I heart berry season!!!!

Sorry that I haven't written in a while. There is a good reason - I went to Russia and Scandinavia. I will write more about that later. I had the misguided notion that I would write a ton on this trip. That got severely overridden by my desire to see as much as possible and eat my way through Northern Europe. I started this one while I was gone and might be a little late to the party, but better late than never!

There really is nothing I love more than when the first fresh fruits and veggies make their debut at the farmer"s markets. Being in Chicago, that's about now. It's the time of year that I try to figure out what to do with Rhubarb besides a pie. It's when my grill gets fired up and the asparagus goes on the grill. But what I truly love about this season is berries!

Berries are just magical this time of year. Super sweet without needing to add sugar. Packed full of delicious anti-oxidants and vitamins. And a burst of color from nature on your plate that only leads to good in a body that is going through cancer.

On of my favorite treats I love to give myself this time of year is a pint of the reddest strawberries I can find and just devour them while watching the sunset in this long day season.

I am not a hufragole-e-aceto-balsamicoge dessert person, but I don't say no to sweets either. Fruit often gives me the cap to a meal that I need.  However, sometimes Chemo shoots my blood sugar through the roof. If diabetes didn't run in my family, I wouldn't care that much, but it does. So, I need a sweet without the processed sugar.  This recipe does have natural fructose in it, so I'm not completely out of the woods. But it is pretty 'innocent' as far as desserts go. I have adapted this from Lidia Bastianich's "Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking".  I'm a Lidia fan. This is a great cookbook that I will go into at a later post.

It also adds one of my favorite condiments: Balsamic vinegar. You can get it in both white and dark varieties. There are a lot of balsamic vinegars on the market. Make sure you find one that is genuine. That means it comes from the Aceto region of Italy. I thought it didn't make a difference until I tasted the real thing. Believe me, there is a difference. Balsamic Vinegar has very few calories and a TON of flavor. It has a a ton of antioxidants as well. There is evidence that has lowered blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in lab rats. Balsamic vinegar contains electrolytes including calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

If you are severely Neutropenic (.5<) I would reconsider this recipe until your counts go up.

Fragole al Balsamico

2 pints of strawberries cut up as you like them. It really depends on their size - I usually cut them into fourths

2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice

Fresh mint sprigs to garnish (Optional)

Mix all the ingredients together in an appropriately sized bowl. Cover and refrigerate for abalsamico di modena con fragolet least 20 minutes. Serve by itself with Mint Sprigs.

Foodie additives: If you can find a fancy schmancy strawberry balsamic vinegar or peach, this is super yummy. I just discovered flavored balsamic vinegars at a fancy olive oil store. I didn't know they were a thing. If you don't like the color of the dish with regular Balsamic vinegar, then you can use white balsamic vinegar. You can also add sugar. The original recipe does. On her TV show, Lidia did add cream on top, which she doesn't do in her written recipe. My dad loves this over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I have made this with Gran Marnier, however most chemos do not go well with alcohol.

Dessert can be a lovely chance to get some of your anti-oxidants and vitamins if you are clever. You can also do this with other fruits (Peaches, Raspberries, blackberries, etc) when beautiful fruit is there and plentiful. What a great time of year to experiment!

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