The more you know about these powerful little berries, the more you will want them to become a bigger part of your family’s life.
“Blueberries have been loved in this country since the beginning, really,” explains Chef Scott Jenkins, the executive chef at Arlington, Virginia-based Extra Virgin restaurant. “They are delicious, versatile and healthy, so what’s not to love about a blueberry?”
According to the North American Blueberry Council, blueberries are a native American species. We produce roughly 90 percent of the world’s blueberries, making this country the leader in blueberry production. While blueberries are grown in over 30 states, with the harvest running from mid-April through October, the harvest peak is July.
Blueberries, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, are one of the fruits with the highest amount of antioxidants, which are important in helping to fight aging, cancer, and heart disease. They are also high in dietary fiber, as well as Vitamins A and C. Although they ripen in warmer months, they can easily be frozen and used throughout the year. For the best results, freeze them unwashed, in a single layer, in freezer bags. When you are ready to use them, take out just what you need and wash them.
Here are five ways that you can incorporate blueberries into your diet:
- Baked goods. Blueberries are great in pancakes, muffins and pies, whether for breakfast or dessert.
- Sauces. Create your own sauce for pancakes and waffles, or use them in a savory sauce for your meat dishes.
- Add-ons. Top a salad with blueberries or add them to grains, such as couscous or quinoa.
- Dried. Blueberries that have been dried make a great addition to trail mix.
- Soups and smoothies. Drinking blueberries is also a tasty way to get their benefits. Add them to soups, smoothies and fresh juices.
“Blueberries are sometimes overlooked, but they shouldn’t be,” adds Chef Jenkins. “They can add a lot to your dishes, and they offer a lot of health benefits. Using them is a win-win!”
Extra Virgin has an olive-oil-inspired menu and décor, and specializes in modern Italian cuisine. The restaurant, which is located in Arlington, Virginia, hosts a variety of live entertainment acts, featuring jazz music, and offers late-night dining. The restaurant options include such specialties as wood-fired pizzas, pastas, meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as vegetarian options. The restaurant offers lunch specials, as well as new weekly menu specialties.
Try Chef Jenkin’s Special Chilled Blueberry Soup
- 2 pints fresh blueberries, washed
- 1 fresh squeezed lemon
- ½ cup wildflower honey
- 1 tsp ginger, fresh puree
- 2 tablespoons green apple balsamic
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 quarts soda water
- Use a blender to puree the fresh ginger.
- Leave the ginger in the blender and add blueberries, honey, lemon juice, sugar, balsamic, and soda water.
- Blend together and chill.
- Serve garnished with a slice of lemon.
To learn more about Extra Virgin, visit their website at: extravirginva.com.
Cher Murphy, owner of Cher Murphy PR, covers a variety of interesting fields, including health and wellness, education, restaurants, travel, and entertainment.
When I was a kid my family spent one week every summer fishing and camping at a remote lake in Ontario, Canada. Along the banks of that lake clusters of wild blueberry bushes sunk their roots into the dark soil of the pine forest, their branches sagging under the weight of plump, indigo-blue berries. Although I love to fish, nine times out of 10 I found myself turning my back on the trout and walleye in favor of the juicy blueberries bursting with refreshing sweetness—the perfect antidote to the sun on the water.
If I’d known as a 9-year-old that those delicious, bite-sized berries were actually good for me, I probably would have refused to eat them. Today blueberries are hailed as a kind of super food. Chock full of antioxidants, dietary fiber, potassium, and other nutrients, blueberries are purported to improve brain function and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and even cancer—all for just 80 calories per cup.
Fish and blueberries. Both are delicious on their own, but can they work together in a single dish? Certainly they can, says Marc Meyer, chef and proprietor of three New York City restaurants, Five Points, Cookshop, and Hundred Acres. “In many cases we labor under the tacit rule that fruit is a sweet, not to be mixed with savory,” says Meyer. “But in this recipe, the mild flavor of the trout calls for something like blueberries with their off-sweet tart and rich flavors. The bitterness of the arugula, the enriching of the olive oil, and the aromatic quality of the mint rounds out the entire dish.”
