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Blueberries – the blue jewel! Celebrate its month and our nation’s birthday!

Red, white and blue – our nation’s colors. Two of those colors happen to be some of my favorite fruits! What’s better than strawberries and blueberries? Not much in my book. That’s why I take every opportunity to use them in one of my fave guilt-free desserts. Strawberry/Blueberry Shortcake with Whipped Topping. So easy:

Strawberry/Blueberry Shortcake with Whipped Topping

  • Slice of angel food cake
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Whipped topping

What a patriotic dessert! And just goes to show healthy good-for-you food CAN taste great!

That’s it! It’s a treat anytime. But especially this time of the year when the brilliance of the colors coincide with our nation’s birthday. I’ve always got berries on hand ready to go in the freezer if I can’t get them at a reasonable price at the grocery store. Last year I wrote a post Confessions of a Blueberry Addict. Yes, I love them that much! Sometimes I even prefer the frozen because when thawed they’re nice and juicy. Or I’ll mix the fresh with the frozen.

Disease-fighting phytonutrients

Surely you’ve heard how good berries are, but why? For similar, yet different reasons. Like most plant-based foods they’re terrific sources of the disease-fighting plant compounds called phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Strawberries contain flavonoids believed to have protective benefits as well as other nutrients like folate, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. My colleague, registered dietitian and “Guy-a-titian” Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Can Save Your Life states that “The plant nutrients found in strawberries, particularly polyphenols, have antioxidant capabilities that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. These two harmful processes have been linked to major challenges to our health. Polyphenols help to protect and repair cells.”

45 pounds of blueberries!

And then there are blueberries. I remember as a kid going blueberry picking in the Midwest. One beautiful summer afternoon my mom, brother Mark and I brought home 45 pounds of blueberries! And that’s just what we had to pay for—we picked considerably more. I can only imagine how many ended up in my belly. I’m surprised I still love blueberries as much as I do—I ate so many that day. We washed them, dried them and packed them in the freezer. Year round we would have wonderful blueberry treats. They were great to munch on straight from the freezer since they froze like marbles.

Little did I know those succulent little blue things were going to end up being such a super great food. They contain a different phytochemical than strawberries called anthocyanins which gives them their beautiful rich blue color. They’re also good sources of resveratrol also found in grapes and red wine. Like the polyphenols in strawberries, these phytochemicals are also disease-fighting antioxidants.

If those aren’t enough reasons to eat these nutrient-rich powerhouse fruits July is National Blueberry Month!

Do YOU share my passion for berries? What’s your favorite berry dessert or treat?

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach

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