Many people love the summer season for many reasons – longer, warmer days, no school, vacations, cookouts and…summer fruit, including some of the best-loved fruit: berries, yummy berries. Loaded with vitamin C, potassium and fiber and not loaded with calories, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries are all part of this nutritious family of fruit. They are eaten fresh, frozen and sometimes dried – preferably without added sugar – and like so many fruits and other plant foods, they have many health benefits including disease prevention and anti-aging properties due to their many antioxidants and phytochemicals. Ranging from 25-50 calories per half cup serving, berries make a great snack or dessert by themselves or make a healthy ingredient to so many foods.
Strawberries: eight-medium strawberries are one serving and contain more vitamin C than an orange. While a botanist will tell us that strawberries are not true berries, we do think of them as berries and we are able to enjoy them year round.
Raspberries: are found as red, gold (looking like anemic red raspberries) and black. Most common to us as fresh are the red raspberries, though all of them are healthy in their own way. Raspberries contain twice the fiber of blueberries and strawberries and taste great warm right off the plant.
Blackberries: start red but turn “black” when they ripen. If you have ever enjoyed fresh blackberries you know that the full, shiny “fat” ones are just the only way to eat them since they have the best flavor.
Blueberries: aren’t really blue… Anyone who has eaten blueberries knows they have purple skin and green flesh. Touted as the fruit highest in antioxidants, blueberries are often considered a superfood in the nutrition world. People enjoy blueberries fresh and in smoothies like other berries, but these are also very popular in baking (pancakes anyone?).
Cranberries: most people only think of cranberries during the winter holidays or when they are in the midst of a urinary tract infection (or when ordering a Cosmopolitan). Because the fruit is extremely tart most people prefer their cranberries with sweetener of some kind. This is why you often find cranberry juice cocktail and not pure cranberry juice and dried cranberries are also sweetened.
Don’t be shy about trying berries in new and different ways. While strawberry shortcake, blueberry muffins and smoothies are just fine and classic ways to enjoy berries, try new and different ways to use berries. Try this recipe from Eating Well: Filet Mignon with Blueberry Bourbon Sauce.
What is your favorite way to enjoy berries?
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