Summer means fresh berries, and what could be a better mid-summer dessert than the classic strawberry shortcake?
A few substitutions make this shortcake a little more healthy. Some of the white flour has been replaced by whole wheat flour, which is rich in fiber and phytochemicals. The substitution of canola oil for some of the butter as well as the use of fat-free milk brings down the level of saturated fat. Lastly, the use of orange juice to sweeten the berries means less refined sugar is added. But of course it is the berries that make or break this dessert. So choose them carefully. Here’s one rule of thumb: whenever possible avoid the huge strawberries with no scent so often carried in many supermarkets. Opt for the smaller, bright berries that have a strong scent.
The same general proviso goes for choosing your other berries. Prefer berries that are in season and locally grown. Both blackberries and blueberries make a lovely complement to the strawberry-orange combination and are likely to be locally grown at this time of year.
While all berries are good for you, strawberries are a particularly rich source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and a photochemical that fights cancer and heart disease. Blueberries and blackberries also provide fiber and vitamin C and contain important disease-fighting antioxidants.
Make sure to wash all the berries carefully, while keeping them from getting waterlogged. (If you do have berries that have turned mushy, or if you need to use up frozen berries, both make excellent summer smoothies when combined in the blender with a little fruit juice and yogurt.)
You can serve this delightful dessert topped by low-fat vanilla yogurt, which is an excellent substitute for a whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topping. Or serve it with no topping at all for an exquisite taste sensation with a lot fewer calories.
Shortcake Biscuits with Berries
– Makes 8 servings.
- Canola oil spray
- 1 lb. fresh strawberries, washed
- 1 pt. fresh blueberries or blackberries, washed
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 Tbsp. sugar for the biscuits, plus more for the berries, according to taste
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 4 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with oil spray. Set aside. Hull strawberries and slice into a bowl. Add fresh washed blueberries or blackberries. Mix in orange juice and sugar to taste. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking powder and sugar. Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut the butter and oil into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk. Stir until it is just incorporated and there are no lumps.
Form 8 biscuits by dropping well-rounded quarter cups onto the cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until biscuits are done. (Use a toothpick to test center). Cool on a wire rack.
Use a serrated knife to gently slice off the top third of each biscuit. Top with some strawberries and juice. Lay the top third of the biscuit on berries. Top with more strawberries and juice. Place remaining berries around each biscuit. Garnish with yogurt, if using, and serve.
Per serving: 270 calories, 10 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat), 40 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. protein, 4 g. dietary fiber, 400 mg. sodium.
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