Blueberries are my absolute favorite berry. Blueberries are special to me; they take me back to a simple time during childhood. Days at the lake, picking berries with a pail for my morning cereal or for Gram to bake a pie. At the time, I never considered their elevated nutritional value, just loved the pop of flavor in my mouth and the bushwhacking required to collect them.
Blueberries contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. Antioxidants help combat those pesky free radicals that damage cells and DNA in our bodies. Berries, in general, are considered low on the glycemic index. Another reason why blueberries are high on my favorite list is because studies have shown they help improve memory (and boy do I need help there). In a study involving older adults (76 years), 12 weeks of daily blueberry consumption was enough to improve scores on two different cognitive tests; one was memory.
One cup of raw blueberries is 84 calories and has 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries, like most fruits and veggies, are most nutritious eaten raw. Try to buy organic berries if possible; their thin skin absorbs pesticides. If the organic pricetag is too outrageous, buy non-organic and enjoy! Wash all berries by gently rinsing under cool water and drying with a clean paper towel.
Blueberries are great raw and cooked. Last week, I taught a New England Clambake cooking class, and we created blueberry cobbler with sour cream cinnamon biscuits. It turned out to be one of the favorite dishes that night, up against steamed lobster and shrimp bisque. My teeth were blue, but that cobbler was smurfly delicious!
Berries are bright, nutritious and easy to prep! The Lemon Berry Pastry recipe below is fun to make with the whole family; my kids enjoyed creating the flag - and they ate a bunch of berries during the process (buy extra). It works as dessert, breakfast or snack.
1 8 oz sheet puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten
1-2 Tablespoons coarse sugar (turbinado)
6 oz. whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Zest of one lemon
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup raspberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup small strawberries, rinsed, dried, sliced in half
Thaw pastry according to package directions.
Heat oven to 400.
Unfold puff pastry and make rectangle about 10x12". Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roll a small piece of pastry to make a border around entire pastry.
Score the border around puff pastry to make a nice edge. Scoring means to take a sharp knife and cut small slits in the top layer of the pastry.
Lightly beat the egg and mix in a sprinkle of salt.
Using a pastry brush, brush all the puff pastry including the border with egg.
Sprinkle the entire pastry with coarse sugar.
Cook in oven 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Mix cream cheese, confectioners sugar and lemon zest.
Once the puff pastry has cooled, press the center down to flatten.
Spread cheese mixture onto flattened pastry.
Arrange berries on the cheese.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve cool.
Tracy Miller adds fruits and veggies to all her meals. She teaches culinary classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and shares recipes Thursday morning on TV8's Good Morning Vail. To contact her, email Tracy@colorfulcooking.com or log onto www.colorfulcooking.com.