In Part 6 of “What are the Best Foods to Eat?” let’s talk about one of my summer favorites…blueberries. It’s July and that means it’s National Blueberry Month.
Take advantage of this delicious and healthy summer treat while you can. Seek out local “pick your own” blueberry farms where no one will tell you that you can’t eat while you pick. This is a great way to reconnect with nature and spend an afternoon teaching your children how things grow and where their food comes from. And… bringing home a few pints of this nutritiously dense, succulent, tasty fruit is a great way to extend the experience.
First, seek out certified organic farms. Berries at these farms are not exposed to pesticides or herbicides so you can feel safe about you and your children eating them right off the bush.
Dependent on the weather, blueberries typically are ready for picking early to mid July and their season lasts about 6-8 weeks. Once there, look for the ripest berries with that deep purply-blue color. Lightly pinch the blueberry and roll it off the stem with your thumb. To fill a pint, it will take you about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
What makes the blueberry a “superfood”?
- The blueberry can boast as having one of the highest amounts of antioxidants in all the fruit kingdom.
- Blueberries are beneficial for cancer prevention and cardiovascular health. They contain a diverse range of polyphenols which help keep your heart healthy.
- Beneficial for vision, brain and digestive health
- Low in calories. In fact, blueberries have only 84 calories per 8 oz. They contain almost no fat and an entire day’s worth of fiber.
- Blueberries contain vitamins A, C & K plus the minerals potassium and phosphorous.
- They contain manganese which aids in converting carbohydrates and fats into energy and aids bone development.
- Blueberries may be therapeutic in the early stages of prostate cancer or possibly even prevent it.
Did you know… eating just under a cup of mixed berries daily for 8 weeks can increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lower your blood pressure.
OK… Just picked a bunch of blueberries…now what?
Glad you asked…here are a few suggestions.
Close your eyes and let your imagination wander. Picture blueberry pancakes and Blueberry Compote. (Read on for my easy recipe.) Or how about a blueberry and banana smoothie to start off your day? Grab that sandwich-size zip lock bag you packed with blueberries last night and tossed in the freezer for munchy little frozen bites on your way to work.
- Try fresh picked blueberries over vanilla bean ice cream (and maybe a drizzle of dark chocolate).
- Toss a handful of berries in your Greek yogurt…it’s healthier than that “fruit & syrup on the bottom” yogurt at the grocery store.
- How about munching on chocolate covered blueberries cold from the fridge while catching up on some TV?
- Bake my Blueberry Muffins this weekend (Find the recipe under”Breakfast” in the drop down menu.) or blueberry coffee cake.
- Add a handful of blueberries to your morning bowl of cereal.
- How about preparing blueberry cobbler or Blueberry Pie (see my recipe below) for dessert this weekend?
- Add a few blueberries to a summer cocktail or add a few frozen blueberries to a glass of white wine.
Here’s a tasty Idea…
Blueberry – Pineapple Parfaits
Having guests this weekend or having a few friends over to help you work on your new home? Make these simple but fancy concoctions in small mason jars and store in the fridge for a quick “grab & go”. Tie twine or raffia around the neck of the jar and in the bow…insert a spoon. They’re a nutritious healthy dessert or snack…deliciously cold when it’s hot outside and you won’t feel guilty if you have two!
Using small Mason jars allows you to stack them in the fridge taking up less space. For a different presentation, you could use small, no stem wine glasses or the traditional parfait glasses.
- 1 Cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbls maple syrup
- 1 Cup diced pineapple
- 1 1/2 Cups fresh blueberries
- 1/2 Cup granola
- 1/2 Cup shredded coconut, toasted
- Combine the yogurt, maple syrup and pineapple in a small bowl.
- Using 4 dessert glasses, spoon a layer of yogurt mixture, a layer of blueberries, granola and then coconut.
⇒To toast coconut, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden in color.
Make Something Amazing Today…
Easy Blueberry Pie
Did you just get home from an afternoon of picking blueberries and need a fast dessert for dinner tonight? Prepare this delicious Blueberry Pie with the kids…a perfect way to end the day, eating the berries they picked.
- Pillsbury pie crust or something comparable
- 6 Cups freshly picked blueberries
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 1/4 Cup flour or 3 Tbls corn starch
- 1/2 Tsp cinnamon, if desired
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, if desired
- 1 Tbls lemon juice
- 1 Tbls butter
- Set aside 1 egg for the egg wash
- Bring the pie pastry to room temperature and line a deep dish pie plate with the bottom crust.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Add the blueberries, making sure all the little stem pieces have been removed. Gently mix together.
- Fill the pie shell with the blueberries and sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the top.
- Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top and dot with the butter, cut into tiny pieces.
- Now the top pastry goes on. With a sharp knife make about 6-9 small slits for air to escape.
- Fold the edges of the top pastry shell over the bottom pastry and tuck under. Flute with a fork or pinch together with your fingers and thumbs.
- Beat the egg with a fork and brush on the pastry shell. You won’t use the entire egg…just make sure the entire surface is covered. Sprinkle the surface with a little white sugar.
- Cover the edges with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden and bubbly. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.
⇒ You can get creative and make a lattice top simply by cutting the top pastry shell into strips and weaving them criss-cross over the top of the pie. This makes for a lovely presentation with the hot bubbly blueberry filling between the lattice.
⇒ To check out my recipe for Apple Blueberry Pie, click here or go to “Just Desserts” in the drop down menu.
Fresh or Frozen…Does it Matter?
A study conducted by South Dakota State University states frozen is healthier than fresh. Frozen blueberries deliver a bigger dose of disease-fighting antioxidants than fresh.
The compound that gives the berry its beautiful blue color is called anthocyanins. The antioxidants found in this compound are more available when the ice crystals are formed during the freezing process. Ice crystals actually disrupt the berry’s tissue structure making anthocyanins more available. The diverse range of polyphenols provided from blueberries can help keep your heart healthy.
If you choose to freeze…it’s easy and you’ll have fresh blueberries all winter long.
Simply spread (so they’re not touching) fresh washed & blotted dry blueberries on a cookie/baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Place in the freezer until frozen. Then place the frozen berries in a freezer zip-lock bag, mark the date on the bag and freeze until needed. Using zip-lock bags allows you to stack them in the freezer, taking up much less space than other containers.
Table 38 Blueberry Compote
(pictured above served over hot blueberry pancakes)
- 2 Cups fresh blueberries
- 3 Tbls water
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 2 Tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Place 1 cup of blueberries and the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of blueberries and continue cooking for another 8 minutes, stirring often.
Serve warm in a little pitcher or small serving bowl.
This compote can be made with either fresh or frozen blueberries. In fact, you can use all sorts of summer berries to make delicious compote. Think of the possibilities using strawberries, raspberries or blackberries…what ever is in season when the mood strikes.
And may I suggest…
⇒Use your homemade fresh fruit compote as syrup on a stack of hot pancakes, waffles or my favorite…French toast.
⇒Top a roasted pork with a drizzle of blueberry compote.
⇒Add a dollop of compote to your yogurt or over a scoop of ice cream.
⇒Think of adding a little cinnamon or freshly ground nutmeg to add another depth of flavor.
I’ll end this blog with an invitation to check out my mother’s favorite Blueberry Cheesecake Squares. Click here to get her recipe or go to “Just Desserts” in the drop down menu.
In closing, I look forward to your comments and feedback, below. Do you have a favorite blueberry recipe you’d like to share? Or do you have a favorite place to go where you can find the best ever blueberries to pick? Please share with us.