Ingredient SpotLight

    Editor's Note:I once had an argument about whether or not blueberries are, in fact, blue or if they are actually purple, as most things made with them take on a purple hue. After several minutes of debate, the argument was brought to my husband to resolve. Without a pause, he grinned and pointed out that they are, in fact, indigo! Whether they strike you as blue, purple, indigo or any shade in between, it's hard to argue with the great taste, health benefits and versatility of blueberries.

According to research currently underway at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, blueberries top the list of some 40 fruits, juices, and vegetable in their antioxidant activity. Concord grape juice is next on the list with about two thirds of the antioxidant activity of blueberries followed by strawberries, kale, and spinach. Just 3.5 ounces of blueberries, enough to cover a bowl of cereal in the morning, has the antioxidant capacity of 1,773 International Units of vitamin E.

Blueberries are available year-round in many forms including fresh, frozen, juice, puree, concentrate, and dried. Fresh blueberries are higher in vitamins A and C than frozen or canned. A cup of blueberries provides nearly a third of the RDA for vitamin C. It would appear that most of the vitamin C is lost as a result of freezing and canning.

And now, as is our tradition, I will leave you with a selection of recipes to enjoy. From breakfast to dessert and as a fruity drink, blueberries are a great way to include a healthy fruit in your diet. Enjoy!

Blueberry Daiquiri

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 ounces light rum
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Into an electric blender place lime juice, blueberries and rum; blend until smooth. Add ice and blend until slushy. Garnish with blueberries skewered on picks circled with a strip of lime peel, if desired.

  • Yields: 1 serving
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini-loaf pans.

Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

  • Yields: 4 mini loaves (12 servings)
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Blueberry-Coconut Tartlets

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted shredded coconut, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups blueberries

To prepare the crust: In a bowl, combine flour, 1/3 cup of the coconut and the baking powder; stir until blended. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Mix in 2 tablespoons water; knead mixture to form a dough. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6 equal pieces; roll each into a 4-inch circle. Place pastry in six 3-inch tartlet pans. Prick bottom crusts; bake 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a bowl, combine condensed milk, eggs and the remaining 1 cup coconut. Stir in blueberries. Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture into each shell. Bake until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and serve with mango sorbet, if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes