National Blueberry Month

One of my favorite memories growing up are when I, my Uncle Mike, my cousin Gregg, and my grandmother would all gear up and go blueberry picking. This was sort of a rarish occurrance, but it always seemed like a "big production" as my grandfather would say.

First of all we each needed largish coffee can with holes drilled on the sides and a string through the holes to make a neck strap. This allowed both hands to be free for maximum blueberry picking action.

Next you needed an even bigger bucket for all the little coffee cans to be dumped into. This, also, allowed for maximum blueberry action because you could fill the coffee can hanging around your neck nurmerous times.

Finally, though blueberry season is in the summer, you had to dress for a late fall hike - from head to toe: a hat, a long sleeve collared shirt, jeans, giant socks to tuck your jeans into, and old sneakers or boots. The reasons for this were multifold. First, mosquitos. Blueberries grow in marshes. Mosquitos grow in marshes. Second blueberries grow on bushes and shrubs and this clothing protected you from scratches. And, lastly, ticks. Checking each other carefully for ticks was the conclusion to any good blueberry excursion.

Once we had all the necessary equipment (and, clothing), we would plan an excursion for sometime after a rainstorm, which in New England didn't require all that much waiting. The rain was great or the blueberries...not so much for trekking through muddy marshes where they grow. Anyway, when the stars aligned into this perfect storm, we were ready!

We would drive approximately 15 minutes away to the neighboring town, my Uncle Mike would psychically sense the perfect spot, and we would pull over and venture into what can only be called a swamp...and, the picking would commence.

Some trips were more successful than others, but after a few hours we would call it a day and head home with our blue earnings. To this day I consiider myself an expert blueberry cleaner. I, also, turn into a grumpy old man when I see pints of blueberries at the grocery store..."$2.99 for a pint of blueberries?!?! In my day we picked our own blueberries for free..."

Anyway what I don't think any of us realized at the time is how incredibly good blueberries are for you! In one cup of blueberries you  receive 36% of your daily potassium requirement, 25% of your daily vitamin C & manganese requirements, and 14% of your daily fiber requirement. Blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called "free radicals" that can lead to cancer and other age related diseases.

And, all that is with no fat and only 80 calories!!

Admittedly, we were not all that adventurous in our blueberry creations at that time. We stuck to the pretty standard selections of muffins, preserves, pancakes, pie, or just threw some on cereal. I used to like eating them plain and frozen.

While I still enjoy the old standbys, I like to think I'm a little more adventurous these days. So, here are 5 blueberry recipes that are a little outside the box (but, only a little outside).

1. Vanilla Bluebarry Cream Whoopie Pies

2. Blue Cornmeal & Blueberry Biscotti

3. Blue & White Corn Bread

4. Blueberry Lemonade

5. Blueberry Soup

I am most excited about trying the corn bread one, but I'll likely start with the lemonade 'cause it's summer and that's just how I roll. If you aren't into cooking I recommend you try Quaker Multigrain Fiber Crisps in Wild Blueberry or Naked Blue Machine juice immediately because both are amazingly delicious and 2 of my all time favorite things!!

If you have a favorite blueberry recipe...please share!! And, if you are ever in the Las Vegas area you MUST stop at The German Bread Bakery for a blueberry pudding danish. They are seriously to die for!!

And...Happy National Blueberry Month!!!

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