BERRIES, BERRIES, BERRIES… eat them all! Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries… every kind of berry out there should be on your grocery list. They may be sweet but that this is a natural sugar that is actually good for your blood sugar. These little gems are also full of fiber and something called anthocyanins which are a natural plant compound which according to Wikipedia are “are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue according to pH that can serves as powerful antioxidants.” Fruit juices are ok but definitely opt for the whole berry because juices lack the beneficial fiber that fresh fruit adds to your diet. And if you want to use jelly or jams go easy because even if they are 100% fruit they will probably have added sugar or fruit juice that you want to avoid. I don’t think there is a serving size when it comes to this food group so graze away!
When eaten daily, berries have proven to be an all around health booster, good for your eyes and heart and even helping maintain those valuable memory and brain cells that I often feel are leaving me at a rapid rate. I know for most of us the fresh fruit season is behind us this year but don’t be afraid to add frozen berries to your shopping list. If you find you don’t like the texture of frozen berries you can ‘hide’ the feel but still get the taste by using them in smoothies or stir them into plain yogurt. I am a big banana bread baker and my kids were starting to get bored with the same old loaves but I found that when I added chopped up strawberries or whole blueberries to the bread it really disappeared (add a ¼ cup of ground flax seed to the bread, use ½ whole wheat flour ½ white flour and you really up the nutritional value).
BRAN – We all could stand to add more grains, whole grains, to our diet and bran is a great option. A quick bowl of bran cereal in the morning is a fantastic way to start your day and jump start that metabolism, add a ½ cup of berries to your cereal and you will really be waving your magic food wand! A serving size of bran should be ½ cup. One of the benefits of bran is that it stabilizes the peaks and falls of your blood sugar that cause hunger pangs and cravings. Trying to lose weight? Use bran as a filler, you can eat smaller portions but feel full faster so you will ultimately eat less! Oat bran is really great. It is easy to incorporate in your diet by adding it to mixes (muffins, pancakes or cookies). This little powerhouse can bring down cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, plus it helps you poop! When choosing your bran cereal just make sure you are comparing apples to apples by paying attention to the serving sizes that the nutritional values are based on.
BROCCOLI- Broccoli is another food where you are given a free pass on serving size. The recommended portion is ½ cup but you can really eat as much as you want. This little green plant is packed full of chromium(a mineral that naturally helps insulin function at optimal levels), fiber, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants – this list makes you realize we should all be eating broccoli every day!! Raw or cooked it is all good but avoid overcooking it because you will get a mushy mess that has lost a lot of its nutritional value.
BROWN RICE- Brown rice may not have the same powerhouse impact as some of the other grains but it is still a terrific choice compared to the white rice alternative. It is full of fiber and other vitamins and minerals including magnesium and selenium. A serving size is ½ cup and we should be trying to eat three servings of whole grain a day. We just tried the Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice package and it was surprisingly good and such a fast addition to an evening meal especially compared to the 35-45 minutes it usually takes to cook on the stovetop – so no more excuses! Just a note ALL rice starts as brown rice only white rice is rice where all the good stuff ( the bran and germ) have been removed.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS- Ok so I hate these but a lot of people don’t and they are on the list so here they are. No surprise here but the serving size is ½ cup but feel free to eat more if you want – I will pass thank you very much! These are mini cabbages that are full of soluble fiber which slows down your digestion so you feel full longer. PLUS brussel sprouts are a surprisingly great source of protein, antioxidants and are loaded with vitamin C.
photo by Robert Cochrane