‘Berried treasures’

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries — these are the “berried treasures” of the summer. These berries are available throughout the year, but they are certainly best when they are fresh and in season. Berries are a personal favorite of mine and I especially like blackberries. I am so eager to get the blackberries that I ordered through the Fruit Club that will be coming in soon!

I generally have some blackberries in my refrigerator year round. They satisfy my sweet tooth; sometimes they are more sweet than at other times. Sometimes they are almost as big as a small pine cone and sometimes they are pretty small. But whether they are big or small, sweet or tart, they provide a nutrient-dense powerhouse of flavanoids, vitamin C, anti-oxidants and fiber in a low calorie and low fat food. One cup of blackberries contains only 62 calories, 8 grams of fiber, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 mg of sodium, 233 mg of potassium and 50 percent of the RDA for vitamin C!

Blackberries, or any berry for that matter, can be used in a variety of ways. Our first thoughts might turn to favorite baked desserts like pie, but there are a host of ways to incorporate berries into our diets that would be a healthier option. Of course, they taste great fresh; you can’t beat fresh fruit for a snack or in a fruit salad. They also make a great topping on yogurt, ice milk or on your cold cereal. You can mix them into your breakfast oatmeal in the morning or blend them into a smoothie for a refreshing drink. You can also mix them in with vegetables, leafy greens in particular and make spectacular salads — that is probably my favorite way to eat blackberries. Following is a simple recipe you can throw together for a meal that includes foods from all the food groups! It doesn’t take much time to prepare and it doesn’t require much in the line of clean up. And it’s healthy — perfect!

Blackberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients

6 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried

6 oz. fresh blackberries, rinsed

4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

6 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

1/2 small red onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (or candied walnuts)

6 oz. cooked chicken, sliced into strips

8 Tbsp. croutons

Directions

In a large bowl, toss together baby spinach, blackberries, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, red onion slices, walnuts and chicken strips. Top with croutons. This tastes great without a dressing, or top with your favorite balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Salad can also be assembled on two separate large plates.

Makes two servings. Calories per serving- 450 calories. (Remember- this includes foods from all the food groups and constitutes a whole meal!)

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

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