Can you tell we’re eager for berry season here at HealthBarn USA?! Last week, raspberries, and this week we have blueberries on our mind! Blueberries are versatile fruit: great for fruit salads, grain salads, smoothies, and baked goods! But did you know that this delicious little fruit is also a super food? Their deep blue color isn’t just pretty to look at. The color is a result of a high flavonoid content, which may help to preserve memory and is a powerful antioxidant. Blueberries also have a high water content, keeping your skin nicely hydrated. One cup of raw blueberries provides an excellent source of vitamins C and K, and the mineral manganese. These mighty berries pack a good dietary fiber punch at 4 grams (or 14% Daily Value) per 1 cup, too!
Like raspberries, blueberries grow on bushes. The wild ones tend to be much smaller (about pea-sized), while the traditional ones you find at the market are at least two or three times that size. Blueberry bushes won’t produce fruit for the first two years after they’re plated, but it’s worth the wait if you’ve just planted a new bush! Spring is when we prune the bushes to get rid of any part of the plant that was damaged during the winter, and then the berries mature over the summer. One thing to watch out for is that birds love blueberries too! It’s important to put a net over the bushes to keep hungry birds from getting to your berries before you do. We just planted our first five blueberries plants by demand from the Young Harvesters this spring and they are doing great! We ordered our organic bushes from DiMeo Farms (direct from the farmer) and they gave us the right combination of male and female plants, so we didn’t have to think too much about it! We harvest blueberries as early as June and as late as September in the northeast. You can find out where to pick farm fresh blueberries at http://www.pickyourown.org/.
Blueberries are perfectly delicious just as they are—freshly picked and rinsed and popped in your mouth! But they also make great additions to lots of recipes. Try adding blueberries to corn muffins, yogurt parfaits, and pancakes, like our Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes from Appetite for Life. These lightly sweetened, nutritious pancakes help cut the natural tartness of the blueberries. It’s a match made in heaven! You might also want to stock up on blueberries when they’re in season and freeze a bag or two. They can be blended into fruit and yogurt smoothies, or defrosted and used as an oatmeal topping. The options are endless!
What are your favorite blueberry recipes?
Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes
From Appetite for Life, by Stacey Antine
Here’s your new favorite pancake recipe. We used buckwheat flour because it’s a rich source of flavonoids and fiber, and we added ground flaxseeds to provide omega-3 fatty acids. The antioxidant-packed blueberries are a seasonal fruit, so if it’s the off-season, use frozen, or try a cup of pure pumpkin instead, for a comparable antioxidant boost. Drizzle with 100% pure maple syrup or agave nectar, and your white-flour-only pancake lover will definitely make the switch.
Kids can crack and separate eggs and flip pancakes with adult supervision.
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds 11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 1⁄2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
Maple syrup or agave nectar
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, flaxseeds, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
- Add egg, egg whites, milk, and vanilla to flour mixture, and stir until moistened. Add blueberries and stir until blended.
- Heat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour batter by 1⁄4 cup onto the hot griddle or skillet. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top, about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook a few minutes longer, until underside is golden. Transfer pancakes to a plate; keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used.
- Serve with pure maple syrup or agave nectar. Makes 6 servings (2 pancakes per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 170 calories; 3g fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g mono, 1g poly, 0g trans fat); 35mg cholesterol; 28g carbohydrate (4g fiber, 12g sugar); 7g protein; 320mg sodium; 4% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 4% DV vitamin C; 10% DV calcium; 6% DV iron.
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.