Have you ever noticed that your cravings for food change with the seasons?
I started realizing this quirk in my 30s when I longed for heavier “comfort” foods – casseroles, enchiladas, creamy pasta dishes – during those long winter nights (even though I live in Texas and we don’t have the freezing temperatures that other people face). But when spring dawns and we start to enjoy more daylight, I find myself putting away my casserole pans and longing for the farm’s diverse bounty.
For instance, this morning’s breakfast consisted of a bowl of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. For me, those fresh, sweet tastes herald the onset of spring, when nature’s beautiful greenery and friendly flowers emerge from winter hibernation.
Besides being tasty, berries offer a tremendous nutritional boost to your health. A small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that middle-age participants who ate a daily cup of mixed berries over an eight-week period enjoyed improved levels of HDL (the good) cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Researchers believe that these improvements are due to berries’ polyphenols, a broad class of health-promoting plant compounds that also may protect bone density as we age.
The George Mateljan Foundation also offers praise for berries’ health properties. For instance, a one-cup serving of strawberries is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber and manganese. This fruit offers cardiovascular benefits and helps fight cancer and lower high blood pressure. Blueberries have one of the largest antioxidant capacities of any type of produce; these berries protect the brain and nervous system. Raspberries are a good source of vitamin C, manganese and fiber; this fruit helps fight cancer and also may assist with the management of obesity.
In a salute to berries, I thought it was appropriate to share one of my favorite mixed berry dessert recipes in this edition of Weekend Wonderings. When I originally saw the recipe by Mark Bittman, I turned up my nose thinking about the combination of balsamic vinegar, berries and pepper. However, my culinary adventurer took over and it’s now one of my favorite recipes that’s also easy and quick to pull together.
Resources for This Post:
George Mateljan Foundation.(nd). Blueberries. whfoods.com.
George Mateljan Foundation. (nd). Raspberries. whfoods.com.
George Mateljan Foundation. (nd). Strawberries. whfoods.com.
Wright, B. (2008). The Total-Body Benefits of Berries. EatingWell.com.