I had a segment this morning on one of Michigan’s most profitable crops…blueberries! I had the opportunity to work with Bryan, our absolutely fantastic Sous Chef at the hospital. His ideas are always brilliant and definitely bold. I can’t help but think we make a pretty spectacular team with our outlandish ideas. After spending so much time researching and developing recipes featuring blueberries, I can’t help but notice how underrated they are. Check out our segment (link below) and give us feedback on how you like to use your blueberries.
On today’s “On the Menu” segment we learn how blueberries can be utilized in many ways outside of the traditional blueberry muffin or blueberry pancakes. Registered Dietitian Jennifer Fillenworth and Sous Chef Bryan Nader from Mercy Health Saint Mary’s are here to discuss creative ways to use those freshly picked blueberries.
According to the Michigan Agriculture Council, Michigan leads the nation in growing blueberries and produces more than 30 different varieties. Michigan blueberry production value was reported at $122.7 million in 2013. Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties comprise the state’s primary blueberry growing region, due to the sandy profile of the soil and the moist conditions.
In 2013, 47 million pounds of Michigan blueberries were produced for fresh use, while 67 million pounds were produced for processing. Michigan has almost 21,000 acres devoted entirely to blueberries and yields an average of 5,000 pounds of blueberries per acre. Half of the blueberry acreage in Michigan is more than 40 years old, some plantings dating back to the 1930s!
In Michigan, blueberries are in their peak harvesting season between July and September. Look for berries that are firm to the touch without bruising. Fresh blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two weeks. If the blueberries cannot be used in this time frame, freezing is a great option and very easy to do. If you are planning to freeze your blueberries, do not wash them prior to freezing as this will create a tougher skin. Remove any leaves, stems, or defective berries. Pack berries into containers, leaving some headspace in the container. Seal, label, date and freeze. Wash before using. Use within one year of freezing.
Blueberries have been well-documented for their high antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in fiber which helps support our gastrointestinal health. Fiber also helps to lower cholesterol, providing us with heart health. Another great thing about blueberries is that they have only 80 calories per cup! Here are several healthy recipes to try that will be sure to make anyone a blueberry fan!
Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie
Yields 1 smoothie
½ cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
½ medium banana, sliced and frozen
¾ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 cups ice cubes
1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender in the order listed, and pulse until smooth. Serve immediately.
Yield 1 drink
1/3 cup blueberries (plus extra for a fancy blueberry swizzle stick)
6-8 leaves fresh mint
1 Tbsp. sugar in the raw
2½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 oz light rum
2 oz champagne or club soda
1. Place the blueberries, mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice in a 12oz glass. Use a muddling tool or wooden spoon to muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the glass until the blueberries have released their juices.
2. Fill the glass with crushed ice and pour the rum over. Give it a stir.
3. Top with chilled champagne or club soda.
Blueberry Basil Lemonade
Yields 8 drinks
5 lemons, juiced about 1½ cups
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
For each cocktail/mocktail:
1 Tbsp. shredded basil
1 heaping Tbsp. blueberries
1-2 oz. vodka or flavored vodka. optional
Lemon sparkling water
1. For the lemonade, stir lemon juice and sugar together until dissolved. Add the water. Store in a pitcher in the fridge until ready to use.
2. When ready to make a mocktail or cocktail, take the basil and blueberries and place in a tall glass. With a long spoon muddle the ingredients together.
3. Top with ice, vodka if using, and lemonade, fill to about ⅞ and then top with a little lemon sparkling water.
Blueberry Bbq Chicken
Yield 4 servings
1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ cup blueberries
¼ cup low sodium ketchup
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1. Add blueberries to a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook until blueberries begin to pop, and then smash them with the back of a spoon.
2. To the pan, add ketchup, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, shallot and mustard. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove half of the sauce and reserve.
3. Brush chicken with remaining sauce and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Grill chicken until an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached, brush chicken with remaining sauce and serve.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Yield 9 muffins
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup non-fat milk
1 ½ cups blueberries
For the streusel topping:
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, yogurt, and canola oil.
