Rich, nutty holiday treats are delicious, but after two months of festivities, they can start to weigh us down, literally. Berries are a festive touch that not only brighten but also lighten our indulgences so we can enter the New Year with a little more bounce to our steps.
This tart little berry grows on an evergreen shrub, making this winter fruit a very seasonal option. It usually needs a little touch of sweet or savory to cut its strong flavor, but it combines nicely with hazelnuts, almonds, citrus and sage or other savory-type seasonings. Cranberries also bake well into muffins, scones, cakes and breads.
For a simple, healthy side dish, steam green beans, drizzle with olive oil and toss with chopped fresh cranberries and hazelnuts.
This dark-hued berry is a relative of the raspberry. A half-cup serving provides 43 calories and 5 grams of dietary fiber, or 25% of the daily value. Blackberries are a rich source of flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation.
Top a lean pork roast with blackberry sauce for an impressive holiday meal. The sauce is simple but looks like you worked hard.
1½-2 cups fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
Add the sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the berries break down and thicken. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve over warm slices of pork roast.
A half-cup serving of this beautiful crimson berry provides 6.5 grams of fiber and 30% of the daily value for vitamin C, giving your immune system a powerful boost. Think beyond dessert this season and serve raspberries in a way that keeps them festive as well as good for us.
Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette
⅓ cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
⅓ cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Serve over a leafy green salad with spinach and baby kale, sliced green Anjou pears, feta cheese and a sprinkling of chopped pecans. This pretty pink dressing will add a splash of holiday color to your plate along with a healthy dose of fiber and nutrients.
Move over, oranges! A half-cup of strawberries provides 65% of the daily value for vitamin C. Like other berries, the list of nutrients is long. These, however, have a little more bulk, which may help keep you full with fewer calories than other foods.
Bring strawberries into holiday brunch as a topping for yogurt quinoa parfaits, blended into a creamy yogurt smoothie or as a mix-in for a sparkling mimosa, like the one below.
Strawberry Orange Mimosas
2 cups orange juice with pulp
½ cup fresh strawberries, washed with green tops removed
1 25-ounce bottle of champagne
Blend orange juice and strawberries until smooth. Fill champagne glass half full with champagne. Add orange-strawberry juice to fill the glass. Garnish with a slice of orange and a small strawberry.
Berries pack a powerful punch of nutrition, so add them to your holiday menus. The trick with keeping berries fresh is to buy what you can use within three to four days and wash them only when you are ready to use or eat them. Choose frozen varieties when berries are not in season.
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