Berries Have Even More Health Benefits!

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You probably already knew that berries are among the healthiest foods on the planet, and can contribute to everything from a healthy immune system to better eyesight and metabolic regulation. But did you know that scientists have recently discovered a range of new health benefits of berry consumption?

At the 2017 Berry Health Benefits Symposium, experts presented their findings. The new research demonstrates that a variety of chemical compounds in berries—including polyphenols, metabolites, and flavonoids—show promise in decreasing the effects of or in treating:

  • Arthritis, especially the reduction of pain and inflammation
  • Allergic asthma airway inflammation
  • Oxidative stress, inflammation, and other neural alterations cause by a high-fat diet, which can contribute to brain impairments in learning and memory
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Age-related declines in psychomotor function, including balance, muscle strength, and coordination
  • High blood pressure and arterial stiffness, especially in postmenopausal women
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome, especially its effects on the immune system and weight gain
  • Hyperglycemia

Simply eating a handful of berries won’t cure disease. However, as these and other studies have shown, concentrated doses of the health-giving compounds of berries can have a significant effect on many diseases. This means, researchers believe, that incorporating additional and larger servings of berries into a healthy, balanced daily diet can help prevent certain diseases from developing in the first place, or from getting worse.

Visit our recipes (both savory and sweet) for ideas on how you can make berries a regular—and tasty!—part of your overall nutrition plan, and reap the health benefits.

Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Give Yourself a Berry Boost!

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As the winter—with its cold, short days and long, dark nights—marches on, it’s not uncommon to start feeling low-energy, fatigued, or even down in the dumps. These feelings, plus our tendency to soothe ourselves with comfort foods during the winter months, can create stress that increases the number of free radicals in our bodies. An excess of free radicals can lead to a host of diseases and ailments, among them depression . . . and then the cycle perpetuates itself. But even though we still have a couple of months to go before we can start enjoying longer days and sunshine, we do have a potent weapon against the winter doldrums: berries.

Various studies have shown that the antioxidants in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries can significantly decrease the incidence of depression. Blueberries can even combat genetic and biochemical tendencies toward the depression and suicidal feelings that are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And because berries help prevent the release of cortisol, the well-known “stress hormone,” experts consider them one of the top foods for boosting mood and energy and improving concentration.

Start the day off on a positive note with a cup of green tea (another great stress reducer), followed by a berry-rich breakfast. If you love hearty breakfasts like pancakes and oatmeal, add a healthy serving of berries for a mood blast. But if a grab-and-go breakfast is more your style, try our Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie. It’s vegan and gluten-free, and you can even prep the ingredients the night before and store them in the fridge (except the banana; it’ll turn brown in cold storage). If the berries are frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, or in the fridge overnight. The next morning, toss everything in the blender, and you’re good to go!

 

Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1 cup mixed berries 

1 banana

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1/4 cup roasted unsalted walnuts

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more almond milk until it reaches an easily drinkable consistency.

Berries for Breakfast: 7 Ways to Use Your Favorite Fruit to Start the Day

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Berries are the undisputed champ of the breakfast table, and with good reason: they’re not just a healthy way to kick off your day, they’re also incredibly versatile and full of flavor. And did we mention crowd-pleasing? We can’t think of another food that’s universally loved by both adults and kids.

And since there’s evidence that eating something sweet with breakfast can actually help you lose weight and keep it off, we think it’s a great time to make strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries a regular part of your breakfast routine. Here are seven of our favorite ways to enjoy berries for breakfast:

  1. In smoothies. Mix with cow’s milk or yogurt (or non-dairy milk or yogurt) and a banana for a rich, creamy texture. Or for a powerful antioxidant boost, blend with a handful of spinach or kale, plus a teaspoon of fresh ginger for a zingy wake-up drink.
  2. Fresh on top of oatmeal or cereal. Gluten free or low-carb? No problem! Try this nut porridge recipe, and sub out the apples and raisins with your favorite berry mix.  
  3. Fresh on top of pancakes or waffles, or a bowl of yogurt. We also love them cooked into the pancakes or waffles—just drop a handful of berries into the batter, once you’ve poured it into the waffle iron or skillet—with yogurt drizzled over the top! Add a handful of chopped walnuts for extra protein.
  4. Blended with acai, another superfood, to make acai bowls. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries all lend sweetness to the acai, and the combination creates a vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant blast that’s unmatched by any single food. Top with granola and more fresh berries, or for a tropical twist, add mango and pineapple chunks.
  5. In baked treats like muffins, scones, popovers, coffee cake, and sweet breads. Use a .5:1 mix of wheat and all-purpose flour for extra fiber, or try experimenting with almond flour for a gluten-free, protein-rich, flavor-packed breakfast you can grab on the go.
  6. Cooked into conserves or jams and spread over freshly made warm bread or toast.
  7. In homemade granola bars and oat squares. We’re partial to this vegan berry oat square recipe, featuring blueberries and strawberries, mixed with oatmeal, spices, and maple syrup.

