Wednesday, January 18, 2012

#9 of 12 Foods to Eat More of in 2012

9. Blueberries

Blueberries always make the "super foods" list--and that's because it's well-deserved. They get most of their clout because they're a super-rich source of cancer-preventing antioxidants, like other deeply-colored fruits and vegetables. But also, compared to all fruits, they are one of the best sources of fiber, coming in at 4 grams per cup. Just that single serving gets you about 15% of your daily fiber needs! I'll never stop going on about the overwhelming beneifts of fiber: weight management, fullness after eating, intestinal regularity, cholesterol-lowering and improved blood sugar control. Wow!

Blueberries aren't always at their prime (which would be summer), but frozen ones are a great option for the fall and winter months. Simply toss a handful into whole wheat pancakes, oatmeal, cereal or yogurt. They're perfect for simple parfaits, which can be enjoyed with a meal, for a snack, or for a treat. Just layer plain, non-fat yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and a touch of low-fat granola.

Here's a recipe for baked oatmeal that I just tried this past weekend. I made this one with cranberries, since they were in my co-op basket, but I absolutely can't wait to try it again with blueberries. This recipe was adapted from my newest cookbook purchase, Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen, also mentioned yesterday :) Worth it already.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups skim milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix oats, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk milk, egg, butter and vanilla.
Coat an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the majority of the berries on the bottom of the dish. Spread oat mixture over the top. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the oats and gently shake dish to ensure even coating. Scatter the remaining berries over the top.
Bake for about 40 minutes in the top third of the oven until golden and set. Sprinkle with sugar.

Cut it into 4-6 portions, package leftovers in a to-go container and enjoy it all week. I call it a one-stop balanced meal.