Raspberries & Fresh, Fruity, Fizzy Coolers!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Raspberry

A perennial plant, with edible fruit from a multitude of plant species in the genus Rubus. But you knew THAT right? Or, more to the point, who cares?! Let's look at some interesting facts about their use, their nutritional value and what kind of a role these delicious early-summer berries can do for your body, shall we?

Growing it yourself:

Deemed a very hearty plant, this rascal can quickly take over if not wrangled correctly or properly contained. Even bird droppings spread the seeds into areas where you may not want your raspberry bushes to be! Also, raspberry plants should not be planted where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants or bulbs have previously been grown, without prior fumigation of the soil, as such crops are hosts for the disease Verticillium Wilt, a fungus that can stay in the soil for many years and can infest a raspberry crop.

Raspberries contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants such as anthocyanin pigments linked to potential health protection against several diseases. Raspberries rank near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength.

Because of the fruit's structure, the proportion of dietary fiber places it among plant foods with the highest fiber contents known, up to 20% fiber per total weight!

Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, with 30 mg per serving of 1 cup, and the content of manganese, B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are considerable.
The kind of issues that the raspberry may help with include, and are not limited to, the following:

    * inflammation
    * pain
    * cancer
    * cardiovascular disease
    * diabetes
    * allergies
    * age-related cognitive decline
    * degeneration of eyesight with aging

According to Wikipedia, "The raspberry contains a crystallizable fruit-sugar, a fragrant volatile oil, pectin, citric and malic acids, mineral salts, colouring matter and water. The ripe fruit is fragrant, subacid and cooling: it allays heat and thirst, and is not liable to acetous fermentation in the stomach". (Hmmm, cold, summertime drink? I have JUST the thing!):

Sparkling Fresh Raspberry Cooler

1 serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic Raspberries 
  • 1/2 cup Sparkling Water with Lemon (or use sparkling water plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice)
  • 1 packet (1 tsp) Stevia
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • (Optional for caffeine) 1/4 cup "Guru" Lite energy drink (fizzy drink that contains all natural ingredients. The "Lite" version doesn't have a bunch of sugar in it, using Stevia, primarily) - Add more crushed ice (if adding the "Guru")
  • BLEND away and enjoy with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon for a garnish!

Ever want to make your own Raspberry Wine? Try your hand at wine making for this delightful tart n' tasty treat!

What about a delectable Raspberry Vinegar?  Any foodie or culinary adventurer could sure find a place for this in their kitchen!
Maybe you're not a wine person, or you don't want to wait a year for your 'spoils' to come to fruition, so how about a homemade Raspberry Brandy?

Raspberry Leaves

The raspberry leaves can be used fresh or dried in herbal and medicinal teas. They have an astringent flavor, and in herbal medicine are reputed to be effective in regulating menses. An infusion of Raspberry leaves, taken cold, is deemed a reliable laxative. For the use as an astringent and stimulant (warning, do NOT use or ingest Raspberry Leaf Tea while pregnant or nursing!):

Raspberry Leaf Tea
  • Infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried leaves in a pint of boiling water.
    •  For use as a gargle for sore mouths/ throats, canker sores, and as a wash for wounds and ulcers.
    • The leaves, combined with the powdered bark of Slippery Elm, make a good poultice for cleansing wounds, burns and promoting healing.
Those who know me well, know that I HATE ANYTHING with raspberry filling or flavor. Maybe it's that I hate the 'fake flavor', because fresh raspberries are one of my weaknesses, but a cake with raspberry filling? Ewwww! I'll use fresh and/ or frozen raspberries in everything I can, but stick a 'processed' food in my face, with raspberry 'flavor' and I want to shake you silly! Eck!
So go enjoy this gorgeous early-summer berry, guilt-free (in organic form), as it clearly provides you with super-amounts of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and numerous other inflammatory-fighting components (hey asthma, arthritis & tendinitis sufferers, just another reason to get a daily serving of fruits in your diet!).

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