Blueberry and Grilled Trout Arugula Salad
(Makes 4 servings)
- 4 4-ounce trout fillets
- 6 ounces (11 cups) arugula
- 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅟₄ teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Grill trout fillets skin-side-up over medium heat until lightly brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Turn over and grill another 2 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove fillets from heat, skin, and break into medium-sized pieces.
2. In bowl, combine arugula, trout, and blueberries.
3. In small cup, combine oil, vinegar, mint, salt, and pepper.
4. Divide salad onto 4 chilled plates; drizzle each serving with dressing.
Nutrition analysis per serving (including dressing)
Total Fat: 26 g
Saturated Fat: 3.8 g
Sodium: 352 mg
Carbohydrate: 14 g
Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 19.45 g
3 Lean Meat
5 Fat Exchanges
Pardon the pun, but we’ve gone bananas for blueberries. In the March/April issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Corey Michael Dalton writes about picking these antioxidant-rich fruits in Canada as a child. His story made us crave the sweet treats, so we asked the U.S. Highbrush Blueberry Council for inventive, healthy ways to mix these berries into our diets. The result? An entire day’s worth of meals (and snacks)! Start your day with the blueberry oatmeal breakfast cake, and then give one of the salads a try. And don’t forget to try the blueberry-topped rice cake featuring ricotta or cottage cheese. It’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up that won’t have you crashing from a sugar high.
Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake
(Makes 8 servings)
- 1-1⁄3 cups flour
- ¾ cup quick-cooking oats
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup frozen blueberries*
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch round baking pan. Set aside.
In medium mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a 1-cup measure stir milk, oil, and egg. Pour all at once into flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake is golden and pulls away from sides of pan 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool on a rack, 5 to 10 minutes.
*Blueberries should be firmly frozen when used in baking.
Salmon and Blueberry Salad with Red Onion Vinaigrette
(Makes 4 servings)
- 1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced in half rings
- 1/4 cup Regina red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1-1/2 pounds salmon fillet, cut crosswise in 4 portions
- 6 cups lettuce leaves in bite-sized pieces
- 1cup fresh blueberries
In microwaveable cup, combine onion, red wine vinegar, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper; cover loosely with plastic wrap; microwave on high power for 1 minute. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until onions turn pink, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat grill or broiler. Brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil on both sides of salmon fillets; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Grill or broil salmon, skin side down, until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Divide lettuce leaves among 4 dinner plates; place salmon in the center. With slotted spoon, remove onions from vinegar; scatter onions, along with blueberries, over and around the fish. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into vinegar mixture; drizzle vinaigrette over salmon.
Berry Blue Smoothie
(Makes 3 servings)
- 2 cups fresh or slightly thawed frozen blueberries
- 1 6-ounce container low-fat vanilla or other flavored yogurt
- 1 cup fruit juice, such as orange, pineapple or apple
- 1 tablespoon honey or sugar, more or less to taste
In the container of an electric blender, place blueberries, yogurt, juice, and honey. Whirl until smooth. Serve immediately.
Blueberry-Topped Rice Cakes
(Makes 4 servings)
- ½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese
- 2 teaspoons apricot preserves
- 4 apple-cinnamon flavored rice cakes
- 1 cup thinly-sliced fresh fruit (such as apple, pear, nectarine or peach)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
In a small bowl, stir together ricotta and preserves.
Spoon an equal amount on each of the rice cakes almost to the edge.
Arrange fruit slices in circles, on top of the ricotta mixture.
Top each with ¼ cup of the blueberries.
Blueberry Shrimp Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
(Makes 4 servings)
- Medium-size shrimp, boiled or grilled: ¾ pound (about 20)
- Fresh blueberries: 1 cup
- Walnut pieces, toasted: ½ cup
- Edamame or green peas, cooked: ½ cup
- Mixed salad greens: 5 ounces (about 4 cups)
- Lemon Vinaigrette: (recipe follows)
- Firm white cheese, such as feta, crumbled: 2 ounces (about ½ cup)
In a large salad bowl, toss shrimp, blueberries, walnut pieces, edamame (or peas), and salad greens
Evenly divide salad onto six plates. Drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette (below). Sprinkle cheese around edges of salads
In a small mixing bowl, whisk ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon sugar, 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper.
Recipes/Photos Courtesy: The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.