One of the best things about summertime is the abundance of fresh, colorful and vibrant produce available in your farmer’s markets. A definite must-have are the berries — luscious and sweet, these antioxidant-loaded fruits are one of the most sought-after foods during this hot season. They can be added to smoothies or used as toppings for cool desserts like sorbet.
With the Fourth of July drawing near, why not take advantage of the availability of berries and incorporate them into your holiday feast? Here’s a shortcake recipe inspired by Paleohacks,1 which makes use of strawberries and blueberries. If you’re planning a special picnic on this holiday, make sure to prepare this dessert in advance and keep it in the cooler — adults and kids alike will love this creative, healthy and patriotic treat!
Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serving size: 8 to 10
For the Shortcake:
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 3 organic free-range eggs
- 1/4 cup melted organic coconut oil
- 1/4 cup luo han guo (monk fruit) or desired amount of stevia
- 1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk
- 1/4 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Coconut Cream Topping:
- 14 ounces organic coconut cream (1 can)
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- 1 pint fresh organic strawberries, quartered
- 1 pint organic blueberries
- 1 tablespoon luo han guo (monk fruit) or stevia
- Raw organic honey for drizzling
Make the coconut cream topping six to eight hours ahead of time by blending the coconut cream with tapioca flour and luo han guo or stevia, then chilling. This step is important to allow the cream to thicken.
To make the shortcake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a skillet or baking dish with coconut oil and set aside.
In a small bowl, sift together coconut flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate larger bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, luo han guo or stevia and vanilla extract. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
Transfer the batter into the prepared skillet. It will be thick and wet. Using a spatula, spread the batter out in an even layer.
Bake 20 to 22 minutes until edges are browned and cake is set. You should be able to insert a toothpick clean in the middle when done.
Remove from the oven and cool 30 minutes to one hour.
While the shortcake cools, toss the berries in a bowl with coconut sugar and allow sugar to dissolve on the berries.
- To assemble, scoop the coconut cream onto the shortcake and spread evenly. Top with strawberries and blueberries and drizzle with honey as desired. For optimal freshness, keep refrigerated and covered.
Why berries are ‘berry’ good for you
Along with their tart but sweet and refreshing flavor, berries contain a wide array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that offer numerous health benefits. One particular factor that makes them stand out is their antioxidant load.2 Berries contain anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol3 — all noted for their ability to help give your cells protection and help reduce your risk of diseases.
One study notes that berries like blueberries and strawberries are some of the top sources of bioactive compounds (BAC), offering benefits such as “prevention of inflammation disorders, cardiovascular diseases or protective effects to lower the risk of various cancers.”4
Blueberries may boost your cognitive function
Blueberries in particular have been studied for their potential mind-boosting effects. One study noted that elderly people who were given 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberries showed improved cognition. The study authors noted:5
“Participants in the blueberry group showed significantly fewer repetition errors in the California Verbal Learning test (p = 0.031, ηp2 = 0.126) and reduced switch cost on a task-switching test (p = 0.033, ηp2 = 0.09) across study visits, relative to controls. However, no improvement in gait or balance was observed.
These findings show that the addition of easily achievable quantities of blueberry to the diets of older adults can improve some aspects of cognition.”
This effect can be obtained by children, too. In a separate study, children aged 7 to 10 years old ingested blueberry drinks that had either 15 or 30 grams of freeze-dried wild blueberry powder. They were found to have improved cognitive function after a few hours.6
Compound in strawberries offers an array of health benefits
Fisetin, a somewhat obscure yet beneficial plant compound, is found in significantly high amounts in strawberries. Other fruits like grapes, persimmons and apples also have it, albeit in lower quantities. To put this into perspective, strawberries have a whopping 160 micrograms/gram of fisetin, while apples, next on the list, only have 26.9 micrograms/gram.7,8
So what exactly does fisetin do for you? Plenty, particularly for your brain. Fisetin helps protect your brain from damage brought on by injury and degeneration from aging.9 It works with other compounds to boost your memory as well. Fisetin also activates nerve cells and increases your defense systems throughout your brain and body. One study found that it may even help inhibit memory loss brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.10 But fisetin’s benefits go beyond the brain. Several studies reveal other ways that fisetin may help improve your overall health:
- It can help protect against inflammatory diseases by suppressing and minimizing the interaction between mast cells and activated T-cells11
- It may work as a therapeutic agent for alleviating allergic diseases12
It may help manage prostate and other cancers and be used as a chemotherapeutic agent13
A couple of reminders when eating berries
As juicy and refreshing as they are, you should remember that quality matters, especially when it comes to berries. This is because strawberries and blueberries are both in the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2019 list of produce contaminated with pesticides.14 In fact, strawberries are at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, with up to 23 different pesticides15 found in a single sample! Blueberries are further down at No. 16.
So as much as possible, only buy organic strawberries and blueberries from trustworthy sources, so you can be assured that you’re reaping the benefits and avoiding the toxic load. Washing the fruits with a baking soda solution may help eliminate some of the pesticide traces on the surface, although this will not be as efficient if the toxins have penetrated beyond the peel.16
Another reminder is to eat berries in moderation because they still contain fructose, which can damage your health in excessive amounts. A 100-gram serving of raw blueberries has 9.96 grams of fructose (total sugars),17 while the same amount of raw strawberries has 4.89 grams.18 Ideally, you should get only around 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day, including fructose from fruits. If you’re dealing with insulin resistance, strive for lower amounts. Be sure you only buy raw varieties, and not those that have been canned and drenched in sugar syrup.
PaleoHacks is a top source for amazing Paleo recipes, fitness tips and wellness advice to help you live life to the fullest. If you have questions regarding the Paleo diet in general, PaleoHacks may provide you with the answers that you may need.
+ Sources and References