Last month's carob challenge delivered many delicious submissions, from the sweet to the savory. As in past challenges, Ricki and I offered up prizes to two lucky participants: a one-pint jar of Harrison's Sugar Bush Maple Syrup, harvested by my family in Fence, Wisconsin, and a copy of Ricki's new e-book "Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy".
We randomly selected two recipes from the entries, and are excited to announce the winners:
- Harrison's Maple Syrup: Junia from Mis Pensamientos with her Strawberry Carob Chip Bread
- "Good Morning!" E-book: Hannah from Wayfaring Chocolate with her Raw Vegan Carob Pecan Biscotti
Congratulations to the winners of the prizes. We will be contacting you to get your information!
And now, for this month's Challenge. . . .
By now many of you are probably sick of familiar with the term, "superfoods": those comestibles that have been found to confer extra health benefits along with their nutritional value and taste.
Well, this month Ricki and I are happy to share our SOS Kitchen Challenge key ingredient, one of the best superfoods out there. These gems are perfect if you're into eating for better health; in fact, it's been reported that they have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fresh fruit! They're also bursting with phytonutrients, vitamins, good fiber, and virtually no fat. They provide a popular ingredient you can use either cooked or raw with equal delight, something that will go well in sweet OR savory recipes. A food that is low sugar, low glycemic, yet sweet in its natural state. A food that everyone should eat and enjoy!
And just what is this magical food, you ask?
Well, this month's ingredient is BLUEBERRIES!
For those of us in North America, blueberries are truly a fruit of summer, available (depending on your location) from May to September. Blueberries are grown virtually around the world these days, from Germany and Italy to Argentina and Australia (where, apparently, they first tried to grow them in the 1950s without success, but tried again in the 1970s and have been growing them since).
Related to cranberries and bilberries, most blueberries are not truly "blue" but rather pale to deep purple, with a white interior. More important than their cute little shape or sweet-tart flavor is the blueberry's incredible nutritional punch. These little gems provide a huge does of Vitamin C, manganese, vitamin E and fiber, all while tasting delicious and providing virtually no fat and few calories. Like cranberries, they can help prevent or treat urinary tract infections. In a recent analysis of 60 fruits and veggies, blueberries were rated Number One for their free radical-fighting capabilities!
The antioxidants in blueberries are called proanthocyanins, and they are remarkable at neutralizing free radicals (cancer-causing molecules). As a result, blueberries are able to prevent a host of cancers, cell damage, or damage to the vascular system. They're also great for cardiovascular health and help prevent macular degeneration, a disease of the eye that often causes blindness (leafy greens also are helpful this way). In addition, blueberries contain both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, which means they work well to keep you regular.
Once picked, blueberries are best eaten fresh, but they will keep a few days in the refrigerator. Look for uniformly colored, firm berries that have a pale white "bloom" on the skin. They should also roll about freely when you shake their container (if they're stuck together, they may be overly ripe or moldy). I line the carton in which they are packed with a layer of paper towel and allow it to absorb any excess moisture, thereby keeping the fragile berries from damage. You can also freeze blueberries by placing them in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, then freezing. Once frozen, store in an airtight bag or container in the freezer (and the frozen berries will retain their antioxidant properties, too).
For this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge - our last SOS before we begin our summer break - we're asking you to focus on all the amazing blueberry possibilities in your own cooking! Sure, you've we've all used blueberries in baking and desserts and jams, but how about salads? Or, say, a quinoa pilaf? Or a savory blueberry sauce? Anything goes - as long as you adhere to the usual SOS Kitchen Challenge guidelines. :)
As always, it's easy to play along!
To participate, please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Cook up a recipe--whether yours or someone else's with credit to them--using the challenge ingredient. Your recipe must be made for this event, within the month of the challenge--sorry, no old posts are accepted. Then, post the recipe to your blog (if you don’t have a blog, see instructions below).
- Be sure to mention the event on your post and link to the current SOS page so that everyone can find the collection of recipes. Then, link up the recipe using the linky tool below.
- As a general rule, please use mostly whole foods ingredients (minimally processed with no artificial flavors, colors, prepackaged sauces, etc.). For example, whole grains and whole grain flours; no refined white flours or sugar (but either glutenous OR gluten-free flours are fine).
- Please ensure that recipes are vegan or include a vegan alternative (no animal products such as meat, fish, chicken, milk, yogurt, eggs, honey).
- Please use natural sweeteners (no white sugar, nothing that requires a laboratory to create--such as splenda, aspartame, xylitol, etc.). Instead, try maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, dates, yacon syrup, Sucanat, stevia, etc.
- Feel free to use the event logo on your blog to help promote the event
- Have fun and let your creativity shine!
- You may enter as many times as you like, but please submit a separate entry for each recipe.
If you don’t have a blog, you can still participate! Simply email your recipe, or recipe and a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post it for you.
Now, let's all get cooking with blueberries! Ricki and I can't wait to see what you come up with this month. :D