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Ingredient Spotlight: Blueberries - Modern Alternative KitchenModern Alternative Kitchen

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My first thought when starting this post on blueberries? How much I love to pick them off the bush and eat them straight up. Fresh blueberries definitely make my top ten favorite foods list. I’m pretty sure I could eat an entire gallon in one sitting. No joke.

My second thought about blueberries? Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Violet Beauregarde who turns purple and blows up into a giant blueberry. Yes, this is my thought process, people. Pop culture at its finest.

But never fear, eating blueberries will most certainly not cause you to become a giant blueberry and float through the sky. (But how fun would that be?!) Eating plenty of fresh blueberries can, however, boost your immune system, improve your memory, and regulate your blood sugar levels. They offer a fantastic source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, and fiber.

Whole Body Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are most well known for their incredible antioxidant content. They actually contain some of the highest amount of antioxidants of all fruits, vegetables, spices, and seasonings! This means eating plenty of blueberries (and other antioxidant-rich foods) will fight free radicals and oxidative stress in your body (which translates to a slower aging process).

New research has also begun to show some amazing whole body benefits to eating blueberries:

  • Improved memory. A really neat study involving older adults (average age = 76) found improvement on cognitive function tests in participants after 12 weeks of drinking fresh blueberry juice on a daily basis. The scientists also believe the blueberry’s ability to protect nerve cells from oxygen damage can help ward off other cognitive issues associated with aging.
  • Heart health. Several studies have shown that eating 1-2 cups of blueberries daily for 1-3 months can improve blood fat balances and can protect blood components (like LDL cholesterol) from oxygen damage. The long and short of it? Eating blueberries can reduce your risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease.
  • Balanced blood sugar levels. Blueberries have a Glycemic Index rating around 40-53, which is actually a bit higher than most other berries (blackberries, raspberries, & strawberries are closer to 30), but recent studies have shown that blueberries have a positive effect on regulating blood sugar levels, even in those with type 2 Diabetes.
  • Improved vision. The retina is part of your body that is at a higher risk for oxidative damage. So the impressive anti-oxidant properties in blueberries do quite a lot to protect your eyesight. Looks like carrots aren’t the only food for our eyes!

When in Doubt, Buy Organic

Blueberries made it onto the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for 2011, so if you want to reduce your exposure to pesticides, definitely opt for organic blueberries. Not only will you be avoiding nasty chemicals that can affect nerve signal relay and load down your liver with toxins, but you’ll be getting a much greater nutritional bang for your buck. Organically grown blueberries have been shown to have higher concentrations of phenol antioxidants as well as anthocyanin antioxidants than their conventionally grown counterparts.

But if you just can’t swing the price, or you can’t find organic blueberries, fill up your sink with clean, filtered water, add a cup of white vinegar, then soak your fruit for several minutes. The water will become super dirty, but your fruit will be cleaner and last longer.

This is especially great if you pick your own blueberries from a local farm. Find one near you on PickYourOwn.org. Local produce, even when conventionally grown, is generally more nutrient dense than conventional industrial crops. Plus, it’s great fun to spend a couple hours filling up buckets with fresh blueberries! (Say it with me – pick one, eat one, pick one, eat one).

Blueberry Recipes

So now what to do with this amazing superfruit that is so packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals? Let’s get busy in the kitchen! For starters, fill up a big bowl with fresh blueberries and just eat them. Sit outside with a tall, cold glass of Rosemary Lemonade or Plum & Thyme Iced Tea and just indulge in those sweet little bluish berries. I can think of nothing better!

One of my favorite breakfast dishes is Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa. The protein from the quinoa will keep you full all morning, and the blueberries turn the dish into a lovely, Violet Beauregarde-inspired purple mess. Your kids will love it!

And what post on blueberries would be complete without the iconic blueberry muffin? Of course, I generally find it necessary to defy social convention and add a new twist, so I present you with my Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Perfect for breakfast, dessert, or anytime in between.

If you’re looking to beat the heat this summer, try this delicious Summer Blueberry Spritzer, made with fresh orange juice, blueberries, and zingy mint leaves. This recipe originated from Whole Foods Market and it’s definitely a keeper in my book!

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If you’re looking for more blueberry inspiration, check out these delectable dishes from other Modern Alternative Kitchen writers:

Grain Free Blueberry Banana Bars from riddlelove

Cucumber Blueberry Salad from plus other good stuff

Sprouted Blueberry Muffins from Modern Alternative Mama

Blueberry Bliss Raw Kefir Smoothie from riddlelove

Blueberry Burgers from This Chick Cooks

**This post has been entered in Real Food Wednesday, Frugal Days and Sustainable Ways, Gastronomical Sovereignty.**

What’s your favorite way to enjoy blueberries?

This is the writings of:

jill

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11 Comments

  1. I am just yearning for fresh blueberries!! strawbs and raspberries are out here now and they are such a treat! ….of course, they don’t make blueberry butter. blueberries make blueberry butter. so i’m waiting. semi-patiently. haha…

    I am co-hosting a new linky party called Fresh Foods Wednesday – i would love it if you’d come share this post (or any other CSA collections, farmer’s market hauls, garden harvests, seasonal recipes or related food rants) with us. Hope to see you there!

    Reply

    • Blueberry butter – yum!! Thanks for the heads up on Fresh Foods Wednesday! I’m headed over there now to check it out. 🙂

      Reply

  2. I love this drink recipe! I stopped drinking soda over 2 years ago. I was a huge diet Pepsi addict. Last year, we got a juicer and an isi Twist and Sparkle so that we could make carbonated drinks using fresh fruit and vegetable juices. This recipe sounds fab!

    Reply

    • Way to go giving up soda!! And what a great idea to make your own with fresh juice. I love it!

      Reply

  3. Lori, that spritzer looks amazing! Thanks for this great post! 🙂

    Reply

  4. Does the filtered water and white vinegar work for all fruits? Also, do you recommend we do this to to the fruit we pick on a farm? About how much longer does the fruit last (just curious)? Thanks for the recipes.

    Reply

    • yes! This method of cleaning fruit is good for all fruits! Unless you are sure that the farm does not spray their produce with pesticides, I would always wash produce (and sometimes even if they don’t use pesticides, there is just sand/dirt in a lot of crevices!) Good luck!

      Reply

  5. I love quinoa for breakfast. With blueberries it must be even more amazing. Thanks for sharing with the Fresh Foods Blog Hop!

    Reply

  6. […] (ok, so it was really more of an ingredient spotlight, but expose is a much cooler word) over at Modern Alternative Kitchen where I’m a regular contributor. The post also includes a recipe for a Summer Blueberry […]

    Reply

  7. […] already know from Lori’s post on blueberries a few weeks ago how nutritious blueberries are and numerous ways to use them. Did […]

    Reply

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