(NewsUSA) - They're delicious, nutritious and versatile. They're naturally fat-free, high in vitamin C and a rich source of antioxidants. Americans love them in cereals, salads, sauces and as toppings and by the handful, but when winter comes around, many people assume fresh blueberry season is over.
Not so fast. When the snow flies in Minneapolis, things are just heating up in places like Chile. Thanks to a robust South American fruit industry, fresh blueberries now maintain their favored position in North American produce aisles, culinary creations, and home kitchens all year long.
The popularity of blueberries has soared in recent years, driven by their impressive nutritional resume. One half-cup of blueberries contains just 42 calories and helps meet the recommended 5 to 9 servings a day of colorful fruits and vegetables. The "Little Blue Dynamos" pack in fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and more cancer-fighting antioxidants than either wine or green tea. Recent studies also show that fresh blueberries can help keep skin looking younger; help prevent dementia, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease; and serve as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Helping the cause significantly is that most people consider fresh blueberries a treat, including children who remain blissfully unaware of the health benefits. Fresh blueberries are easily enjoyed as a grab-and-go snack, but there are other sweet and savory ways to beat the winter blues with this superfood.
* Salads Accents. Fresh blueberries add instant appeal to green salads and heartier grain salads.
* Blueberry French Toast Sandwich. A satisfying favorite on winter weekends.
* Peanut Butter & Blueberry. Add fresh blueberries to this classic sandwich. Almond and cashew butter also taste great with blueberries.
* Blueberry Salsa. Swap the traditional tomato for fresh blueberries, a surprisingly cool complement to hot peppers.
* Blueberry Coleslaw. Cabbage and blueberry combine two nutritional powerhouses into a savory side.
* Chocolate-Dipped Blueberries. Need we say more? Present them in a heart-shaped dish or shape for that someone special.