The Perfect Blueberry Smoothie
Accompanying the summer heat are a wide variety of delicious, local, and in season fresh fruits. Buying local, fresh produce is the key to enjoying the best that season has to offer. The nutrients are higher, and flavours are beautifully bold and more delicious. Here in sunny South Carolina (and in much of North America) it is blueberry season, which is a treat for all. Most of us can agree there is nothing better than a fresh, ripe blueberry! My family buys from a local friend who has land in Camden, South Carolina and has been growing blueberries there for generations. There are many options for sourcing local blueberries, such as purchasing directly from a local farm or at your farmers market, usually by the pint or quart, with more available by special order. At the Pinehurst Farmers Market located in Columbia, South Carolina, the farmers have a wide array of berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Purchasing from local farmers in your area is an amazing way to stimulate the local economy and find sweet treasures.
How to Pick Your Own Blueberries
Another great option is to go to a blueberry farm and pick them yourself! This is an outstanding family activity that is not to be passed up. It will allow you to enjoy the countryside, give your children a chance to connect with nature, and support a local business in your area. Do a quick Internet search to find the locale that will work for you and your family. Make sure you pack well for your trip to the blueberry farm, including lots of water, snacks, and sunscreen. It will be hot while picking in the field and you want to make sure you and your family stays hydrated and protected from the sun.
When picking, make sure to find the ripe blueberries that are already blue so that when you pull on the berry, it comes off the branch easily. That is a great way to ensure ripeness. The blueberries that are ripe will be completely blue in colour from the stem to the end of the calyx. The calyx is the outer cap of the blueberry's opposite stem. If the blueberries have a red or green stem end, do not pick them as they are not yet ripe. Be sure not to just pick the berries from the front of the bush - some of the best blueberries are on the underside of the branches! As you are picking, make sure to be gentle so as not to damage the berries while harvesting. Try picking the berries using the technique of rolling the berries between your thumb and the palm of your hand and the ripe berries will easily fall off. The best part of picking locally is that you can harvest as little or as much as you like, which is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Whatever you do not eat right away can be frozen to have the fresh taste of summer on hand throughout the coming fall and winter.
The Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries are the perfect, delicious, nutrient dense food to feed your family to support their health. Blueberries have the highest antioxidant levels for all the common fruits and vegetables, making them a superfood. The antioxidants in blueberries protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells, and contribute to aging and other diseases. These antioxidants have been shown to reduce DNA damage and lower your blood pressure. The group of flavonoids called anthocyanins are thought to be responsible for many of these berries' beneficial health effects. Blueberries are also low in calories but high in nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and fibre. These berries are the perfect way to enjoy the bounty of summer while improving your families health outcomes.
Blueberry Smoothie Recipe
My favourite method of incorporating my blueberry harvest in a healthy way is to create a beautiful blueberry smoothie that I call the Pinehurst Smoothie. This smoothie is the perfect way to add healthy fruits and vegetables to your family's diet, and for everyone to enjoy the bounty of the land. It includes harvesting a small handful of fresh spinach and kale from the garden, adding a half cup of blueberries, half a cup of frozen organic bananas, and a cup of organic homemade almond milk (or other plant-based beverage). It is always a huge hit with the family! It is a fantastic way to add more leafy greens into my family's diet, while allowing them to enjoy and savour the beauty of the blueberry season. Follow these simple steps to create an ice cold, silky, flavourful smoothie every time!
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- 1/2 cup of frozen bananas
- 1/4 cup of kale
- 1/4 cup spinach
- 1 cup of almond milk (or your preferred plant-based milk)
Blend in a blender until smooth. You may need to add filtered water to ensure the proper blending of all ingredients. Serve immediately and enjoy!