July is National Blueberry Month. Did you know that North Carolina is the seventh largest blueberry growing state in the country? We produce 48.5 million pounds of blueberries every year.
Head to the store and check out the great values on fresh blueberries. This is the peak of the season. The quality is super and prices are economical. Buy fruit while it is in season and freeze to have for your recipes all year round. Make sure to shop at your local farmers markets and fruit stands. Many growers also offer a pick-your-own service, which can be a fun family outing.
Research by the United States Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services ranks blueberries at the top of its class in antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help protect our cells from damage and may help reduce our risk of certain cancers, infections, and memory loss.
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program provides a lesson on making smart drink choices from the Eating Smart on The Run series. Limiting sugar in beverages is a good way to support healthy weights in adults and children. Here are some options to make healthier drink choices:
— Drink more water.
— Add lemon, orange, strawberry, blueberry, or other fruit or juice to water.
— Drink low-fat and fat-free milk for a low-sugar, high-calcium option.
— Drink 100 percent juice in moderation.
— Drink fewer soft drinks.
Fruit smoothies are a quick, refreshing, and tasty way to increase your calcium and fiber intake. You can add those delicious blueberries to increase your fruit consumption. Check out the fruit smoothie recipe below from the Cooking with Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program cookbook. Mix and match from the three variations below to find the smoothie that is just right for you and your family, and drink those blueberries.
Fruit Smoothies: Serving Size: 1 cup (makes 2 servings)
Choose half-cup of a fruit: Blueberries; strawberries; peaches; or bananas.
Choose one cup of a base: Low-fat plain yogurt; low-fat vanilla yogurt; low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt; undiluted, frozen juice concentrate, such as apple or orange; frozen fruit; or ice cubes.
Choose half cup of a liquid: low-fat or fat-free milk; calcium-fortified soy milk; or 100 percent fruit juice.
Example 1: half cup strawberries, half cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, and half cup fat-free milk.
Example 2: half cup blueberries, half cup low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt, and half cup orange juice.
Example 3: half cup banana, half cup frozen orange juice, and half cup low-fat milk.
Directions: Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth; serve immediately. This will give you
enough for two people. If there are more than two of you, you can double the recipe.
Teresa Bethea is the Extension Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program assistant for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center.