Saturday, June 21, 2014

Special Saturday: New Foods! - Berry Edition

After tying to think of some good, new, or interesting posts to write, I finally decided that I would discuss all of the new foods I've been trying. These foods aren't new foods for everyone. In fact, I'm sure a lot of people have eaten these foods plenty of times. The foods I'm going to list below are foods that are ones that I've never tried or haven't tried often enough to acquire a taste for them. One of my goals to achieve my 2014 New Year's Resolution was to try new foods, so I've been doing just that in order to expand my appetite for delicious, healthy foods.

First, I should mention that I've been wanting to increase my intake of berries despite the fact that I've been simultaneously wanting to decrease my intake of fruit. Berries are really great for your digestive system since they have a lot of fiber in them. I found that anytime I ate berries (typically strawberries) or had them in a smoothie, my digestive system was much happier. Since I was limiting myself to only trying and successfully eating strawberries, I was determined to try a couple of new berries.

The first berry I tried was blueberries. I like blueberries in every other way (blueberry filling, in smoothies, etc) but I could never acquire their taste enough to enjoy eating blueberries straight. I've finally figured out that I like eating blueberries in two ways: 1) they have to be coated in a zero-calorie sugar substitute like Truvia; and 2) I can only really eat them with strawberries. I don't necessarily see either of these two requirements as being a problem so I've been eating them just like that -- mixing/coating them with Truvia and putting them in a to-go container with strawberries. It makes for an excellent snack! One day I hope to cut down on the amount of Truvia and possibly stop using it completely so I eat blueberries with just their natural, delicious flavors.

I have to say that I absolutely love eating blueberries. They're great in smoothies: I add blueberries and ½ banana to a Weight Watchers chocolate smoothie and it tastes great! I also love adding frozen blueberries to oatmeal that I make ahead for the week using Old Fashion Oats. Once I add Yoplait's Vanilla Great Yogurt, I have a delicious meal of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and blueberries that works for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner. It's one of my favorite meals, quickly becoming a go-to comfort meal as it's a healthy option that always makes my day better.

The second berry I decided to try was blackberries because I was eager to fill the blue/purple color slot of the ~*Rainbow of Fruits & Veggies*~ I try to eat every day. The only quick blue or purple foods I could think of were grapes, blueberries, and blackberries with eggplant being a back-up idea once I need to substitute another fruit for a vegetable (in order to eat more veggies than fruit in a day). I also still need to figure out how to prepare eggplant to make it enjoyable enough to eat (I've been thinking stir-fry but haven't felt up to making it). With that aside, I decided to try blackberries to change my diet up every once & awhile instead of always eating blueberries for my blue/purple fruit of the day. Unfortunately I've learned that I'm not a huge fan of blackberries because they're so tart. Even after coating them in Truvia like I do with blueberries, I still have a hard time eating a ½ cup of them as a snack. Therefore I haven't been eating them as much as I eat blueberries and only buy them once in awhile.

The last berry I've tried these last couple of months are raspberries. I actually really love eating raspberries whole as a snack on their own (but coated in Truvia of course). Unfortunately the one downside to eating raspberries is that they become (or even come when bought) SO mushy. After washing some raspberries the night before work, they had lost all of their firmness so I had to eat them with a spoon. The good news is that after I was done eating them with a spoon, the remaining liquid/juice from them was very delicious and actually sweet (if I'm remembering correctly). Additionally, I absolutely love adding frozen raspberries and ½ banana to a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie because it's so delicious! The same goes for frozen strawberries -- add a frozen banana with frozen strawberries to a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie packet and you'll have a delicious smoothie for any meal of the day.

So with all of my experiments of eating berries whole as snacks at work or on-the-go, I decided to give them a try frozen. As I've already stated, I had previously tried some of the aforementioned berries frozen like raspberries and blueberries with Weight Watchers smoothie packets. However now that we're getting into the hotter days of summer, I was really looking forward to getting in fiber-filled berries in colder ways instead of just eating them whole. So last weekend I took a 16 ounce cup and filled it with frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries as well as ice and water. I threw all of the ingredients in my cup into a blender. Then amazing mom assisted me with the blender since I was having technical difficulties. She also helped me tweak the recipe because it tasted a bit... off (perhaps too tart?). We added about ½ banana to the mix but that didn't improve the taste so we added a packet of zero-calorie lemonade (such as the kind by Crystal light) and it made the drink absolutely amazing. Next time I definitely plan to forgo the banana completely and just stick to frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, ice, water, and a zero-calorie lemonade packet. It makes for the perfect summertime afternoon or evening treat after a long, hot day.

NOTE: Any time I mentioned "coat in Truvia" for the berries listed above, I simply mean that I take 1 or 2 packets of Truvia, add them to the container of berries that I feel need to be sweetened, put a lid on said container, and shake the container up a bit to "coat" the berries. I don't add an excessive amount of Truvia to all of the berries I eat but I'm sure I could start cutting back on how much I use to sweeten the berries I find to be more tart than the others.

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