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Blueberries!

July is blueberry month! That means this is the perfect time to stock up. And why not? These beauties are bursting with flavor and nutritional benefits. Here are some tips on how to buy/store/use one of my favorite fruits:

How to Buy Blueberries

Fresh blueberries are available year-round. The peak season for fresh blueberries runs from mid-June to mid-August. Like fresh blueberries, frozen, canned and dried are never out of season.

When purchasing fresh blueberries, look for firm, plump, dry berries with smooth skins. Size doesn’t matter, but color does – reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, but can be used in cooking. Containers with juice stains indicate that the fruit may be bruised.

How to Store Blueberries

Refrigerate fresh blueberries as soon as your get them home, in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or storage container. Wash berries just before use. Use within 10 days of purchase.

Blueberry Serving Suggestions

·  Add blueberries to your favorite muffin recipe – about 1 cup for each batch of 12 muffins. Gently stir in the blueberries at the end (unthawed, if frozen).

·  Layer blueberries with yogurt and granola cereal in a tall glass.

·  Sprinkle blueberries, chopped pecans and crumbled feta cheese onto salad greens (see recipe below).

·  Make a homemade blueberry salsa (see recipe below).

·  Place 2 to 3 blueberries into each section of an ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water or lemonade and freeze. Use the blueberry ice cubes to chill and flavor water and drinks.

Blueberry Pineapple Salsa

Makes 2 cups

All you need:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, minced

Juice and zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4 cup diced red onion

Kosher salt, as needed

All you do:

1. Combine blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion.

2. Season with salt and additional lime juice as needed.

3. Serve with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

Adapted from: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Chicken Salad with Fresh Blueberries, Pecans and Honey-Poppy Vinaigrette

Serves 8

All you need:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

6 ounces arugula

6 ounces spinach

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta

All you do:

1. Sprinkle chicken with garlic and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

2. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook chicken until internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 8 minutes per side; set aside to cool.

3. Heat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet; bake until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. In a food processor, combine the balsamic, white balsamic, honey, mustard and remaining salt and pepper. Gradually add the olive oil.

6. Stir in the poppy seeds; set aside.

7.Place arugula and spinach on a large serving platter. Top with chicken, blueberries, cheese and pecans. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

Adapted from: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

 





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