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Lesser known berries to look out for




Come summer, we enjoy the abundance of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and even blackberries that are available. But these aren’t the only berries that grow locally. Here are some lesser-known varieties to try this season.

Sea buckthorn
One of the most vitamin-packed and nutrient-rich foods in the world, this tiny orange berry definitely packs a punch. Grown all over the world, sea buckthorn is very sour when raw, but it makes delicious jams and syrups.


These native berries grow wild all across North America, and you might have a better chance foraging for them than finding them at your local grocery store. Elderberries can be toxic when raw, so they need to be cooked before you can eat them.

These northern berries look like orange raspberries but have larger drupelets. Native to Canada, the northern United States and Scandinavia, these tart berries can be eaten raw or used in the same way you would raspberries.

Often compared to blueberries, these small red or purple berries grow across the United States. Annual huckleberry harvest festivals are held and enjoyed in numerous American towns.

Traditionally, they were very important to the Indigenous Peoples of Idaho, Montana and Washington.

While some of these berries may be hard to find, tracking them down is worth the effort. They may be easiest to come across in the form of preserves and jams.

If you forage for wild berries, it’s essential to have a good guide or a deep knowledge of local plants. Only eat fruits that you are 100 percent certain are safe to consume in terms of their variety, their ripeness and their preparation method.

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For your 4th of July feast: A blueberry trifle



It’s that time of year when berries explode with color. The reds, the blues, and the blacks attract us, but there’s far more to berries than meets the eye.

They’re loaded with compounds that keep your body and brain working right and staying young. So impressed were researchers at Ohio State University that they recommend everyone eat berries every day.

When it comes to total antioxidant power, four of the top 10 fruits and vegetables are blueberries (ranked number one), strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

They are rich sources of quercetin, a potent antioxidant.

Another thing that makes berries so special is a compound called ellagic acid, which is believed to prevent cellular changes that can lead to cancer. All berries have some of it, but strawberries and blackberries have the most.

All berries are also rich in vitamin C, one of the best antioxidants. It is particularly important in preventing cataracts. A half-cup of strawberries has 42 milligrams of C. And berries contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, which keeps bowels moving.

Want to feed your brain? Researchers at Tufts University found that compounds in blueberries have actually improved the memories of aging lab animals.

Fortunately, blueberries are not only good for you but delicious.

Here is a recipe for a pretty blueberry trifle that will look fantastic on your 4th of July table:

Blueberry Trifle Recipe

1-Angel Food cake

1-bag frozen blueberries, thawed and drained OR 1-2 pints fresh berries

1-box dry instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)

1-can sweetened condensed milk

1-8-oz. block cream cheese

12 oz. Cool Whip

Break angel food cake into large chunks.

Put 1/2 of cake on bottom of trifle bowl.

Sprinkle 1/2 of blueberries on top of cake.

Beat cream cheese until smooth, then add dry pudding mix and condensed milk. Beat until creamy.

Stir in about 2/3 of the Cool Whip, reserving the rest for later.

Gently spread 1/2 of mixture over cake and blueberries in bowl.

Layer again as before, keeping a few blueberries aside for garnish.

Top with remaining Cool Whip and garnish with leftover blueberries.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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4 tips for a successful Fourth of July barbecue



The Fourth of July is an ideal occasion to host a backyard barbecue. Here are four tips to ensure the day is a success.

1. Start planning early
Hosting a barbecue isn’t complicated, but waiting until the last minute to get organized can be stressful. A to-do list will ensure you don’t forget to pick up ice for the drink cooler or top up on fuel for the grill. If guests are bringing side dishes, preemptive planning can help you avoid ending up with four macaroni salads.

2. Get creative with colors

A simple way to incorporate patriotism into your decor is to use red and blue plates on a white tablecloth. Create simple centerpieces with mason jars, battery-powered headlights, and miniature American flags. For the rest of your yard, think flowers, balloons, and streamers. If you want to entertain the kids, buy some red, white and blue water balloons.

3. Keep the menu simple
Set out chips and dip for guests to snack on before you fire up the barbecue. Complement the traditional meat options with grilled asparagus, corn on the cob, or vegetable skewers. Remember, simple doesn’t have to mean boring. You can make the meal interactive with a build-your-own burger, nacho, or sundae bar.

4. Remember to relax
Independence Day is about spending time with loved ones and creating memories. Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks by assigning someone to the grill or asking guests to contribute a salad or dessert. Once everyone has a plate full of food, be sure to raise a glass to family and country.

Ideally, your barbecue should start in the early afternoon so you and your guests can make the most of a sunny day and still have time to go watch a fireworks display in the evening.

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How to make homemade ice pops



Do you want to make your own ice pops? It’s easier than you think. Here’s how.

Use your favorite drink
To ensure you like the flavor of your ice pops, use a beverage you enjoy. Fruit juices, smoothies, drinkable yogurts, and flavored teas are all great options. If you’re a coffee-lover, use cold-brew coffee or dissolve instant coffee crystals in cream or milk. If the liquid isn’t pre-sweetened, you can add maple syrup, honey, or sugar.