 

Holiday Berry Recipes You Might Just Want to Eat All Year Long

Just because apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash dominate the culinary landscape in the fall doesn’t mean you can’t serve impressive berry entrees and desserts at your holiday parties. Here’s our roundup of holiday berry recipes with warm, harvesty flavors your guests will swoon over.

 

Roasted Berry and Brie Kale Salad

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As if we needed proof that strawberries and blueberries could get richer and more flavorful, this recipe takes humble berries to the next level by roasting them with a bit of salt and pepper, then tossing them with baby kale and tangy brie. Makes a great leftover lunch after the parties have wrapped.

 

 

Raspberry Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

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One bite of this red zinfandel–spiked sauce, on its own or drizzled over your turkey and stuffing, and you’ll never go back to traditional, sugar-laden cranberry sauce.

 

Spicy Turkey Wraps with Strawberry Salsa

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Looking for an alternative to the typical sliced Thanksgiving turkey? Try this spicy-sweet wrap—ideal for buffet-style parties or as finger sandwiches on the hors d’oeuvres table.

 

Maple and Blackberry Orange Glazed Ham

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If complex flavors are your thing, look no farther than this Maple and Blackberry Orange Glazed Ham. It’s a great way to give top billing to those blackberry preserves you made back in the summer, combined with that quintessential harvest flavor, maple.

 

Wild Blueberry Egg Nog

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Blueberries and bourbon? Turns out they’re a match made in holiday heaven. This dairy-free, gluten-free recipe offers an egg-free option, which also makes it great for serving to vegans and those with food intolerances.

 

Fig-and-Raspberry Tart with Chestnut Honey

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We love this tart for a grown-up dinner party. The mix of savory spices like bay and rosemary balance out the sweetness of raspberries and figs, and the chestnut honey lends an unexpectedly spicy flavor.

 

Triple Berry Pie

Go all in with this berry trifecta—the perfect way to enjoy some of those blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries from the farmers’ market that you stashed in the freezer.

 

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberry Santas

Because it’s never too early to start planning tasty (and adorable) winter or Christmas desserts, here’s a recipe that’s equal parts delicious and crafty, featuring creamy cheesecake, plump strawberries, and chocolate chips. Kids will love helping to make these fun little edible Santas.

 

Are Frozen Berries as Nutritious as Fresh? You Bet!

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A May article in The Guardian posed the following question and answer:

Q: Fresh [food] is best – right?

A: In fact, studies on the relative benefits of fresh and frozen show no consistent differences.

As far back as the late 1990s, the Food & Drug Administration declared that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. Meanwhile, a more recent story on Health.com notes, “Some of the healthiest foods in the market are in the freezer section.” 

So when it comes to those local berries you bought and froze during the summer, rest assured that enjoying them during the fall and winter doesn’t mean that your favorite recipes will lack for any of the health benefits that make strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries the superfoods they are. No matter whether fresh or frozen, berries are nutritional powerhouses that can contribute to a variety of positive health effects, from preventing to disease to maintaining a consistent weight.

The ability of frozen fruit and vegetables to retain their nutritional value has a lot to do with the quick-freezing and flash-freezing technologies that have been developed and refined since the 1920s. These days, frozen berries show no significant difference in nutrient levels as their fresh counterparts. They’ve also improved a lot in texture and flavor, thanks to manufactures’ desire to satisfy the savvy customer’s demand for healthier, better-tasting, and better-quality foods.

So take out a bag or two of your frozen farmers’ market berries and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. Add strawberries or blackberries to pancakes or acai bowls, fold blueberries into muffins and breads, and savor raspberries in sauces for meat and fish. Or enjoy enjoy a mix of berries in pies, tarts, trifles, and parfaits—without guilt or fear that they’re not as good for you as their freshly picked friends.

 

Farmers' Market Finds with Dale Ila Riggs

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This summer, NYSBGA board chair Dale Ila Riggs was interviewed by Albany radio station WEQX about how she got her start in farming and why growing and selling healthy, happy berries has become such an important part of her work. Listen to the interview through the link below.

8 Raspberry Recipes to Enjoy This Fall

If you live in an area with local farm stands that grow fall raspberries—and we hope you do!—we’ve rounded up eight amazing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes that are perfect for weekdays or for serving to guests.

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For a heartier breakfast on chilly mornings, use a half-and-half mix of whole wheat or almond flour and all-purpose in these Lemon Poppy Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce. Or use all almond flour for a gluten-free version.

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Forget the jam; use this velvety Raspberry Butter on toast, pancakes, muffins, even fresh corn. Make a double batch and freeze half to use later.

 

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This tangy Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette goes with any salad—hot or cold.

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Looking for a grown-up alternative to raspberry lemonade? Try Raspberry Basil Limoncello, a sophisticated combination of fruit, herbs, and liqueur.

 

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A chewy, hearty flavor blast, this easy Black Rice and Raspberry Salad is also full of other healthy ingredients like sprouts and herbs.

 

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The Chipotle Raspberry Sauce in this slow-cooker taquitos recipe can be used with almost any baked, grilled, or roasted meat or fish dish.

 

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Light, fluffy, and bursting with crunchy almonds and sweet raspberries, this Raspberry Almond Cake takes just two bowls and a few steps to whip up.

 

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Not for the short on time or patience, this multistep Raspberry Spice Cake recipe pays off in a huge way with a cake that looks as impressive as those at a high-end bakery, plus the unexpected combo of fall-friendly spices with delicate raspberries.

 

Member Spotlight: Abbott Farms

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms

Ask most farmers what they grow and sell, and they’ll enumerate a list of fruits and vegetables. Ask Warren Abbott of Abbott Farms, and the answer is “Fun.”

Of course, the farm also sells other products, and lots of them—including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, rhubarb, asparagus, sweet corn, pumpkins, Italian prunes, and apples, as well as beef, hard cider, and wine. But what Abbott Farms—located in Baldwinsville and in operation, in the same family, since 1866—focuses on most of all is the customer. “We really sell an experience,” Warren explains, noting that the farm has up to 85 employees seasonally each year, most of them in customer service–related roles. 

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms Baldwinsville NY

Prior to 1964, Abbott Farms was a small subsistence dairy. They added grain and potatoes at that time, and a small store for some retail sales by the early ’70s. In 1993, with the addition of a new store, they shifted their focus toward retail, and by 2007 had left the grain market entirely. These days, under the management of their fifth generation of farmers, they sell wholesale only if there’s extra supply. Recently, they added hard cider and wine, to satisfy the customer demand for quality local products and the in-person touch.

Over the years, the Abbotts have found that in order to sell in volume, customers require that the products be grown right on the farm. “Every time we decide to grow an item we sell, we triple sales of that item instantly,” Warren says. “I would have never guessed it would be so dramatic. We would have made that change sooner [if we had known].”

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms Baldwinsville NY 2

Crop losses from SWD encouraged the Abbotts to walk away from growing fall raspberries and day-neutral strawberries, though Warren says they may restart those crops “if control methods are available and economical.” As a business, Abbott Farms’ bigger challenges have been expanding frequently to maintain income; labor rates and regulation; and finding, training, and keeping good employees in seasonal positions.

For now, they’re focusing on frequent shake-ups to their strategy to maintain consumer interest. “The cidery will take some time to dial in, but it’s the most exciting and promising change since 2007,” Warren says, adding that they’ll be introducing a hard-cider tasting room soon. Besides the many varieties of fruit and sweet ciders available for tasting, they also offer happy-making products like 10 flavors of fudge and more than 20 flavors of ice cream. And they try to emphasize to customers that they select berry varieties for flavor, and pick for flavor and sugar content—not shipping and storage hardiness—to bring audience back week after week.

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On-farm events—such as foot races, berry festivals, pancake breakfasts, a weekly festival in the fall, weekly farmers’ markets, and birthday parties—have been a big success. These events keep Abbott Farms top of mind—and tops in word-of-mouth referrals—for customers, as does maintaining a regular e-mail and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter presence. They also advertise on billboards and in family and leisure guides in season.

