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Berries are getting the bright lights for "B". I think they are positively wonderful. They are delicious and they are beautiful to behold.
Nutrient note highlights - my top berry picks:
blueberries - phytonutrients, antioxidants (especially the wild ones)
cranberries - juice helps acidify urine to inhibit bacterial growth (recommended for bladder infections)
strawberries - high in vitamin C
raspberries - folic acid, vitamin C, lutein
source of fibre
depending on the berry - varying amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, manganese
Berries on the Bushes
Some berries are still available free-for-the-picking - if you’re game to look for the wild ones. I have heard that in our area you can find patches of wild blueberries, cranberries and blackberries but their whereabouts are family secrets and well-protected. To date I've been privy to visit one good-sized wild blackberry patch. A small bucket of berries was my reward in exchange for some nasty scratches and a blood donation to hungry mosquitoes. These details were forgotten by mid-January, however, when multi-berry smoothies satisfied cravings for summer.
But criteria for packed lunches still holds true for:
tasty - or else the kids will trade that lunch you worked so hard to make
nutritious - to help young bodies and brain cells to concentrate and understand
has to survive the journey - traveling in a backpack and being thrown in a locker
has to be food-safe - so everyone stays healthy
Enter: the convenience of Frozen Berries
Your freezer might be stocked with berries you have picked this summer. If not, good-sized bags are available in most supermarkets, and they’ll cost less than buying fresh.
On a school (or work) morning, put a cup or less of good-sized frozen strawberries or blueberries in a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Remember to pack the spoon to go with it. By lunch time the berries will be thawed out with some very nice syrupy-juice that somehow tastes sweetn without adding sugar. (My grandkids think the juice is the best part.)The berries will be soft but should keep their shape; a very nice change from the standard lunch fruits - apples, oranges and bananas.
If your children like plain yogurt, put some frozen berries in with it - they'll act as mini ice paks, keeping the yogurt cool until lunchtime.
To add whole grain energy and some healthy fats, include a small baggie of homemade granola (or purchased equivalent) to either of the above suggestions.
Bake a Real Tasty Treat with Real Food Ingredients:
Blueberry Apple Bread
2 cups peeled, chopped apples
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. ground flax
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2/3 cups chopped walnuts (toasting them first adds to the flavour)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine chopped apples, honey, applesauce and oil in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the egg and mix well. Combine 1 cup of the flour with the other dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the apple mixture. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup flour with the berries (this helps stop frozen berries from 'bleeding' and to be more evenly suspended in the batter). Add to the batter, along with the walnuts.
Spread batter evenly into a lightly oiled and floured loaf pan. Put into oven - check after baking for 1 hour and 10 minutes. May need to bake about another 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven. A tooth pick or sharp cake tester inserted into the centre of the bread should come out clean.
Let cool before cutting. Slices up nicely for packing in lunches if you can keep the family away from eating it all fresh out of the oven!
Bring out the berries - hope to meet you in the patch!
(Photo credits: Fimby)