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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

All about Blueberries

When I was growing up, Summer vacation meant camping trips. My family would head north and up the Oregon coast to play in the dunes, go beachcombing, and enjoy spectacular scenery all along the way. One stop we used to make on our trips was blueberry picking at Jensen's farm. At Jensen's we'd pick blueberries by the bucket, probably eating almost as many as made it into the buckets. Each bush differed slightly in the size and flavor of its berries so tasting was absolutely necessary!

Back then I just knew that blueberries were delicious. But now I know a little bit about their health benefits. Blueberries have the highest antioxidant value of any fruit, (the capacity to destroy free radicals). Scientists believe eating blueberries lowers cholesterol, protects your eyes, and your heart. For the elderly eating blueberries may help the brain by reducing the effects of Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and even brain damage after a stroke. There was even some research in Maine that has lead some to advocate adding blueberries to hamburgers, it boosts the nutrition, texture and supposedly may allow them to last longer in storage.

More and more research shows that blueberries are good for you, but perhaps the best anecdotal evidence comes from the fact that the owner of the Jensen's blueberry farm ate a cup of blueberries a day and lived to the ripe old age of 104! If you happen to be heading up to Oregon this Summer consider a stop at Jensen Blueberry Farm where you can buy already picked blueberries or pick them yourself.

Jensen Blueberry Farm (organic)
46760 Hwy 101
Langlois, OR

It was a real treat to pick blueberries again on my way back from Oregon and just in time too. July is National Blueberry Month. If you're looking to celebrate, here are some of my favorite things to do with blueberries:

* Blueberry parfaits are easy to make, just layer yogurt and blueberries in a wine glass or parfait cup.

* Create a bright blueberry salsa to serve with salmon, by mixing coarsely chopped blueberries, lime juice, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapenos and red onion.

* Toss blueberries in a green salad

* Whip up blueberry smoothies by blending blueberries with yogurt, fresh or frozen banana and milk

* Add blueberries to buttermilk pancakes, waffles or muffins

* Put together a blueberry chutney to serve over brie, chevre or with grilled meat--simmer for just one minute a cup of blueberries, 2 T chopped onions, 2 T fresh ginger, 1/4 cup brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and cloves

* Make a blueberry coffeecake

* Add blueberries to segments of orange and slices of mango, grapes and strawberries to make a refreshing fruit salad