Wild Blueberry, Avocado and Sweet Corn Salsa {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Contest}

“Wild blueberries, you make my heart sing…”

When I found out that the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) was sponsoring this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge, I could not have been more thrilled. I have long been a lover and proponent of wild blueberries.

I buy organic wild blueberries on the regular at Trader Joe's.

I buy organic wild blueberries on the regular at Trader Joe’s.

Not only do wild blueberries have double the antioxidants of regular, cultivated blueberries, they also have a deeper, richer blue/purple color and contain less water, making them ideal in both sweet and savory recipes.

I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s “Eating on the Wild Side,” which has taught me that over time, we’ve altered many of our fruits and vegetables to make them larger, change their color or make them easier to store or transport. Sadly, that often comes at the expense of nutrition. But not wild blueberries — they are the same berry that existed 10,000 years ago!

Wild_Blueberry_Avocado_Corn_Salsa

I like to throw frozen wild blueberries into everything from oatmeal to salads to smoothies and Greek yogurt. They also make for great sauces that are perfect for topping seafood, poultry and red meat (veggies and beans too!).

Oh, and the anthocyanins (antioxidant that contributes the deep purple color) found in wild blueberries, along with other nutrients, have potential benefits including brain and heart health, anti-aging and cancer and diabetes prevention, among others.

Here’s a savory take on wild blueberries: in a salsa!

Recipe: Cumin-Dusted Salmon with Wild Blueberry, Avocado and Corn Salsa

The salsa is also fantastic over chicken, beans and lentils, or over greens for a quick and flavorful salad. The jalapeno is optional, depending on how hot you like it. You can also add 1/2 of a red onion to punch it up a bit.

Makes: 4 servings

Salmon_with_Wild_Blueberry_Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild salmon filets (cut into four, 4 ounce pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed
  • 3/4 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 fresh avocado (preferably California avocado, if available), cubed
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place salmon, skin side down, on baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until salmon is opaque.

Mix remaining ingredients (wild blueberries through jalapeno, if using) to make the salsa. Top salmon filets evenly with salsa.

Nutrition information: 330 calories; 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat); 80 mg cholesterol; 365 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 31 g protein; 10% daily value for vitamin A; 39% daily value for vitamin C (excellent source!); 20% daily value for iron (excellent source!)

*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.

*I work on behalf of the California Avocado Commission. I was not compensated or asked to include California Avocados — I just really love them. 🙂

Stay tuned for two more delicious wild blueberry recipes to come this week (hint: one includes chocolate and the other, cheese).

Click the icon below for more Recipe ReDux-er Wild Blueberry Recipes.  I want to try them all!!

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Purple Asparagus: Antioxidant Powerhouse

Chicago’s Green City Market has finally started back up! And with a spring farmers market comes asparagus AKA the only vegetable available in Chicago at this time of year. Lucky for me, I love asparagus. My newest obsession, however, is purple asparagus. With a slightly sweeter taste than regular [green] asparagus, it’s perfect both cooked and raw. Note, purple asparagus sadly turns green when cooked (see pic below), so if you want to keep the color intact, slice it thin and serve it raw in salads. A source of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, also helps to boost the purple color. Nutritionally speaking, purple asparagus contains slightly less fiber, more protein and more vitamin C than green asparagus. Check out the comparison below:

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

The purple color is not only pretty — it’s what makes purple asparagus a nutritional powerhouse. Anthocyanin, the flavanoid responsible for purple, red and blue colors in fruits and vegetables, is considered an antioxidant, able to remove free radicals (which can cause negative health effects, from inflammation to cancer). Various research has shown that anthocyanins also have antimicrobial properties and can decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure, improve eyesight and suppress the spread of cancer cells*.

The most important point to note with purple asparagus, however, is that it is delicious. It tastes less bitter than green asparagus and just looks gorgeous as part of a meal. Dietitians and other health professionals will tell you to “eat the rainbow” not only because it will provide a variety of nutrients, but also because we eat with our eyes, and a colorful plate is much more appealing that a monochromatic one.

With leftover salmon and purple asparagus on hand, I cooked up a delicious little meal. After cutting the asparagus on the bias, I sauteed it in coconut oil and minced garlic. This formed the bed underneath my salmon. I then drizzled with Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze (amazing stuff, by the way). A nice, light, low-carb lunch!

purple asparagus and balsamic salmon

 

 

*Source: J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 December 1; 2004(5): 239–240.

Mediterranean Salmon with Olives and Carmelized Red Onions

Looking back at my previous posts, they were looking a little too vegetarian/vegan. It’s time to put some meat on ‘dem bones blog! I realize salmon isn’t meat (fret not…there will be more meat-centered posts to come), however it is an excellent source of protein along with providing omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides, regulate heart rate, slow the formation of plaque in our arteries and may help decrease blood pressure. On top of all that, they also work to inhibit inflammatory processes in our body (AKA they are anti-inflammatory).

The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3 rich fish at least twice a week (8 ounces per week), but I personally recommend eating it more than that. With lots of delicious omega-3-rich fish to choose from, plus endless preparation possibilities, why not? The way I look at it, salmon and vegetarian proteins should be your main protein sources, with poultry as a supplement and the occasional red meat thrown in. Here are some of my top picks for delicious seafood options (all are high in omega-3’s and the varieties listed are also the most sustainable):

  • Salmon (wild-caught Alaskan): Canned varieties can easily be made into a salmon cake, salmon salad or drizzled with olive oil and eaten with crackers, as-is.
  • Sardines (wild-caught, Pacific): all I am saying, is give sardines a chance. Really! There’s a tendency to give me the stink face when I mention sardines but I promise, they’re delicious! Try ones that are smoked and served in tomato or my favorite – cayenne pepper sauce. Serve over arugula or spinach for a quick dinner salad.
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed, U.S.): I find an amazing, local variety from Wisconsin at Whole Foods. It comes as a filet that I usually stuff with veggies and sometimes cheese and bake in the oven.
  • Tuna (light, skipjack, troll- or pole-caught): canned chunk light tuna (skipjack variety) is lower in mercury than chunk white tuna and also makes for a super-quick protein addition to lunch or dinner. I like it mixed with salsa and a little olive oil topped with diced avocado on a corn tortilla (add cilantro and lime for a little freshness).

For a list of the most sustainable seafood options, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guides. I LOVE their app and it makes me feel way less dorky to look something up on my iPhone rather than having to pull out a little paper brochure.

salmon_mediterranean

Though my go-to salmon preparation is salmon with Island Teriyaki sauce from Trader Joe’s, served with brown rice or quinoa and steamed broccoli (for sure would be my last meal), I wanted to venture out. Seeing that I like to cook with Mediterranean flavors, I created this recipe for Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Salmon with Green Olives and Carmelized Red Onions:

Ingredients: 

  • 16 oz wild Alaskan salmon, cut into 4, 4-ounce pieces. 
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Spread 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste over each piece of salmon and spray with cooking spray. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes, or until opaque and flaky.

salmon_tomato_paste

Used the tomato paste tube from TJ’s – hence the squiggles of tomato paste.

While salmon is baking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large sauté pan and add diced red onion.  Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until onions are carmelized. If desired, add 1 tsp sugar to the onions to bring out their sweetness. Mix red onions with chopped green olives.

Place 1 1/2 cups arugula on plate (I also had leftover black lentils, which I sprinkled on top of the arugula) and top with salmon filet. Spoon 1/4 of the onion/olive mixture over salmon, and drizzle with vinegar and oil.