3. Add the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating to the yogurt mixture.
4. Fold in the blueberries
5. In a medium bowl combine the cinnamon, flour and brown sugar for the streusel. Stir in the butter and combine.
6. Spoon the batter into muffin cups or a muffin tin that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top muffins with streusel mixture and bake for 20 minutes or until when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing muffins from pan.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, frozen for about 10 minutes
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. nonfat evaporated milk
1 Tbsp. non-fat Greek yogurt
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
For the icing:
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ tsp. non-fat milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- Fold 2 Tbsp. of the sugar into the blueberries, then place them in the freezer.
- Combine the salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour in a medium bowl. Grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients.
- Combine the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Mix the blueberries into the flour mixture, and place the mixture in freezer.
- Combine the buttermilk, evaporated milk, Greek yogurt, egg yolk, and the vanilla with the remaining sugar. Take the dry ingredients from the freezer, then fold in the wet ingredients. Stir until everything is just incorporated
- Form the dough into a ball.
- Using a spoon, dollop the dough onto an ungreased baking sheet. Place it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Remove the baking sheet from freezer and put it in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown.
- To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar with the milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle it over the biscuits with a spoon
4 cups non-fat milk
3/4 cup quick-cook polenta
1/2 cup almond meal
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon zest
1. Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to low and add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Add almond meal and continue whisking until the polenta thickens to a creamy consistency. Add butter and whisk until it melts completely.
3. Turn heat off and whisk in honey, blueberries, vanilla and lemon zest. Serve with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and an extra sprinkle of blueberries
Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes
Yield 6 Servings
1 ½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
6 oz. non-fat cream cheese, cut up
3 tsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
zest of one large lemon
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk. Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese has separated into uniformly small lumps, about the size of large cottage cheese curds. Stir in melted butter, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
2. Add dry ingredients to wet, then stir to combine. Whisk two egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold gently into batter.
3. Heat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium high heat, until a drop of water sizzles. Lower heat to medium; butter or oil pan. Drop batter using 1/3 cup. Once the batter has spread, drop in the berries. Turn down the heat if necessary, to keep them from overbrowning, and let them puff up to their full extent after you turn them, which will take 2-3 minutes. Serve with honey or maple syrup or jam.
1lb. pizza dough
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh blueberries
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Lightly flour a work surface.
3. Pat and stretch dough into a 10 x 14-inch oval; place on a large baking sheet.
4. With a fork, pierce dough in several places.
5. Leaving a 1-inch border, sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella, the gorgonzola, and red onion.
6. Bake until crust is golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.
7. Sprinkle blueberries and remaining mozzarella over pizza; bake until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer.
8. Remove from oven; top with basil and pepper
Blueberry Mango Nachos
4 10-inch flour tortillas
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup blueberries
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Brush one side of each tortilla lightly with melted butter.
2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle buttered side of tortillas with cinnamon sugar.
3. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges. Lay tortilla wedges out in a single layer on two baking sheets.
4. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp and golden on the edges. Let cool.
5. Place tortilla chips on a serving platter. Top with yogurt, blueberries and mangoes.
6. Sprinkle with mint. Serve.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1Tbsp. olive oil
1 head Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries
1 cup roughly-chopped toasted pecans
2/3 cup diced red onion
¼ cup blue cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
3Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and black pepper
To make the salad:
1. Season chicken breasts on both sides generously with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside.
3. Transfer chicken breasts to a separate plate and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Then chop into small, bite-sized pieces.
4. Add the chicken to a large bowl with the lettuce, blueberries, pecans, red onion, blue cheese, and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
To make the vinaigrette:
1. Whisk all ingredients together until combined
Salmon Flat Bread
Spice Blend (recipe below)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 skinless salmon fillets (8 ounces each)
4 pita breads
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 avocado, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeño
1 tsp. lime zest
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Spice Blend Ingredients
1 tsp. ground coriander, cumin, fennel seed, cardamom and mustard seed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Salmon Flatbread Instructions
Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high.
Sprinkle 4 teaspoons of the spice blend and the garlic on both sides of salmon; grill just until opaque in center, about 4 minutes per side.
With 2 forks, flake the salmon.
Grill the pita until toasted, about 30 seconds per side; place on 4 plates.
In a medium bowl, toss the blueberries, avocado, cilantro, onion, jalapeño, lime zest and 1 teaspoon of the remaining spice blend with the lime juice and oil.
Top pitas with spring mix, salmon and blueberry salsa, dividing evenly.
Spice Blend Instructions
In a small bowl, stir together ground spices and salt and pepper