Superfood for a Super New Year
We all want to look and feel the best we possibly can this New Year. And what better way to start than from within?
Blueberries are quite possibly the ultimate super-food. Gluten-free and tasty as can be, these little berries are bursting with age-defying antioxidant goodness.
So what makes blueberries a superfood?
1. You get more bang for your buck. Just 100 grams or 4 ounces of blueberries contains the same amount of age-defying anti-oxidant goodness as five servings of other fruits and vegetables.
2. Antioxidant-rich. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, which help guard the body against a host of nasties out there - asthma, Alzheimer's, arthritis, cancers, cataracts, heart disease and age-related neurological diseases.
3. Low in calories. Blueberries are low in fat and calories and contain fibre. An 80g serving (about 2 handfuls/4 heaped Tbsp) counts as one of your five plus a day and has just 46 calories and 0.3g fat.
4. Beauty boosters. Blueberries contain polyphenols, which combat the effects of free radicals (aka wrinkle causes) and therefore can keep the skin looking younger for longer. They also help the body make collagen, which keeps the skin glowing.
5. Brain-cell multipliers. US university studies have revealed that blueberries are able to slow down mental-ageing and stimulate the growth of new brain cells. This makes them a perfect accomplice following New Year's Eve celebrations!
Here is a delicious blueberry recipe idea for the New Year (note: it is still a bit naughty, so you as to ease you into your healthy eating routine for 2013! But it combines my favourite ingredients: meringue, lemon, blueberry and toffee...)
Blueberry Toffee and Lemon Curd Cake
Serves: 12; Prep and Cook Time: 2 hours
Here's what you'll need... For the cake
- 1 cup (150g) roast almonds - chopped finely
- 4 egg whites (room temp)
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 125g gluten-free white chocolate (if desired)
- 300ml double cream
- 150ml gluten-free thickened cream, to serve
For the lemon curd
- 250g cold butter
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup (160ml) lemon juice
- 1 1/3 cup (300g) caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
For the blueberries
- 1 cup (220g) white sugar
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 125g fresh blueberries
And here's how to make it...
1. First the lemon curd: Chop butter and place in a medium saucepan. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and transfer into the pan. Add remaining ingredients and stir over a low heat for 10 mins until mixture is thick. Transfer curd to a medium heatproof bowl. Cover and refridgerate until cold.
2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (or 140 degrees Celsius for fan-forced ovens). Line a 24cm springform pan with baking paper.
3. Then the cake: using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on a low/medium setting and add 1/4 cup of sugar. Beat until firm peaks form. Slowly add remaining sugar and then beat on high for another 5 mins until sugar is dissolved.
4. Coarsely grate chocolate (if using it - I find it sweet enough without it); fold into meringue mixture with nuts. Spread mixture into pan. Bake for 40 mins. Cool meringue in pan.
5. Beat double cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Then fold in curd. Spoon curd mixture onto meringue. Refridgerate for at least 2 hours until firm.
6. Finally the blueberries: Stir sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and do not stir, until sugar has thickened and turns caramel in colour.
7. Push a toothpick in each blueberry. Remove toffee from heat and allow bubbles to settle. Dip each blueberry into the toffee. Shake off any excess toffee and turn upside down to set, then put on baking paper lined tray. Reheat toffee if it thickens too much - you need to work quickly! Once you have the blueberries toffied put in the fridge to set. Note: I did not do this, so my toffee melted from the heat of the kitchen!
8. Prior to serving, beat thickened cream and top cake with this and toffee-dipped blueberries...or in my case just the blueberries! Yum!
Adapted from the NZ edition of the Australian Womens' Weekly, December 2012.