I’ve mentioned this before, but I totally nerd-out for grocery shopping. Every time I do it I get to make so many choices – some planned, most on a whim, some based on old stand-bys and some by picking something up and saying “I have no idea what this is, but it looks neat!”
Today, a local market offered some incredible deals on seasonal produce. One of the best finds were these cartons of blackberries for only 50 CENTS each. I know! If you want to know why doing your best to eat seasonally is important, here is a great example – you can actually afford it.
These berries aren’t organic – and I know all of my current nutrition professors and classmates would be a tad bit disappointed in me because of that. And yes, buying organic is good for so many reasons, personal and environmental. But at the end of the day, snacking on these is a whole lot better than snacking on potato chips, so I’m going to eat ’em up.
Berries are obviously a healthy and nutritional food. Blueberries have been the stars of the show lately with their inclusion among “Superfoods”. (A Superfood is a whole food that packs an incredible amount of nutrition into it’s small food-like body. Many people swear by incorporating these into your meals, because in one “superfood” you can get as much nutrition as eating a whole array of other whole foods. Remember those Total Cereal commercials, where they would pile all kinds of insane foods into a bowl, and then say “Or you can get all of those nutrients in just one bowl of Total!” That’s the idea with superfoods.)
An easy health tip – the beautiful colors of berries also means they are full of good things! In most cases, the more colorful your food, the more packed full it is of healthy vitamins and minerals. So sweet red strawberries and dark purple blackberries aren’t just pretty, they’re going to make your body feel good. (A win-win, for sure!)
They are filled with great things your body loves, like Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. One cup of strawberries has about as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice – but whole fruits are better than juice because you get full from all of the fiber.
Plus, berries have something called “polyphenols”. You may have heard of these because they are also found in dark chocolate, tea and red wine. Yeah, the berries are certainly in good company. (Anyone want to have a Polyphenol Party? We can hang out and eat and drink all of these delicious things, than throw our heads back and laugh as our hearts get healthy!) Polyphenols are plant compounds that are wonderful at keeping your heart healthy by acting as antioxidants! They also lower blood pressure and increase HDL (good cholesterol) in your body.
For my first cooking class, I made berry “mousse” desserts, which were a total hit. Essentially, these gorgeous beauties consisted of mixed berries, lemon juice and zest, some agave nectar, and silken tofu. So not only are they pretty as a picture, and not bad for you – they are actually GOOD for you! Don’t feel guilty about eating this dessert. It’s full of vitamins and protein. Oh yes.
So keep an eye out for berries! They taste amazing in pancakes, on salads, in desserts, or on their own when you’re watching Top Chef reruns.