Published on June 25, 2018

Berry Delicious

Teresa Farrell, RD, LD Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic

Summer is a time for lighter foods, including fresh fruits and veggies, whether they be from your garden, the local farmers market or the local grocery store. Berries are one of my favorite summer foods, actually I enjoy them all year long, but I really enjoy the fresh berries of summer. Fruit is linked with lower risks of cancer, heart disease and inflammation. Research is also suggesting that blueberries in particular may be beneficial in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Different colored berries, and fruits and veggies in general have different nutrients and therefore health benefits so it is important to eat a wide variety of them. “Eat the rainbow” as the saying goes.

Berries are nutritious powerhouses bursting with antioxidants and phytochemicals, as well as vitamins (especially vitamins A, C and E that can protect cells from damage) and fiber. They are also low calorie, and fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium free! And they taste amazing! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are favorites, with only 50-85 calories per cup and 3-8 grams of fiber (raspberries and blackberries being the highest in fiber with roughly 8 grams per cup).

I also love that they are so versatile to use. They go well with your meals, as snacks and as dessert. Some of my favorite ideas are: on a high fiber breakfast cereal-cold or hot, in pancakes and waffles or as a topping, fruit and yogurt parfait, in a leafy salad- a favorite is a spinach salad with strawberries and blueberries, walnuts and a light vinaigrette dressing, an addition to fruit kabobs which are fun to make (kids and grandkids love to help) and eat, a side dish/garnish, in smoothies, pureed and frozen in popsicle form, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or as a dessert with a dollop of whipped topping. The possibilities are endless, be creative!

For an easy, yummy appetizer try the Balsamic Berry Bruschetta below.

Balsamic Berry Bruschetta
½ a baguette, thinly sliced into 10 pieces
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup strawberries, halved or sliced
Balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Toast in the for 8 minutes or until lightly golden brown, flipping the slices halfway through.
Using an electric mixer beat the ricotta until smooth.
Cut the cooled baguette slices in half.
Spread a generous amount of the ricotta on the baguette slices, top with strawberries and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Nutrition information for 2 half slices:
Calories: 70
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sodium: 25 milligrams

Berries are good for dessert as well.

Berry Cheesecake Trifle
Serves: 16
1 (5 ounce) package instant cheesecake pudding*
3 cups of cold skim milk
1 (9 inch) angel food cake, torn into roughly 1-inch pieces*
1 cup blueberries, washed*
1-pound strawberries, washed and hulled*
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Whisk pudding mix and milk in a bowl for 2 minutes, let stand until thickened, about 3 more minutes.
Layer half the cake cubes into a trifle bowl or other clear bowl. Top cake cubes with half the pudding mixture, half the blueberries, half the strawberries and half the whipped topping. Repeat layers. Top with more strawberries and blueberries for a nice presentation. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

Nutrition information per serving-1/16 of the trifle:
Calories: 135
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 0
Carbohydrates: 25 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sodium 125 milligrams

*vanilla pudding may be substituted for the cheesecake pudding
*sugar free pudding may be substituted for regular pudding
*pound cake may be substituted for the angel food cake
*any type of berry or other fruit may be used

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