Buddy up with blueberries

They pack health benefits. Here are some ways to eat them.

Oakwood resident Polly Petricola often starts the day with blueberries. “My very favorite breakfast is coffee-flavored yogurt with a little honey, a scoop of granola and fresh blueberries,” she says.

Smart woman. Blueberries, one of the few fruits native to North America, is loaded with good-for-you nutrients.

“First, blueberries are low in calories, about 84 in a cup,” says Debbie Serenius, a registered dietician in Kettering. “They are a source of vitamins K and C. What makes blueberries even more special is that they have anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that protect us from cancer and help our cardio-vascular systems.”

In fact, blueberries are among the highest anti-oxidant value fruits. Antioxidants are thought to neutralize free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to diseases such as cancer.

The word is out.

“Blueberries are much more popular ever since people learned how good they are for you,” reports Joyce Fulton of Fulton Farms on Ohio 202 in Troy.

Having the blue wonders at breakfast is as easy as sprinkling them on cereal or grabbing a handful. Of course, there’s always breakfast at the Blueberry Café in Bellbrook or ordering blueberry pancakes at your favorite pancake place.

Blueberries are for snacking, salads, toppings, smoothies, desserts — the list is as broad as the many cookbooks that feature the little blue powerhouses. Nutrition-minded people seek out recipes that team up blueberries with other healthy ingredients. But sometimes, it’s fun to splurge on a tasty treat, and including blueberries does make you feel less guilty.

“My generation uses blueberries in crisps and pies,” Fulton says. “But young people ‘go straight’ and put them right on salads and into healthier recipes.”

When using blueberries in a recipe, wash and pat dry first. To keep them from “bleeding” into a mixture, add blueberries as the last ingredient and gently fold.

  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, torn
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh blueberry, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

In a jar, combine oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, and salt and shake well. In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach, with half of the cheese, half of the blueberries, and half of the pecans. Add enough dressing to coat and toss gently. Garnish salad with remaining cheese, fruit, and pecans.

SOURCE: Fresh Market, West Chester

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan. Beat together butter and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Blend in one egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. In a seperate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and add to butter mixture, mixing until well blended. Spread onto bottom of prepared pan; cover with blueberries. Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, sour cream, egg yolks and cardamom; pour over blueberries.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until set, being careful not to overbake. Allow to cool 10 minutes before loosening rim of pan. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing and serving.

SOURCE: Fresh Market, West Chester

The soil in this area makes it difficult to grow blueberries as a crop but fresh, delicious blueberries are easy to come by all summer long at produce stands, farm stands and in the grocery.

Follow these tips when buying:

  • Look for blueberries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth.
  • Avoid containers of berries with juice stains. (Some berries are crushed, and there may be mold.)
  • “Color should be purple-blue to blue-black with a silver frost,” says Zack Cusick, produce manager at Fresh Market at the Voice of America Centre in West Chester.
  • “Blueberries should be in the cooler and then go right to your refrigerator,” Cusik says. “They stay fresh in the fridge for about five days.”
  • Wash blueberries just before you’re going to use them.
  • To freeze, most people say don’t wash first. Make sure blueberries are completely dry and store in containers or freezer bags. Wash before using.

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