nutrition, wellness

Summer’s Berry-licious Crop

Hey, everyone!  I have been a little MIA the past few months with finals, clinical rotations, graduating, and now studying for boards while putting all my wedding plans into action.  However, I missed you all, blogging, and most of all experimenting in the kitchen.  You may have guessed it from the title of this blog, but the “star” ingredient this month (and all summer long) is the berry-licious blueberry!

blueberries

            When I think summer, I think summer harvest including squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, and even okra; however, blueberries definitely steel the show for me when it comes to summer crops.  Why, you may ask?  How could such a simple berry they have all year long be my favorite?  Well, I grew up on a small-scale farm with over 15 blueberry bushes, so I spend every summer picking gallons upon gallons of blueberries.  This summer, I decided to share with you the benefits of this luscious berry, as well as give some ideas on how to incorporate them into your diet.

bush

Blueberries have been a huge part of America’s agriculture from the beginning days when Native Americans cropped the land.  They used blueberries not only because they tasted good, but also for medicinal purposes as well as fabric dyes.  Interestingly enough, North Carolina (my home state) is one of the prime locations for blueberry cultivation.  This explains why my father has so many bushes!

blueberrys

Now that we have talked about some blueberry trivia, let’s talk about how these sweet, flavorful fruits can be beneficial for our health.  First off, blueberries are rich with vitamin C, vitamin K, and the mineral manganese.  Vitamin C is great for immunity and skin while vitamin K promotes healthy gut bacteria flora.  My personal favorite nutrient in blueberries is fiber.  Fiber not only promotes satiety (the feeling of fullness after consumption), but also helps everything get pushed out of your intestines, if ya know what I mean.  There is also a lot of research that shows blueberries as having anti-aging affects and antioxidants to help cancer prevention.

Did you learn anything new about blueberries?  How could such a tiny berry be packed with so much nutrition?  I do not have all the answers, but I know I am going to be eating lots of them this summer!  One thing I have run into is how to be versatile with these berries.  I do love blueberries, but eating them in the same form could get tiring.  We all like variety in our diet.  Below are a few ideas on how you can add this berry-licious fruit into your day.

Ø  Add ½ cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen) into your oatmeal in the mornings whether it be cooked oatmeal or overnight oats.  If you like overnight oats, you could add them in when you make them to give the whole meal to taste of blueberries, or you can add them in last minute (they will be more plump and juicy this way).

Ø  Smoothies!  Blueberries are WONDERFUL in smoothies.   I add about ½ cup of blueberries into ALL of my smoothies, yes all.  The flavor goes so nicely with all fruits and veggies.  My favorite is ½ cup blueberries, 1 banana, 1 cup fresh, raw spinach, 2 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter, and 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk.  This could be great for meals or snacks.

Ø  Adding blueberries to salads gives a nice sweet and juicy surprise to your veggies that can sometimes get boring.  To your mixed greens or spinach and veggies, add ½ cup of blueberries (or more if you’d like) and some feta cheese.  The feta cheese gives a nice tart treat to balance the sweet and umami flavors.

Ø  Now, let’s talk about baking.  Blueberries most famous form is…can you guess it?  The blueberry muffin!  This blog gives you a BONUS—my hearty blueberry-licious muffins.  These muffins do not last 2 days in my house.  These muffins are vegetarian, but could easily be made vegan by eliminating the eggs and replacing with smashed banana.  Check out the recipe and tutorial below.

Blueberry-licous Muffins

muffins

Recipe yields 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, preferably room temperature
  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup of honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more if you like the flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour (you could use AP flour, I just like the added nutrients of WW flour)
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup of roughly chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  You can line muffin tin with cupcake liners or use baking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In your mixer (or large bowl), add eggs, salt, vanilla, baking powder, and baking soda ensuring that everything has dissolved.  Once all is dissolved, add in your flour and gently fold.  Once flour is gently folded, fold in the blueberries, cinnamon, and walnuts. Do not over mix! *Cooking fact: If you over mix the muffin batter, the muffins could present tunneling, which is small tunnels in the cooked product.
  1. Scoop your batter into the greased muffin tins with a large ice cream scoop.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, checking with a toothpick to ensure they have been cooked all the way through.  Once out of oven, let the muffins rest for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Recipe yields 12 muffins.  Enjoy!

What are your favorite ways to eat and enjoy blueberries?  Remember to like my facebook page “Live Better with Kat Detter” and instagram @betterwithkatdetter for post updates!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

References
USDA Harvard Study:
https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2014/blueberries-and-health/

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