Seared Oatmeal with Stewed Berries

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We love a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast in winter. Oatmeal is one of the most filling breakfast foods out there, but it’s also, well, a little dull on its own. So we’ve been experimenting with ways to spice it up, and came up with this recipe for Seared Oatmeal with Stewed Berries.

 

This Seared Oatmeal with Stewed Berries recipe works for a number of reasons: it’s super easy to make, and you can make multiple servings and save them for later, so you don’t have to cook from scratch every day. It will also keep you full until lunchtime, so you’re not tempted to snack on unhealthy stuff before your next meal.

 

Best of all, Seared Oatmeal with Stewed Berries tastes amazing. We can’t think of a better way to jazz up oatmeal than with the sweet burst of berries. Because you’ll be heating them on the stovetop, this is the perfect way to use some of the less-than-perfect fruits from your summer farmers’ market haul; save the prettier specimens for topping cereal or granola, or eating as snacks straight out of the bowl.

 

Seared Oatmeal with Stewed Berries

Makes 4 large or 6 small servings

 

Ingredients

4 cups plus 1/3 cup water, divided

1 cup organic steel-cut oats

4 cups mixed berries—strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries

3 tablespoons honey or agave

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1/3 cup water

Fresh mint (optional)

Whipped cream (optional)

 

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups water to a boil. Gradually stir in the oats. When the oatmeal starts to thicken, about 5 minutes, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove the cooked oatmeal from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Lightly grease an 8” x 8” baking dish. When the oatmeal has cooled for several minutes but is still a loose consistency, pour it into the prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Allow to cool almost completely, and then place in the refrigerator, covered with foil or plastic wrap, to set, preferably overnight. Cut into equal squares or rectangles.

  3. In a large saucepan, combine all but 1/2 cup berries, the honey, orange zest, and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. When the berries soften and the juice turns syrupy, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining berries.

  4. Place a small amount of butter, margarine, or canola oil in the bottom of a saute pan and heat over medium. When warm, add a slice of the chilled oatmeal, and cook until beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and sear the other side until golden brown, about five minutes. Repeat with as many servings of oatmeal as needed.

  5. Place a rectangle of seared oatmeal on a plate, and spoon the stewed berries over the top. Garnish with mint or a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

 

Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Day Cakes with Mixed Berry Filling

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Valentine’s Day has traditionally been associated with decadent treats like chocolate mousse, butter-laden cookies, and boxes of chocolate, or with cakes and tarts that require hours of time in the kitchen. This year, skip the lengthy prep work and extra calories with what might just be the perfect Valentine’s dessert: a lighter, simple-to-make Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cake with Mixed Berry Filling.

 

You can put together this dessert using a short list of common ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The best part? They take less than 30 minutes to make—including just 10 minutes’ active prep time—and look as impressive as a dessert at your favorite restaurant. When you cut into the cake, the berries provide a sweet, juicy burst against the velvety chocolate the ideal complement to a variety of romantic dishes.

 

For a lusciously creamy touch, spoon a bit of homemade dairy or coconut whipped cream over the Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cake with Mixed Berry Filling. Serve with a fruity red wine or dessert port.

 

Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cakes with Mixed Berry Filling

Makes 2 cakes


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Ingredients

A handful of fresh or thawed frozen mixed berries

2 teaspoons raspberry, blackberry, or strawberry preserves

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup applesauce

1 tablespoon melted butter or vegan butter

2 1/2 tablespoons organic cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heaping 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons organic unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch Himalayan or sea salt

2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, melted

2 chunks good-quality dark chocolate

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two slots in a muffin tin with butter or vegan butter, and coat with a small amount of cocoa powder. Shake the tin to cover the slots completely, then shake out the excess. Alternatively, line the slots with reusable silicone muffin liners.

2. In a small bowl, coarsely mash the berries with the berry preserves.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the vinegar and almond milk. Allow the milk to curdle for 5 minutes.

4. Add the applesauce, butter or vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla, and beat with a mixer or a whisk until foamy. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and mix until free from large lumps. Do not overmix. Fold in the melted semisweet chocolate.

5. Fill each of the two muffin slots two-thirds full with batter. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the mixed berries in the center of the batter, and top with a chocolate chunk; gently press the chocolate into the berry mixture. Fill the remainder of the muffin slot with cake batter.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cake have begun to pull away from the muffin tin and the top of the cake is mostly dry. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

7. Using a butter knife, gently loosen the edges of the cake from the tin. Top the tin with an upside-down plate and carefully invert, allowing the cakes to dislodge from the tin. Carefully transfer to individual plates. If desired, top with whipped cream, powdered sugar, or fudge sauce.

 

 

 

Why Raspberries and Blackberries Should Be Part of Your Winter Breakfast Rotation

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The science is in: raspberries and blackberries are potent nutritional allies. Just 1 cup of berries provides about 54 percent of your daily vitamin C, 12 percent of vitamin K, 6 percent of folate, 5 percent of vitamin E and potassium, and 41 percent of manganese, plus trace amounts of beneficial vitamins and minerals like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, zinc, and copper. That cup also contains just 64 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, .8 grams of fat, and 15 grams of carbohydrates (including 8 grams fiber and 5 grams sugar), making it a healthful addition to your favorite winter breakfast.

 

Raspberries and blackberries also possess a host of naturally occurring compounds that have made them popular among nutritionists and herbalists dating back thousands of years—for example, in the fifth century, healers used the leaves and other parts of the plant in teas and remedies to treat sore throat, morning sickness, digestive problems, and more. Modern studies have shown that the flavonoids in raspberries and blackberries suppress the inflammation that can lead to conditions like cardiovascular disease and age-related mental decline, and their fiber content and metabolic-regulating abilities may be beneficial in weight loss and controlling diabetes. Berries’ ability to inhibit abnormal cell division has also shown promise in preventing a variety of cancers.

 

Their nutritional kick and wellness-promoting benefits make raspberries and blackberries a great way to start off the day, but not everyone wants to eat a bowl of berries for breakfast. Instead, try some of these suggestions for incorporating berries into your winter breakfast rotation.

 

The best part? Because blackberries and raspberries are so sweet on their own, you can skip adding refined sugar to most recipes. If you’re short on time in the morning, Wash fresh berries the night before, allow them to dry on a kitchen towel, then store them in the fridge until morning. Or thaw some frozen blackberries and raspberries in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. Then:

 

Blend them into smoothies and acai bowls. The natural sweetness of the berries will perk up the flavor of savory or slightly bitter ingredients like spinach, kale, and acai, without the addition of refined sugars.

 

Use them to top oatmeal. One reason many people don’t enjoy oatmeal is because it’s bland on its own. Instead of adding sugar or honey to make it more palatable, pile on the blackberries and raspberries!

 

Give your morning yogurt or cereal a berry boost. As with oatmeal, berries can elevate a plain but mild-tasting yogurt or cereal—without all the added sugar of common commercial brands.

 

Pour them over pancakes and waffles. Make a simple sauce by heating the berries over medium until they begin to break down and release their juices. Use it as a substitute for maple syrup or other sweeteners.

 

Incorporate berries into breakfast muffins, breads, and cereal or granola bars. For a grab-and-go meal that’s also healthy, cut the sugar in your favorite recipes by half, and increase the amount of berries called for by half (e.g., if the recipe specifies 1 cup of raspberries, add 1 1/2 cups instead).

 

Spread them on bagels, English muffins, and toast. Make a no-refined-sugar berry compote (we love this simple 2-ingredient version; be sure to use freshly squeezed orange juice), them use it in place of jelly. You can even freeze some of the compote in ice cube trays, then transfer the cubes to a ziplock freezer bag to save space. Remove a few cubes as needed to enjoy a berry blast throughout the winter!

 

Serve a heaping bowl of berries alongside hearty savory breakfasts, like fried or scrambled eggs, omelets, or breakfast burritos or sandwiches with sausage or ham.

