The Super Powers Of Blackberries

I thought I might get a little sweet on you today.  No, we’re not talking about candy.

Veggies have been getting exposure on my blog so I wanted to give fruit some advertising time too.

What better fruit to start with than one of my most favorites, blackberries. I’m pretty sure I eat them most days of the week, sometimes multiple times in my day. The past year not only have they been really on the affordable, often crazy cheap side, they’ve been awesomely sweet too.

Cheap,sweet AND ridiculously good for you?? Say what?!

Oh, and you don’t have to peel, slice or prepare them other than wash them.

Now……get over here and get in on the scoop if you don’t know about these wonder berries and I’ll tell you why you should be consuming these tasty morsels.

How about a little history lesson first?

Blackberries belong to the Rubus genus in the Rosaceae family and have been used for their medicinal values for more than 2000 years. The traditional usage of blackberry fruit, leaf, bark and roots by the Romans and Greeks was for healing numerous health conditions that ranged from mild infections to venomous bites. In fact, during the 18th century the Greek cure of using blackberry for treating gout was so influential in Europe that it was famously known as the ‘gout berry’. Recent scientific evidences have contributed extensively in unearthing the therapeutic potential of blackberries and its worldwide consumption.

The berries are known by a variety of names including brambleberries, brambles, dewberry or thimbleberry.

Whatever you wanna call them, I’ll eat them.

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Big and delicious 🙂

 

Are blackberries nutritious?

Yes!

The nutrient list of blackberries is extensive. They are loaded with Vitamin C (a 100g serving has 23 mg or 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance or RDA), but are low in calories (only 43 calories per 100g serving) and sodium. They are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

One cup of blackberries has over 7.6 grams of fiber, more than a cup of bran flakes! ( and probably a lot more enjoyable) this one cup offers 30% of our daily needs. Who says fiber can’t taste good?

Blackberries are also rich in vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins, as well as antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and chronic diseases. They are one of the best high-ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) foods available. Minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, are also found in this fruit

The humble blackberry contains impressively high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, tannin, gallic acid, pelargonidins, quercetin, cyanidins, kaempferol,catechins, and salicylic acid.

I know there are lots of big words here but they do lots of big things!

These antioxidant compounds protect against aging, inflammation, cancer, and other neurological diseases.

You want products that offer anti-aging? Don’t look for it in lotions or creams.  Eat foods that contain high levels of antioxidants, of which blackberries are extremely rich in. According to a research from the Human Nutrition Research Center, eating a cup of blueberries daily can help to reduce oxidative stress in 2 regions of human brain and protect neurons. In fact, most fruits and vegetables with the dark violet color can work to fight off fee radicals, a key component that damages DNA ( meaning, aging)

There is also growing research suggesting blackberries might be among the most potent cancer fighting fruits.

Blackberries may also be good for your brain health suggesting that the high antioxidant level in blackberries, strawberries and other berries may prevent age-related memory loss.

Do you want glowing skin and beautiful hair?

Every since I learned about the connection between nutrients and the aging process, I’ve kicked up my antioxidant game.

Because of large amounts of vitamin A, C, and K  blackberries have skin rejuvenation properties.  Blackberries are also about 85% water so you are naturally hydrating your skin from the inside out. ( drinking plenty of water is the best way to keep skin hydrated)

There are also several face masks you can make with blackberries to hydrate skin. I’m not actively promoting them as I haven’t tried them (yet) but if you like experimenting, find one and give it a try.

They also consist of collagen-forming vitamin C, and a small amount of vitamin A. Acting as antioxidants, these vitamins can protect their skin cells from the damage resulted by free radicals that contribute to skin aging. Therefore, regular consumption of  blackberries could protect the skin against UVA and UVB damage and aid in skin cell renewal.

The antioxidants found in blackberries are proven to be good for the hair. There are some ways in which they could support healthy, smooth hair. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which is largely responsible for collagen, making hair healthy and strong.

Is it time to eat them yet?

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of course the best way to eat them is crisp and cold right out of the carton. seriously I can nibble them away in an afternoon and wonder why the carton is empty.

Thank goodness they are so low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with all those good antioxidants!

