Summer is now in full swing, and the arrival of blueberry and blackberry season makes it the sweetest time of year. You can find blackberries in the wild clinging from their prickly vines. Or visit farms such as Crabtree Farms to pick your own from thornless bushes. Blueberries, too, hang heavy on the delicate limbs of bushes, their sweet fruit getting ready to be plucked and eaten right then and there or taken into the kitchen to enjoy in pies and smoothies.
Both blackberries and blueberries are equally healthful, says Danielle Townsend, a registered dietitian with Primary Healthcare Centers.
"If you think about the array of fruits we have available to us, they come in all different colors," she says. "This is what is particularly beneficial about fruit. Each different color is associated with its own bundle of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Among them are vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and countless other disease-fighting properties. Blackberries and blueberries have a phytonutrient called anthocyanin which is unique to blue, purple and red produce. This functional component can help stave off cardiovascular disease and cancer."
And the taste of fresh berries, as well as their health benefits, can last all year if they are picked and frozen.
"We often think that fresh produce is the go-to choice, but frozen fruits are just as beneficial and are more realistic for a lot of people," Townsend says. "Freezing fruit keeps nutrients intact, and you also don't have to worry about them spoiling on you."
Don't wash the berries before freezing - just pluck any stems or leaves from your harvest, place the berries in freezer-safe bags and place in the freezer. Most recipes using frozen berries call for adding them in their frozen state. If thawed, they tend to "bleed," creating blue spots and streaks. To prevent this, you should stir frozen berries gently into your cake or muffin batter at the last minute.
Berries go a long way in helping to reach the recommended daily intake of fruit - two to three servings, which equals about a cup. Townsend is a realist, though, and says this is not possible for most people every day.
"Let's be realistic," she says. "Most people do not reach these goals every day. I've been a multivitamin consumer for many years. I think of it as a nutritional insurance policy just in case."
Here's a sweet way to combine the sweet taste of blueberries with the sweet/tart taste of blackberries - a match made in culinary heaven. It's one of Townsend's favorite ways to enjoy the glories of summer. She found the recipe at www.tasteofhome.com.
Angel Berry Trifle
1 1/2 cups cold fat-free milk
1 package (1 ounce) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free vanilla yogurt
6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed and divided
2 prepared angel food cakes (8 ounces each), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint fresh blackberries
1 pint fresh raspberries or chopped strawberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
Whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand until soft-set, about 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Fold in pudding mixture and 1 cup whipped topping.
Place one-third of cake cubes in a 4-quart trifle bowl. Top with one-third of pudding mixture, one-third of berries and half of remaining whipped topping. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining cake, pudding and berries. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
-Saturday nights at Broad Street Grille just got a little spicier with the new Italian buffet, and mamma mia are there a lot of choices. So many, in fact, you may find yourself loosening your belt midway through. There's soup, such as minestrone or Tuscan white bean; entrees, including seafood puttanesca, a mouthwatering mix of mussels, big shrimp, clams and fish in an amazing tomato sauce; fork-tender beef braciole with a flavorful tomato-based gravy; pork piccata with lemon-thyme veloute; pasta with an array of sauces made in-house; salads; and the list goes on. The buffet is $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 5-12. Now that Broad Street Grille is no longer serving dinner Monday through Thursday - The Foundry bar is serving weeknight dinners now - the concentration is on weekend buffets. Friday night is the seafood buffet that is a must for seafood lovers. Sunday is the grill's spectacular, over-the-top brunch. For reservations, call 423-424-3700 or go to opentable.com.
-Also in the news, Eve Williams has just expanded her Mojo Burrito enterprise by opening a fourth location in Ooltewah's Cambridge Square. It's great how many new places have opened since the development opened a couple of years ago. "Cambridge Square has put together a great community of local restaurants, and now a housing development is under construction right behind the square," Williams says, adding that with all the vegetarians in the Ooltewah area, Mojo Burrito would be a good fit. With all the vegetable toppings to choose from at Mojo, meat won't even be missed - but it's there if you want it. The menu is the same as the other locations', but the decor is different in each. This location is new, in comparison to the other locations. "It has its own individual flair with a lot of windows and outdoor patio seating," Williams says of her new restaurant.
-Also opening in Ooltewah's ever-expanding Cambridge Square is a second location of 1885 Grill, that wonderfully charming restaurant located in St. Elmo. Sorry though, Ooltewah - you'll have to wait a year to enjoy those amazing crab cakes in your neighborhood. Opening date is tentatively scheduled for next summer.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.