Boosting Life Choices: Blueberries

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blueberry parfait

Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

This beautiful parfait tastes so much richer than it is. You can serve it for breakfast or for dessert. Look for organic yogurt that has no thickeners or gums added to it.

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups drained low-fat yogurt or low-fat Greek style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios, finely chopped

1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, lime juice and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for five to 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and the blueberries have cooked down to a jam-like consistency. Allow to cool. You should have about 1 cup of thick, jammy sauce.

2. Spoon 1/4 cup thick yogurt into the bottom of each of 4 tumblers or parfait glasses. Top with 2 tablespoons of the blueberry sauce. Make another 1/4 cup layer of yogurt on top of the blueberry sauce, and finish with another 2 tablespoon-layer of blueberry sauce. Cover tightly and chill for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, sprinkle finely chopped pistachios over the top.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The assembled parfaits will hold in the refrigerator for a day. Sprinkle on the pistachios just before serving.

Boosting Life Choices: Blueberries

Diet delights. Reach for a bit of blue heaven. For the 82 calories in a cup of blueberries, you get about one-third of the RDA for vitamin C and 3.4 grams of fiber. There’s a tiny amount of sodium, a modest level of potassium, and just a trace of fat. All of which adds up to a berry wise choice at the produce counter.

Blueberries are good news all the way. These delicious berries contain more disease-fighting, age-proofing antioxidants than practically any other fruit or vegetable, even powerhouses such as kale, broccoli, and oranges. In fact, blueberries were at the top of the list of 40 fruits and vegetables tested for their antioxidant potential. The group of substances that put the “blue” in blueberry–anthocyanins–is probably responsible for much of the fruit’s antioxidant power. Blueberries (like other berries such as blackberries) also contain ellagic acid, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Blueberries also boast a high fiber content; and much of that fiber is pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.

Cultivated blueberries: This is the variety you see most often in the supermarket. The marble-size berries are round and plump, with a deep blue color and whitish “bloom” (a dusty-looking surface).

Wild blueberries: These are far rarer. You may find them sold fresh locally (they grow in cool climates such as Maine and eastern Canada), but more often they are available canned or frozen. They are much smaller than the cultivated variety–there are 1,600 wild blueberries to the pound, compared to 500 cultivated blueberries–and have a chewy, dense texture and deep flavor. Because you get more blueberries to the pound, ounce for ounce wild blueberries provide more of the skin (which is where the blueberry’s color compounds live). One side effect of this is that you’ll get blue lips and teeth from eating a pie made with wild blueberries, but you will also be getting a much higher dose of anthocyanins.

Dried blueberries: These are available in specialty food markets and can be used much as you would raisins. Like all dried fruit, they provide a concentration of the whole fruit’s nutrients–in this case, they are a particularly rich source of anthocyanins.

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