Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bountiful Berries

Berries are ubiquitous in Seattle during the summertime. Blackberry bushes explode out onto the Burke Gilman trail. Large plastic buckets accompany the masses as they head into Magnuson Park. Red, blue and purple hues are ever-present at the farmers’ markets.

Beyond the fact that berries taste so good, there are several other reasons why we should capitalize on this abundance. Berries have the highest antioxidant capacity among all fruits and vegetables. This is due to bioactive compounds called anthocyanins, which are also responsible for the color in berries.

The health benefits of antioxidants are substantial. Antioxidants neutralize “free radicals” in the body. Free radicals are destructive molecules that can damage cells and other structures in the body. Damaged cells make us more susceptible to inflammation and chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Cooking berries may also increase their antioxidant potential so there’s no need to hesitate on the baked berry cobbler. In addition to antioxidant capacity, berries are also collectively high in several other nutrients, such as vitamin C, folate, potassium and beta carotene, that are critical for proper immune function, heart health and vision.

Berries are sweet and portable and can be added to your average breakfast cereals and desserts. They also make a delicious, low calorie snack. If you're more ambitious and want to enjoy the benefits of these nutrient powerhouses in the fall and winter, you might transform them into jam.

Listed below are a few recipes for simple summertime berry-rich beverages.


3/4 cup milk (rice, soy, nut or cow)
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, chilled or frozen
2 medium bananas
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until thick. Serve in your favorite glass.

Serves: 1-2
Prep time: 5 minutes

Strawberry Banana Lime
5 fresh strawberries, frozen
1 medium banana
juice of half a lime
3/4 cup rice milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until thick. Serve in your favorite glass and top dash of cinnamon.

Serves: 1
Prep time: 5 minutes

Friday, July 3, 2009

Superior Seaweed

A misperception exists that seaweeds are inedible and difficult to incorporate into the daily diet. In fact, they are one of the most versatile foods, providing abundant flavor and a natural source of salt to many different foods.

Beyond providing seasoning to foods, seaweeds are some of the most nutritionally complete foods on the planet. There aren’t many foods that measure up to the nutrient profile of seaweeds. While varying in exact amounts, they are collectively high in potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, iodine and selenium.

Some seaweeds, particularly nori, are also rich in B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Nori is one of the few plant-based foods that contains B12, a critical vitamin for cognitive function. Seaweeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Seaweeds have been used to treat many health conditions; most notably, thyroid disorders, heavy metal toxicity, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and chronic fatigue. Despite their nutritional and medicinal benefits, seaweed is overwhelmingly absent from the standard American diet.

One of the simplest ways to incorporate seaweed into your diet is with dried nori. Dried nori can be found pressed into sheets and is often used for rolling sushi; however, it can be crushed and sprinkled on the most basic foods: eggs, pasta, fish and soups. You can find dried nori and other dried seaweeds at most natural food stores such as Seattle-based PCC and Madison Market, as well as Asian groceries like Uwajimaya and Central Market.

Below is a simple recipe that incorporates dried nori. Try it at home and surprise your family with one of the most nutritionally complete foods on the planet.

Scallion, Walnut and Nori Scramble
Try crushed nori in your egg scrambles. Nori provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals, a source of salt and rich flavor. This dish is perfect for breakfast, brunch or even a quick dinner.

2 teaspoons pastured butter
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 pastured eggs, beaten
2 dried nori sheets
2 tablespoons walnuts, crushed
Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

Heat skillet to medium-high, add butter. Sauté green onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add eggs and stir for 1 minute. Crush dried nori as you would a piece of paper. Sprinkle and fold into egg mixture. Add walnuts and remove from heat.
Prep time: 8 minutes
Serves: 2
Copyright 2009, Genevieve Sherrow, Original Recipe.

Note: If you do not prefer the taste of seaweed, try incorporating small pieces of dried nori into dishes that are heavily spiced with curry, chili pepper, garlic, onion or cayenne.