PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

St. Joseph-Ogden finished in second place on the mud-soaked course at Hickory Point golf club with 87 points in the 1A race. University High came in 10th place and Unity rounded out The Sentinel area schools in 11th place with 316 points.

It was nearly a clean sweep of the top three places with the three programs The Sentinel covers. The Unity girls team won the sectional title with four runners finishing under the 19 minutes and 47 seconds. The Rockets secured the title with a 13-point advantage over St. Joseph-Ogden, who finished in second place with 75 points. University High finished fourth in the final standings just one point behind Monticello 108.

In Class 2A action, the Urbana boys' team celebrated a fourth-place finish ahead of 14 other programs. Leading the Tigers' contingent over the finish line was senior Sam Lambert who was ninth overall at 16:35.75 and Park Mitchell 15 seconds later at 16:50.51 in 16th place.

Saturday's championship race schedule starts at 9am with Class A girls running first followed by the boys' race at 10a. The Class 2A race featuring Barbieri starts at 11am and the Urbana boys squad will race for the title at noon. The awards ceremonies will occur one hour after the start of the last race for that class.

Below is a list of our area qualifiers.

Boys 1A Qualifiers

Aiden Armstrong (SJO)
EJ Beckett (SJO)
Ethan Blackburn (SJO)
Braden Clampitt (SJO)
Jack Fisher (SJO)
Joe Griebat (SJO)
Mason Guido (SJO)
Holden Jones (SJO)
Charlie Mabry (SJO)
Carson Maroon (SJO)
Isiah Mock (SJO)
Elijah Mock (SJO)
Luke Stegall (SJO)
Payton Wendell (SJO)
Henry Laufenberg (Uni-High)

Girls 1A Qualifiers

Chloe Allen (SJO)
Addie Allen (SJO)
Kaytlyn Baker (SJO)
Chloe Burkhalter (SJO)
Madison Clampitt (SJO)
Savanna Franzen (SJO)
Kailyn Ingram (SJO)
Ava Knap (SJO)
Malorie Sarnecki (SJO)
Taryn Sexton (SJO)
Josie Cler (Unity)
Krystal Crossin (Unity)
Emily Decker (Unity)
Malia Fairbanks (Unity)
Harper Hancock (Unity)
Annabelle Jokisch (Unity)
Caelyn Kleparski (Unity)
Arianna Pruitt-LeFaivre (Unity)
Camryn Reedy (Unity)
Audrey Remole (Unity)
Olivia Shike (Unity)
Sophia Stierwalt (Unity)
Reagen Stringer (Unity)
Erica Woodard (Unity)
Kate Ahmari (Uni-High )
Marina Bowers-Wong (Uni-High)
Stefania Dzhaman (Uni-High)
Edie Hoganson (Uni-High)
Cadi Hu (Uni-High)
Madeleine Keenan (Uni-High)
Bridget Lu (Uni-High)
Kara Mathias (Uni-High)
Erin Smith (Uni-High)
Jeana To (Uni-High)
Grace To (Uni-High)
Maxine Van der donk (Uni-High)
Bonnie Weaver (Uni-High)
Clara Wood (Uni-High)

Boys 1A Qualifiers

Michael Allison (Urbana)
Brian Allison (Urbana)
Julio Angrave (Urbana)
Christian Berry (Urbana)
Hudson Coady (Urbana)
Feras Hamayel (Urbana)
Dereje Jahiel (Urbana)
Sam Lambert (Urbana)
Emmanuel Lokango (Urbana)
Asaph Lokango (Urbana)
Patrick Lyon (Urbana)
Park Mitchell (Urbana)
Jonathan Sanchez-Huanca (Urbana)
Parker Schroeder (Urbana)

Girls 2A Qualifiers

Celia Barbieri (Urbana)

Volleyball team's road to state blocked, Unity falls 2-1 in nailbiter against Monticello

Heading into Thursday's regional title match against Monticello, the #1 seeded Unity volleyball team enjoyed a six-match win streak and hadn't lost a match in 19 days. The clear favorite, with a 33-3 record to back it up, the Rockets suffered an unexpected, bittersweet ending in an otherwise promising postseason run in a 2-1 loss to the Sages.

Senior Maddie Reed makes a pass in the last match of her prep career during the Unity's regional title match against Monticello last Thursday. The Rockets, who beat the Sages earlier in the season 2-0, lost to the Sages on their home court at the Rocket Center, 2-1.
(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
It was clear from the get-go that fans from both teams were in for a gritty dog fight between the two Illini Prairie rivals.

"This is one of their rivals outside of St. Joe, I suppose. They were ready for that," said Unity first-year head coach Erika Yerry about her squad, which featured seven battle-tested seniors. Given the proximity of the two schools and their blooming rivalry, she anticipated a deafening and highly-charged match environment. "They were expecting that. We knew there would be a lot of fans and a lot of screaming."

What the Rockets were not prepared for were Monticello's tenacity and grit.

Yerry said, "We were ready for the battle. I don't think we ready for them to push us as much as they did."

Unity trailed on the scoreboard for the first 25 points in the opening set. Down by three at 14-11, Yerry called a timeout. Soon after, the Rockets pieced together a four-point run to tie things up at 17-all. A return error on the next serve gave the Rockets their first lead in the set.

There would be two more lead changes before the Sages prevailed, 25-23.

Yerry was not overly concerned after losing the first set by two points.

"I wasn't worried. I was more upset about some of the mistakes that we made," she said. "We just had way too many unforced errors in the first set and Monticello only beat us by two. We cleaned that up in the second set and then the third set was just a dogfight."

Behind Emma Bleecher's down-the-line kills and cross-courters from Katey Moore Unity took the second set easily, 25-11. Unfortunately, the shift in energy and momentum for the Rockets did not last.

