Eating in Season: The Benefits of Summertime Blueberries








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©2010 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)

When’s the last time you enjoyed gobbling blueberries up by the handful, staining your fingers and lips blue?  Blueberries are about the only blue fruit, but they don’t let you down.  For a small fruit, they are nutrient-dense power-houses.

Blueberries are the ideal healthy snack for summertime.  They are in season and if you can get locally grown, then all the better.  They are in season May through October and this is when their nutrients are highest and they taste the best.

Blueberries offer protection for the heart, brain and age-related maladies.  They increase dopamine levels that make you feel pleasure.  And, a 3 ½ oz serving has the same amount of powerful antioxidants as 5 servings of other fruits and vegetables.  They are rich in vitamin C and E, manganese, fiber, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Blueberries for Sal

How to Choose Blueberries

Look for blueberries that are firm and uniformly blue.  Avoid those that are soft and moldy.  Store in the refrigerator, but don’t let them get pushed to the back of the shelf.  They should be eaten within a few days of purchasing.  Only wash them right before using since they become waterlogged.  To retain freshness and nutrient quality, eat them raw or if you have a large batch, freeze or dry them.

Recipes:

Blueberry Smoothie

Smoothies are a nice cool treat in the middle of a hot afternoon.  Use your own creativity and blend different fruits together with tea, milk, yogurt or kefir to find a perfect mix.  I like to put blueberries, bananas and raw goats milk in the blender with a few ice cubes.

Blueberry Slushy

2 cups boiling water

3 green tea bags

1 cup blueberries

½ cup water

Honey

Divide the blueberries into an ice cube tray and fill the tray with part of the green tea.  Reserve the remaining tea in the refrigerator.  Put the tray in the freezer until the blueberries and tea are frozen.

When you are ready for your slushy, put your blueberry ice cubes in the blender and puree with the rest of the tea, ½ cup water and a little honey to taste.  Top with a few blueberries and you have a delicious healthy summertime drink.

Dried Blueberries Ready to Order

Dried Blueberries Ready to Order

1 cup blueberries

1 teaspoon honey

This is an easy method for dehydrating blueberries.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the blueberries with the honey, coating evenly.  Slip the pan into a 225®F oven for 2 hours, until the blueberries are shriveled, but still supple.  Cool.  These will keep about a month in an airtight container.  You can eat them plain or mixed with nuts and raisins for trail mix, stir them into your oatmeal, mix in with yogurt or any other recipe you use blueberries in.

 

Other Ways to Eat Blueberries

  • Combine with diced onion and chilies, cilantro, and lime juice.  Use as a topping for meat and fish.
  • Thread onto skewers and freeze.  Use as swizzle sticks.
  • Fold them into your favorite banana bread recipe.
  • Add to your chicken salad.
  • Heat them with maple syrup and serve on waffles and pancakes.

No matter how you enjoy them, try to get them as local as you can and support your farmer’s market or nearby farmer.  If you have your own favorite ways of preparing and eating blueberries, feel free to leave a comment below and share with us!

 

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