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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blueberries


Blueberries:

Blueberries are perennial flowering plants that belong to the same genus as cranberries and bilberries.  The most common fruit sold as blueberries are native to North America.  The fruit is a berry that is at first pale greenish, then redish-purple, and finally dark purple when ripe. The berry is covered in a protective coating of powdery wax which is called "the bloom".   Blueberries are second only to strawberries in popularity of berries.

There are three main groups of blueberries: 1) Lowbush Blueberries, these are the cultivated forms of blueberries we see most often in the supermarket; 2) Lowbush Blueberries are commonly referred to as "wild blueberries; and 3) Rabbiteye Blueberries that are native to the Southern U.S.  and can grow up to 20 feet in their native state.  They are less frequently cultivated than the highbush blueberries.   There are several species including Alaskan, northern, New Jersey, northern highbush, hillside, evergreen, Elliot, southern and others as well.

Blueberries may be cultivated or picked from semiwild  or wild bushes.  In North America the most cultivated species is the Northern Highbush Blueberry.  Georgia has the longest harvest season in the U.S. lasting from late April through the end of July.  Maine produces 25% of all the lowbush blueberries in North America.  Wild Bluberry is the offical fruit of main.  Hammonton, New Jersey claims to be the "Bluberry Capital of the World".   Michigan is the leader of highbush production and accounts for 32% of blueberries eaten in the U.S.

The phytonutrients in blueberries function both as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.  Blueberriews have a wide range of micronutrients at moderate levels, including manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.  Blueberries contain anthocyanins, anti-oxidants, and other pigments and various phytochemicals, which are in preliminary research for potential roles in reducing risks of diseases such as inflammation  and cancer.   Blueberry intake may cause increased production of vascular nitric oxide that influences blood pressure regulation.  Other preliminary studies found blueberry consumption lowered cholesterol and total blood lipid levels.  Berries in general are considered low in glycemic index.  They have low impacat  on our sugar level once consummed and digested.

U.S. grown bluberries are available from May through October.  Imported berries may be found at other times of the year. Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively uniform hue colored with a whitish bloom.  Before storing berries go through them and remove any cushed or molded fruiit.  Do not wash until right before eating.   Store ripe bluyeberries in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  If  left at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.   When using frozen bluyeberries in recipes  that do not require cooking thaw well and drain before using.

So....... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but good:

Quinoa Cereal with Fresh Fruit

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup blueberries ( can substitute or combine with other berries and fruit)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
1 te4aspoon honey

Place rinsed quinoa with water ans salt in a saucepan, cover and bring to a boil.   Turn heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Divide cooked quinoa into 2 bowls.  add 1/2 the rolled oatas to each bowl.  Top each bowl with half the blueberries, pumpkin seeds and almonds.  Serve with almond milk and honey.