Reinvent Your Holiday Leftovers with Berries

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The holidays are all about friends, family, and relaxation. They’re also about great food—and lots of it! While we always look forward to enjoying holiday leftovers, we sometimes wish for a little novelty to make those favorite dishes seem new and exciting, even several days later.

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your holiday leftovers is by adding berries. Not only do they add a touch of sweetness to savory recipes and a nutritious boost to desserts, but they’re also versatile, complementing a wide range of flavors and cuisine styles.

Here are just a few ways to use some of those local farmers’ market berries you froze last summer or fall.

 

Salads. Thaw blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Strain off the liquid and mix the berries into virtually any salad, from a classic Caesar to a peppery arugula, red onion, and Gorgonzola combination.

 

Ham. Switch out the traditional cherries and pineapple and spoon a simple mixed-berry compote over your sandwich or slice of ham. If you prefer spicier flavors, chop up a jalapeno and add it to the compote while it’s cooking.

 

Roast beef or duck. Make a grown-up sauce by combining strawberries with red wine and a little sugar or honey; allow them to reduce on the stovetop. The wine will deepen the flavor of the berries, which will add brightness to the meat.

 

Rice. Stir dried or thawed raspberries or blackberries into long-grain rice dishes and pilaf for a sweet-tart kick.

 

Mashed sweet potatoes. Who knew blueberries paired so well with sweet potatoes? Roasted or raw, blueberries can be gently folded into your leftover sweet potatoes. Add a handful of chopped pecans for some crunch.

 

Cranberry sauce. Shake up your traditional cranberry sauce by adding 1/2 to 1 cup of raspberries. Heat until warm and bubbly, then serve.

 

Christmas, bread, or raisin pudding. This is another simple addition: just choose your favorite berries to complement the type of pudding, thaw them out, strain them, and sprinkle over the top of the pudding.

 

Gingerbread. Blueberries and gingerbread? Sounds unusual, but the taste is vibrant and sophisticated. Make an unsweetened or low-sugar compote—the berries and cake are sweet enough on their own!—then spoon it over the cake, and top with fresh whipped cream.

 

How to Make a Holiday Cheese Board—with Berries!

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The winter holidays are one of our favorite foodie times of the year, but they also present a unique challenge: how do you create dishes that satisfy a range of palates, without spending hours over the stove? Our advice is to focus on one or two of your more elaborate recipes, then fill in with several simple, crowd-pleasing appetizers—like a beautifully arranged cheese board, complete with breads and crackers, nuts or proteins, and sweet berries.

 

Cheese boards are perfect for the holidays not only because so many people love cheese, but also because they’re a no-cook, quick-to-assemble alternative to party food. If you’ve been wondering how to make a holiday cheese board, follow these easy rules:

 

1. Choose a large serving platter, tray, or board that will accommodate 3 to 4 cheeses and all their accompaniments without squashing all of the components together. Marble, wood, and slate are classic choices, but any serving surface will work that keeps the cheeses and fruits organized and spaced far enough apart that guests aren’t forced to touch multiple items every time they reach into the platter.

 

2. Group like items together. For example, nuts and olives in separate heap to one side of the board, cheeses in the center, and fruits on the other end.

 

3. Choose your cheeses wisely, alternating ages, textures, and level of pungency. Fresh, creamy, soft, and semisoft cheeses are typically appreciated by a wider range of tastes, while aged, hard, and pungent cheeses tend to play well for more sophisticated palates. Select no more than one from each of the following categories, unless you’re making multiple cheese boards:

 

Soft Cheeses

  • Ricotta

  • Goat cheese (chevre)

  • Feta

  • Brie

  • Camembert

 

Semisoft Cheeses

  • Mozzarella

  • Burrata

  • Fontina

  • Havarti

  • Muenster

  • Port Salut

  • Taleggio

 

Blue Cheeses

  • Danish Blue

  • Gorgonzola

  • Stilton

Hard Cheeses

  • Cheddar

  • Colby

  • Gouda

  • Gruyere

  • Manchego

  • Aged Provolone

  • Aged Parmesan

 

4. Meats aren’t a must, but if you decide to include them, select ones that can be eaten with or without a cracker or piece of bread. Some good choices: sliced cured sausages or salami, or wafer-thin strips of prosciutto or jamón iberico.

 

5. Pile on the fruits! Most people love to contrast cheese, especially more pungent varieties, with the sweetness of fruit. Dried fruits like apricots are a common choice, but why not thaw some of your summer berry haul? Serve strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries as is, or simmer them on the stovetop into a single- or mixed-berry compote that guests can spoon over their cheese.

 

6. Add bread and other accompaniments. We like both crackers and thin slices of crusty bread for a cheese board, to provide alternating crunchy and chewy textures, but you can also include wedges of pita bread (fresh or toasted) or bread sticks. Other great choices for cheese board accompaniments include olives, pickles or cornichons, honey, and nuts (especially roasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans).

 

Check out this visual how-to for arranging your holiday cheese board. And don’t forget the berries!

Is It Safe to Thaw and Refreeze Berries?

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The cold has arrived in the Northeast, and you’re pining for some of your favorite summer flavors. You might be considering thawing some of those farm-store berries you stocked up on in the milder temperatures, but you’ve heard that unfreezing and refreezing foods is dangerous. So is it really safe to thaw and refreeze berries?

The short answer: it’s not dangerous to your health to thaw and then refreeze berries.

 

The longer answer: when fruits are frozen, the water inside the plant cells expands and bursts the cell wall. This is what creates all that delicious berry juice when you thaw. If you refreeze the berries at this point, unless you drain off the liquid, they’ll form a block when placed back in the freezer. When you thaw them again, they’ll lose some of their structural integrity and become soft of break apart.

 

This isn’t bad for you; it’s just not as pretty to look at. But as long as you don’t need perfectly formed berries—for example, if you’re making a jam, pie, or smoothie, or even pouring some berries over your oatmeal or pancakes—it’s not a problem to refreeze.

 

Every time you thaw and refreeze the berries, the fruit structure will degrade a little more, so keep this in mind. In general, it’s a good idea to thaw only what you need and keep the rest in the freezer. If your frozen berries are stored in large containers or bags instead of individually portioned ones, simply allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then gently knock the bag against a hard surface, such as a kitchen counter, to loosen up the berries. Remove the amount you need and set it aside. Close the bag tightly and refreeze the rest.

 

Looking for some inspiration for those thawed farmers’ market berries? Try these blueberry cocktails, fall-themed raspberry recipes, or vegan mixed berry crisp.

 

5 Fun Recipes for Your Fall Farmers’ Market Raspberries

We’re always a little sad for the end of strawberry and blueberry season, but the change of the seasons does have a bright spot: lush, juicy fall raspberries, which are popping up at farmers’ markets across the state. Pick up a quart or two, and try some of these vibrant updates on classic recipes.

 

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Fall Roasted Vegetable Salad with Spinach & Raspberry Chipotle Vinaigrette

This super-healthy recipe combines hardy lentils and nuts with vegetable that pack a flavorful punch—plus a spicy vinaigrette made with raspberries. Make your own quick, no-sugar added raspberry jam by mixing 2 tablespoons lemon juice with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch or agar-agar and letting it sit for five minutes. Then cook about 4 cups raspberries over medium heat until they start to break down. Remove them from the heat, mix in the lemon and cornstarch, and allow it to cool before putting it in the fridge to set up.



 

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Raspberry Collins

This fun update of the Tom Collins combines citrus and berries with gin and a hint of mint. We suggest upping the raspberry quotient to 6, and muddling them well with the simple syrup, to take some of the bite out of the gin and lemon juice.




