When I wanted blueberries as a girl, I walked down the muddy-shouldered road, through a sleepy neighborhood and a wooded field, until I emerged in a clearing. A tiny farmstead hid there, with two horses in a paddock, and sometimes a few deer that would jump the fence to graze with the horses. There were clothes on a line, and a pond where we would ice skate in wintertime, or search for pollywogs and tadpoles in summertime, the silky mud on the bottom squishing up through our toes.
That pond was a refuge, surrounded and sheltered by a circle of swaying pine trees. The only summer sounds were the wind through the trees, birdsong, the sawing of cicadas, the buzz of hovering damsel and dragonflies, the loud croaks of bullfrogs, brooding unseen among the cattails, and the quick kerplunking of those frogs who watched our unruly arrival and thought it best to depart, leaving their peaceful sunny places, probably with a slow blink and a sigh.
But the most amazing thing about this farmstead, mid-summer, was a small grove of cultivated blueberry bushes that towered over my head, dangling sun-warmed blueberries the size of dimes, the biggest I had ever seen.
We brought our own pails, filled them, and went shyly to the screen door. These were private people, and though they let us scamper through their property, or at least didn’t chase us away with rifles, we didn’t know them well. It seemed strange, even indulgent, to pay for blueberries. We were used to picking them wild and free. But these were well worth the quarters they asked of us.
Blueberries in the kitchen
Wouldn’t it be nice to find blueberries like those for quarters these days? I recall those days wistfully whenever I plunk down five dollars for a quarter-pint, but whatever the price, blueberries are a great investment in your health. And they are essential in our household for another reason. As any first-grader will happily tell you, blue + red = purple, so blueberries are a key ingredient in our purple-colored smoothies and pops. This is our recipe.
Pretty purple smoothie and Groovy pops
- 1 bag frozen organic wild blueberries (10 oz)
- 1 bag frozen organic strawberries (10 oz)
- 1 bag frozen organic blackberries (10 oz)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 or 2 ripe bananas
- ¼ cup maple syrup
Let the frozen fruit defrost slightly. Then blend all ingredients until smooth. Drink it like this, or pour the smoothie into Groovy pop molds and freeze for a few hours.
Blueberries in green smoothies
We sometimes add a handful of fresh blueberries to our green smoothies as well. To keep the green color (blueberries + green = brown), add the blueberries at the end of the blending process, so that the rich green is dotted with little blue flecks. Beautiful! You can also float whole blueberries on top of any smoothie, like this kale smoothie.
You knew I was getting to this. Blueberries are a good source of vitamins C and K, manganese, and fiber. They have a nice omega 3 to 6 ratio of 85.8mg/130mg per one cup of raw blueberries.
Blueberries are the number-one fruit for anti-oxidant power, most likely because of their high levels of the phytonutrient, anthocyanin, the pigment that produces that rich blue color. Wild blueberries are better than cultivated, but both have very high ORAC scores (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), a measure of anti-oxidant power. European bilberries have similar benefits.
Blueberries are lower in sugar than most fruits, and research shows that they are good for high blood pressure, brain function, growing neurons, Alzheimer’s disease, and eye health.
Watch out for those fake blueberries in cereals, tarts, fruit bars, muffins, and bagels, though. These are often just oil, sugar, and chemical coloring, not even a token bit of actual blueberry (NaturalNews.com investigation).
Eat blueberries fresh, whole, organic, and when possible, handpicked at the nearest farmstead.
Blueberries on the go
Fresh blueberries are great for kids’ lunch packs, and for on-the-go days. When Emma was 2 years old, we started taking regular daytrips to Winterthur, a country estate in Delaware about an hour from our home. When we go, we pack blueberries and other goodies and spend the afternoon strolling the many acres of elegant gardens, farm fields, woods, and meadows filled with Queen Anne’s lace. Among Emma’s favorite stops are, of course, the ponds and the reflecting pool. The frogs are there, the pollywogs and tadpoles, the damsels and dragonflies, too. But this time, mommy gets to sit on a bench (much appreciated) while Emma settles on a log, or in the mud, and it all begins again.
© Copyright 2011, Laura J. Rongé, Ciel Bleu Media, healthiveg.com. All rights reserved.