This week’s BeBetter52 Challenge is to eat some berries! Many health benefits come with eating berries, so we encourage you to indulge yourself this week in all kinds of berries you can get your hands on.
Did you know berries can actually help in losing weight? What makes berries so special is their high levels of phytochemicals. These naturally occurring nutrients help protect cells from damage. Because of their fiber and liquid content, berries leave us feeling full longer, and feeling sated is an important part of managing any diet program. Show some creativity in the kitchen this week and experiment by adding berries into nutrition-rich recipes such as fresh fruit sauces, pairing them with almonds for a fast snack, or simply eating them plain. A director at the Office of Community Health at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System suggests: “Emulsify berries and make them part of a fruit vinaigrette rather than using a lot of oil.” Myriad ways to incorporate these sweet fruits into your diet are available if you just take the time to research recipes and make an effort to eat the nutritious delight.
Another bonus benefit of berries, they keep us mentally sharp. Studies published in the Annals of Neurology show women who eat about two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experienced less mental decline over time than peers who went without these nutrition powerhouses. In that study, researchers reviewed data from 16,010 women over age 70. Those with the highest berry intake postponed cognitive decline by about two and a half years. “We think that the effect might be related to a class of compounds called anthocyanidins, which is a type of flavonoid," explains author Elizabeth Devore, ScD, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston.” These compounds, found almost exclusively in berries, are known to cross the blood-brain barrier and locate in learning and memory centers in the brain." It is comforting to know berries can reduce the chance of mental decline as types of dementia become more and more common.
If you are interested in knowing more about the nutritional benefits of the 20 most common berries, enjoy this guide by Nutrition Advance.
Listed below are a few suggestions to incorporate berries into your meals this week. We look forward to seeing your photos and comments to this week’s challenge.
Breakfast: Raspberry Ginger Strawberry Smoothie
2/3 cup nonfat or low-fat milk and 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 package (16 ounce) Driscoll's Strawberries, frozen
1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll's Raspberries
Blend milk, yogurt, ginger, honey, strawberries and raspberries in a blender until pureed and smooth, stirring several times. Serve immediately.
Lunch: Quinoa Fruit Salad
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups quinoa, cooked
1 cup chopped nectarine
1 cup mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries and raspberries
2 tablespoons roasted almonds
Whisk oil, orange juice, vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cooked quinoa, nectarines, berries and almonds; gently toss to combine.
Dinner: Blackberry Basil Pizza
1 10-12″ pizza crust of your choice
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
sea salt and pepper
4 oz. fresh mozzarella
1 stem, 6-8 leaves, fresh basil
2 Tbs--¼ cup balsamic vinegar for drizzling/dipping
Heat oven according to the pizza crust directions. In a small bowl, mash the blackberries with a fork until you have a sauce-like texture. It won’t be smooth, but the berries will be mashed. Spread the mixture on the pizza crust as you would a pizza sauce. Next, take your mozzarella and sprinkle pieces, chunks over the top. Season with sea salt and pepper. Place pizza onto the pizza stone. Check at 5 minutes, but it may take up to 8 minutes; the crust should start to be golden brown and darker on the outer edges like a traditional pizza. Bake according to your crust’s instructions. Remove pizza. Top with fresh basil and serve with balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!