 

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Raspberry Cardamom Rose Chia Pudding Parfait

If you’ve never experimented with the many variations on chia seed pudding, here’s a sophisticated way to start, featuring the sweetness of raspberries juxtaposed with Middle Eastern flavors like rosewater, cardamom, and cinnamon. Use New York State raspberries for maximum flavor.





 

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Easy Apple Raspberry Cake

This incredibly simple, German-inspired cake combines two of our favorite fall flavors: apples and raspberries. To make a vegan, gluten-free version, substitute flax “eggs” for the eggs, coconut sugar for the brown sugar, and almond flour for the all-purpose flour.


 

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Vegan Orange Raspberry Jam Muffins

What’s not to love above the combination of orange and raspberry? These muffins look as good as they taste, and the flavor can be amped up by switching out 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with almond flour. Make your own raspberry jam by following the steps in the Fall Roasted Vegetable Salad recipe, above.






 

Berry Crisp with a Vegan, Low-Sugar Twist

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With New York State berries still going strong, now is the time to stock up on blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Set some aside for snacking and some for freezing. Then make this incredibly easy, low-sugar berry crisp that tastes as decadent as the classic version of the dessert. Serve on its own, or with a scoop of maple or vanilla ice cream.

 

Vegan, Low-Sugar Berry Crisp

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Ingredients

 

Filling

7 cups cleaned and mixed berries—raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are perfect at this time of year!

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Topping

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond meal or toasted coconut

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons vegan butter, slightly softened

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix syrup, cornstarch, and lemon juice until smooth. Place fruit in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, then pour the syrup mixture over the fruit and gently toss to combine.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the almond meal, rolled oats, nuts, sugar, and salt. Add the vegan butter and mix with hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a sandy consistency. Add the maple syrup as needed to desired sweetness.

3. Spoon the topping over the fruit, covering evenly. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top turns golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Berry Crisp with a Vegan, Low-Sugar Twist

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With New York State berries still going strong, now is the time to stock up on blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Set some aside for snacking and some for freezing. Then make this incredibly easy, low-sugar berry crisp that tastes as decadent as the classic version of the dessert. Serve on its own, or with a scoop of maple or vanilla ice cream.

 

Vegan, Low-Sugar Berry Crisp

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Ingredients

 

Filling

7 cups cleaned and mixed berries—raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are perfect at this time of year!

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Topping

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond meal or toasted coconut

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons vegan butter, slightly softened

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix syrup, cornstarch, and lemon juice until smooth. Place fruit in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, then pour the syrup mixture over the fruit and gently toss to combine.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the almond meal, rolled oats, nuts, sugar, and salt. Add the vegan butter and mix with hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a sandy consistency. Add the maple syrup as needed to desired sweetness.

3. Spoon the topping over the fruit, covering evenly. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top turns golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve on its own, or topped with vegan vanilla or caramel ice cream.

 

Health Benefits of Raspberries: Vascular Improvement & Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

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A new study, conducted by researchers at Kings College London, in collaboration with German and Spanish scientists, shows that consuming raspberries may cut the risk of heart disease by 15 percent by improving circulation and blood-vessel health.

 

For the study, ten healthy males between 18 and 35 years old were given drinks made with made with frozen raspberries, and containing either 201 or 403 mg of total polyphenols, including ellagitannins, a potent phytochemical that has also been linked to reduced risk of cancer. Blood and urine tests were administered 2 hours and 24 hours after consuming the drink.

 

The tests were used to measure flow-mediated dilation (FMD), or the natural widening of the arteries that occurs as blood flow increases. FMD is an indicator of the health of the endothelial lining of blood vessels and is an established biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk. Results showed a significant increase in flow-mediated dilation (FMD) at the 2-hour, which was maintained the next day.

 

Findings from the study, which was funded by the National Processed Raspberry Council, were published in the August 2018 issue of the scientific journal The Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, the lead researcher on the study, said, “Although more studies are needed to confirm our findings, we are very excited about the potential role of raspberries and ellagitannins in cardiovascular disease prevention.”