I also use blackberries for a fast healthy protein packed breakfast with non fat Greek yogurt and some raw almonds.

I also enjoy tossing them in a spinach salad with strawberries, feta cheese, some chopped almonds and a few other colorful veggies.

Of course you can always use them to make tasty baked goods like blackberry cobbler 😉

I’m attaching a recipe from my Pinterest collection I haven’t tried yet but it’s happening soon.

Crockpot Blackberry Jam, because you know, homemade biscuits 😉 Ok I’ll add that recipe here for you too. Enjoy!

 

Tell me…do you like blackberries? How do you enjoy eating them?

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The Smoothie Lowdown

Strawberry smoothies

 

On my fitness journey the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to see, or should I say, observe a lot of food trends, diets and otherwise various health fads and foods.

There was the era of everything being “fat-free”. Fat was demonized and no one wanted it to cross their lips.  There was no teaching or awareness of “good” fats and how they are essential to your body. Nor, was anyone realizing that in removing the fat lots of extra sugar was put in to keep it from tasting like a piece of… well… your coffee table.

Then there were all the “sugar-free” options. These might serve a small market of people who need a different alternative but again, people jumped on the wagon riding along  munching their sugar free treats while the manufactures happily went to the bank on consumers ignorance and lack of knowledge.

What no one stopped to ponder was the fact these products did say…maybe perhaps in tiny  print somewhere on the bottom …. “not a calorie free food” or “not a low calorie food”

As people happily consumed their fat free cookies, maybe a bit more in excess because they were you know, fat free, they never lost weight. I’m beating up on cookies here but the fat free thing was on almost every product you put your hands on several years back.

And I mean everything. It was the newest marketing food gimmick.

I’ll tell you this… now with what I know.. I’d rather have a little bit of the real honest thing than something manipulated and over processed that doesn’t satisfy me anyway.

Well there’s a new food trend in town and it’s been around for awhile and it seems like all the cool kids are trying it…again there’s a big focus on how healthy it is…

Know what it is?

Smoothies.

Now… hold on… I have no intention of ruffling feathers or stomping toes here… it’s ok if you love smoothies.. really.

My point is to educate. I’m blown away that so many people buy them but are clueless to how calorie laden they are and they genuinely think they are making a good choice.

Now if you’re whipping them up at home you know exactly what you’re tossing in and have control over sugars and contents of your final product.  And there’s nothing wrong with a cool fruity drink you’ve put together with love 😉

We had a new place show up in town that people are excited over that just make smoothies. I hadn’t been in yet and my son asked me to stop one day and grab him one to bring over to work.

A perfect field trip for me to gain some first hand info on topic…so I picked up their drink menu which features sizes and calories per each size.

As I scanned it I was …shocked… that the one I was purchasing for him… in a medium size….which  I think was 32oz. packed a whopping almost 1500 calories… and I coughed up almost 9.00 for it too.

The first ingredient listed… was ice cream 😛

Of course, I shared all this with him and he was horrified…

It should be noted that some smoothies were listed as “meal replacements” although I find 1400-1500 calories or more a pretty hefty meal “replacement”.

Now on the menu there are options that are “lighter” in calories. They offer 25 that are under 300 calories… not bad if you’re wanting a cool, healthy on the go drink.

You just need to have an awareness of what goes into it and know what you’re consuming. If you’re concerned about calories and working to lose weight not knowing what you’re consuming can subtly sabatoge your weight loss efforts.

As I read through menu almost all of them contained “turbinado” which is a fancy word for natural, raw sugar, but sugar none the less.  They give you the option to not have it used which saves you around… 100 calories… in your smoothie.

Of course there are also “add ins” and these are called enhancers which are supposed to give an extra nutritional kick to your smoothie.  The fine print at the bottom lets you know the statements for enhancers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  The small print also tells you that the  nutritional and caloric info largely depends on the ingredients you choose to put into it.

The bottom line on your bottom line? Know the contents of your smoothies… be educated.

Don’t just assume because it sports the name “smoothie” it’s a low calorie, off the charts healthy drink for you.

Depending on what’s in it…. you could eat a nice meal for the calories.

And keep in mind as well, liquids calories are mentally easy to dismiss, but do add up if a consistent habit.

