10 ways to add berries to your diet

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Is there a diet out there that doesn’t include berries?

Even the meat-heavy Paleo diet recommends berries.  Why?  Well, they’re easy to eat; they don’t need to be peeled or sliced.  They’re naturally sweet; you really don’t need to add sugar to appreciate them. They’re all high water content — about 85% — which can make them filling.   Nutritional qualities vary.  Strawberries have significant vitamin C.  Raspberries are notably high in fiber.  Blueberries have unique antioxidant content.  Other than that they just taste good, and that’s enough of a reason for most people.

Grocery stores seem to have berries available all year, but they’re truly in season in the Northern Hemisphere in spring and summer.  Early spring brings strawberries, followed by raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.  Locally grown berries are likely to be more flavorful then berries shipped thousands of miles.  But they might also be more fragile.  Berries don’t keep long, so don’t buy more than you can eat up in 2-3 days.

Berry nutrition per cup of whole fresh berries:

                 calories   fiber   vitamin C    potassium
Strawberries       46       2.9 g     85 mg        220 mg
Raspberries        64        8 g      32 mg        186 mg
Blueberries        84       3.6 g     10 mg        114 mg
Blackberries       62       7.6 g     30 mg        233 mg

Like all fresh fruit, berries are low sodium and low fat.  They contain small amounts of B-vitamins, vitamin A and various minerals.

10 Easy uses for berries

  1. Pack some up for lunch or a snack.  They don’t need sweetener, and because you don’t slice them, they don’t need sugar to keep them from browning, compared to peaches or apples.
  2. Blend them into a smoothie or fruit slushy.  Frozen berries work well for that.
  3. Add them to green salads.  Add at the end, so you don’t smash up the fragile berries when you toss the salad.
  4. Add to yogurt or cereal
  5. Float a few berries in a cocktail or sparkling water
  6. Add to a fruit salad
  7. Put berries in a scooped-out melon slice for a pretty dessert
  8. Serve with cheese as an appetizer or dessert
  9. Make berry muffins
  10. Add berries to pancakes or waffles while cooking OR serve the pancakes/waffles with a topping of fresh berries instead of a puddle of sugary syrup.

Bonus Use: strawberry salsa

Fruit-based salsas are delightful and refreshing.  I published this a year ago, but it’s worth repeating.

For strawberry salsa: lightly pulse 2 cups strawberries in a food processor (should be chunky); add juice of 1/4 lime, 1/4 tsp salt, one minced jalapeño (or enough jalapeño to suit your taste buds), 1/2 tsp sugar and 1-2 TB chopped fresh cilantro.

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