The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are currently under review for when a 2015 version is published. The last version, DGA 2010, includes recommendations to increase servings of fruits and vegetables. Summertime is a wonderful time to expand your variety of fruits and veggies, and July is blueberry month. Blueberries will be available at farmers markets and at local supermarkets at good prices now, so this is a great time to stock up and try new recipes as well.
Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, including anthocyanin. This potent phytochemical, which gives blueberries their blue color, is classified as a bioflavonoid. Flavonoids are “free radical scavengers.”
Free radicals are highly reactive atoms circulating in the body that can damage cells. These flavonoids may indeed have numerous other properties, including antioxidant properties, adding even more health benefit. Flavonoids are present in many fruits and vegetables, including blueberries.
There are many easy ways to use blueberries. Try these:
- Mix some blueberries into your pancake mix. Try serving pancakes topped with a dollop of vanilla yogurt instead of sugary syrups once in a while for something different and more nutritious.
- Add blueberries to your morning oatmeal or any ready-to-eat cereal.
- Freeze them and serve them up to children as a frozen treat; or simply wash and pack them into zipper bags for later use.
- Make a blueberry banana smoothie. Mix up one cup of vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries, one banana and a few ice cubes in a blender. Whir until well-mixed and enjoy.
- Freeze the smoothie into freeze pops. Simply pour smoothie mixture into freezer pop molds with sticks for a healthy, refreshing and frozen treat.
- Top one scoop of churned vanilla bean ice cream with a half cup of slightly sweetened blueberries (add 2 teaspoons sugar per 2 cups). Top with a tablespoon of Chambord liqueur.
- Check out the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council at blueberrycouncil.org for recipes and all you’d ever want to know about blueberries. And enjoy more of this nutritious summer fruit.
Blueberry breakfast cake, courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
1. Grease an 8-inch round baking pan. Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. In a 1 cup measure, stir milk, oil and egg. Pour all at once into flour mixture.
4. Stir just until moistened — batter will be lumpy.
5. Fold in blueberries.
6. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
7. Bake until cake is golden and pulls away from sides of pan — 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Cool on a rack, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: 8 portions
Per portion: 236 calories, 5 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat, 211 mg sodium, 29 mg cholesterol
Simple food safety
You may be using your grill a lot more often during the summertime, so here’s a food safety reminder: Never use the same platter that held raw meat, fish or poultry for cooked foods. When grilling, take raw meat to grill on a platter and either wash the platter or switch out a clean platter for the cooked meat. Otherwise, raw juices from the uncooked product can spread to the cooked food and cause food-borne illness. The same goes for utensils — be sure to use clean utensils for cooked food.
Rust, a local registered dietitian and author, can be contacted via her website, rustnutrition.com, or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.