Posted July 1, 2010
What’s red, white and blueberry all over? The answer can be a variety of holiday treats you’ll want to make for your get-togethers this weekend. The patriotic colors are not only festive, but when you add blueberries to the mix, you’ll have lots of reasons to celebrate, says Hy-Vee store dietitian Sheri Caldwell.
She says blueberries are second on a list of the top 20 antioxidant-rich foods compiled by WebMD, plus they are low in calories and brimming with vitamin C, potassium and fiber. And they can help trim your waist.
“The antioxidants found in blueberries may help burn belly fat,” she explains.
According to researchers from the University of Michigan’s CA Research Laboratory, obese rats who ate a diet rich in blueberries for 90 days had less abdominal fat than rats that were not fed blueberries. They even showed better processing of glucose into energy and lower cholesterol. But if you need more reasons to eat blueberries, consider this: they’re in season, which means you can buy blueberries at their freshest and at the best price.
As soon as blueberries are on sale, Maggie Gilbert, owner of Little Cakes Bake Shop & Boutique in St. Joseph, likes to stock up and freeze them. She says to make sure to first remove any molded or shriveled ones, along with any stems.
“Don’t wash the berries,” she says, “but lay them out on a cookie sheet so that they don’t touch.”
Cover the blueberries with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for one to two hours. Immediately put them in freezer bags and store back in the freezer. This way you will be able to take out what you want easily when you are ready to use them. Then, to prepare for cooking or baking, put the berries carefully into a colander and lower into cool water and swish around. When the berries are cleaned, lay them out onto paper towels and completely dry before using.
“If you are in a hurry,” she says, “you can gently pat them dry with another paper towel.”
Blueberries are wonderful in muffins and cupcakes, Ms. Gilbert says. But if you’re not careful, they can turn the batter blue or sink to the bottom.
“If you are using frozen blueberries, don’t thaw them first, but gently fold them in,” she says. “If you are using fresh blueberries, I like to coat them lightly with flour before folding them into the batter. This helps them stay suspended in the cupcake or muffin instead of sinking to the bottom.”
Another tip: When buying blueberries at the store, make sure that they still have the silver bloom coating on them, she says. If they don’t, then they have been washed.
“You don’t want to buy washed blueberries,” Ms. Gilbert says. “They aren’t fresh and won’t freeze as well.”
Try some of these berry delicious recipes and let the celebration begin!
Lifestyles reporter Sylvia Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.
Fresh fruit cream cheese pie
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk or 1 14-ounce can low-fat sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch frozen deep-dish pie crust, baked
Fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, bananas)
Seedless red raspberry jam
Beat cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Refrigerate three hours or until set. Arrange fruit on top of pie. If coating berries, stir jam until smooth. Brush berries with jam and serve. Note: If using bananas, dip in lemon juice before placing on pie to keep them from turning brown. Do not coat with jam.
— Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
Fourth of July fruit sparklers
Sheri Caldwell says these will be a hit with the kids. The pretzels will get soft and fall apart if they sit too long, so use toothpicks or plastic coffee stirrers as skewers if you won’t be eating right away.
14 pretzel sticks
28 blueberries, washed
14 strawberries, washed and hulled
1 square vanilla-flavored almond bark
Using the pretzel sticks as skewers, place a blueberry, a strawberry and another blueberry on each stick. Place the almond bark in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 90 seconds. Stir well and transfer to a plastic zip-top bag. Cut the corner of the plastic zip-top bag to make a small opening. Drizzle the melted almond bark over the fruit skewered on the pretzels. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until hard.
Serve immediately. Serves seven (two pieces each).
Lemon blueberry Bundt cake
2 cups (12-ounce package) white morsels, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons grated lemon peel (about 4 medium lemons)
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
2 cups fresh whole strawberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10-cup Bundt pan. Melt 1 cup morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for one minute; Stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Cool slightly. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon peel and melted morsels. Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk just until combined. Pour half of batter into prepared Bundt pan. Sprinkle blueberries over batter; top with remaining batter and smooth down top. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Transfer to serving platter. Melt remaining morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high power for one minute; Stir. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir in lemon extract. Drizzle over cake; allow to set for a few minutes. Place strawberries in center of cake before serving. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
— Nestle Toll House
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