berry recipes

Vegan Banana Berry Muffins

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Muffins are the ultimate portable breakfast or snack; just peel them out of their wrappers, pop a few in a bag or container, and go! We didn’t think it was possible to improve on the muffin concept . . . until we tried these Vegan Banana Berry Muffins—a fluffy, cakey delight bursting with sweetness and the bright flavor of berries. You can use a single type of berry—strawberries or blueberries, for example—for this recipe, but we love a mix.

 

Because overripe banana is richly sweet and works well as a binder in baked goods, this Vegan Banana Berry Muffins recipe calls for very little oil, and only a small amount of sugar. We’ve blended two different flours here—whole wheat for fiber and almond for protein and an extra zing of flavor, but you can substitute either with all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour (you may need to add more or less almond milk if you do this). Likewise, the nuts are optional, but we love their crunch and the added protein. The almond flour and nuts make these muffins a little more filling than those made with only white flour, so you won’t be tempted to overindulge in one sitting.

 

Serve these Vegan Banana Berry Muffins with vegan butter or cashew cream cheese, or a spoonful of lemon curd. They’ll keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week, or in the freezer for up to two months.

  

Vegan Banana Berry Muffins

 

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Ingredients

1 flax “egg” (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)

3 medium ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar

3 tablespoons agave

3 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoons salt (pink Himalayan sea salt is our favorite)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

3/4 cup unsweeted plain almond milk or coconut milk

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (optional)

1 cup strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, or a combination

Brown sugar (optional)

 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper or silicone baking cups.

2. In a large bowl, make the flax egg. Wait 10 minutes, then add the banana, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until fairly smooth, with only small chunks remaining.

3. Add the sugar, agave, oil, salt, and cinnamon and beat on medium to combine. Add the almond or coconut milk and beat until combined.

4. In a medium bowl, mix the almond meal and flour. Add to the banana mixture and mix until just combined; don’t overmix! Gently fold in the nuts and berries.

5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling completely. If desired, sprinkle a little brown sugar over the top of each muffin. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins have turned golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a rack.

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.

 

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.

 

6 Strawberry Recipes You’ll Love for Spring & Summer

For us, spring hasn’t truly arrived until the first crop of strawberries is here. Since they’re almost here, we rounded up six fantastic appetizer, entrée, and dessert recipes for using your favorite fruit from now into summer.

 

Breakfast Flatbread with Ricotta and Strawberry-Basil Jam

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A breakfast version of pizza that combines the crunch of warm flatbread with the mild savoriness of ricotta and the floral-sweet flavor of a strawberry jam punched up with basil? Yes, please.

 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

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Strawberries are a natural counterpoint to tangy cheeses. This simple recipe, with the extra zing of balsamic vinegar, makes an easy yet unexpected party hors d’ouevre. Save the scooped-out strawberry centers for making compotes, smoothies, or strawberry ice cubes.

 

Citrus Steak Salad

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With its mix of oranges and strawberries, this take on sirloin is light, bright, and filling, and looks impressive, too.

 

Strawberry Horchata

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A twist on the classic Latin rice-based milk drink, this berry version of horchata will satisfy the sweetest of palates. Make it vegan—and a bit more grown up—by substituting half of the condensed milk with coconut milk and half with a cream liqueur, such as Amarula or Guappa.

 

Chocolate Strawberry Slump (Cobbler)

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Perfect for when you need a dessert that looks and tastes impressive but doesn’t take sophisticated kitchen skills—or a lot of time—to put together.

 

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Fudge

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Why let peanut butter, chocolate, or maple have all the fun? Strawberries make a delicious flavor and texture complement to this fudge, which is made entirely in the microwave.

 

 

Not Just for Dessert: How to Use Berries in Savory Recipes

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Berries are a no-brainer in dessert, as well as in dozens of waffle, pancake, muffin, and breakfast-cake recipes. But why stop there, when you can enjoy the phenomenal taste and supernutritious benefits of berries with every meal? Here’s a little inspiration for using strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries in some unexpected savory meals.

Serve berries in your next:

Raw salad. All berries, but especially strawberries and blueberries, are delicious with spinach, kale, mache, or mesclun mixes, where their sweetness takes the bite out of greens. Add a handful of nuts, like almonds or walnuts, for contrasting textures and extra nutritional punch.

Bruschetta. Fresh or as a jam, berries work beautifully with a drizzle of fine olive oil.

Grilled cheese. Make a berry jam or conserves—either from a single berry or mixed berries—and spread it over your bread before you grill cheese. We haven’t met a cheese yet that doesn’t taste amazing when paired with berries, so experiment with everything from sharp, tangy goat cheeses or aged hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago, to milder cheeses like Swiss, Gruyere, and cheddar.

Baked Brie. We weren’t kidding when we said berries go with any cheese! This dish never fails to please at dinner parties, but it couldn’t be easier to make. Simply stew the berries on the stovetop first to create a jammy consistency, the spoon it over freshly baked Brie.

Pizza. You could easily make a sweet—and crowd-pleasing—pizza with berries and a young goat cheese. But did you know that blackberries and raspberries provide a natural “lift” to earthier flavors like blue cheese and arugula? Or that strawberries and blueberries are a dream team when paired with spinach, mozzarella, and a dash of balsamic vinegar?

Sauce for proteins. This is one of our favorite—and probably the most underused—way to serve berries in a savory recipe. Stew them with a squeeze or two of agave or honey, plus a little cornstarch (if needed for thickening), then pour the sauce over roasted or grilled pork, beef, lamb, or tempeh. Serve with healthy grains like quinoa and brown rice.

Dipping sauce. Similar to the above, a stewed sauce of raspberries or strawberries makes a deliciously unexpected dip for fried chicken (or vegan “chicken”).

Spicy barbecue sauce. If you love a kick-in-the-pants barbecue sauce, try mixing berries along with chile peppers, like habanero, jalapeno, and chipotle, while cooking. Let the mixture sit for several hours before using, to deepen the flavors.

Ceviche. While berries may not seem like the most natural pairing with fish, they’re delightful in this traditional Latino dish, where citrus brings out their inherent brightness.

Tropical salsa. Mix the berries with mango, pineapple, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, a healthy squeeze of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Then serve over crispy fried tilapia or sea bass in fish tacos, or over shredded beef or pork nachos.

Mixed-berry Thanksgiving sauce. Tired of the same-old cranberry sauce? Reinvent it with a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Your turkey—and your tastebuds—will thank you!

Cocktails. Sure, you’ve had berries in sweet spiked lemonades and iced teas. But have you tried them with stronger spirits? Muddle the berries with cachaça for an update on the Brazilian classic caipirinha, or blend with rum and mint for an unforgettable take on the mojito.

 

 

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.