Summertime is the season for fresh fruits, and blueberries are among the best when it comes to serving up scrumptious flavor and good-for-you nutrients.
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"Blueberries have a water content greater than 80 percent, which can help you maintain your hydration levels," says May Zhu, RDN, LDN, founder of Nutrition Happens. This is especially important on hot summer days when you sweat a lot and your body needs extra fluids.
What's more, these small but mighty berries are a good source of polyphenols and flavonoids, including anthocyanins — an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties — which is linked to helping decrease the risk for heart disease and improving brain function, Zhu says.
Ready to reap the big gains of these tiny berries? From muffins to smoothies and parfaits, these eight healthy breakfast recipes are stuffed with juicy, fresh blueberries to brighten up your mornings.
1. Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie
This blueberry smoothie will give you a reason to rise and shine.
"At 350 calories, this smoothie contains all beneficial ingredients and a balanced macronutrient profile to keep your blood sugars stable and energy steady," Zhu says. In other words, it'll help you power through the morning and keep you full until lunchtime.
And with a whopping 32 grams of muscle-building protein per serving, it's the optimal brekkie option after your a.m. workout. Just remember, "When choosing a protein powder, make sure to check the label and opt for a version without additional added sugars," Zhu says.
Get the Blueberry Protein Power Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins
Who doesn't love a mouthwatering muffin in the morning? And this one, packed with protein (20 grams) and fresh blueberries, will hit your sweet spot without sending your blood sugar spiking.
"At 8 grams of sugar, this recipe is significantly lower in comparison to your average store-bought muffin," Zhu says.
Plus, the high-fiber whole-food ingredients including blueberries, whole-wheat flour and bananas all serve as sources of prebiotics, which are foods that can help support the probiotics we eat in our diets for good gut health, Zhu says.
To better balance out the macronutrients in this recipe, Zhu recommends pairing this with one tablespoon of nut butter to provide an additional fat source, a hard-boiled egg for more protein or, alternatively, an extra cup of fruit to increase fiber.
And with two muffins per serving, you get a lot of bang for your breakfast buck.
Get the Blueberry-Banana Protein Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Steel-Cut Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bake
"This breakfast bake is brimming with beneficial ingredients such as oatmeal and quinoa, both a good source of fiber to support digestion, and fresh fruits like bananas, blueberries and raspberries, which all contain a diverse, varied amounts of vitamins and minerals that work together to promote good health," Zhu says.
For an even better balanced breakfast, Zhu recommends pairing this tasty bake with an extra source of protein like plain Greek yogurt or eggs to help you stay fuller for longer, or sprinkling in some seeds like chia or ground flax before serving to boost the fiber content.
"Alternatively, if you want to reduce the overall calories and fat, try swapping the full-fat dairy milk for an unsweetened almond or soymilk," she adds.
Get the Steel-Cut Oatmeal Berry Breakfast Bake recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Chia and Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Parfait
There's good reason why parfaits have become a staple breakfast food — and this one, layered with nutritious ingredients, is the prime example.
The combination of blueberries and chia seeds provide a solid source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which may help support your body's response to inflammation, Zhu says
With a jaw-dropping 17 grams of fiber, this recipe will certainly stave off the stomach rumbles until your midday meal. But keep in mind: "When you're eating more or introducing more fiber-rich foods into your diet, make sure you're also drinking extra water to help support your digestion," Zhu says.
If you want to reduce calories and increase protein, Zhu suggests swapping out the quinoa for plain Greek yogurt.
"By doing so, you'll bring down overall calories and carbohydrates while bumping up the protein," resulting in a beautiful balance of macros that'll keep you more than sufficiently satiated, she explains.
Get the Chia and Quinoa Blueberry Breakfast Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
5. No-Flour Blueberry and Oatmeal Three-Minute Microwave Muffin
Ideal for busy mornings, it only takes three minutes in the microwave to make this healthy blueberry oatmeal muffin.
Oatmeal is a great base for this single-serve muffin because it's a stellar source of soluble fiber, which research shows may help to lower cholesterol and support heart health, Zhu says.
And since you can control the portion — one mug-full versus a tray of 12 muffins — you can crush your baked goods cravings without the concern of overindulging.
For even more nutrients, toss in an extra teaspoon of ground flaxseeds, Zhu recommends. This addition keeps the recipe under 300 calories while it helps increase fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that promote both brain and heart health, she says.
Get the No-Flour Blueberry and Oatmeal Three-Minute Microwave Muffin recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait
Greek yogurt and quinoa are the all stars in this simple yet satisfying breakfast parfait with 25 grams of protein per serving.
Indeed, a high-protein diet is linked to greater satiety and less body fat, plus it helps you maintain lean muscle mass, according to a November 2014 study in Nutrition & Metabolism.
Containing all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is a particularly important plant-based food for those who don't eat animal protein and a good option for those with gluten intolerances since it's naturally gluten-free, Zhu says.
Meanwhile the walnuts in this recipe provide "prebiotics to feed the good bacteria (probiotics) found in the Greek yogurt and support a healthy digestive system," she adds.
Get the Creamy Berry Quinoa Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Whole-Wheat Blueberry Protein Muffins
"While overall calories appear to be on the higher side, this recipe can still work as a breakfast option because of the combination of fiber, protein and healthy fats that come together to keep your blood sugars stable and promote satiety," Zhu says.
But if you're concerned about calories, a simple swap is the solution: "One cup of applesauce can be used as a full substitute for the half cup of vegetable oil to reduce fat and offer additional fiber and nutrients," Zhu says. When shopping for applesauce, always opt for unsweetened varieties without extra sugars.
You can further boost the nutritional profile of baked goods like this muffin by incorporating seeds like flax, chia or hemp for extra fiber and plant protein, Zhu adds.
Get the Whole-Wheat Blueberry Protein Muffins recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Blueberry Chia Jam
This jaw-droppingly delicious jam is jam-packed with nutrients and filling fiber thanks to three simple ingredients — blueberries, chia seeds and clementines.
"As far as jams go, this homemade version is low in sugar and a great way to utilize the natural sweetness of blueberries," Zhu says. In comparison, just one tablespoon of store-bought blueberry jam serves up 7 sugars (more than twice the amount for only half the serving of the natural homemade stuff).
Spread this jam on a slice of whole-grain sprouted bread with a spoonful of almond butter or layer it into a parfait with Greek yogurt for protein, Zhu recommends. Every half-cup of plain Greek yogurt provides around 20 grams of protein.
Get the Blueberry Chia Jam recipe and nutrition info here.