Fun Food Fact Friday: Capers!

Photo by Tim Lewis

Recently overheard by Bitchin’ Dietitian’s dad: “This dish would be even better topped with capers!”

Hm, so what ARE capers, where do they come from, and do they have any nutritional value? The salty sour flavor of capers makes them a stellar addition to soups, salads, and main dishes. They’re the unripened flower buds of a prickly perennial plant native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. After the buds are harvested (picked by hand, which is why they cost a pretty penny!), they’re sun-dried and pickled in vinegar, wine, brine, or salt. The curing brings out their lemony flavor.

A serving is generally about a tablespoon and 2 calories. Too little to pack a nutrition punch?! No way! One tablespoon of capers is loaded with enough vitamin E and other antioxidants to give them a place on the health wagon. Plus, even in small doses, they’ve been shown to prevent lipid oxidation. If all you’re hearing is ‘blah blah blah’… how does lowering heart disease risk sound? Jackpot! The only downside is their sodium content… generally about 250 milligrams per tablespoon. But, just keep your focus on lots of unprocessed nature foods and those capers will fit in perfectly.

Try this Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Capers dish for something different. And if you want that caper flavor without the bank-breaking side-effect, here’s a recipe for Poor Man’s Capers.

How do YOU caper?

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