Kick Off a Healthy New Year with Wild Blueberries

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By Anne Mauney, MPH, RD

It’s officially a new year – and many of us are itching to reset the clock and eat healthier after a season of indulgence. What better way to kick off a healthy New Year than by incorporating nutritious foods into your diet? So I was super excited when the Wild Blueberry Association of North America asked me to create a blog post series called Getting Wildly Healthy. This is the first of four posts I’m creating to help inspire all of you to have a healthier 2015.

As a registered dietitian and an avid runner, I am passionate about motivating others to lead happier, healthier lives through good nutrition and exercise. To help inspire you to kick off a vibrant and healthy new year, I’ve handpicked a choice selection of nutritious and tasty recipes created by me and some of my favorite nutrition bloggers. These recipes also feature one of my favorite ingredients – Wild Blueberries.

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But before we get into the recipes, I want to share a little bit about why Wild Blueberries are so special to me. I discovered them last summer in Maine, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I throw them into smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, and even salad dressings! The great thing about Wild Blueberries is that they are available frozen, which means you can stock your freezer and have them on hand anytime!

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You may not know this but all blueberries are not the same. Here’s the skinny on Wild Blueberries. They have a more intense flavor, double the antioxidants and fiber, and a deeper blue pigment, making them serious nutritional superstars when compared to the regular ones you find in the produce section. The reason they have more fiber is due to the higher skin-to-pulp ratio than their larger cultivated counterparts. As for the antioxidants, they have a greater concentration of the flavonoid anthocyanin, a phytochemical found in blue-pigmented fruit.

Wild Blueberries are also smaller than regular blueberries making them great for baking and cooking. And because Wild Blueberries haven’t been modified by man, they’re not meant to travel great distances fresh. In fact, Wild Blueberries are frozen fresh at harvest, locking in their intense blueberry flavor and antioxidant power.

I hope you’ll follow my lead and add this wonderful little berry to your list of foods to help you stay on track. You’ll find them in the freezer section of your grocery store. Just be sure to look for “Wild Blueberries” on the label. Here’s a link to more information about where to find them.

Now back to the recipes! Here’s to getting and staying inspired in 2015, because eating healthy doesn’t have to mean boring!

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Breakfast – Eat More Earlier in the Day.
The key to a healthy breakfast is aiming for a combination of fiber-packed complex carbohydrates (like those from whole, unrefined grains – and Wild Blueberries!), protein, and healthy fat (from nuts, seeds, etc.). Incorporating these three macronutrients together will work to keep you feeling satisfied and energized all morning long.

If you’re a pancake fan, try my Protein Packed Flour Free Breakfast Pancake, topped with Wild Blueberries. You can thaw the Wild Blueberries in the microwave to make a sort of sauce, or enjoy them frozen. I like them frozen – they add a unique texture!

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Another favorite healthy breakfast is my Perfect Microwave Banana Oatmeal with Wild Blueberries and slivered almonds stirred in. It’s delicious, and again a satisfying mix of fiber, protein, and healthy fat. If you’re a cottage cheese fan, try stirring in a little – it sounds weird, but it goes nicely with the berries and adds an extra protein punch. This recipe has converted many former oatmeal haters – give it a shot!

Not a huge breakfast fan? Keep things simple and light with a couple Wild Blueberry Biscotti and a latte on the side.

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Lunch – Don’t Skimp. Add Volume.
For a healthy lunch, let’s again focus on a combination of fiber, healthy fat, and protein, but this time with the addition of some volume from veggies! The more veggies, the better – they go a long way in keeping you full and satisfied.

Try this light and refreshing Vegetable Couscous with Wild Blueberries and/or a salad topped with Wild Blueberry Balsamic Dressing. The sweet yet tangy dressing makes a great addition to any salad!

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Snacks – Listen to your Hunger Cues. Add Healthy Options Throughout the Day.
Wild Blueberries make an excellent addition to any snack, and add a nice sweetness to recipes, too, without the need for extra sugar.

If you’re in the mood for something chewy, try these ready in 5 minutes Raw Wild Blueberry Snack Balls.

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Craving something more thirst quenching? Give this Wild Blueberry Coconut and Ginger Smoothie a shot.

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Interested in a baked good instead, but want something healthy? These Wild Blueberry Orange Scones are made with nutritious almond, cashew, and coconut flours and feature a crumbly outside with a moist inside. Each bite is packed with bits of intense Wild Blueberry flavor!

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Dinner – Simple and Extraordinary Ideas That Will Delight
Wild Blueberries make a great addition to savory dinners, too! Impress your guests with this unique and creative Wild Blueberry and Kale Stuffed Chicken Breast. I’ve found that chicken pairs perfectly with fruit – can’t wait to try this myself!

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Or, enjoy a taste of summer with these Wild Blueberry Turkey Burgers. Moist, juicy, and packed with antioxidants, these are a fun (and healthier) twist on the traditional burger, again with a nice savory/sweet combo.

Dessert – Yes, It’s Legal.
For those nights when you’re craving a little something sweet to end your day, try this delicious Wild Blueberry Oat Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting. It will satisfy your dessert craving while still packing a nice antioxidant punch.

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What are your favorite recipes that feature Wild Blueberries?

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Anne Mauney is a Washington, D.C. based registered dietitian and the writer behind the food and fitness blog fANNEtastic food, which she started as a way to motivate others to lead happier, healthier lives through nutrition and exercise. Anne has a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition and owns a private practice where she helps clients to lose or maintain weight, feel healthier, and improve their relationships with food. Her fitness tips and recipes have been featured in The Huffington Post, Glamour, SHAPE, Fitness Magazine, Health Magazine, The Washington Post, and Woman’s Day. Check out her blog for easy healthy recipeshealth tips, and more. You can also find her on Twitter @fANNEtasticfoodInstagram, Pinterest, and Facebook