With summer getting into its stride, home-grown plump berries and juicy stoned fruits are ripe for eating. Take your pick of nectarines, gooseberries and strawberries

 

Nectarines

This smoother sibling of the peach is juicy enough now to enjoy straight from the fruit bowl – or add slices to salads and desserts.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 1 nectarine

Nectarines are a great choice for boosting vitamin C intake – just one fruit supplies 42% of our daily need for this vitamin, good intakes of which have been linked to reducing tiredness, as well as being excellent for our skin. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, so adding a sliced nectarine to a bowl of wholegrain cereal that’s fortified with iron makes a nutritious start to the day. The low-calorie, high-fibre profile of nectarines makes them especially good if we’re watching our weight. Much of the fibre they contain is classed as soluble – the type that’s linked to lower blood cholesterol levels and better blood sugar control.

Nutritional information per nectarine: 36kcal, 8.1g sugars, 1.4g fibre

In the kitchen
FRUIT LOLLIES, makes 8
Stone and chop 2 ripe nectarines, then whiz in a blender with 2 large handfuls raspberries, a few drops vanilla extract, 100ml apple juice and 150g low-fat natural yogurt until smooth. Pour into 8 lolly moulds and freeze. Enjoy any leftover mixture as a drink – just add a handful of ice.
nectarine

Gooseberries

They may not be the boldest or brightest of the berry bunch, but their slightly sour taste lends itself to many a nutritious recipe – not forgetting the old-favourite, jam.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 80g

Gooseberries are high in fibre, low in calories, lower in natural sugars than many other fruits and, like other berries, contain vitamin C. To reduce tartness, stew them with a natural sweetener such as stevia – although later in the season they’ll be softer and sweeter (and can be eaten raw). Their high pectin content makes them particularly good for making jam.

Nutritional information per 80g (cooking gooseberries): 15kcal, 2.4g sugars, 2.6g fibre

In the kitchen
MAKE a sweet accompaniment for grilled mackerel or salmon: put in a pan with a little wholegrain mustard, a splash of water and a little liquid stevia and cook until softened.
WHIP up a fool: stew gently with a little elderflower cordial until soft. Cool, then ripple through low-fat Greek yogurt.
BAKE a quick crumble: cook in a pan with a splash of water until soft, then transfer to ramekins, top with a nutty granola and cook in a medium-hot oven until hot.
gooseberries

Strawberries

Nothing signals summer like a British strawberry. For the best flavour, eat at room temperature or warmed by the sun.

Nutritional reasons to buy
One portion of your five-a-day: 7 strawberries

Just 12 strawberries provide all your vitamin C needs for a day. They also contain manganese, and both these nutrients act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage, which in turn helps to protect against health problems such as heart disease and cancer. Strawberries also contain many natural plant chemicals, such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid, which in lab tests appear to help reduce inflammation – often the first sign of developing diseases.

Nutritional information per 7 strawberries: 25kcal, 5.1g sugars, 3.2g fibre

In the kitchen
GRIDDLE halved strawberries until charred. Cool, then chop and mix with a splash of balsamic vinegar and some chopped mint to serve with grilled chicken.
CRUSH, then mix with oats, low-fat natural yogurt, pumpkin seeds and a little honey. Put in the fridge overnight for a bircher muesli.
SLICE, then put in an ice-cube tray. Top up with freshly squeezed orange juice and freeze. Drop into water for a flavour boost.
strawberries

Related article: Seasonal ways to five-a-day in July

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