Berries

In the Pacific Northwest it’s clear that summer has arrived when fresh berries can be enjoyed straight off the plants.  Blackberries are so prolific in this part of the world that often all it takes is a visit to the local park, and you can snack your way through the bushes. Berries are of course also widely available in farmer’s markets and grocery stores this time of year.

 

Nutrition:

Any type of fruit is a nutritious food choice.  Among fruits, berries are a great option.  They are high in fiber, vitamin C and anti-oxidants (which may reduce risk of various chronic diseases).  A cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a serving of orange juice.  Blackberries and raspberries also provide significant amounts. At the same time, they are quite low calorie, so they are “nutrient-dense” meaning they provide a lot of nutrition for a relatively low number of calories.

 

Taste:

Most will agree that berries are delicious.   Whether eaten straight off the vine, on top of a bowl of yogurt, as a mid-afternoon snack, or in the occasional dessert shortcake, they’re hard to beat.    They can also be used as an addition to salads, or for making sauces/condiments for other savory dishes.

 

Convenience:

Berries are naturally ready to go in bite-sized pieces.  For a snack, all you need to do is rinse and go.
Take advantage of seasonally available berries by stocking up and freezing.  Place a single layer of berries on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for several hours or until hard to the touch.   At that point transfer the berries to a freezer bag.  You now have a supply of delicious summer fruit to pull out during winter months.

 

Healthy berry-based desserts

Berries go well with most cakes, cookies and ice creams.  For a healthier summer dessert, have about a quarter to half size portion of a traditional dessert item, with a full serving of berries alongside.   This is a great way to satisfy a desire for dessert while keeping it relatively nutritious.  With ice cream, try an upside down approach to what you may have done in the past:  instead of ice cream with berries on top, have a bowl of berries with about a quarter cup of ice cream on top.  When it’s time for strawberry shortcake, minimize the quantity of shortcake and whipped cream, and pile on extra berries.