Daily Archives: August 23, 2017

Wild Blueberries: Small But Fierce

A few years ago, I went on one on the best work trips of my life. I drove five hours to northern Maine to learn more about small, but fierce, wild blueberries. I already knew wild blueberries were delicious, and I learned a lot more about wild blueberries’ benefits when I saw for myself how they are grown, harvested, and packaged.

Note: The Wild Blueberry Commission sponsored my trip, and I thank them because I’ve never forgotten it. 

Wild blueberry plants

Tough weather conditions actually produce delicious and nutritious wild blueberries! (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

How wild blueberries grow

If wild blueberries had a theme song it would have to be “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”

Wild blueberry plants are tough. Any living thing that’s been thriving for 10,000 years in a desolate location called The Barrens of Maine, and in Eastern Canada and Quebec, is hardy stock. Wild blueberries love the thin, acidic soil found in such cold, harsh climates. Go figure!

Unlike the larger, cultivated blueberries that are available fresh and frozen, it’s not possible to plant wild blueberry plants, which grow low to the ground.  Wild blueberries spread naturally, and they have never been modified by humans.

a field of wild blueberry plants

Wild blueberries ready for harvesting. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

The nutrition benefits of wild blueberries vs. cultivated blueberries

Are wild blueberries better for you?

A cup of either type of blueberries qualifies as a serving of fruit. Wild blueberries, and their larger, cultivated cousins supply good nutrition, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  In addition, the skin on both types of blueberries provide beneficial plant compounds called phytonutrients.

Eating foods rich in phytonutrients helps support brain health. Phytonutrient intake is also linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. Wild blueberries are smaller than the cultivated kind, so you get more of the skin in a serving, and a greater number and variety of phytonutrients.

Larger, cultivated blueberries are bred for a certain sweetness and size. In addition, they must be able to withstand shipping. Wild blueberries are highly perishable, and once picked, nearly every single berry is frozen individually within about 24 hours.  Freezing wild blueberries right after harvesting preserves their taste, and their nutrition, which is the same as fresh wild blueberries.

Freezing these delectable dark blue berries means there’s enough to feed my year-round obsession! Here are some ways I enjoy frozen wild blueberries:

• Microwave 1 cup for 50 seconds, then mix with plain Greek yogurt. No sugar necessary!

• I swap them for raisins in this recipe.

• I make a Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beet Smoothie.

You’re probably wondering: beans in a smoothie? I wanted a smoothie that was different than what I usually make and was a mixture of wild blueberries and vegetables (beans are vegetables, too). You can leave the beans out if you think they are too weird, but trust, me, you can’t taste them, and they add fiber and other nutrients.

 


Pro Tip

Rim the glass to dress up the drink, especially if you’re serving it as an alternative to cocktails.  Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 to 2 teaspoons of beet juice in a small bowl. Invert the rim of the glass into the sugar mixture, rotating to cover the rim. Shake off the excess sugar.


 

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beet Smoothie

Delicious and nutritious smoothie ready in 5 minutes!
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beans, beets, wildblueberries, wildblueberrysmoothie
Servings: 1
Calories: 292kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 small cooked peeled packaged beet (Save 1-2 teaspoons of beet juice if you're rimming the glass.)
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/4 cup white beans, drained if canned
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

  • Place the beet, wild blueberries, beans, yogurt, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour into prepared glass. Top with a few frozen wild blueberries and enjoy!

Notes

Per serving: 292 calories, 2 grams fat (0 saturated fat), 6 milligrams cholesterol, 312 milligrams sodium, 54 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 19 grams protein, 234 milligrams calcium, 3 milligrams iron

wild blueberry, beet, and been smoothie

 

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