Even though Abbott Farms is tech- and marketing-savvy, they still make sure the personal touch comes across in everything they do. Warren says, “We will continue to offer educational, family fun, while picking fruit and relaxing around the farm.” Maybe even for another 150 years.

Snack Roundup: The 10 Best Blueberry Recipes

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With blueberries at their peak for the next few weeks, we’ve rounded up our favorite blueberry recipes—savory and sweet—to keep this sweet and superhealthy fruit in your menu rotation all week long.

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Anytime we hear blueberry and cake in the same sentence, we’re in. We’ll be starting the day with this Blueberry Breakfast Cake all summer.

Blueberry Breakfast bake Whole Foods

                      

This delightful morning variation on bread pudding is assembled the night before you serve it, making it perfect for when you have guests or when you want to present your family with something special on the weekend.

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Two things we love (besides berries): naan and pizza. And we love them even more when combined with blueberries into this savory-sweet Blueberry, Feta, and Honey-Caramelized Onion Naan Pizza.

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Use this Savory Blueberry Sauce to top roasted chicken or pork.

Blueberry mozzarella honey crisps

Who knew bruschetta could taste this good by swapping out the traditional tomato topping with blueberries?

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This Scandinavian-style Blueberry Soup is a one-pot wonder that works equally well with fresh or frozen berries, so you can enjoy it all year long.

Delish Berry Cheesecake Bars recipe

Pull out a few of those fresh strawberries you froze last month and put together this heavenly combo of blueberry and strawberry Cheesecake Bars.

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Try pairing the zing of ginger with the natural sweetness of cooked berries in this Blueberry Ginger Pie.

Blueberry pecan galette bon appetit recipe

This Blueberry Pecan Galette looks as impressive as it tastes, but it’s not difficult to make. Whip up the crust up to two days before guests arrive, then mix together the filling and bake.

Lucious Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie recipe

Packed with protein, antioxidants, and tons of flavor, this smoothie is the perfect midday pick-me-up, especially when you’re trying to avoid sugary snacks.

 

 

 

 

 

The (Many) Health Benefits of Blueberries

New York State Berry Growers health benefits of blueberries

The (Many) Health Benefits of Blueberries

It’s no secret that a colorful fruits, especially blueberries, offer a variety of health benefits. From reduced risk of debilitating diseases to improved complexion and hair, blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse that have significant positive effects on human health. And new studies are showing that blueberries can even enhance cognitive function. With summer—and fresh berries—due to arrive in farmers’ markets and on farm stand shelves in a little more than a month, there’s never been a better time to incorporate fresh, local blueberries into your diet. 

Blueberries are chock-full of many health-promoting vitamins and compounds, including anthocyanins, a flavonoid that has been linked to protection against free radical damage and a decreased risk of cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The blueberry is also known to support heart health, with high levels of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Likewise, this humble fruit’s high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium all help to decrease blood pressure. Blueberries are also high in vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption—a low intake of which has been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture. Some studies even suggest that regular eating of blueberries can promote healthy skin and hair, increase energy, and contribute to weight loss.

Recent studies have demonstrated the blueberry’s positive effect on cognitive function. A pair of 2014 studies found that consumption of blueberries can improve short-term memory loss and motor coordination, and in patients with the neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease, consumption of blueberries has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline.  Another study found that blueberries (in a freeze-dried powder form) may also have an effect on the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” concluded lead author Robert Krikorian.

The latest study, published in March 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition, provided more evidence that blueberry consumption improves cognitive function. The authors found that adults age 60 to 75 who consumed 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (the equivalent of one cup fresh berries) daily showed significant improvement in verbal memory, repetition, and task switching over their placebo-group counterparts.

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Blueberry Nutrition at a Glance

A 1-cup serving of blueberries contains:

  • 84 calories
  • 3.6 grams of dietary fiber (14% of daily requirement)
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • 1.1 grams of protein
  • .49 grams of fat
  • 21 grams of carbohydrate
  • 24% of an adult's recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 5% of vitamin B6, and 36% of vitamin K
  • Iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, beta-carotene, folate, choline, vitamin A, vitamin E
  • Phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity, including anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and chlorogenic acid

To locate a farm in your area of New York that sells fresh, locally grown berries, visit our Find a Farm directory.