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Berries: A Powerful Food Choice

Five health benefits of blueberries

Blueberries make a low-calorie, high-flavor addition to breakfasts, desserts and snacks galore. Plus, these tiny berries boast a variety of health benefits. Here are five.

  1. Cancer prevention. Blueberries are full of powerful antioxidants—perhaps more so than any other fruit! This means they play a vital role in preventing certain types of cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. They’re a true ally when it comes to healthy aging!
  2. Natural anti-inflammatory. In addition to their abundance of antioxidants, blueberries also have anti-inflammatory properties that slow down the progression of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.   
  3. Healthy bones. Rich in vitamin C, blueberries help ensure healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. And their power doesn’t end there! They also protect the body from infection and accelerate the healing of wounds.  
  4. Digestive aid. These delicious berries are also high in potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins during digestion.  
  5. Better eyesight. Finally, did you know that eating blueberries could help reduce ocular fatigue, improve night vision and even prevent blindness?

How to pick your berries

Choose a batch of firm, plump, purplish-blue berries, paying careful attention to any split or shriveled ones. Avoid stained containers, as this is usually a sign of damaged fruit. Blueberries can be stored in the fridge for up to a week before spoiling, provided they are kept in a closed container. To ensure they stay fresh longer, try freezing them, and make sure to wash them just before serving.  

Wait, STRAWBERRIES aren’t fruit?

Whether you prefer them topped with chocolate (or whipped cream), as a jam or in a smoothie, there’s a lot to love about tasty strawberries. But did you know that this red, juicy summer fruit isn’t actually fruit at all?

Technically speaking, the strawberry is a “fake fruit.” According to botanists, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after the blossoming period — think of grapes or the famous tomato, similarly mistaken for a vegetable. Fake fruit, on the other hand, comes from a part of the flower other than the ovary.

Now, let’s reconsider our beloved strawberry. When you slice into its flesh, do you ever encounter seeds? Not likely. Furthermore, strawberries derive from the flower’s receptacle or torus — the thickened part of a stem from which the flower’s organs grow — not the ovary. Strawberry plants do, however, produce real fruit. These are called achenes; they’re the “seeds” that dot the fake fruit’s exterior.

Regardless of whether or not they’re considered fruit, one thing’s for certain: strawberries will forever be deliciously sweet.

PC : In botany, strawberries are considered “fake fruit” because they don’t stem from the ovary of a flowering plant after it blossoms.

Fruit-filled PAVLOVAS

These easy-to-make treats can be prepared using any combination of berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries — the choice is yours!

Ingredients
(Makes 4 pavlovas)

  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 4 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. of sugar
  • 3 cups fresh berries (you can use frozen ones to make the coulis)
  • Fresh mint leaves

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 280 ºF (137 °C).
  2. In a small bowl, dilute the cornstarch in the vinegar. In a large bowl, rapidly (but neatly) mix the egg whites. Once the mixture becomes more solid, gradually add 1 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Next, gently incorporate the cornstarch.
  3. On a cookie sheet, make four nest-shaped mounds of approximately 4 inches in diameter with your meringue mixture (you can use either a spoon or a pastry bag to do this) and bake for 60 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. While the meringues are cooking, blend 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a mixer until a smooth coulis forms. Using a mesh filter, get rid of any remaining seeds or grainy bits. For a thicker coulis, place the mixture in a small casserole dish and let sit in the fridge for 8 to 10 minutes.     
  5. Once the pavlovas have cooled, fill them with fresh fruit and carefully pour the (cold) coulis over each. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

 

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Written by Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder

Jessie is a singer/songwriter/writer and statewide columnist living on her family’s ranch near Watford City with her husband and daughter. She blogs at veederranch.com . Reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com. (facebook.com/veederranch)

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