On the menu today: Berries
It’s that time of year when plump, ripe berries of all colors are calling my name to bring them home and make them into pie, crisps or puree. I have so many recipes for berry creations (one to follow) there simply aren’t enough meals in the day to indulge my collection.
What makes berries good for you? Natural antioxidants and fiber support the body’s defenses and help to keep it running smoothly. Fresh fruits like berries provide these ~ plus food energy and good carbohydrates. They are also low in fat and contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals. When selecting your fruits, consider including the following choices. According to the USDA, these are high in antioxidants and all are in the top 20 of the top 100 antioxidant-rich foods:
1. Wild blueberries
But not all fruit is rated equal. Many of you have heard me on a soapbox about the pesticide load in conventional strawberries. This is due to the fact that they have such thin skin, and are so close to the ground…thereby real ‘suckers’ of toxic sprays. On occasion, residues are found to exceed even current legally allowable tolerances, the safety of which has been called into question by Consumers Union and other reputable groups, especially for children. Strawberries are #1 of 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found . Therefore, if you want to avoid pesticide-associated health risks, consider only those strawberries which have been organically grown.
Mixed Berry Crumble (Serves 6-8)
When grinding the nuts, be careful not to go too long or you’ll end up with nut butter. Sometimes I blend almond meal (Trader Joe’s) with the hazelnuts for better texture/flavor. If you can’t find Sucanat, use light brown sugar.
1 cup hazelnuts or almonds (about 4 oz.)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup Sucanat (natural cane sugar – available at Whole Foods)
3/4 cup organic unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), chilled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Sucanat
1.5 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
2+ pints berries of your choice (I mix all types)
Preheat oven to 350º. To prepare crust/topping, roast nuts in medium baking pan for approx. 10 minutes. If using hazelnuts, rub off skin and let cool. Increase oven temp. to 450.
In food processor, grind nuts until fine – approx. 10 seconds. In large bowl, mix nuts, flour, and sugar. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter into flour mix until coarse crumbs for,m. Using fingers, evenly press half of the crust into bottom and sides of an 8 or 9-inch tart pan.
To prepare filling, mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Fold in berries and spoon into crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining crumb topping and pat down gently.
Bake until topping is golden and filling is bubbly ~ approx. 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.