Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer Family Fun with Blueberries

(ARA) – Summer brings warm weather, a break from school and endless hours spent outdoors with friends and family. Summer is also a time for good eating, with farmer’s markets and roadside stands brimming over with the fruits and berries of the season. Locally grown blueberries are available in most areas of the country and from all reports, this year’s supply is excellent.

Blueberries are the perfect grab ‘n’ go snack for active families, combining the best that nature has to offer: good nutrition and luscious flavor. A cup of blueberries has just 80 calories and is an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of fiber and manganese, an essential mineral our bodies need every day. Blueberries also contain antioxidants that may contribute to good health. But there’s no need to clue the kids into the nutrition benefits of blueberries when they’re so much fun to eat.

A great summer family activity is blueberry picking at a local farm. Look for nearby pick-your-own farms or, if the drive is a bit longer, make a day trip out of it. Kids of all ages can get in on the action since blueberries grow on bushes within arm’s reach.

Once you get your berries home -- whether from the farm or the supermarket -- refrigerate in a covered container or the plastic packs they came in. A quick rinse just before using and they’re ready for action. They never need to be peeled, pitted, stemmed or chopped.

A breakfast featuring fresh blueberry pancakes is certain to be a hit. Use your favorite pancake recipe or a prepared batter and simply drop a few blueberries onto the pancakes as they cook in the pan, before flipping them over.

For a lazy summer afternoon refresher, make a tall pitcher of “Pink-and-Blueberry Lemonade.” The pink color of the lemonade happens completely naturally with the addition of a few blueberries to the fresh lemon juice and sugar. This lemonade treat can be even more fun with long spoons to pull out and eat the blueberries that float in the glass. If you don’t have fresh blueberries on hand, this special lemonade works just as well with frozen blueberries.

And throughout the year, you can surprise the kids with blueberry ice cubes to add to lemonade, apple juice or fruit punch. Just drop blueberries into an ice cube tray, cover with water or juice and freeze.

You can find more blueberry recipes and information, including a list of u-pick farms, at www.blueberrycouncil.org.

Pink and Blueberry Lemonade

1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, divided
1/2 cup lemon juice

In 1-quart glass measuring cup, combine sugar, 2 tablespoons of the blueberries and 1/2 cup water. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute; stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart; chill. Fill tall glasses with ice cubes, add chilled blueberry mixture and remaining berries, dividing equally. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

Yield: 1 quart or 4 (8-ounce) servings

Per serving: 94 calories, 25 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 1 g fiber, 20 mg vitamin C

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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