Food & Drink

5 ideas for using blueberries

A bowl of freshly picked blueberries.
A bowl of freshly picked blueberries. Fresno Bee

When it comes to produce, it’s always best to lean into what the season is giving you, and right now that means blueberries. The tiny, tart berries are divine in scones and melt perfectly in cupcakes and muffins. They’re generally used in sweets, but we found a couple of savory ways to use them in this roundup of five recipe ideas.

▪ On pork chops. Cook up some pork chops, then top them with this sweet, fruity glaze. Add 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by more than half. Serve warm on top of cooked pork chops. Recipe adapted from lecremedelacrumb.com.

▪ Snack squares. Whip up these squares for a healthy grab-and-go breakfast or snack. In a medium bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 cup milk, 3 tablespoons applesauce and 1/4 cup brown sugar until combined. Spoon into a greased 8-by-8 square pan, then bake for 20 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cut into 12 squares. Recipe adapted from kidshealth.org.

▪ Soup. Yes, fruit soup can seem a bit weird if you’ve never had it, but this simple chilled concoction is refreshing and fit for an appetizer at a spring dinner party (or a dessert anytime). Combine 4 cups fresh or frozen (but not thawed) blueberries, 2 cups water, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until the blueberries have burst. Remove the cinnamon stick, then puree the soup until smooth in a blender (best to do it in multiple batches) or with an immersion blender stick. Strain the soup back into the saucepan, discarding any solids that strain out. Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/3 cup low-fat milk together in a cup, then whisk mixture into soup. Bring it back to a boil, until soup thickens slightly. Remove from heat, let cool, then chill in fridge until cold. Before serving, stir in 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt into the soup and mix well. Recipe adapted from Eating Well.

▪ Smoothie. Blueberries lend their deep color and natural tartness to this antioxidant-packed smoothie. In a blender, mix 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen work best; if you only have fresh, freeze 1/2 cup in a zip-top bag the night before), 1 peeled banana, 1 peeled orange, 1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup ice and about a half cup of water. If you like your smoothies sweet, add some sugar, starting with a tablespoon and adjusting to taste. I like the natural sweetness from the fruits. Blend until smooth.

▪ In oatmeal. We love a warm, hearty bowl of oatmeal any time of day. This one is given some oomph with fresh blueberries and almond milk. To make, bring 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, then add 1/2 cup steel cut oats, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (regular milk works fine, too) and a handful of chopped walnuts. Let simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Oatmeal should be creamy and the blueberries should start to open.

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