Berries are the crown jewels of summer, the gems that inspire us to get in the kitchen and create pies, cobblers, smoothies and bowls filled with berries for snacking. Especially summer berries, they are meant to be devoured with peach juice running down your chin and strawberries staining your fingers — daintily savored. When ripe, a berry’s juice will literally reward your tongue with either a burst of sweetness or a tart tanginess. Nature sure knows what it is doing!
Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are plentiful almost year-round, although they may be more expensive certain times of the year, they’re still much more accessible than they used to be.
Berries are often described as “super foods,” which means they are chock-full of the disease-fighting antioxidants essential to our health. They deliver super-healthy antioxidants that help fight disease. Flavonoids are the largest group of phytonutrients. These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. They help with skin protection, brain function, blood sugar, and blood pressure regulations. They are capable of fighting the causes of cancer, heart disease and in some cases help to prevent aging effects. I’d like to mention that flavonoids also are responsible for the vivid colors in fruits and vegetables.
Blueberry antioxidants are one of the best sources for putting antioxidants in to the body. It is worth adding these powerful little blue berries to your next bowl of granola? Just one cup will provide all the disease-fighting antioxidants you will need in a single day. That one cup has over 13,000 total antioxidants, 10 times what the USDA recommends. Add them to your salads, your desserts or just eat them plain! Next inline is cranberries and blackberries, brimming with vitamin A & C.
When toxins enter the body, they become a free radical. Substances that generate free radicals can be found in the food we eat, the medicines we take, the air we breathe and the water we drink. These substances can include fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides and air pollutants. When free radicals build up in the body, disease and illness take over. But, antioxidants like those in berries help to neutralize those free radicals and help to eliminate the threat so to speak. Antioxidants can also repair the damage that free radicals cause which can do so much for your health.
Generally speaking, dark-colored berries are naturally higher in antioxidants, which have been shown to kill certain cancer cells. In a study led by Dr. Gary Stoner of Ohio State University, freeze-dried black raspberries were shown to block colon cancer by about 50 percent when added to the diets of rodents that had been chemically treated with carcinogens (a substance that can cause cancer.) The study was an extension of earlier research in which freeze-dried strawberries and black raspberries prevented esophageal cancer in rodents by 50-70 percent. Every day, more and more research is being released on the benefits of eating foods high in antioxidants.
Believe it or not, many other foods that are rich in antioxidants are pretty yummy too! Some of the most antioxidant-rich foods are berries, broccoli, tomatoes, red grapes, garlic, spinach, carrots, and whole grains.
Enjoy the summer berry season! I caution you about preparing and enjoying too many rich recipes which are high in fats, sugar and calories. Too much of these types of foods will increase your risk for health problems and possibly benefits you could gain from the antioxidants in the berries alone.
The best advice is to eat berries often for their great taste and health boost, but stay focused on the main goal of eating a wide variety of produce each and every day.
Blackberry Peach Crisp
5 cups fresh peaches, sliced
3 cups fresh blackberries
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
½ cup whole cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350ºF Combine peaches, blackberries, cornstarch, vanilla, maple syrup, and lemon juice into a bowl and gently toss together.
- Butter a 9×13 or 10 x 12 rectangle pan, and add the peach blackberry mixture.
- In a medium bowl add flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Use a pastry cutter, cut the butter pieces into the dry ingredients until pea-size lumps form.
- Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the fruit and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top.
- Let cool slightly and serve with a scoop of frozen yogurt.