With an awareness you can enjoy a healthy and flavorful smoothie that won’t destroy your efforts to getting lean.

Do you make smoothies? Buy them? What is your favorite?

Navigating The Grocery Store

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As I have learned to navigate through my own health and fitness journey I’ve obviously figured out for myself what works and what doesn’t work.

One of the things I hear from you is how hard it can be to eat well and nutritionally balanced in todays world.

I hear you.

There’s a lot of crazy ideas out there.

“Eat this, don’t eat that!”

“These foods are “bad” don’t eat them”

“Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs”

“Sugar is really bad don’t eat it”

Ah! The crazy stuff can go on and on.

Often when I’m at the store I’m blown away by the vast amounts of food and the choices that are available to us.

Where does one start? How do you get through things like the bakery, or cookie aisle?

I’ll remind you again, it all comes down to our choices we make.  There are LOTS of things that need never come home.  If you’re trying to make good choices then leave those things at the store if you know it will only tempt you.

If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it, bottom line.

You might intellectually know buying fruits are better for you than a bag of cookies, but those cookies might have a stronger pull on you. Worse yet, if they come home, you’re gonna eat them.

If you want to shop well I’ve always been told to shop the perimeter of the store since that’s where all the fresh foods are. And it’s true….

Although, you can’t dismiss the canned food aisle which offers good choices like tomatoes, beans,  and fruits ( always buy these in natural juice…read labels to make sure there’s no added sugar)  or the bread aisle where you can pick up whole grain breads or buns. Raw nuts are of all things, on the chip aisle in my store.

If it’s a new idea to you to focus on just healthy shopping, write out a game plan before you head to the store.

Be willing to try a few new things and experiment. You never know what you might find that you like 🙂

Alright, so a plan.

Start with produce. Look for seasonal produce, it’s often cheaper. Buy a variety of bright colors. Be cautious and buy amounts you will realistically eat before it might go bad. Honestly, I’m at the store several times a week for fresh produce.

Meat. Buy lean cuts and obviously, check your local sales. I also love getting frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. These can be pulled out as needed and used in a variety of ways. Ground beef can be purchased in larger packs and then you can separate into meals portions at home to freeze.

In the dairy section of course would be cheeses, milk, yogurts, eggs etc

After loading up on fresh foods, consider various canned foods like beans, tomatoes, sauce, tuna etc.

Pasta, brown rice, or whole grain pastas.

Shopping the bread aisle look for products that are whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredients.

When shopping keep in mind you should strive for foods with five ingredients or less ( on a healthy level, the less stuff, the better)

Now… treats…. life is to short to not enjoy some things we love. I’m certainly not against those but be aware more “empty calorie” foods contribute to weight gain

Keep in mind balance and moderation. Know your limits and know what will tempt you and keep you from your health goals.

Making informed and careful decisions as you shop will lead you to nutritional success in the long run.

In summary :

  • Plan Ahead. …
  • Choose Real Foods. …
  • Avoid Processed Foods. …
  • Read Ingredient Lists. …
  • Stay on the Perimeter.

 

Happy shopping!

Do you have a healthy shopping plan when you go to the store? Do you have tricks or tips that help you?

Some Of My Favorite Super Foods

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Food.  Let’s talk about food. I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about understanding your relationship with it and  learning how to eat in balance and moderation but let’s talk now about eating and eating some “super foods”.

I hesitate to use that term since it’s kinda over used but seriously, there are some really awesome super foods out there that pack a ridiculous amount of health benefits and not a ton of calories to boot.

I want to share some of my favorites with you =)

Spinach. I love this stuff! It’s sautéed in with other veggies and eggs for a breakfast meal and has become my “lettuce” for salads.  What other benefits does it offer?

Powerful antioxidants in spinach have been found to combat a variety of cancers, including ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. And it’s good for the noggin: Research indicates that spinach reduces the decline in brain function associated with aging and protects the heart from cardiovascular disease. Although it contains relatively high amounts of iron and calcium, oxalate compounds bind to these minerals and diminish their absorption.

Get creative in how you use it and indulge all you want as it packs minimal calories and tons of nutrients.

Walnuts. Who can resist a handful of nuts? Especially when they offer up the goodness that walnuts do.

One-quarter cup of walnuts supplies 90 percent of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in everything from maintaining cognitive function, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure.

I love some tossed in my morning cottage cheese with fresh fruit. It makes a fast, protein and nutrient packed breakfast I can eat getting ready. They’re also tasty mixed in with oatmeal and a handful of dried fruit =)

Yogurt. It’s no secret I love Greek yogurt but all yogurt packs lots of good benefits. Greek just contains the highest amount of protein.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are bacteria that live in the intestine, aid in digestion, boost the immune system, diminish bad breath, and are even associated with longer life spans. A 1-cup serving also supplies one-third of your daily calcium requirement, as well as 14 grams of satisfying protein.

Just be cautious about “fruit” varieties as they can pack a whopping amount of sugar.

Sweet Potatoes.  These tasty little critters have shown up a lot more in my house than just for Thanksgiving 😉 My favorite way to have them is to cube them up, toss them with some olive oil, sliced onion and bake till crisp and tender. The cold ones are delicious to add to breakfast the next morning!

Need a beta-carotene fix? Just one medium sweet potato packs over four times the recommended daily amount. These tasty tubers are also rich in potassium, inflammation-fighting vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which may prevent clogged arteries.

Boiling sweet potatoes may cause some of the water-soluble vitamins to leach out, so try them baked, roasted, or cubed, and added to soups or stews. If you need a boost of fiber, make sure to leave the skins on.

Avocados.

Just one half of a medium-size avocado contains more than 4 grams of fiber and 15% of your recommended daily folate intake. Cholesterol-free and rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, avocados are also a powerhouse for heart health.

Use avocados as the base for a creamy homemade sandwich spread, or add a few chunks to your favorite salsa for a simple and delicious way to dress up grilled chicken or fish.

I use avocado to mix into tuna to replace the mayo =) Add a little lemon juice, salt and pepper… . yummy!

Seriously. I love avocados.  😉

Apples. Who doesn’t love biting into a perfect, sweet, crunchy apple ?

Apples are the richest fruit source of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, decrease the risk of colon and breast cancers, and maybe even lessen the severity of diabetes.

Try throwing a few slices on your favorite sandwich or toss with field greens, toasted pecans, and a light vinaigrette for a delicious salad. With so many varieties available, you’ll never get bored finding new ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

Blackberries. In my area have been so plentiful and inexpensive most of last year I’ve almost always had them in my ‘fridge. I love them in salads, alone, or tossed in my morning cottage cheese. Get creative with how you use them.

Blackberries, which contain only 62 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per cup, are excellent sources of a few key nutrients. As a result, they help keep your tissues healthy and combat chronic disease.

The fiber in blackberries helps aid digestion and may help lower your cholesterol levels, which fights cardiovascular disease. One cup of blackberries provides almost 8 grams of fiber, which is 21 to 32 percent of the daily fiber recommendations for men and and women, respectively. The vitamin A in blackberries also supports your digestive tract by helping maintain healthy mucous membranes, such as the tissues that line the inside of your mouth. Each cup of raw blackberries provide 308 IU of vitamin A. This is 13 percent of the daily vitamin A intake for women and 10 percent for men.

Blackberries owe their rich purple hue to their anthocyanin content, and these anthocyanins also offer cancer-fighting benefits. They act as antioxidants — chemicals that fight genetic mutations and cancer-causing tissue damage — and may have the ability to slow cancer cell growth, according to research.

I’d say there’s lots of reasons to grab some, wouldn’t you ?

And one more favorite pick….

Oranges.

Just one medium orange (think tennis ball) supplies all your daily vitamin C, which is a dynamite immunity booster and cancer fighter. And consuming vitamin C is best done in its natural form: Italian researchers also found that test subjects had greater antioxidant protection after drinking orange juice versus vitamin C–fortified water. Plus, this sweet and tangy fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, calcium, folate, and other B vitamins.

Now there are lots of awesome foods out there to feed your body… this is just a tiny sampling. Explore on your own and find something new you haven’t tried to add to your own super food list =)

Tell me… do you have a favorite super food ?