Mix and match flavors

If you want more elaborate ice pops, combine your favorite ingredients. Some great flavor combinations include strawberry and lemonade, cucumber and mint, mango and almond milk, chocolate and yogurt, and pineapple and coconut milk. Toss your ingredients in a blender, pulse until smooth, and then freeze.

To make your ice pops even more interesting, layer two or more different flavors. You can do this by partially filling the ice pop molds with one flavor and letting it freeze for about an hour before pouring in the next one.

Incorporate texture
Add whole berries, slices of fruit or even candy to your ice pops. You can show off these treats by using a translucent liquid as the base. Alternatively, make these ingredients a surprise by concealing them in yogurt or an opaque drink.

To ensure your ice pops freeze all the way through, leave them in the freezer for at least eight hours. Run the mold under hot water for a few seconds before removing your ice pop to make sure it comes out in one piece.

Ice pop molds come in an assortment of shapes and can be made of plastic, silicone or stainless steel. If you shop around, you’re sure to find one you like.

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4 types of picnic food that are sure to please



Are you planning a picnic? Whether you’re headed to the beach, park, or wilderness, packing a lunch to eat outdoors is a must. Here are four types of food you can eat pretty much anywhere.

1. Sandwiches. Compact and easy to make, sandwiches are the perfect picnic food. Swap your regular bread for bagels, tortillas, croissants, or French baguettes, and fill them with your choice of deli meats, spreads, and grilled veggies. Serve with chips and raw vegetables.

2. Finger foods. Pack an assortment of snack foods and let everyone choose what they want to eat. For adults, consider bringing olives, nuts, soft cheeses, pâtés, dips, crackers, and crusty bread. If you’re picnicking with children, think veggie sticks, hummus, mild cheeses, tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole.

3. Handheld foods. Foods that don’t require utensils or plates are ideal for a picnic. Think cold pizza squares, individual quiches, spring rolls, or small, savory tarts. Sushi is also a great choice, provided you have a way to keep it cool and fresh until you reach your destination.

4. Salads. There are countless varieties of salad, and most of them are ideal for a picnic. Prepare or buy a pasta, bean, rice, quinoa, or potato salad. If you opt for leafy greens instead, pack the dressing separately to ensure the ingredients stay crunchy and fresh.

Once you’ve decided on your main course, be sure to pack your beverage of choice and one or more desserts.

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Grilled fruit: 5 tips for a perfect sear



Indulging in fresh, local fruit is one of the pleasures of summer. Grilling them, however, amplifies their inherent sweetness and flavor while adding a seductively smoky taste. Here are five tips for grilling them.

1. Choose firm fruit. Grill firm-fleshed fruit like peaches, avocados, melons, pineapples, pears, and apples. Save soft and overripe fruit for other purposes.

2. Skewer small fruit. Use wooden or metal skewers if you want to grill small fruit such as strawberries or smaller pieces of large fruit. This will ensure they don’t fall into the fire. A perforated grill basket works too.

3. Cut thick slices. Melons and pineapples should be sliced into thick rounds or wedges. Peaches, mangoes, and other smaller fruit are best cut in half. When possible, keep the skin on and grill flesh side down.

4. Season the fruit. Before placing fruit on the grill, coat them with brown rum, melted butter or vegetable oil. Also, brush them a few times with your coating of choice while they’re cooking. To enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit, you can sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar or drizzle them with honey beforehand.

5. Grill one side only. This will ensure the fruit has caramelized exteriors and juicy interiors. For best results, grill them over high heat for three to four minutes without moving them.

Grilled fruit can be enjoyed alone or with your favorite meal. Alternatively, you can use them as a garnish for summer cocktails or a topping on vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt.

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5 ways to make your weekend waffles better



Served sweet or salty, with maple syrup or cheese and herbs, waffles are a weekend breakfast tradition for many. Here are five ways to make your next batch even better.

1. Replace the milk
For waffles with a crunchy crust and a tender interior, replace the milk with water. Or use a carbonated drink like soda water or even beer or sparkling wine. The bubbles from these liquids add air to the batter, making your waffles extra light and fluffy.

2. Whip your egg whites
Another way to make waffles fluffier is to beat the egg whites first. Separate them from their yolks and whip them until they form stiff, white peaks. Then, incorporate the egg yolks according to the recipe and gently fold the whites into the mixture last.

3. Don’t mix too much
It’s tempting to beat your waffle batter until it’s perfectly smooth but don’t. Instead, stir it until the flour is just incorporated and there are still some lumps. This will make your waffles airier.

4. Grease the iron
Unless you have a non-stick waffle iron, make sure the plates are sufficiently oiled. This will guarantee that your waffles don’t stick and prevent them from being too dry. You can use a cooking spray or simply brush melted butter or vegetable oil onto the plates.

5. Preheat the iron
Putting your waffle batter on an iron that isn’t hot enough will yield soggy, undercooked waffles. Most irons will have a light that indicates when it’s hot enough, but if yours doesn’t, spray a few drops of water onto the plates with your fingers. If they steam and sizzle, the iron’s ready.

Finally, make sure to leave the waffle in the iron until it’s fully cooked. If your iron doesn’t have a light or make a sound that indicates when the waffle is done, pay attention to the steam coming from the iron. When it stops steaming, the waffle is done.

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