“On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels…”
As we take some time out of our day this month to shop for the foods that fuel our bodies, there may be a few commonalities we notice within our favorite grocery stores. One will be the the egg themed aisles filled with Easter candy and rabbit ears, while another may be the vivid colors of strawberries and blueberries filling our produce sections. While candy can of course be delicious and fun, we are going to urge you this month to take advantage of the sweet fruits that surround you. Berries have been an essential part of the human diet since the beginning of time and we tend to forget their importance. New scientific research over the past several years has come to prove the significance of the simplistic berry in our diet and now researchers are even calling them the brain’s superfood.
The polyphenols found in berries, which give them their deep-red or blue-hue, activate proteins which act as “housekeepers” for damaged cells within the brain. These chemicals clean-up oxidative damage and help prevent and protect against degenerative brain decline. Researchers are continuing to find further evidence that support the effectiveness of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and acai in going as far as reversing the effects of brain damage that has already occurred. Thus, let’s make this a very berry March indeed!
Berries are so easy to add to your daily diet and there are many fun and interesting ways to do so! Add a few sliced strawberries or a handful of blueberries to your daily yogurt or cereal. Strawberries can make a delicious addition to a goat cheese and walnut salad or perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to a lowfat blueberry coffee cake! Throughout this month we would love to share some of our favorite berry recipes with you in hopes that you will be excited enough to make the berry shift and incorporate these brain saving fruits into your diet.
Chicken and Blueberry Pasta Salad
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat
- 8 ounces whole-wheat fusilli or radiatore
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place chicken in a skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size strips.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. Place in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, place oil and shallot in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 2 to 5 minutes. Add broth, feta and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the feta begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken to the bowl with the pasta. Add the dressing, blueberries, thyme, lime zest and salt and toss until combined.
Per serving: 315 calories; 11 g fat ( 3 g sat , 6 g mono ); 49 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 5 g fiber; 238 mg sodium; 207 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (60% daily value), Fiber (20% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 very lean meat, 2 fat