I'm a blueberry lover and every spring my love affair gets a little more serious! Luckily, blueberries are packed with nutrition and I don't have to moderate my affection for them. These colorful fruits top the charts with antioxidants and have been shown to help with brain, eye and vascular health. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive particles - induced by such things as cigarette smoking, sunlight and excessive exercise - that damage cells throughout the body by triggering oxidative reactions. Not only are blueberries low in calories and high in fiber, they are packed with phytonutrients (plant compounds) that may promote healthy aging. In fact, preliminary studies focused on blueberry consumption have shown improved motor skills and a benefit in age-related short-term memory function. Blueberries may also provide other benefits such as supporting cardiovascular health and a healthy urinary tract. Honestly, I don't even need a health-related reason to eat blueberries. They are just so delicious! But if you need one more, they're a low glycemic fruit, meaning that they raise blood sugar levels at a lower pace. Did I mention that they freeze well so you can enjoy them year-round? While popping them in your mouth on their own is fabulous (although it will turn your fingers blue!), here are some fun ideas for adding blueberry indulgence to other dishes:
- Add fresh or frozen blueberries to a smoothie.
- Have a bowl for breakfast, snack, or dessert - plain, or topped with yogurt, granola, a little shaved chocolate, a few chopped roasted nuts or a small dollop of sour cream.
- Add them to any breakfast cereal; dried blueberries make a great raisin substitute for oatmeal or any cooked cereal.
- For a memorable blueberry breakfast, try this Blueberry Bake.
- Try blueberries in a green salad, like this one where they co-star with marcona almonds.
- Make tabouli or couscous salad and add some blueberries right along with your chopped veggies
- Turn blueberries into a simple, delicious blueberry pie.
- Add fresh or frozen blueberries to muffins and pancakes; add dried blueberries to scones, cookies and quick breads. I really love these blueberry spelt muffins.
- Puree blueberries with blueberry juice and freeze in popsicle molds.
- Cook blueberries with a little apple or blueberry juice and then use as a sauce for yogurt or ice cream. Here's a good blueberry dessert sauce.
- For something different, why not try blueberry sauce over grilled chicken, turkey, or pork?
- Make sure blueberries are part of any fruit salad - great with chopped bananas and peaches.
- Spread peanut or almond butter on toast. Top with blueberries (press them down slightly to help them stay put).