Food Challenge: Blueberries

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blueberries pin 1I have a confession: I don’t like raw blueberries by themselves. Something about their grainy taste and consistency just turns me off. But, I know that these little blue gems are so full of nutritional benefits that leaving them out of my diet would be a mistake. So every summer, when farmers’ markets start bursting at the seams with this tiny powerhouse fruit, I have to find creative ways to work them into my food to reap their benefits without being turned off by their raw taste.

The list of blueberry benefits is extensive. They are jam-packed with phytonutrients, which function as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. According to the George Mataljen Foundation, blueberries also have properties that fight cardiovascular disease. And probably, they are most noted for their anti-cancer properties, with a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showing that certain compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer growth. They also aid in abdominal fat loss, ward off depression, protect the brain, and can act as a natural pain reliever. That’s quite a big list of benefits for such a tiny fruit!

When picking blueberries, perhaps the number one thing to look for is whether they are organic or not. This is not only because blueberries rank high on the list of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, but because a recent study found that organic blueberries have significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown blueberries. When in doubt, go organic!

Some of the best news to come out about blueberries recently is how they retain their antioxidant profile even when frozen. So in December, when blueberries are out of season, you can find comfort in knowing that the berries in your frozen foods section not only were probably packaged when they were in season, but are just as nutrient dense as their in-season fresh versions. 

How to Prepare BlueberriesHow to Prepare BlueberriesSo even if you’re like me and don’t think you can down blueberries, I hope these recipes help you jump that hurdle. They add that perfect punch of color to any plate, along with their laundry list of nutrition!  Whether you try one of these recipes, have another dish to share, or just eat them solo, I’m excited to see what you made.  Use #IDfoodchallenge to add to our collection of healthy dishes.

blueberries sconesLemon-Blueberry Scones

 Lemon-Blueberry Scones

(grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free) via Balanced Bites

I made these for my parents and they loved them. They’re really easy so they’ve become a breakfast staple. The lemon and blueberry are perfect together.

Chicken Blueberry Pasta SaladChicken Blueberry Pasta Salad

Chicken Blueberry Pasta Salad 

via Eating Well

This seemed like a really strange recipe at first, but I swapped out the pasta for zucchini noodles and it was delish! If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, you can easily omit the chicken and sub vegetable broth without a problem.

Pork Chops with Savory Blueberry SaucePork Chops with Savory Blueberry Sauce

Pork Chops with Savory Blueberry Sauce

via Love & Olive Oil

Oh my goodness, this was an amazing dish. Easy and really delicious. I never would have put pork and blueberries together, but they definitely complement each other beautifully.