During the summer I love picking buckets of blueberries with my mom. For days we can have fresh, farm berries with our breakfasts over granola and yogurt, piping hot waffles, sprinkled on a bowl of oatmeal, or baked inside moist, homemade muffins. However, it’s January…which is definitely not the season for blueberries (you can find blueberries in season from the end of May to the beginning of October). The last thing anyone wants to buy in New England right now is defrosted or overpriced blueberries; however it is our only option. I missed them so much I decided to find some ways to incorporate them back into my diet this dreary January.
Dr. Steven Pratt states that, “just one serving of blueberries provides as many antioxidants as five servings of carrots, apples, broccoli or squash. In fact, 2/3 cup of blueberries gives you the same antioxidant protection as 1,733 IU of vitamin E and more protection than 1,200 milligrams of vitamin C.” Blueberries, particularly the wild variety*, contain high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients. Having these antioxidant, rich berries every day is said to decrease the risk of age-related memory diseases and improve vision. This is probably why they have been given the nicknames brain berries and youth berries.
So now you’re probably thinking: well, I should eat more blueberries? This time of year in New England it is nearly impossible to find fresh blueberries that are not imported, so I came up with some ways to still enjoy these beloved berries through the dreary winter months, using frozen blueberries and dried blueberries (which are becoming increasingly popular at grocery stores; usually near the produce section).
What’s the difference between a wild blueberry and a cultivated blueberry (the type we see in the grocery store) anyway? Both are native to North America; however, wild blueberries are found specifically in Maine and Canada. The wild blueberry is much smaller than its cultivated cousin and packs more antioxidants per serving, making it the number one fruit source for antioxidants! The nutrients and antioxidants are in the skin of the blueberry (which is true for most fruits). Since the wild blueberries are smaller, their surface area ratio (skin to flesh of the fruit) gives them a nutritional edge over cultivated blueberries.
My Mom’s Blueberry Muffins
Yields 18 Muffins
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of milk
1teaspoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of baking powder
A dash of salt
2 cups of flour
2 (heaping) cups of frozen blueberries (I used a combination of wild and cultivated.)
2 Tablespoons of sugar (Reserve on the side to sprinkle on top. I recommend using Sugar in the Raw for a crunchy top.)
Preheat the oven to 375º. Line muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine until smooth. Then add the baking powder, salt and flour. Combine and stir in the frozen blueberries by hand. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on a cookie rack.
Every summer when my family goes blueberry picking we freeze about half of what we pick to use in smoothies, pancakes and desserts….but one of our absolute favorite’s is my mom’s recipe for blueberry muffins.
Wild Blueberry Trail Mix
Combine the following ingredients in equal proportions: dried wild blueberries, dried pineapple, chocolate chips, pistachios, almonds, and Chex cereal.
Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Keep everyone guessing with these deceptive blueberry chocolate chip cookies. The blueberry isn’t overpowering. It is the same idea as adding raisins to cookies; however, these are much sweeter and unexpected. Search chocolate chip cookies on Cheftell and substitute the 1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips for 2/3 cup of dried wild blueberries and 2/3 cups of mini chocolate chips.
These are just a few of the ways you can enjoy the health benefits of blueberries throughout the winter months!
Sources: "The Benefits of Blueberries Are More Than Just Antioxidants | Be Well Buzz." Be Well Buzz. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2013. "Wild vs. Cultivated Blueberries : SuperFoodsRx." Wild vs. Cultivated Blueberries : SuperFoodsRx. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2013.