(Left to right) Unity's Reagan Little, Ruby Tarr, Julia Ping, Jayci McGraw, an unidentified player and Katey Moore cheer for teamates after winning a point in the second set of their Class 2A regional title match. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Before two teams entered the deciding third set, Monticello head coach Kim Allison delivered a message to her team that they took to heart.

"I told them: 'Go out there and put everything out on the court. Be competitive all the way through and truly believe you can beat Unity.'"

Allison told the Sages to focus on how they played in the opening set and to take the energy back out on the floor.

"It was nice to be able to say it 'it's a whole new match,'" she told her players. "Think about how you came out that first set. That's the way we're coming out this set."

Yerry had a different message for her squad between the second and third set of the evening.

"I thought we would be more in-system, be more in rhythm going into set three," she said. "But, you can never underestimate Monticello. I told them to be ready and that they would come out firing."

Unity senior Taylor Henry serves the ball during third set action against the Sages. (Photo: PhotoNews Media)
Monticello won the first three points in the final set, but the Rockets held their ground working their way back to their only lead of the game at 4-3. The Sages then scored six unanswered points to go up 9-4 for their largest lead of the do-or-die set.

With a renewed sense of urgency, Rockets' Macie Knudsen and Taylor Henry intensified their play. The burst of energy helped the Rockets outscore Monticello 7-1 and trail by one at 12-11. Bleecher & Co. would get within one to tie three more times but the Sages repelled their efforts each time to win the final set, 25-20.

"We played a tough Monticello team. I don't think we were ready for their defense on every single ball," Yerry said after her first season at Unity came to an unexpected close. "As the rallies go longer and longer, you get more and more tired, and you start to make mistakes. I think that threw us for a loop a little bit."

While their prep career had come to an end, she said three of her seniors plan to play at the collegiate level and were ready to "move on to the next step." Without their dedication, work ethic, and leadership the Rockets would not have concluded their season with an impressive 33-4 finish.

"Overall, our season was amazing," Yerry said.

Photo of the Day - November 2, 2021

Orion Ciota carries the ball on a 12-yard touchdown run for St. Joseph-Ogden during their 2013 home football game against PORTA. Behind Ciota's 166 rushing yards and two TDs, the Spartans rolled over the Bluejays in their first-round Class 3A playoff game 43-25 on November 2, 2013. SJO went to win their next two contests to face Stillman Valley in the Class 3A championship game. (Photo: PhotoNews Media Archive)

Guest Commentary: It’s pathetic Congress and President have trouble agreeing

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

America needs attention to our infrastructure. It’s pathetic that our Congress and President are having so much trouble putting something together they can agree on.

We managed to spend the equivalent of a trillion dollars in today’s currency on the Vietnam war. What did we get for a trillion dollars? Over fifty-eight thousand dead American soldiers. Plus, over 1500 missing in action and thousands of wounded. Many who have never recovered.

We lost 4497 American soldiers in Iraq. We spent two trillion dollars in Iraq. We had over 32,000 other casualties. What does America have to show for the war in Iraq?

We spent 20 years in Afghanistan. Over 2400 American soldiers were killed and over 20,000 were wounded. We spent at least 2.3 trillion dollars. What does America have to show for our war in that country?

Did these wars make us safer? Did they make our country greater and stronger? Is America better and freer because of these wars? America suffered great loss from these wars. Thousands of American families are still grieving.

The stimulus proposal, approximately $1.75 trillion is about investing in America. We are long overdue for a major investment in America. We don’t all agree on the infrastructure bill’s spending list. However, can’t these “great” politicians come up with an “essential” needs list that is starkly visible to any naked eye?”

Maybe we could get busy in our nation and stay out of other countries’ business for a while.

Maybe we could take a break from fighting among ourselves.

A working nation will be a much happier nation. We hear all this bull talk about we’ll never get out of debt from this infrastructure bill and we won’t. However, we’ve spent too much time trying to solve the world’s issues while ignoring our own problems. We need to work on our homeland. The roof is leaking, the walls are crumbling, the electrical work needs to be repaired. The water we are drinking is dirty. The driveway is crumbling and potholes abound. The plant down in town relocated and the local coal mine closed. Things are tough.

The house needs a lot of repair but it’s hard to repair a house and buy expensive groceries on the meager wages that are available to most Americans. Families can’t live on $15 an hour, or go to the doctor. Over forty million Americans still live in poverty. Millions more live right above the poverty line and struggle.

According to Pew Research, "A household with an income between two-thirds of and double the median household income is considered middle class. The national median income in 2021 is $79,900, which would mean an individual would fall squarely in the middle class with an income between $53,266 and $159,800." Is this you? The average household income for 2021 has been $79,900 according to

A financially strapped American living in an aging house that is desperate for repairs is symbolic of much of America.

Yes, we have seen a stock market boom. Americans selling houses are doing well financially. Yes, a lot of people in America are in the medium income level which is not bad.

However, too many Americans are still financially insecure. They don’t make enough money. They can’t afford adequate housing. They still put off going to the doctor because of costs. They aren’t saving any money.

More senior Americans are working than ever before because they can no longer live on their meager pensions and Social Security is being eaten away by rapid inflation.

We need an investment at home, our home, America. Congress, please make a reasonable list. Our needs are so visible. We need clean water, Internet, available affordable healthcare including prescriptions, affordable clean energy, chips for our cars and phones, roads and bridges and real paying jobs for Americans who are willing to work. Why is this so hard? In comparison to over 5 trillion dollars and thousands of American lives spent around this world, spending a few dollars at home should be a cakewalk for this Congress and President.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to


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