Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Wild Blueberries, a Nutrition Powerhouse, Makes This Pilaf "Wildly Good"



Stuffed Winter Squash with Wild Blueberry Quinoa Pilaf


By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

There’s a lot of confusion out there when it comes to blueberries. Wild blueberries (found in your grocer’s freezer section) are very different (and better, in my opinion) than fresh blueberries, found in the fresh produce section). The differences are many. Wild blueberries have grown in Maine, eastern Canada, and Quebec for 10,000 years, are naturally occurring lowbush varieties, and are more genetically diverse. This contributes to their more intense complex blueberry flavor, sweet-tart taste, and more intense color. Wild blueberries have a higher skin to pulp ratio so you get more antioxidant-rich pigment and a better freezing blueberry. Wild blueberries have been shown to have twice as much antioxidant capacity as fresh blueberries.

Fresh blueberries, on the other hand, are cultivated and come from several highbush varieties that are propagated, planted, and harvested in commercial operations. Fresh blueberries contain more water and fewer antioxidants. Because they contain more water, they bleed more in baking and do not freeze as well. Because wild blueberries are found in your supermarket’s freezer case, you can use them year ‘round for healthy, delicious meals. Frozen wild blueberries make it easy to get your “Daily Dose of Wild blue.”

Additionally, numerous research studies have been done on the health benefits of wild blueberries. Because of their higher concentration of beneficial phytochemicals, such as the flavonoid anthocyanin, they are a powerful ally against many diseases. Click here to review research studies on the Wild Blueberry Association of North America’s website. Their research summarizes the health benefits of wild blueberries and brain health, cancer prevention, lowering diabetes risk, gut health, heart health,  metabolic syndrome, urinary tract health, and vision health.

I purchased a large bag of wild blueberries at my local BJ’s warehouse. The 3-pound package was just under seven dollars, or about $0.60 a cup. One bag provides 10 cups, enough to test my recipe and many of the recipes by my fellow Recipe Reduxers.

 Here is a photo of the bag of wild blueberries from BJ's warehouse store.


I love wild blueberries in sweet dishes, such as cobblers, muffins, and pancakes. I use wild blueberries regularly to make my husband and myself a fruit smoothie after a morning workout. I add the wild blueberries to a frozen banana, skim milk, and a scoop of protein powder. It’s a fast, easy breakfast when we are on the go. 

For this contest, however, I wanted to use the wild blueberries in a more savory application.  I thought I would experiment by creating a quinoa/lentil vegetarian main dish. Most of us just don’t eat enough beans and lentils. So, I love finding ways to sneak them into dishes.

For this recipe, I combined three nutrition powerhouses: wild blueberries, quinoa, and lentils into a stuffing for a baked winter squash, another nutrition powerhouse. This recipe makes a makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish. As an option, instead of stuffing a winter squash, the pilaf could also be served as a side dish, under a grilled chicken breast or fish fillet.

Here is the complete recipe:


Stuffed Winter Squash with Wild Blueberry Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients:
2 medium winter squash, halved and seeded
1 teaspoon canola oil
1-1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup uncooked lentils
2-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup wild blueberries
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place squash halves, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until onion is soft. Stir in quinoa, lentils, chicken broth, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 Gently stir in wild blueberries, almonds, and balsamic vinegar. Divide stuffing evenly among partially baked squash halves. Place on baking sheet, cover with foil, and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

 Makes  4 servings .

 Nutrition Information per Serving:
353 calories, 8 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 11 g dietary fiber, 14 g protein, and 231 mg sodium. One serving of this low cost recipe provides an excellent source of  protein, fiber, folate, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamins A, B-6, and C.

 Cost per Serving: $1.38

Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices.
For more information on wild blueberries:

Website: www.wildblueberries.com and www.wildblueberries.com/gowild/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wildblueberries
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WildBBerries4U
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wbeditor/
 
Click here to download and print a copy of this recipe.


10 comments:

  1. Oh, I so agree, wild blueberries make great smoothies! I haven't used them in savory dishes but your recipe is convincing me it's time to try!

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    1. Give it a try. I really like the combination.

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  2. I'm a huge fan of stuffing veggies so this sounds perfect! What a nutrient-packed and flavorful dish! Very creative.

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    1. I think this stuffing would also be good for stuffed bell peppers.

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  3. Never thought to pair squash and blueberries. Very interesting.

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    1. Yes, it is a good combination. Haven't combined these ingredients before, but I really like it.

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  4. Interesting combination, bet this taste great!

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    1. It does taste great. Give it a try.

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  5. Wow. That's such a creative recipe. Love the flavor combo and all the super healthy ingredients!

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    1. Thanks, Liz. I made enough to eat this for 2 dinners, and it was great both days. It holds up well and I love the texture of the nuts, quinoa, lentils, and blueberries.

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