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Looking for a snack that packs a healthy punch? Berries are delicious little nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich in antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage and are good for eye health. And they’re high in soluble fiber, which slows your digestion, so you feel fuller longer.

“Be sure to include fiber in your snacks and meals to reap its many health benefits,” says Amy Pinkham, clinical dietitian and certified culinary medicine specialist. “One benefit is its cholesterol-lowering effect, which is great for heart health.”

Summertime means berries are everywhere. You’ll find them in the produce section of your favorite grocery store and at local pick-your-own fruit farms. Want a side of exercise with your nutrition? Explore one of the many state forests and parks in PA that feature berry trails. Keep snacking safe by using a guided trail where the berries are identified for you by signs or a knowledgeable guide.

Several blueberries make a splash into water.

A prepared serving of blueberry crisp.
Get this blueberry crisp recipe below.

Berry season in Pennsylvania runs through June, July and August. Some well-known berries grow right here in our state:

A closeup photograph of blackberries.

Blackberry

These sweet and slightly tart gems grow on prickly-stemmed bushes. They aren’t technically a berry, but a collection of tiny fruits fused together. Blackberries are a source of iron, vitamin C and antioxidants and lend themselves to preserves and baked goods.

A closeup photograph of strawberries.

Strawberry

This low-growing fruit plant is actually a member of the rose family (Rosaceae). They’re widely grown all over the world. Strawberries contain lots of vitamin C. They work well in deserts like pies and strawberry shortcake.

A closeup photograph of raspberries.

Raspberry

Another member of the Rosaceae family, raspberries are rich in iron, vitamin C and antioxidants. The spiny plants can grow over six feet high. These berries are ideal for jam, jelly and as pastry filling — and even flavor some liqueurs.

A closeup photograph of blueberries.

Blueberry

Termed a “superfood,” blueberries are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, antioxidants and iron. Blueberries are closely related to cranberries. Their sweetness makes them perfect for adding to baked goods.

Blueberry crisp

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries, frozen
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 lime, zested
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup pecans, unsalted, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the blueberries and corn starch. Mix until corn starch coats the blueberries. Mix in the lime zest and set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the oats, pecans, maple syrup, coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla extract and salt. Mix until the ingredients are completely combined, then set aside.
  4. Divide the blueberry mixture evenly between six small oven-safe bowls (ceramic soufflé cups work well), about 1/3 cup of blueberries per bowl. Top each bowl with 3 tablespoons of the oat and nut mixture.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the oats are golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling around the edges.

Adapted from culinarymedicine.org.

A blue smoothie.

You can drink your fruit, too!

Whip up this berry smoothie


This story originally appeared in the summer issue of PA Health, our quarterly full-color magazine filled with wellness tips, inspiring stories and more.

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