I Spy Something Red and Delicious

I absolutely love berries, especially the delicate raspberries. Right now in Washington their abundancy is seen at every farmers market and fruit stand. Bright red and juicy, they catch my eye every time. However, organic fresh raspberries tend to be quite expensive, costing about $4 per ½ pint. Knowing very well the raspberries would be devoured within 5 minutes, I usually buy them as a treat. Yet this summer, I am fortunate to be able to pick some of my very own in trade for watering a garden.

Even if it takes me a whole hour to water the garden, it is definitely worth the trip and my time. I am soaking up the vitamin D in my bathing suit top allowing the sun to warm my back and shoulders, and the cool drip from the hose to cool my hands and feet. Work before play, right?  I spy the dots of red through the leaves as I water each bed. I can think of nothing better than picking the raspberries in the bright warm sun. The heat releases their aroma, and their vibrant color is enhanced by the light. One for me and a handful for the basket…yum! Within a half an hour, I have filled four pint sized berry cartons. What a deal!

Flavor and texture is not all that makes the raspberry so desirable. It also contains many important micronutrients that give this berry the health reputation it deserves. Phytonutrients in the raspberry work as antioxidants and offer antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic protection. Raspberries have a very high antioxidant activity, much higher than that of strawberries, kiwis, or tomatoes. Well researched ellagic acid, is an antioxidant that helps prevent unwanted cell membrane damage by neutralizing free radicals. It is found almost exclusively in raspberries and research is suggesting that the ellagitannin family works against cancer, by inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. Also, its well-researched flavonoids anthocyanins, which give the raspberry its characteristic bright red color, not only work as additional antioxidants, but also have antimicrobial properties helping to prevent overgrowth of unwanted bacteria such as Candida albicans, most often found in women.

Besides the ellagitannins and anthocyanins, 1 cup of fresh raspberries offers an excellent source of  vitamin C and manganese, both which work as anitoxidants. In addition 8 grams of dietary fiber is found in 1 cup of raspberries, which is great for maintaining blood sugar levels and colon health.

Raspberries are little packages of pure goodness, so what is not to love about them? In order to get the most of their benefits eat them fresh or freeze them right away. I love to add them to salads, fruit bowls, oatmeal, or just eat them as is. You can even substitute them for the strawberries in the fresh strawberry tart, for a delicious dessert.

This morning I decided to use my fresh raspberries in good ol' oatmeal. Instead of sweetening the oatmeal with sugar, honey, or maple syrup, I grated in a pink lady apple. However, if you need the little bit of honey on top, thats okay too. 

Sugar-Free Raspberry Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup water
1 small pink lady apple (or ½ large), grated with peel
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash pure vanilla extract
sprinkle sea salt
½ cup raspberries
2 dollops Greek yogurt
1 Tblsp hemp hearts, or any chopped nut (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
Honey or maple syrup (optional)

1.  Place rolled oats and water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Once boiling reduce heat to medium-low.
2. Add in grated apple, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir well with wooden spoon and cover with a lid. 
3. Cook until oats are done (about 5 minutes). You may want to add more water depending on how you like the consistency of your oats. 
4.  Pour the oat mixture in a bowl and top with dollops of Greek yogurt, raspberries, and then your choice of nut. 
5. If you like it a bit sweeter, finish with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

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