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14 Sep 2006

Blueberries for Health

Blueberries are native to North America where they grow in the woods and mountainous regions in the United States and Canada. Eaten by Native Americans, but being tart in their wild state, were not very popular with the settlers until sugar became available. Blueberries were only grown commercially from the early 20th Century.

They belong to the Ericaceae family along with bilberries and cranberries. There are around 30 varieties of blueberries and they range from blue to purple-black in color and have a white waxy bloom covering their surface which protects the fruit.

Blueberries are very high in vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre and are also a good supply of vitamin E and riboflavin. One cup of blueberries provides approximately 12% of daily fiber requirements.

What makes them special is that they are considered to be the highest source of antioxidents out of all vegetables and fruit. The antioxidents neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals, reducing cell damage. Excellent for the body and the skin and in the prevention of cataracts, glaucoma, heart disease and cancer. The antioxidents in blueberries are anthocyanins which are what gives them their blue color.

Blueberries have been found in laboratory tests, to help protect the brain and reduce the effects of age related conditions like Alzheimer's disease or dementia. They improve learning capacity, memory and motor skills. They have also been found in laboratory tests, , along with spinach and spirulina, to help with recovery after a stroke. The tannins and soluble and insoluble fiber in
blueberries prevents constipation and promotes urinary tract health.

When buying blueberries see that they are firm and still have their whitish bloom. They can be stored, unwashed in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Wash lightly just before eating. They can be frozen but this changes their texture and flavor. They lose most of their health benefits if processed so it is best to purchase only fresh or frozen berries. They can be enjoyed on their own, blended in smoothies or scattered on breakfast cereals and are wonderful served with tofu ice cream or soy yogurt.

Said to not only halt the aging process but to actually reverse it, you will want to make sure their become a regular part of your vegan diet.

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Blueberry-Bran Muffins
Recipe Zaar
by She-Thing
I came across these in a vegan cookbook and they are delicious! My parents hate vegan food, but they always ask me to make these for them.

1 cup all-bran cereal
1 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup oil (I use vegetable oil)
1 cup soy yogurt (preferrably blueberry)
1 cup soy milk or rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries (Thawed if you're using the frozen kind)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl mix cereal, wheat germ, oil, soy-ghurt, milk and vanilla.
In a large bowl mix the flour, soy flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
Gently fold in blueberries. Once again, make sure they're thawed and relatively dry or your muffins will be blue and wet.
Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 way full and bake for 22-25 minutes. You may have to bake them a little longer because my oven is extremely hot, so I only bake them for 22. Makes 12 muffins

Blueberry and Raspberry Syrup
from the Vegan Chef

1 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
10 oz. fresh or frozen red raspberries
10 oz. fresh or frozen blueberries

In a medium saucepan, place the apple juice, cinnamon, and cardamom, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the mixture an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Transfer half of the mixture to a blender or food processor and process for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
Add the pureed mixture back to the saucepan and stir well to combine.
Serve the syrup warm or at room temperature over pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast items, as a topping for fresh fruit, or use a sauce for desserts. Yield: 2 Cups

Blueberry Delight

1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup soymilk or ricemilk

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy. Serves 2.

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2 comments:

kleo2 said...

Jackie, blueberries are one of favorite fruits, truly. We used to pick 'em fresh in the summer in a place called South Haven, Michigan (blueberry capitol of the USA! well, maybe not really but...) and some of my fondest memories were snacking on these little purple-blue balls of wonder and eating fresh muffins.

The blueberry bran recipe for muffins is different from the super-sweet treats i used to eat, but it looks much healthier and probably just as delicious, if not moreso.

Thanks for all the great information on my fave berry!

Urban Vegan's Evil Twin said...

I love blueberries. They certainly are a superfood, aren't they?.

I esp. adore them in smoothies and pie.