by A’verria Martin, Ph.D.
Happy Friday 619’ers! We hope that you had a productive week and are gearing up for a great weekend ahead. As the weather warms up I always turn my attention to beautiful sun-kissed fruits. Most fruits are at their peak of freshness during the summer time, and are, therefore, perfect for summer dining. With summer on my mind, this week we are going to talk about blueberries. This tiny little berry is one of nature’s notable treasures and packs a powerful nutritional punch!
Blueberries are low in calories (1 cup = 80 calories) and have practically no fat.
Most importantly, blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants found in blueberries include Anthocyanin (a phytonutrient called polyphenol that gives the berry is beautiful blue color), vitamin C (23.9% DV), B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, selenium, zinc, and iron.
* Antioxidants assist in protecting cells against unstable molecules known as free radicals. When your body breaks down food or is exposed to environmental toxins such as tobacco smoke and radiation, free radicals are the molecules that are produced and have disastrous effects on the body. Free radicals can damage cellular structures as well as DNA. Evidence suggests that free radicals may also play a significant role in causing heart disease and cancer, as well as other diseases. In addition to protecting cells, antioxidants have healing abilities. They can assist the body in repairing from sunburns, wounds, and infections.
Blueberries are an excellent source of Vitamin K (35.7 %DV). Vitamin K is a vitamin well known for its ability to clot blood and its crucial role in bone health. Vitamin K reduces the risk of bleeding from illnesses, long-term use of antibiotics, malabsorption syndromes, and flesh wounds. In addition, Vitamin K assists bones in using calcium; reducing risk of osteoporosis.
Blueberries are a significant source of Manganese (25%DV). Manganese is an important contributor to bone development and assists with converting proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy.
Blueberries provide 14.2% DV of fiber. Fiber is multifunctional; it aids digestion, keeps you satiated, contributes to heart health, and lowers (bad) cholesterol.
Blueberries are a wonderful addition to just about anything . . . you can pop them in non-fat Greek yogurt with a few walnuts or in your morning oatmeal for a fun alternative!
Blueberry and Cacao Smoothie
• 1 ½ cups of coconut or almond milk (use slightly more for thinner consistency)
• 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen – preferably wild or organic)
• 1 to 2 tsp cacao powder
• 1 to 2 tsp agave nectar
• ½ cup of ice
1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until desired consistency is achieved.
Blueberry Shrimp Salad
• ¾ lbs medium shrimp
• 4 cups mixed salad greens
• 1 cup blueberries (fresh)
• ½ cup walnut pieces
• ½ cup edamame
• 2 Tbsp. red onion (optional)
For lemon vinaigrette dressing
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1 to 2 tsp agave nectar
• 1/8 teaspoon of salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Soak 4-5 wooden skewers in bowl of water for 30 minutes. Spray grill with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium.
2. Brush shrimp with olive oil and lightly season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic (optional).
3. Slide shrimp on skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side (until they change color and plump up).
4. Mix ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. As a second option you can simply use balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress your salad.
5. Put remaining ingredients (mixed greens, blueberries, walnuts, edamame, and red onion) in a large bowl and toss with dressing.
6. Lay grilled shrimp on top of salad and serve.