By Guest Blogger Becka Levin, GIC
The ingredient of the week will be of sweeter fare than those of the past few weeks: blueberries!! While blueberries may make you think of hot summer days, they are just as tasty in the winter. Frozen blueberries are much cheaper at this time of year and maintain all the nutritional benefit of fresh blueberries – find them in the freezer aisle.
Blueberries are considered by many to be a “superfood” – a highly nutrient-dense food that does not pack a lot of calories. These berries are full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals that can cause cancer. Certain compounds that blueberries contain also may lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Blueberries have vitamin C, vitamin K, and your best friend: fiber.
This fruit makes a quick, easy dessert on its own as well. A handful of blueberries are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth after a meal. Fruits like blueberries contain much less sugar than most traditional desserts and also have the nutrients we previously mentioned. That said, it is really quite simple to create wonderful dishes of all types with this blue fruit.
Blueberry Pie Parfait
A great, filling way to start your morning, or a good substitute for your nightly bowl of ice cream!
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (if you don’t like Greek yogurt, try mixing a half cup of Greek yogurt with a half cup of regular low-fat yogurt)
½ to 1 cup blueberries
¼ cup bran cereal or slivered almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Drizzle of honey or pure maple syrup
1. Simply mix all your ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
One word of caution – be careful with your portion sizes for whatever cereal, nuts, or granola you may add as the calories and sugar add up much quicker than you think.
Chicken and Fruit Salad
This salad is perfect for spicing up your salad routine and easy to throw together for crowds small and large.
1 12-oz. bag fresh spinach
2 grilled (or sautéed) chicken breasts
1 cup blueberries
1 kiwi, sliced
5 strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons feta or goat cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Raspberry vinaigrette dressing
1. Prepare chicken breast in desired fashion and cut into one inch cubes.
2. Wash spinach and place in large serving bowl.
3. Place diced grilled chicken and fruit on top.
4. Sprinkle cheese and nuts on top.
5. Serve with dressing on the side.
Savory Blueberry Sauce
Some sweetness with a kick, this is the perfect complement to any meat dish, especially salmon or chicken.
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup chicken stock
1 cup blueberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1. Pour 1/2 cup chicken stock, vinegar, orange juice, and honey into a saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to medium.
3. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of chicken stock, and stir into the simmering sauce. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens and turns clear, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the blueberries and chives, and keep warm over low heat.
Blueberry-Topped Rice Cakes
The perfect afternoon snack, and quick and easy to prepare.
½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese
2 teaspoons apricot preserves
4 apple-cinnamon flavored rice cakes
1 cup thinly-sliced fresh fruit (such as apple, pear, nectarine or peach)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta and preserves
2. Spoon an equal amount on each of the rice cakes almost to the edge
3. Arrange fruit slices in circles, on top of the ricotta mixture
4. Top each with ¼ cup of the blueberries
5. Serve and enjoy!