Autumn Time Means Fresh Blueberries
Autumn time is one of the greatest times of the year. The leaves with their colorful changes, the cooler sleeping nights, and of course, harvest times with all the wild abundance the long summer sun provided for us. The autumn offers us an array of summer grown vegetables and fruits, and blueberries are one of my favorite fall fruits. Besides it’s great sweet flavor and robust color, the blueberry is a powerhouse of natural healing substances. In recent studies at Tufts University and elsewhere, blueberries were rated number #1 out of 40 popular fruits and veggies for their antioxidant level. They are a great source of Anthocyanins, which is the blue colored pigment in the berries and a very powerful antioxidant. They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and in a recent study in Japan shown to help certain eye impairments due to the high amount of carotenoids and antioxidants in these delicious dark blue berries. Blueberries are also shown to be high in folic acid and are a great choice as a snack for pregnant women. (or any one else too!) Blueberries also have certain properties that give them an antibacterial ability. Like cranberries, it can limit the formation of bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract walls and has been shown to control E.coli bacteria as well. These abilities, and others, have given blueberries membership into a group of foods known as “nutraceuticals”. These are natural foods or substances that have a medicinal effect on things that try to invade our bodies. Natural medicines you may say. But apart from all the healing qualities that this magnificent fruit has, it tastes great! It’s the top of my list of non-tropical fruits and I like to look for the biggest, plumpest, juiciest berries I can find. These are usually the sweetest! I prefer locally unsprayed berries, but when in doubt, buy organic! Commercially grown berries can be heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. Also try and find them fresh picked, before they get refrigerated, this way they will still have their full flavor. (Note: Refrigeration-although it allows us to keep foods a longer time without spoiling, it disrupts the ripening process of fruits, and robs us of their full completed flavor. This is where the tradeoff of having the convenience of year round stocked supermarket produce takes it price. You lose out on the taste, and sometimes textures of these foods.) Look in your area for farmers markets or individual farms where you can get the best and freshest choices available. If not, buy frozen! Companies and farmers usually will take the ripest foods, or overages for freezing, and ship the not so ripe food for the produce sections. So you will actually get the best flavors on a lot of things from the whole fruit or vegetable frozen versions. For me though, fresh is still best and I actively search for it whenever and wherever I am.
Below are a couple of recipes, but using your imagination is the real key. Try adding blueberries to your next sauté, or sprinkle them over a salad. You can throw them into your next tofu scramble, or like me, I love to add them to my sweet potatoes! Any way you like em’, blueberries are at the top of the fruit chain!
This is so easy you don’t even need a recipe but…
1 cup blueberries (at least, washed and stemmed)
sweetener of your choice (I like agave or maple syrup)
1 cup filtered water
1 heaping tsp. arrowroot/cornstarch
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, using as much sweetener as desired. (you check this by tasting!) Mash up the berries a little bit and turn on your flame to a med heat. Begin to stir, and continue till the mixture starts to thicken. When it has reached your desired consistency, remove it from the heat, allow it to cool some, and then either use, or store the remainder in the fridge. Use it over pancakes or waffles, your favorite non dairy frozen desserts, or how about a delicious angel food cake!!!
Brook’s Blueberry coconut muffins
1- 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour (sifted)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup natural sweetener
1 cup blueberry soy yogurt
1/2 cup rice/soy milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. canola oil
Combine all the dry ingredients together well and set aside. Combine the soy yogurt, rice/soy milk, and canola oil and blend well. Add the wet batter to the dry mix and lightly mix together, the batter should be thick and lumpy. Lastly, add in the blueberries and just fold them into the batter a few times to gently mix them in. Prepare a muffin tin with paper baking cups and fill each one about 2/3 full of the batter. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and bake the muffins for about 20 minutes till they are golden brown.
Makes about 12-15 muffins