At the time of writing blueberries are starting to come into season and the prices are almost affordable. Out of season, a punnet can set you back well over $12, so comparatively $4-$5 per punnet feels like a bargain. No wonder I choose frozen over winter.
Anyway, none of that matters really. What matters the most is how ridiculously good blueberries are for you. I don’t even need to go into how they’re grown or any of that palaver, once you know how amazing blueberries are for your general well being, you won’t want to eat anything else.
So how good are blueberries for you?
That blueberries are packed with antioxidants is well documented and well known. What is less well known is that they are high in polyphenols, an antioxidant with diverse properties (there are over 8,000 polyphenols identified to date) such as:
- Cancer fighting and tumour growth inhibition
- Protecting your skin from ultraviolet radiation
- Reducing the appearance of aging
- Reducing inflammation
- Promoting brain health, and reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Protecting the cardiovascular system
- Supporting normal blood glucose and protecting against type II diabetes
And importantly, polyphenols are essential to a healthy gut. Basically, polyphenols provide nutrition to our intestinal bacteria, allowing the good bacteria to flourish, and the bad bacteria to diminish. In people who are obese, studies have found a bacterial imbalance, resulting in sugars extracted from food being converted to fat. Increasing polyphenol consumption can restore balance, restore your metabolism and reduce weight gain.
Blueberries also have the added advantage of being low in fructose (as are all berries) so will not increase insulin levels.
How do I use them?
Like all berries, there’s much to be said for eating them as they are. However, here’s a few ideas which might encourage you to add more of them to your diet:
- Eat them with yoghurt and a handful of museli for breakfast
- Use frozen blueberries in a smoothie with a handful of leafy greens (kale or spinach), a scoop of protein powder, a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt and coconut milk
- Mix a half cup into your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe and bake as usual
- Melt a tub of vanilla icecream until very soft (but not entirely liquid). Stir through a cup of blueberries and refreeze.
- Mix a half cup into your favourite pancake or pikelet batter and cook as usual
- Add a half cup of blueberries to cooked apples. Top with your favourite crumble topping and bake as usual.
- Mix a half cup into your favourite waffle batter and cook as usual
- Make an Eton Mess with crumbled merigues, lemon honey, Greek yoghurt and blueberries
- Infuse vodka or gin with blueberries and mint, by cooking 3 cups of blueberries until liquid is released. Cool, and pour into a large jar with 1 litre of vodka or gin. Seal and store for 6 days. Add mint and leave for another day. Strain out the solids then drink with sparkling water and ice.
Or try this savoury sauce, to pair with pork, duck, venison or turkey
BLUEBERRY AND RED WINE SAUCE
1/4 cup olive oil
250g shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
400ml cups red wine
400ml chicken or beef stock (depending on whether sauce is being served with red or white meat)
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp butter
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan
- Cook shallots until soft and lightly browned
- Add garlic and thyme and continue to cook for another 3 minutes
- Add vinegar and boil until almost completely evaporated
- Add red wine and boil until reduced by two thirds
- Add stock and simmer until reduced by two thirds.
- Strain, discard solids and return sauce to the pan
- Add blueberries and cook until soft, about 5 minutes
- Stir through butter, then season to taste and serve hot.