Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blueberries are super-berries

7/15/09 Cook’s Corner
Blueberries are super-berries!
Betty Kaiser

The last few years, the humble blueberry has assumed an exciting new reputation in the world of nutrition. It is no longer just a simple berry making its yearly appearance clothed in a royal blue cloak. Today it sits at the ‘berry’ top of the food chain as a super-berry!

These little guys add a powerful punch to our daily diet and can help keep us healthy. Research increasingly shows that thanks to anti-oxidant properties, blueberries are more than a sweet snack. They can also be helpful in fighting major diseases. Simply put, the berries supply the body with chemicals that react against harmful oxidants that can damage a wide variety of bodily functions.

A Tufts neuroscientist went so far as to call blueberries “the brain berry.” In a Newsweek article James Joseph said, “When it comes to brain protection, there’s nothing quite like blueberries.” Others claim that blueberries can improve vision, enhance memory, clear arteries, strengthen blood vessels and promote weight control.

Sounds good, right? Well, if it’s true, I say, bring them on! A serving of just one-half cup of blueberries is only 40-fat free calories and a great source of fiber and vitamin C. Raw, we can eat them guilt free. We add a dollop of guilt when they’re mixed with a little sugar and turned into pies but sometimes that’s the only way you can get kids and men to eat ‘healthy’ foods!

Blueberries are pretty sweet eaten plain and unadorned right out of hand. No sugar needed. I also enjoy them on my morning bowl of breakfast cereal and sometimes even on a green salad. Most people like them in muffins. Plain blueberry pie is too sweet and boring for me but I do like pies that combine blueberries with other fruits.

So today we’re going to mix up our blueberries into three distinctly different pies that probably have too much sugar and too much fat to be really healthy. My advice? Cut down the sugar where you can, eat small servings and hope that their antioxidant properties override everything else. Stay healthy. Eat blueberries. Enjoy!

Glazed Fresh Blueberry/Strawberry Pie

4-5 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
2-3 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash salt
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla

(2) 9-inch pie shells, baked

Prepare glaze:
Crush 2 cups strawberries and add enough cold water to make 2 cups pulp mixture. Pour into small heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 min.; strain and add cold water to make 2 cups. Set aside.

In heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in strawberry juice mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 1 min. or until mixture is thick, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature before using. Add a few drops red food coloring if desired.

Assemble pie:
Brush bottom of cooled pie crust with a little of the strawberry glaze. Divide the glaze in half and pour into two large bowls. Put half of the strawberries and blueberries into each of the bowls. Gently mix the glaze with the fruit and pour into pie shells. Refrigerate pies 3-4 hours or until chilled and glaze is set. Note: If the strawberries are huge, slice in half lengthwise.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream, gradually adding sugar and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Sour Cream Blueberry Pie

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Pie filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat together sour cream, 2 tablespoons flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and egg until smooth (about 4 to 5 minutes). Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into the piecrust and bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

Pecan Topping:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
3 tablespoons chopped pecans

Combine the 3 tablespoons of flour, margarine, and pecans, mixing well. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the top of the pie; return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. Let cool. Chill before serving.
Serves 8.

Blueberry Peach Pie with Crumb Topping

1 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups sliced peaches
1 1/2 cups blueberries, washed & cleaned
2 tablespoons lemon juice
9" unbaked pie shell

1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs or flour
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix pie ingredients together and put into a 9 inch unbaked pastry shell. Mix topping ingredients and crumble over pie. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until juice bubbles through. Let cool. Serve warm with ice cream. Serves 6-8.

Note: Place pie in oven on a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Makes clean up easier.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. 

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