Summer is the time of year to celebrate beautiful, gem-like blueberries. These colorful berries hold a special place in American history, dating back hundreds of years in Native American culture, where they were called “star berries” for the five-point “star” at the blossom end of the berry. The Native Americans treasured blueberries, collecting them and using them as a favorite ingredient in many traditional dishes. I grew up with blueberries in the Northwest, where they grow abundantly. And they are also grown in Europe; I’ve enjoyed picking wild blueberries in Sweden on many an occasion.
Colored deep blue to purple-black, blueberries are bursting with powerful nutrition. Just one cup is packed with 36% DV (Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day) of vitamin K, 24% DV of the antioxidant vitamin C, and health-protecting phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, which give blueberries their beautiful color and antioxidant activity.
Those anthocyanins are especially significant for protecting the brain, particularly in older adults. The compounds have also been found to be beneficial for protecting against type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. In fact, the benefits are so strong I try to include them in my diet (fresh in season, and dried or frozen when they are out of season) at least a few times per week.
So take advantage of blueberry season when it is in full swing, and really enjoy these delicious berries while you they are fresh and delicious. Here are my top 5 ways to use them in your kitchen.
Top 5 Ways to Use Blueberries
1. Powerful Cereal Topper. One of my favorite ways to do blueberries is to just heap them on top of my morning steel cut oats. They are also great over muesli, overnight oats, whole grain breakfast flakes, and other whole grain porridges. Add some walnuts, flax, sunflower seeds, almonds, or hemp seeds, a splash of soymilk, and you’ve got a smart breakfast in seconds.
2. Purple Up Your Smoothie. You can make any smoothie even better with a handful of blueberries. In fact, they will disguise the taste and color of greens (for those veggie-shy individuals) in the greenest of smoothies. Try this Purple Power Smoothie for an adventurous start.
3. Better Baked Goods. Stir blueberries into all of your favorite baked recipes, including breads, muffins, pancakes, cookies, and bars. Try small, wild blueberries or dried berries for the best results.
4. Savory Sidekick. The deep, sweet bite of blueberries is the perfect backdrop for savory dishes. Mix up a blueberry salsa to serve with black bean tacos, create a blueberry chutney to go with your next veggie ball or lentil patty recipe, and toss them into a whole grain and wild green salad.
5. A Healthier Dessert. It just doesn’t get any better than a blueberry-centric dessert. Not only are blueberries nature’s most delicious dessert filling, they can power up your dessert into a healthful, lower-sugar option you won’t have to feel a bit guilty about. Try blueberry pies with oat crumb toppings, blueberry-filled bars, blueberry sorbet, or this amazing recipe for Super Berry Soy Chia Pudding, featuring, you guessed it, blueberries. Check out my video on how to make Super Berry Soy Chia Pudding here!
For other tips for enjoying whole plant foods, check out: