B is for blueberries

BlueberriesAlthough blueberries are available all year round, if you’re conscious of your carbon footprint, you will go for European-grown berries which are available mainly in late summer and early autumn,  writes Dr Susan Aldridge, guest blogger, who is a freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

The shrubby bush that bears the berries can be grown in the UK and is becoming increasingly popular as a crop. Blueberries have long been hailed as a superfood, and with good reason.

Blueberries are:

• Very rich in phytonutrients, including flavanols, anthocyanins and hydroxycinnamic acids. What are these? Compounds with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which many lab and human studies have shown to have benefits for heart and eye health, as well as protecting against cancer.
• High in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and copper.
• Low glycaemic index – helpful in regulating blood glucose.

Perhaps the most exciting of the recent research on blueberries relates to their effect on memory and cognitive function. A group of older people drinking a berry juice (similar to my two recipes below) twice a day for three months did better on cognitive tests than those in the placebo group.

Blueberry and strawberry juice
Serves two

These two berries make a fantastic fruit salad. Juicing them will give you less fibre, but you can pack more berries into a serving and therefore get more of the phytonutrient content. And, as with most of my juices, you get the added ‘kick’ and health benefit of ginger.

600g strawberries
600g blueberries
Two inch peeled ginger
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.

Blue and green juice
Serves one

Celery, cucumber and spinach are among the ‘alkaline’ juice ingredients. Not totally convinced of the biochemistry, but I do use these a lot and combining with blueberries adds depth, interest and extra health benefit to this juice.

200g blueberries
One half cucumber, chopped into chunks
400g spinach leaves
4 celery stalks, chopped into shorter lengths
One inch peeled ginger
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately.

Blueberry cheesecake
Serves six

This is a lovely dessert best started the day before, with the biscuit base. The only sugar comes from the biscuits.

For the biscuit base
8 ‘posh’ biscuits (ginger, shortbread, lemon…whatever you like)
75g butter
For the filling
200g tub crème fraiche
250g ricotta cheese
For the topping
400g blueberries

Feed the biscuits into a food processor or put them into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin to make crumbs. Melt the butter and add to the biscuit crumbs in a bowl. Layer a flan dish with the mixture and chill in the fridge overnight. Next day, mix the crème fraiche and ricotta and layer over the biscuit base. Chill for several hours and then top with the blueberries, pressing them into the creamy layer to make a topping.

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