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|by Megan Jackson
|Have you ever been
blueberry picking? My recent blueberry picking experiences have been
limited to my uncle's cultivated bushes and the small wild bushes that
frequent the sides of my parents' camp road. Optimistically, we carry
pint-sized containers on these endeavors, expecting to fill them all.
While picking, we fend off mosquitoes, talking about all the things we
are going to make: pancakes, muffins, syrup... We quickly realize the
futility of these dreams when we find we are eating more than are
making it into the containers, and we finish with barely enough to
sprinkle on a few bowls of cereal. While this may seem a lot of effort
with very little to show for it, the time spent harvesting and picking
over these berries seems to make them taste even better. After all, if
you are going to spend a lot of time getting a pint, they better taste
Native Americans were the first to spend time harvesting these berries.
They would gather the berries from bogs and forests to eat fresh or to
preserve. Blueberries were so prevalent that there is even a legend
about blueberries that has a mystical explanation for the calyx (the
blossom end of the blueberry which forms the shape of a five-pointed
star). The myth says that the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to
relieve hunger during a famine.
While the berries were most often eaten, the entire plant was used for
different medicinal purposes, from treating coughs to blood health. The
juice, while tasty, was also used as a dye for baskets and cloth. Dried
berries were crushed and rubbed into meat before cooking for flavor.
This small fruit was used in a variety of ways.
The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council called blueberries "dynamos," and
looking at the various health benefits of blueberries, it appears to be
true. At least 16 different phytonutrients have been found in
blueberries. Almost all of these phytonutrients function as
antioxidants and antiinflammatory compounds. With 16 different things
that contribute to our well-being, it shouldn't be surprising that they
provide nutritional benefits for the entire body! For cardiovascular
health, there are improvements in the composition of our blood (less
cholesterol and fewer triglycerides), protection from oxygen damage
that could lead to clogs, and maintenance of healthy blood pressure,
especially for those suffering high blood pressure. There are also
cognitive benefits. In a study of older adults ( average age 76 years),
it was found that cognitive ability improved with daily consumption of
blueberry juice over a three month period. Blueberries also help in the
regulation of blood sugar, eye health, and prevention of cancer. There
is even evidence that blueberries can help with reducing muscle damage
after overexertion due to strenuous exercise.
Blueberries are indeed dynamos. If you do not have the opportunity to
pick your own, you may want to pick up a pint at Co-op. It will do your
body a world of good, and it will taste even better.
"Raw Blueberry Pudding Recipe." About.com. 2012. Web. 11 June
US Highbush Blueberry Council. 2012. Web. 9 June 2012.
"WHFoods: Blueberries." The World's Healthiest Foods. 3 June 2012. Web.
9 June 2012. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3/4 cup fresh sliced strawberries
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 TBS light molasses
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ cup water
1. Combine ingredients in medium saucepan.
2. Stir in ½ cup water.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is
slightly thickened and chunky.
5. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups sliced banana
½ cup medjool dates (or other soft dates)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup macadamia nuts, raw cashews or raw nut butter
1. Blend all of the ingredients together on high speed for at least 30
seconds, or until a thick, creamy consistency, making sure the mixture
does not get too hot.
2. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until firm. Enjoy
topped with a few fresh berries.
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