mindbodygreen: What makes blueberries such a great choice for healthy back-to-school eating?
Ruder: Blueberries are a stellar choice because of their remarkable combination of flavor, nutrition, and convenience! Their natural sweetness appeals to young taste buds, making them a delicious treat with crave-worthy flavor and no added sugar (for proof, just try this Blueberry, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Flatbread). Plus, these bite-sized gems provide essential nutrients and phytonutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and fiber. Blueberries also contain phytonutrients called polyphenols. This group includes anthocyanins, plant compounds that give blueberries their beautiful blue color.
mindbodygreen: Is there any new research on how blueberries support overall health and well-being that you can share?
Ruder: Yes, there are two new peer-reviewed research studies that were just released. The first is a gut health study published in Nutrients1 in June, which found that daily consumption of blueberries for six weeks, consumed as 30 g/day of freeze-dried highbush blueberry powder (equivalent to 1¼ cups of fresh blueberries), relieves abdominal symptoms and improves general markers of well-being, quality of life, and life functioning in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders. The researchers suggest that the symptom relief may be due to the polyphenols in blueberries, which may have potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and neuroprotective properties.
Another new research study about exercise published in Scientific Reports2 found that eating the equivalent of 1 daily cup of blueberries for 14 days before and four days after a 90-minute eccentric exercise session (e.g., running downhill or lowering weight) improved inflammation resolution in adults who exercise fewer than three times per week. This is significant because it means that blueberry intake can be encouraged for physically active people to improve recovery from stressful levels of exercise.
mindbodygreen: As a mom and physician, what are your go-to blueberry hacks?
Ruder: Get creative! Kids are a lot more likely to eat something if it’s fun and colorful. Try making rainbow fruit kebabs by skewering blueberries and other colorful fruit.
Make yogurt-covered blueberries. This easy snack is also a fun activity that you can do together with your kids. Using a toothpick or fork, dip blueberries into a bowl of vanilla yogurt to coat them evenly. Then, lay them on a parchment-lined tray and pop them into the freezer until the yogurt sets. When you have more time on your hands, you could even try the recipe for Triple Citrus Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Cups.
Make homemade blueberry jam. Skip the store-bought jelly, which is often high in added sugars, and make your own blueberry chia jam at home. It takes only 15 minutes!
mindbodygreen: If you had to pick one kid-friendly blueberry recipe to start the morning with, what would it be?
Ruder: My Blueberry French Toast Muffins make a great portable breakfast or after-school snack. With 6 grams of protein per serving, these muffins will satisfy your kids’ hunger and provide them with the energy for learning and fun. I take all of the ingredients that you find in French toast and make a portable version by baking them in a muffin tin. And the best part is that you can make a whole batch of them on the weekend, and you’re set for the whole week!
Click here to try the recipe for yourself!