Dark Berry Candy

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a nasty one and it has not yet reached its peak. Although our health agencies are urging everyone to get a flu shot, they admit that the latest vaccine is only 10% effective. Anyone at high risk should be very cautious. The CDC warns that you should see a doctor immediately if you experience severe symptoms, such as “difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, or recurring signs of the flu.” For children, a doctor should also be consulted if they are not drinking enough fluids, become dehydrated, or listless.

Is there anything else you can do to protect yourself and your family? A report from the National Institute of Health found that eating certain, dark-colored berries could help. The study was titled: Relationship between polyphenol content and anti-influenza viral effects of berries. (See Notes below for more about the study results.)

My new recipe, made with dark-skinned berries and dark chocolate, another super-food, may support your immune system and keep you healthy, but either way, you still get to enjoy delicious, healthful, candy!

Line a loaf pan or similar-sized container with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides to facilitate removal.

1 cup cocoa butter (the pale yellow fat obtained from cacao beans), chopped and measured before melting

2 tablespoons grass-fed ghee or pasture butter

1 teaspoon sugar-free vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla seeds

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

A generous pinch of salt, Redmond Real Salt preferred

Powdered, sugar-free sweetener with bulk (powdered Swerve, SweetPefection, Just Like Sugar, Allulose, erythritol with stevia or monk fruit, xylitol, etc. (I started with 4 tablespoons of a bulk sweetener and then added a liquid one after tasting the mixture.)

Liquid sugar-free sweetener of choice to taste, as needed

¾ cup berries with dark skins such as blueberries, blackberries, black raspberries, black currents, black elderberries,* cranberries, bilberries, and/or lingonberries. (Barberries are sold on some low-carb sites, but they may have side effects.)

½ cup Pecans or walnuts, chopped

½ cup sugar-free marshmallows, snipped into small pieces. Use purchased** marshmallows or the variation for Plain Marshmallows at the bottom of my post for home-made marshmallows.

If using dried berries, soak them in hot water to plump them, adding a little sweetener if they are tart. Drain well and blot on paper towels. You can also use frozen, thawed berries if you drain and blot them well.

Put cocoa butter and ghee into a small saucepan and heat on low until melted.

Whisk the cocoa powder with dry sweetener. Add dry mixture to the melted ghee and cocoa butter and stir in. Add vanilla, salt, and any liquid sweetener to taste and stir to combine. Stir in the berries, nuts, and marshmallows.

Pour the candy mixture into the lined container and place in the refrigerator to set. Slice into small squares. Store in refrigerator.

Nutrition Data for each of 12 squares:
Calories: 231; Fat: 24.6g; Protein: 1.8g; Carbs: 6g; Fiber: 3.2g; Net Carbs: 2.8g
Data based on using all wild blueberries. Sweeteners are not included in counts as they vary and have little impact. 

The link in the ingredients list takes you to my recipe for Raspberry Marshmallows. Use the variation for Plain Marshmallows at the end of the post that omits the coconut flakes and raspberries. Roll them in dry, sugar-free sweetener or coconut flour.

Purchased marshmallows are often made with maltitol. They taste good, but I don’t recommend them because they cause digestive problems. LC-Foods sells a marshmallow mix. Know Foods sells marshmallows made with Allulose. (Marshmallows, chocolate chips, rice, and syrup are the only foods that I would recommend buying from Know Foods because everything else they sell contains flax, which is astronomically high in estrogen and can have serious side effect.)

Antiviral benefits of dark berries:
Conclusion from the study mentioned in the head note above:
“Antiviral effects were found to differ markedly between berry species. Rabbiteye varieties tended to have higher antiviral effects than Northern, Southern and Half Highbush blueberry varieties. We also found that Natsuhaze, which has recently been harvested in Japan as a potential functional food, had an antiviral effect comparable to that of bilberry, cranberry and blackcurrant. There was a positive relationship between antiviral activity and polyphenol content, indicating the possibility that polyphenol is one of the key factors in the antiviral effects of berries.”

Another study looked at the antiviral effect of blackcurrants. …”The extract of Blackcurrant could disinfect all of 4 IFV (influenza virus) strains we examined. The extracts of blackcurrant showed definite potential for use as a disinfectant and antiseptic agent to prevent IFV infection.”

I don’t know how to tell one variety of berry from another unless I buy the plant from a nursery and it comes with a label. Since the researchers found that antiviral activity was positively related to the polyphenol level in the berry skins, it is probably safe to say that smaller, darker, berries would have a greater effect. (Smaller is better because there is more skin in proportion to sweet pulp.) Of the commonly eaten berries, wild blueberries are at the top of the list for anti-oxidant and anti-viral activity.

*Black elderberries are the superstar of anti-viral berries, but you are not likely to find them fresh, frozen, or dried. You can, however, buy elderberry extract in capsules. This is what diabetes expert, Dr. Richard Bernstein, gives his patients to help them fight off cold and flu viruses. I take two capsules at the first sign of a sore throat and it has worked every time (so far). I use the Gaia brand sold on Thrive, but most stores that sell herbal remedies will likely have several to choose from. You can also find it on Amazon. Be sure to choose one that lists only the extract of black elderberries and has no sugar.

Stay well!

(c) 2018, Judy Barnes Baker,

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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