Berry picking – what activity is more typical of a New England summer than that? The good news about this summer tradition is that it provides you with a bounty of delicious and super healthy fruit that can be used in numerous ways.
Some of the most common berries to pick in northern New England are strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. All three types grow wild and are also cultivated in Vermont. All three are good sources of vitamin C and fiber.
- A serving of strawberries (about eight large berries) has more vitamin C than an orange, while just a cup of raspberries provides 8 grams of fiber or about a 1/3 of the daily recommended amount for a healthy adult.
- Raspberries and strawberries are also a rich source of flavonoids, which have been shown to play a role in heart health and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
- Blueberries are sometimes referred to as a “super food” because of the blast of phytonutrients they provide. In fact, blueberries (especially the wild types) have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits.
Although studies so far are inconclusive, generally they show that antioxidant supplements do not have any significant impact on health. However, eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods (like berries!) can reduce a person’s risk of many diseases associated with aging like cancer, heart disease, vision problems and memory loss.
The best part about berries is that they are as good to eat as they are nutritious. While most people associate berries with sweet desserts or breakfast (on yogurt or cereal, in smoothies or pancakes), they are wonderful in savory recipes as well. A delicious and very easy way to use them is to add them to green salads – try raspberries or strawberries with mixed greens, almonds or pecans, red onion and a sprinkling of goat cheese topped with balsamic vinaigrette for a refreshing summer salad. Blueberries are also an interesting and sweet addition to a summer barbeque sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making a strawberry soup – it’s kind of like a fruity version of gazpacho, a soup made from tomatoes and other raw vegetables that is served cold.
Savory recipes aside, we all know that berries are the star of summertime desserts. Anyone can attest to the fact that their grandmother makes the best blueberry pie. And who doesn’t love strawberry shortcake or cheesecake topped with a fresh sauce of raspberries? These are all fantastic treats — but, let’s be honest — summer is short and who wants to spend a beautiful sunny day in the kitchen baking? Enter this month’s featured recipe – blueberries with maple whipped cream – which can be prepared in minutes, doesn’t require any cooking or baking and is sure to please the palate. With the sweetness and pop of the blueberries, the tart zest of lemon, and the deep creamy flavor and smooth consistency of the maple whipped cream, this dessert hits multiple flavor and texture highlights. Try this recipe for the perfect ending to a meal on a hot summer day!
For more information about berries check out the Vermont Harvest of the Month’s website.
Blueberries with Maple Whipped Cream
- 4cupsfresh blueberries
- 1Tbsppacked light brown sugar
- 1tspfinely grated lemon zest
- 3Tbspfresh lemon juice
- 1/4cupheavy cream
- 1/4cupsour cream
- 1/4cuppure maple syrup
- In a medium bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed, whip heavy ream and sour cream in a large bowl until slightly thickened.
- Keep on whipping, and add maple syrup in a steady stream; continue to whip until maple cream is velvety.
- Divide berries among serving bowls; top with maple cream.
Bridget Shea, RD, is a clinical dietician at The University of Vermont Medical Center.