I love eating seasonal – that means you get fruits and veggies at the peak of their flavor and nutrition. If you have a farmers market near you, you understand the notion of eating seasonal as that is how the farmers sell their goods. If it isn’t growing they can’t sell it. Once the fruit and vegetables are harvested it is off to the market to be sold. I LOVE FARMERS MARKETS! It is great to support not only local but often the small business vs. large chain grocery store. It also forces you to cook with what you find at the market. It is also a great place to get organic gardening advice, one that I have used many times!
I love to take my kids one on one to the farmer’s market and give them $20 and see what they come up with and how well they use the money. Not only do they learn about Math(price per pound), but also looking for the best price not just buying the first thing you see, letting them pick a new fruit or veggie to try, seeing small businesses at work (local soap makers, local beekeepers with thier honey, homemade baked goods and fresh flowers – as well as all the farmers) and some good Mommy time! It is a Saturday morning treat!
Blueberries are a love of mine and for good reason! Not only are they delicious, but they are fun to eat, they are a gorgeous color and that dark blue color is what contributes to the superstars of nutrition that they are.
- Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings.
- Blueberry antioxidants benefits the nervous system and brain health, and now there is exciting new evidence that blueberries can improve memory, so EAT up!
- New studies make it clear that we can freeze blueberries without doing damage to their delicate anthocyanin antioxidants, so buy them on sale and bag them for the freezer to use all year round! A great tip for anyone that doesn’t have access to fresh blueberries!
- They are a low-GI fruit and have been found to clearly have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
- If you want to maximize your antioxidant benefits from blueberries, go organic! They have been shown to have significantly higher concentrations of total phenol antioxidants.
- They are full of Vitamin C, K, fiber, manganese, and only 84 calories in a cup!
- Helps reduce blood pressure – In individuals with high blood pressure, blueberry intake has significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
- Blueberries help us maintain smoothly working nerve cells and healthy cognitive function – Brain food!
How to select and store:
Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform hue colored with a whitish bloom. Shake the container, noticing whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture. They should be free from moisture since the presence of water will cause the berries to decay. When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries move freely and are not clumped together, which may suggest that they have been thawed and re-frozen.
Don’t wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berries’ skins from degradation. Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 days.
Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer.
Ways to use blueberries:
- add them to your juice recipe or smoothie - it gives it a beautiful color and adds sweetness without adding sugar. Try Vicki’s juice here, or her blueberry lemon smoothie here.
- mix frozen blueberries into oatmeal and BAM you have purple oatmeal – kids love it and they get their antioxidants all at the same time! Check out Victoria’s recipe for Blueberry Overnight Oats
- toss a handful into your banana bread for moisture and a fun pop of color – check out my Banana Bread recipe
- stir into yogurt, top with granola and you have a parfait!
- top your pancakes or waffles with these fresh berries or thaw some frozen ones to make a blueberry sauce – Yum!
- add into your batter for pancakes and watch them pop as you cook away – this is my favorite kind of pancakes!
- eat them straight up – one of my kids favs!
- make blueberry jam and store for the rest of the year – you will be glad you did! There is nothing like homemade jam!
- add them to a strawberry spinach salad with toasted pistachios and serve with an orange vinaigrette – recipe to come!
- serve blueberry Panna Cotta as your dessert to your supper club – recipe to come!
- whip up a Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette – recipe to come!
- bake into French Toast or add to Bread Pudding and serve with Vanilla Anglaise
- add dried blueberries to Chicken Salad to add a fun and delicious twist
- toss into dry cereal to change-up the mundane
- instead of the typical Apple Crisp use blueberries instead, SO GOOD! – recipe to come!
I hope this gives you some ideas to try as you start to see blueberries pop up in the stores and markets. I will be posting several Blueberry recipes in the weeks to come so stay tuned for some great additions to your backyard parties, picnics at the park, or dinner parties. You won’t be disappointed!
Remember blueberries are in season May-September so head out to your market and pick up a basket or two!