Let’s Go Picking! It’s National Blueberry Picking Day!

Summer’s in full swing and what better way to celebrate than with one of the healthiest foods around. Blueberry Picking Day is July 10. We’re here to help you understand why this holiday is full of flavor and also healthy for you.

Blueberries Do So Much for You

Blueberries, the second most popular berry in the US, are one of the only fruits native to us and one of the richest foods in antioxidants in the American diet. Blueberries not only taste great, they’re great for you, too. Filled with a variety of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which gives the berries their blue color, they are also a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and copper. Because blueberries are filled with antioxidants, they help to eradicate the free radicals which damage cell and DNA structure. By eliminating free radicals, the risk of developing cancer lessens, as do the signs of aging. Blueberries also have a low glycemic index and have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, especially in adults with type 2 diabetes. Blueberries, unlike most foods, help more than one system of the body. Instead, they impact almost every aspect of how the body functions and improves it. Here are just a few ways blueberries make us healthier:

  • Blueberries have an anti-inflammatory function.
  • They can lower total cholesterol and increase HDL, the good cholesterol our bodies need.
  • Blueberries lower and stabilize blood pressure.
  • Blueberries promote brain health and offer a level of cognitive protection by how they interact with nerve cells.
  • Blueberries help to protect the eyes, specifically the retina.
  • These berries can help muscles heal after strenuous workouts and reduce soreness.
  • Blueberries can help protect the body from certain neuro-degenerative diseases.
  • They also offer huge benefits to the cardiovascular system, nervous system, and digestive system.

How to Eat Blueberries

You get the most nutritional bang and flavor from blueberries if they’re eaten fresh and raw. If they’re organic, even better, as organic blueberries have a significantly higher level of antioxidants than non-organic varieties. Eat raw blueberries by the handful, toss them into a garden salad, your morning cereal, or use them to flavor your favorite yogurt. Blueberries can also be frozen and, if kept below 0 degrees, stored for three to six months without losing too much nutritional value. To help the berries keep their shape and texture, put a single layer on a baking sheet, and place it in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, pour them into a freezer safe container, and stick them back in the freezer.

While some nutrients are lost when blueberries are cooked, they are still a great additive in cookies, bars, pies, and cakes.

Here’s my favorite recipe for Blueberry Buckle.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x9x2 backing pan. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on medium to beat 1/2 cup softened butter for 30 seconds. Add 3/4 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add one egg. Beat. Alternate adding the flour mix from step two and 1/2 cup milk to the egg mix, beating until smooth.
  4. Spoon batter into pan. Sprinkle with 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries.
  5. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Use a pastry blender to cut in a 1/4 cup of butter. Continue to mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle this over the blueberries.
  6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Remember, if your blueberries are not organic, they need to be washed. Do this right before you eat them, as the berries have a natural skin protector that helps them stay fresh.

If you would like to participate in Blueberry Picking Day pickyourown.org has a great calendar of events to help you locate a Blueberry Festival or a self-pick farm in your area. Enjoy the berries while they last. Their season is short and you’ll be waiting another year to enjoy this delicious holiday.

 


Will you be joining in for Blueberry Picking Day? What’s your favorite way to eat blueberries? Tell us in the comments, we want to know.


Additional Image: Healthy Breakfast Foods

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Molly Carter
Molly Carter
Molly is a freelance writer who talks about everything and anything from addiction, to sex. to skinning a deer. You can find her at MollyCarterWriter.com, or Facebook.