Seasonal Spotlight: Lesser Known Berries to Try This Summer
It’s summer – and that means it’s time to bust out the berries! We all have our established favorites, like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. It’s true that they’re each delicious and healthy, but at Augusta Active, we like to switch it up sometimes and invite variety into our healthy living.
This time we’re focusing on three berries that don’t get nearly enough credit for their amazing taste and seriously stellar nutritional value. Make sure you check out the berry parfait recipe at the end!
Known as the “fruit of immortality” in ancient Chinese mythology, the goji berry is now known less mystically as the anti-aging fruit. What has been used in Asian culture for thousands of years is just recently seeing an uptick in popularity among Western countries. Grown in the Himalayan Mountain region, goji berries are also called Western Snowberries or even Wolf Berries.
Goji berries top the list for berries highest in antioxidants, but there’s so much more to them than that:
- Dried goji berries have 3 times more antioxidants than pomegranates
- More vitamin C per ounce than oranges
- Loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, for healthy eyesight
- Contains 18 amino acids, including the essential eight
- High in vitamin A and zinc
- Helps with continued quality liver and kidney functioning
How to Enjoy Them:
Since goji berries are mainly grown far away from the United States, the best way to enjoy them here is dried. You can easily reconstitute them by soaking them in warm water. Add them to tea, throw them in your oatmeal, or even use in baked pies and pastries. They’re also commonly used in soups and salads overseas.
You can find them in the freezer section at natural food stores, or buy them dried in bulk online. It’s easy to grow yourself; this is a great tutorial on growing this porch-friendly plant.
Americans went through a craze a few years back that had many people shouting to the moon about how Acai will cure everything, from cancer to aging. All this yelling resulted in acai being “oversold” in abilities. But from a healthy living perspective – rather than a cure-all – acai stands the test of time.
Every 100 gram serving of acai has a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, like:
- Anthocyanins that have shown to lower cholesterol levels
- Around 15 percent of your daily vitamin A
- About 8 percent of fiber
- High in vitamin C
- Very good for skin health
- Increased blood circulation
It’s important to note that this fruit is a little on the high side for saturated fats, and should be consumed in moderation.
How to Enjoy Them:
Like goji berries, acai isn’t grown in the United States and is most often consumed in a freeze-dried powder or puree. You can sprinkle the powder on anything, like salads, veggies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal and even desserts.
You can find acai in pill, powder and juice in any health supplement store and online stores. Watch out for pills, as you can’t determine how much of it actually contains the berry, and juice can contain loads of additional sugar. Actual dried acai berries are very difficult to find, so you’re best sticking with a puree or powder from the health stores.
Also known as the “western juneberry,” the saskatoon berry is being named the fruit of the next decade, as recent research is starting to reveal their amazing nutritional value. Similar in appearance to blueberries, this round, blueish-purple fruit grows on white flowering shrubs in cool, dry areas of the United States and Canada.
The following is a list of the purported health benefits in just 100 grams (3/4 cup):
- Twice the level of antioxidants than the best blueberries
- 24 percent of your daily fiber intake
- 25 percent daily magnesium intake
- 20 percent daily calcium
- 20 percent daily potassium
- 50 percent daily iron
- 54 percent daily manganese
- 30 percent vitamin C
- 22 percent carotene (vitamin A)
How to Enjoy Them:
Raw, cooked, dried – there’s no limit to how the fruit can be enjoyed. Baked in pies, smashed into jams, the tart fruit is perfect with a little added sweetness. It’s also commonly used as a way to flavor dried meat.
Unless you live in northeastern, northern pacific coastal or mountainous regions of the United States and Canada, it’s harder to find saskatoon berries. You can solve this by purchasing food products online, buying them dried online, or buying seeds to grow your own.
Recipe: Berry Parfait
1/3 cup of dried goji berries
1/3 cup of dried saskatoon berries
1/3 cup of raspberries
1/3 cup of blackberries
1 (8oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pint of vanilla frozen yogurt
1 tablespoon acai powder
In a blender, combine raspberries, blackberries, and whipped topping. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in saskatoon and goji berries. Sprinkle half of the acai powder into the mixture. Layer the berry mixture with the frozen yogurt in 6 dessert glasses, finishing with a berry layer. Sprinkle the remaining acai on the berry layer at the top of each glass. Serve at once.