The juicy flavor of sun-sweet berries is one of the true delights of summer. Fresh from pick-your-own fields, farm stands and supermarkets, berries are a good source of fiber. The seeds provide insoluble fiber and the flesh is loaded with pectin, a soluble fiber. One cup of berries packs about half the vitamin C you'll need all day, but has only about 50 to 60 calories. And the American Institute for Cancer Research reminds us that berries are also rich in phytochemicals, which help protect us from cancer.
Berries generally don't hold up well to shipping and spoil rapidly, so buy them from local growers whenever possible. When making your purchase, look for even-colored fruit and check the bottom of the carton. Juice stains indicate that the fruit is bruised or overripe. Refrigerate berries at home and don't rinse them until ready to use to avoid mildew.
Berries are delicious to eat all by themselves, but are also a sensational addition to recipes. For breakfast, toss some berries into pancake or muffin batter, or blend up a berry shake. In your blender, combine a cup of chopped strawberries or whole blueberries, a half cup of lowfat yogurt, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and two ice cubes. Blend until smooth and creamy, then enjoy.
For lunch, stir fresh berries into lowfat yogurt or pudding. Berries also make a great addition to green salads, such as Belgian endive and blackberry salad or watercress and strawberry salad. Mash or puree berries with lowfat cream cheese, ricotta or tofu for a super sandwich spread. Make dips by adding minced fresh herbs, such as cilantro, mint or thyme, and spices such as curry, cumin and coriander, to mashed berries. You can even add fresh berries to cold beverages like ice tea or sparkling water.
At dinner, add berries to sauces for meat, or make blackberry-plum chutney. Toss together finely diced plums, blackberries and minced cilantro, finely chopped green onion and finely diced serrano chili pepper with honey, lemon juice and grated gingerroot. Refrigerate for four hours to allow flavors to blend, then serve with grilled meat or poultry. Or, use berries in grain dishes like a tabouli with strawberries or couscous pilaf with raspberries.
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Berries are always a dessert favorite, but look for lowfat recipes to enjoy them without a lot of extra calories. Serve a lowfat peach-blueberry crisp or a berry parfait made with alternating rows of berries, lowfat yogurt and granola.
Blueberry Torte Dessert
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty Level: 3
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup ground almonds
- 2-1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp sugar substitute
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
- Beat egg yolks and sugar until light. Add almonds. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.
- Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with waxed paper. Pour batter into the pan. Bake in a 325F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and cool. Cut into small squares.
- To make blueberry sauce, puree 1/2 cup blueberries in a food processor or blender. Dissolve cornstarch in cream. Cook cream, remaining blueberries, and blueberry puree over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool. Stir in sugar substitute.
- To serve, line a serving dish with 1/2 of blueberry sauce; arrange cake squares over blueberry sauce. Top with remaining sauce. Spoon on yogurt. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/2 cup):
177 Calories; 5 g Protein; 14 g Carbohydrate; 357 mg Sodium
Dietary Exchanges per serving: 1 skim milk and 2 fat