July is national blueberry month – have you been eating them like crazy this summer like I have? They’re such a popular fruit not only in my own home, but also in millions of other American homes as they reportedly rank second only to strawberries as the most consumed fruit in the U.S. And it’s no wonder they’re so popular with countless health benefits, surprising versatility and delicious taste.
One of my favorite ways to eat blueberries – besides fresh from the pint – is in my morning smoothies. I sprinkle half a cup in with some cottage cheese, protein powder, stevia and ice, and feel instantly better about the way I’m starting my day nutritionally.
“Blueberries have been loved in this country since the beginning, really,” explains Scott Jenkins, executive chef at Arlington-based Extra Virgin restaurant. “They are delicious, versatile and healthy, so what’s not to love about a blueberry?”
Health benefits: Just a few of the nutritional benefits of blueberries are that they’re high in fiber and contain tons of vitamins and minerals that are of great benefit to our bodies, including vitamin C, calcium, folate and potassium. Blueberries also contain phytochemicals and flavonoids to help fight free radicals in the body and prevent some forms of cancer. Blueberries may also help prevent bladder infections and contain lutein for vision improvement.
Nutritional statistics: One cup contains approximately 84 calories, 0 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar and 1 gram of protein.
Cooking methods: You can enjoy blueberries a number of ways, but they go great in baked goods such as pancakes, muffins and pies; make great additions to sauces served over savory dishes; are a great simple add-on to fresh items such as salads and oatmeal; are delicious dried on their own or in trail mix; and are a tasty addition to soups and smoothies.
Have some blueberries on hand? Get cooking. If not, get to the store and make the most of this superstar summer fruit!