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Today is September 27, 2020

Featured Cookbook

Plated with Rebecca Turner

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner

Picking blueberries is a summer tradition in Mississippi. It only takes a few well-established bushes to feed a household till they’re blue in the face. Some of my fondest June and July memories are walking barefoot out to the blueberry bushes late afternoon with an emptied ice-cream gallon bucket. When the bushes are at peak, you can quickly harvest one to two gallons per hour, if you don’t get distracted by eating them straight off the branches. Mom would tell me, ‘don’t pick white, green, or berries with any hint of red; they haven’t ripened.’ You learn to keep an eye out for the concentrated clusters of plump, full-bodied berries. It is still memorizing to hold a bucket under a cluster with one hand and, with your other hand, gently rub the berries with your fingers and watch them cascade into your bucket.

Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the health benefits of berries. All I knew was they tasted sweet, and mom didn’t care how many I consumed. As a dietitian, I understand that their vibrant colors and protective skin make them nutrient powerhouses. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and even cherries come packed with potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Berries of all kinds can help with blood sugar control, improve insulin response, and may lower cholesterol. The beneficial nutrients in berries help protect your mind and fight against cancer. You can get all the benefits of berries by consuming a cup of fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried, daily.

Although you can get berries year-round, take advantage of purchasing them fresh in season. If you don’t have a berry bush in your backyard, locate a pick-your-own farm in Mississippi. One trip, and you can have several gallons of fresh berries for immediate use and plenty to can or freeze. Once picked, don’t place the berries in a closed bag or container. Leave the box open or spread berries on a towel to avoid moisture build-up. Once room temperature, chill berries to increase shelf life. Whether store-bought or picked fresh, store your fresh berries in the refrigerator once you get them home, without washing them. If refrigerated, fresh-picked berries will keep 10 to 14 days. Freeze unwashed berries in one layer deep in zip-top bags, for easy freezer stacking. Remember, both frozen and fresh berries should be rinsed and drained right before serving. Just before using, wash the berries in cold water.

 

BERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

Instead of a straw, use a spoon to enjoy your favorite smoothies. Eating smoothies in bowls allows for a thicker consistency and more interesting toppings.

 

SMOOTHIE BOWL INGREDIENTS

1 banana frozen

1 ½ cups frozen berries

½ to 1 cup Greek yogurt

TOPPING INGREDIENTS

Fresh blueberries

Fresh strawberries sliced

Old-fashioned oats

Walnuts

 

1. Combine frozen banana, frozen berries, and yogurt in a blender. Puree until completely smooth — the mixture should be thick. Add a touch more liquid if necessary to get it to blend completely smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl and add toppings as desired. Enjoy!

 

BERRY CRUMBLE

TOPPING INGREDIENTS

2 bags (12-15 oz each) frozen berries*

1 box (15.25 oz) yellow or French vanilla cake mix

½ cup old-fashioned oats

½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

¼ cup (½ stick) salted butter, melted

½ cup unsweetened apple sauce

 

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Spread out frozen berries in the bottom of the dish. DO NOT thaw the berries beforehand. *Note- you can substitute store-bought frozen berries for berries in your freezer, just cover the bottom of the dish with frozen berries of choice.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine unprepared cake mix, oats, pecans, melted butter, and applesauce. Stir together until thick crumbles form. Sprinkle evenly over the frozen berries.

4. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Crisp topping will be a golden brown and the berries will be bubbling.

5. Serve warm with a scoop of Greek yogurt or ice cream.

 

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

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