Blueberry Days of Summer

Summer is officially here with its longer, hotter days and warmer nights. And with Summer comes swimming, cookouts, and berries! Here on the North Shore, more and more blueberries are ripening every day. Two weeks ago the green ones outnumbered the blue, but today was prime picking! We went out as a family and were able to harvest as much in half an hour as we did in two hours two weeks ago.

kaitandmomblueberries

Thankfully our last harvest was enough to make my Double Berry Lung Tonic & Cough Syrup recipe because today there were so many dark, juicy berries we couldn’t help but eat our fill! And luckily we still have enough for a crumble. Success!
blueberries_collanderBlueberries, which belong to the heather family, are considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. They are known to be especially beneficial for your heart by helping to maintain normal vascular function and blood pressure, in addition to reducing oxadative stress and inflammation in the body, which thereby reduces cholesterol. In fact, according to a study by Tufts University, blueberries demonstrated the highest levels of antioxidant activity of all berries studied. They contain a high number of anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound also found in red wine, but wine made from blueberries has been shown to contain 38% more!

 

Not a huge wine drinker? Not a problem! You’ll still get all the anthocyanins and heart-healthy benefits by consuming blueberries regularly throughout the week in whatever preparation you prefer. My favorite way to get all that tasty blueberry goodness into me has been in my morning Blueberry Boost smoothie.

 

This recipe is chock full of some really amazing herbs and, of course, blueberries! Many of the herbs I grow or can find within my yard. The chickweed and wood sorrel volunteered in a wine barrel planter on our deck this year, which was convenient and much appreciated!

chickandsorrel

Since chickweed, which is a nutrient dense green, is more of a Spring plant, I was using the Wyman’s blueberries at that time. Now that Summer is in full swing, and the chickweed has gone to seed, I will substitute kale or spinach from my garden or swiss chard from the farmer’s market. The wood sorrel, on the other hand, is still going strong. Its season is mid-Spring to Fall, so you can enjoy it for months to come. It adds a bright sour note to the smoothie that I quite enjoy. And lemon balm, oh lemon balm. I can’t say enough about this herbal ally. I’ve been growing it for nearly 3 years now, and I love it! It helps boost my mood, keeping me focused on the positives, while soothing my nerves, and it helps regulate my thyroid function. It has a wide range of herbal applications, but these are the ones I have come to look forward to the most in this smoothie. And it’s one of my favorite flavors—lemony, a bit green, with a subtle floral undertone. Truly one of the best flavors to pair with blueberries, I feel.

lemonbalmspearmintThe first time I made this smoothie I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out. I knew I liked blueberries with the cinnamon, and I liked the blueberries with the lemon balm and spearmint, but all of them together? It was a toss up for sure, but it went in my favor in a really big way. It’s creamy, just the right balance of sweet and sour, you get a bit of that exotic spice from the cinnamon, and it’s invigorating!

 

Ingredients:

-1 cup wild blueberries (if you are unable to
wild forage, Wyman’s brand frozen is a good alternative)
-1 avocado
-1 large handful chickweed
-1 handful wood sorrel
-1 handful fresh lemon balm
-1 sprig fresh spearmint
-1 to 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
-1 to 2 tsp cinnamon
-1 handful ice cubes (optional)
-1 TBSP honey or maple syrup (optional)
-As much water as needed to blend smooth and
as thick or thin as you like (I eyeball it at about a cup)

smoothie

**Things to remember when substituting leafy greens with high oxalate content (i.e. all of the ones I mentioned above): you will want to parboil and rinse before adding them to the blender. This sounds like a pain, but I promise it’s not. My suggestion is before you do anything else, put a pot of water on to boil, and then go about gathering your other ingredients and adding them to the blender. You only need to boil for 2-3 minutes (unless your stomach is super sensitive like mine, and then I recommend 5 minutes and a thorough rinse after), strain, and rinse. It takes longer to make eggs or pancakes than it does to do this step, and it saves you a day or two of gas and bloating, which everyone can appreciate!

 

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy wild blueberries? Are you a pick and eat sort of a person like my girls, a warm blueberry pie or cobbler at the cookout, or maybe like me you love a good blueberry smoothie to help energize you in the morning? I’m always interested in what you think, so blend up this smoothie and share your thoughts! Enjoy!

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