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5 Guilt-Free Berry Desserts

Jul 5, 2011 at 2:15 PM Chime in now

Maya Visnyei/Sweet Potato Chronicles

SWEET POTATO 5: Healthy Berry Desserts

By LAURA KEOGH, Sweet Potato Chronicles

I wanted to call this post You Must Eat Dessert for Good Health. Then I realized I'd be misleading the chocolate-addicted souls like myself. So there's a caveat to this ruleYour dessert has to include berries. I know you've heard this before, but berries are nutritional powerhouses. However, did you really know how much? Take the humble strawberry. It's one of the top-rated fruits for Vitamin C content, and is a super source of fiber. Blueberries are also one of the highest anti-oxidant fruits, and its phyto-chemicals help fight infection. You can expect the same stellar performance from raspberries and blackberries. In other words, we can promote healthy growth and fight infection if we have a dessert jammed with berries, and if it's an occassional event, you can totally feel guilt-free. Can't you just hear the strawberry shortcake calling your family's names...

Here are five of our favourite healthy berry desserts, starting with this easy summer classic.

Strawberry Shortcake Sliders
2 1/2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup very cold butter (like, get it in the freezer for 20 minutes)
1/2 cup buttermilk and a bit more for brushing (1 Tbsp of vinegar in regular milk for 15 minutes if you don’t have any)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp agave syrup

Strawberry Sauce
2 1/2 cup strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups of whipping cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. You could cut in the cold butter into the flour with your finger tips or two regular table knives but I love my new trick of grating very cold butter with a cheese grater. It creates the perfect size pieces of butter.

In another bowl, blend milk, yogurt and agave together. Pour the liquid into the flour and stir until it comes together.

Transfer the dough on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times. Pat out into a circle about 3/4 inch thickness. I wanted quite small biscuits so I used an espresso cups to cut out mine. Place onto an un-greased cookie sheet. Brush the tops of the biscuit with a thin layer of buttermilk. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on a rack completely before assembling.

In a small pot, place 1 1/2 cups of berries, sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the sauce thickens. If you throw in a couple of lemon seeds it will help as they full of pectin. Just be sure to fish them out when you’re done! Remove from heat and place in the fridge to chill. Stir in the 2 cups of berries about 10 to 15 minutes before serving so they can soften just a bit in the sauce.

Whip your heavy cream with an electric mixer. I never add sugar to whipping cream as I usually want it to cut something that’s already pretty sweet. Assemble your beautiful dessert in this order: biscuit, berry sauce, whipped cream, bit more sauce, biscuit. It’s summer on a plate!

And these are our other four favourites:
Strawberry Shortcake Sliders uses spelt flour and agave syrup for the "cake," omitting the usual trappings of white sugar and flour that make the traditional dessert a nutritional landmine.
Kale and Berry Smoothie is a great dessert (or morning treat) that lends itself to just about any berry. You also get the disease-fighting goodness of kale.
Lemon Blueberry Cake is prepared with whole wheat flour, and it makes a nice foundation to a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Who said ice cream?
Baked Banana and Berry Boats is a fast and inventive twist on dessert. The chocolate doesn't hurt either.
Blueberry and Peach Crisp makes summer's freshness the star alongside rolled oats. 

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