Berries are the go-to fruits for dieting because their sugar count is relatively low with a high fiber count. They all contain anthocyanins, water soluble plant pigments which are responsible for their deep, vibrant colors of red, blue and purple. Those colors are also indicators of the star status they have relating to their high ORAC counts, or Oxidative Radical Absorbency Capacity. This denotes they have some of the highest values for defeating free radicals. Everyday, just by living, we all go through a free radical “rusting” of our bodies. High ORAC foods, like berries help protect our DNA from this “rusting” process. These high ORAC values are represented in their ability to suppress tumor cells and decrease lipid peroxidation, a contributing factor to heart disease. Blueberries are the king of the club with the highest ORAC of all fruits or vegetables. Scientific studies are now supporting the conclusion that eating blueberries also increases memory, cognition and balance because they stimulate the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The latest science also supports daily blueberry consumption lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The dessert outlined below is a light, refreshing alternative to those heavy desserts. Traditionally, Panna Cotta is an Italian custard dessert, akin to a Spanish flan, made with heavy cream. This lighter, updated version uses buttermilk instead of cream and is topped with a healthy serving of the king of berries, blueberries.
LEMON-BUTTERMILK PANNA COTTA WITH BLUEBERRY SAUCE
Servings: 4 servings (each serving about ¼ cup sauce)
2 sheets of unflavored gelatin or 1 T. unflavored gelatin
½ cup 2% milk
¼ cup plus 1 T. sugar
1 ½ cup buttermilk
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 cup apple juice
1/8 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
- Panna Cotta preparation: Coat 4 (6 oz.) custard cups with cooking spray. Sprinkle gelatin over 2% milk in a small saucepan; let stand 10 minutes. Cook milk mixture over medium-low heat 10 minutes or until gelatin dissolves, stirring constantly with a whisk. Increase heat to medium; add ½ cup plus 2 T. sugar, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add buttermilk and rind, stirring well. Divide mixture evenly among prepared custard cups. Cover and chill at least 5 hours or up to overnight.
- Sauce preparation: Combine the apple juice, ¼ cup sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; stir in blueberries. Cook 8 minutes or until blueberries are warm and begin to pop. Cool sauce ot room temp.
- Place a dessert plate, upside down, on top of each ramekin; invert panna cotta onto plates. Serve with sauce.
**Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com