Many of us love July because this is the month that nature brings out her berries and stone fruits in abundance.  These colorful and sweet jewels fromBritish Columbia’s fields and orchards are little powerhouses of nutritional protection. Of the common berries, strawberries are highest in vitamin C; and because of their seeds, raspberries contain a little more protein (not that fruits have much protein), iron, and zinc; both berries provide the mineral potassium. Blueberries are particularly high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components called favonoids. The yellow and orange stone fruits (peaches and nectarines) are high in the carotenoids that we convert into vitamin A and that are antioxidants. As for cherries, they are so delicious, who cares! (However they are rich in vitamin C.)

When it comes to nutrition, don’t discount the berries that you’ll find wandering along park and forest trails: blackberries, salmon berries, thimbleberries

The recipe below is from the internationally loved nutrition and recipe classic, “The New Becoming Vegetarian” (US title) “Becoming Vegetarian” (Canadian title) by Melina and Davis. You also will find  terrific (and healthy) recipes for frozen popsicles in “Raising Vegetarian Children” (Stepaniak and Melina, McGraw-Hill, 2003).

When combined with berries or slices of other fruits, frozen bananas make an excellent base for thick, cooling fruit shakes, smoothies and low fat “ice cream” (see recipe below). For this purpose, select ripe bananas for freezing as they are much sweeter and have less starchy aftertaste. To prepare for freezing, first peel the bananas. (It’s much harder to peel them after they are frozen.) Leave them whole or break them into chunks, place them in plastic bags or containers, and freeze.  If you like, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice sprinkled on the bananas will keep them from turning brown. Frozen bananas will last several weeks, depending on their ripeness and on the freezer temperature. Even if the bananas go a little brown, they’ll still make great smoothies and creamy desserts.

If you have a juicer, such as a champion, you can use the blank attachment (that also is used for creating nut butters) and simply feed in frozen bananas plus some berries or sliced fruit. Out comes a “soft serve” textured creamy dessert, to be eaten right away. This makes a fun party activity with children, who love feeding the fruit and frozen bananas in at the top, and watching the ice cream come out below. The product is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and protective phytochemicals, instead of saturated fat.

Berry Delicious Ice Dream

This creamy, sweet “ice cream” is sure to be a favorite with those who want to avoid dairy products, fat, or excess calories. You won’t be disappointed; it is bursting with “real” fruit flavor. Put it in fancy sherbet glasses and serve to guests for a refreshing summer treat.

3                      frozen bananas

1 c (250 mL)   fresh or frozen berries (such as raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries,)

1 c (250 mL)   fortified soymilk or soy yogurt

2 tbsp (30 ml)  frozen juice concentrate (orange, citrus blend, peach or mango)

Place frozen bananas, berries and soymilk or yogurt in a blender or food processor and process on high speed until thoroughly smooth. A sturdy blender is ideal; many food processors work well too. (If your blender struggles to blend this, partially thawing the fruit, especially the strawberries, will help.) Serve immediately. Top with nuts or fresh berries, if desired.

Makes 3 cups

Variation: Replace some or all of the berries with slices of other frozen fruit such as peaches, kiwi, mango slices, or melon.

Vesanto Melina, is a Registered Dietitian in LangleyBC and co-author of seven food and nutrition classics; she regularly consults for people who wish to improve their health or are in dietary transition. Web: www.nutrispeak.com Email: vesanto@nutrispeak.com ; Phone: 604-882-6782.

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