EDITOR's NOTE: Dr. Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD Is preparing for the soon to arrive second Cardel child and family member of unknown gender. Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog will publish s few of our favorite Eating Healthy columns through the Summer months. Today we have a new column with the good Doctor and her daughter in search of blueberries.
U-pick blueberry adventure
One of my favorite ways to spend summer days with my family is blueberry picking. It's a combination of getting to show my daughter where her food comes from, being active together as a family, and just having a lot of fun. A huge bonus is that a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are packed into each tiny blueberry.
Recently, we checked out Deep Spring Farm, an organic U-Pick farm 10 miles north of Gainesville on County Road 241. In this area, many farms are closed by the beginning of June, and we were looking for one that was still open in July. A friend of mine came across Deep Spring Farm, and we ventured out there to check it out (I went a second time as well).
The farm is owned by Leela and Michael Robinson and they refer to it as a "developing farm." It sits on a beautiful property with a pond that can be used for recreational swim activities such as paddle boardingThe Robinson's grow a variety of organic fruits and vegetables and hydroponic lettuce. Unlike some of the larger farms, you need to rsvp to let them know the date and approximate time of your arrival.
The Robinson's grow vaccinium virgatum blueberries, commonly known as rabbit-eye blueberry, and their picking season is from June to mid-July. The farm is approximately 10 acres, with almost 2 acres dedicated to blueberries alone.
When we arrived Leela gave us some hands-free picking buckets and took us out into the picking area to give us a quick introduction. Both times I went I enjoyed picking blueberries with my 3-year-old daughter on the quiet and peaceful farm.
There were a lot less people than at the big farms, which made for a more relaxing atmosphere. When I was done picking blueberries, I chatted with Leela for a bit, and she shared with me that they are hosting a variety of other events on the farm and that their goal for the farm is to create the feel of an "organic park" for visitors.
Thus, Deep Spring Farm hosts events onsite and welcomes groups for tours and recreation by donation.
There is even a spring-fed pond stocked with fish, and visitors are welcome to support the farm and engage in catch-and-release fishing. Soon, the Robinsons will complete a commercial kitchen where they envision hosting farm-to-table events and children's field trips. It was a beautiful way to spend a summer morning with my daughter, and we will certainly be returning again.
One of the best parts of picking blueberries is all the fun recipes you can make with your fresh picked blueberries. I made this recipe this weekend with our blueberries that is delicious for breakfast or greast as a snack:
Blueberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal
3 cups (250 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (200 grams) frozen wild blueberries or 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) regular frozen blueberries
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (80 grams) maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 (180 grams) cup cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
Preheat oven to 375°F (200°C). Coat a 9-by-13-inch (23×30 cm) baking dish with cooking spray/oil. (Use a smaller baking dish if you prefer a thicker oatmeal).
Combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the blueberries. (Coating them prevents the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the oatmeal.)
Stir in the milk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and cottage cheese. Transfer oatmeal mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Cover baking dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15–20 minutes. Serve with fresh blueberries and a splash of milk.
Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1/6th of the recipe
Per serving: Calories: 288; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 63mg; Sodium: 388mg; Carbohydrate: 48g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Sugar: 16g; Protein: 12g
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 247mg; Iron: 14%; Vitamin A: 5%; Vitamin C: 10%; Calcium: 15%
EDITOR's NOTE: Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, is an obesity and nutrition scientist and registered dietitian at the University of Florida’s Department of Health Outcomes and Policy in the College of Medicine.