June 8, 2016

It’s Berry Pickin’ Time!

By Margaret Gall

fruitThe you pick berry signs are popping up along the roadsides inviting us to stop and pick a pail of tasty berries from pastures, fields, or purchase them from local farmer’s markets. There are many pick-your-own operations in Southeastern Minnesota and this website provides available areas, by county. Whether you pick this flavorsome fruit alone, or with friends, or family, here are some nutrition tips to make the pickin’ time enjoyable:

  1. Consider how long you plan to pick the berries. If making a day out of it, pack easy to carry foods for snacks and a simple meal:
    • Trail mix, nuts, nut butters, seeds (e.g., pumpkin, sunflower)
    • Dried or freeze-dried fruits & veggies
    • Baby carrots or cut-up veggies
    • Granola bars, dry cereal
    • Ready-to-use pouches  of tuna, salmon, chicken
    • Jerky – meat of choice
    • Whole-grain tortillas, crackers
  2. Stay hydrated. Picking berries in the summer sunshine can affect hydration. Pack a cooler with bottled waters, and unsweetened iced teas.
  3. Take care of the berries!  You spent time picking these precious berries so handle them with care! It’s important to refrigerate them as soon as possible unwashed.  When you are ready to enjoy these berries, rinse gently in cold water, drain, and remove any berries that are not fresh. For tips on storage, handling, and nutrition information, search the fruit database here.
  4. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!  Berries make for a quick and nutritious snack; add them to cereal, yogurt, salads, or smoothies; make jams/jellies – give as a gift; and there are a plethora of berry recipes – bet you have a favorite one from your grandma! Need some more berry delicious recipes and ideas? Check out the super strawberry suggestions here and search this site for specific berry recipes.

As a dietitian, I could not end without listing a few nutritional benefits of eating berries:

  • Low in fat, sodium, and calories - when eaten raw (i.e., not in a homemade pie!) - a half-cup of berries delivers 30 to 40 calories.
  • Provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals - vitamin C vital for growth and repair of body tissues, healthy gums, and teeth; potassium plays a major role in fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • Good source of phytochemicals – naturally occurring plant compounds that may prevent chronic diseases with blueberries getting top rating for their antioxidant activity!

See you in the berry patches!

Eat Well,

Tags: berries, berry picking, Blog, Blog, Eat Well, Eat Well, Nutrition, summer eating

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