A favorite wintertime recipe of mine incorporates goji berries, which have grow beautifully in my Wisconsin gardens (even though I do frequently get stuck by some rather nasty spikes on the stems of the bush). I harvest and air dry the berries, then use them in several breakfast options in the winter. I have cranberry bushes in the ground, so in a couple more years I should start to be able to harvest those for my use, too! We already know that these are a Wisconsin staple (did you know you don’t need a bog to grow them? Check out this information and consider trying some plants for your family’s enjoyment!).
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are native to Asia, and people have been using this fruit for more than 2,000 years as a medicinal herb and food supplement. Goji berries may help vision because they have high levels of antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin. These antioxidants have been found to stop damage from ultraviolet light, oxidative stress, and free radicals. One research study found that elders who drank goji berry juice for three months increased their antioxidant levels significantly; another study found they offer retinal protection from the ganglion cysts that lead to glaucoma. They also contain Vitamins A & C, beta carotene, and antioxidants. Research suggests that goji berries may help control the release of sugar into the blood by balancing blood glucose and insulin levels; it also identified a link between goji and increased levels of high density lipoproteins (the “good” cholesterol) in people with type 2 diabetes.
Oat – as in the oats we eat – is a gluten free, whole grain herb with a load of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and antioxidants. In fact, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods we have. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) by reducing absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. One serving of oatmeal provides 3 – 4 grams of fiber; adding fruit increases the fiber. Research suggests that whole-grain foods such as oats may protect against colorectal cancer and have benefits on inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease.
Oat is also a wonderful nervine herb, meaning that it can nourish the nervous system over time. Oatmeal, oatstraw, and milky oat tops have historically been used for anxiety. Please note that when I say oatmeal I am referring to the real thing – not quick/instant oats which are more processed than regular or large flake oats, so your body digests them more quickly, leading to a more rapid increase in your blood glucose. Unlike regular (“old fashioned” oats), they are not a low glycemic food!
I love oatmeal, and this recipe is one of my favorites – it not only tastes great, it also looks beautiful!
Goji berries, cranberry, walnuts, and fresh fruit
- 1 1/2 ounces oatmeal
- 4 oz milk of choice (or water) – I use hemp or macadamia milk for extra protein
- 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbs Goji berries
- 1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- Small handful of walnuts (can substitute other nuts, too)
- Blackberries, apples, or other fruit of choice
- In a small pot, combine the rolled oats, water or milk, cranberries, and vanilla extract.
- Bring to a simmer over low heat until liquid is absorbed and porridge is creamy, and cranberries have popped, approx. 3 – 5 min. Add more water or milk if the mixture is too dry. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While cooking, wash/chop fresh fruit and nuts, as needed
- Scoop warm oatmeal into a serving bowl, and gently mix in the fruit. Top with the nuts and goji berries. Serve warm with a little maple syrup and/or warmed milk of choice, if desired.
Bucheli, Peter*; Vidal, Karine*; Shen, Lisong†; Gu, Zhencheng*; Zhang, Charlie‡; Miller, Larry E.*; Wang, Junkuan* Goji Berry Effects on Macular Characteristics and Plasma Antioxidant Levels, Optometry and Vision Science: February 2011 – Volume 88 – Issue 2 – p 257-262 doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318205a18f
Cai, H., Liu, F., Zuo, P., Huang, G., Song, Z., Wang, T., Lu, H., Guo, F., Han, C., & Sun, G. (2015). Practical Application of Antidiabetic Efficacy of Lycium barbarum Polysaccharide in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Medicinal chemistry (Shariqah (United Arab Emirates)), 11(4), 383–390. https://doi.org/10.2174/1573406410666141110153858
Cheng J, Zhou ZW, Sheng HP, He LJ, Fan XW, He ZX, Sun T, Zhang X, Zhao RJ, Gu L, Cao C, Zhou SF. An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2014 Dec 17;9:33-78. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S72892. PMID: 25552899; PMCID: PMC4277126.
Thies, F., Masson, L. F., Boffetta, P., & Kris-Etherton, P. (2014). Oats and bowel disease: a systematic literature review. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(S2), S31-43. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114514002293