Sarah Burnett, Fit Fare – It’s been a slow start to spring. It’s still weeks before much of the nation can pick and enjoy summer-ripened berries. If you find yourself craving the refreshingly sweet and tart flavor of fresh blueberries, I suggest that you skip the frozen section and head over to the juice aisle, where you can likely find a bottle of True Blueberry.
A single 16oz bottle of TrueBlue Blueberry juice contains as much juice as ½ cup of blueberries and a 64 oz bottle contains the juice of about 1 lb of blueberries. The juice is bursting with flavor and powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants help neutralize the “free radicals,” otherwise known as the harmful by-products in our food and water supply, that lead to cancer and other age-related diseases. In fact, TrueBlue boasts that the blueberry and its juice have more antioxidants per serving than cranberry juice or any other fruit or fruit juice. Blueberries have also been proven to lower cholesterol because they contain pterostilbene, an antioxidant that according to the US Department of Agriculture, reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol better than most prescription drugs. Like other fruits high in antioxidants such as cranberries, blueberries also help to prevent urinary tract infections, improve memory, coordination and balance, improve eyesight, and slow the physical and mental aging process due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Produced from both wild and cultivated berries, TrueBlue Blueberry juice is naturally sweetened with cane sugar, as opposed to many other fruit cocktails drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or glucose-fructose. In fact, the nutritional information on the bottle lists 8 ingredients in total: water, blueberry juice from concentrate, grape juice from concentrate, cane sugar, citric acid, natural flavor, fruit and vegetable juice (color), and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). As a result of the berry’s natural sweetness, the juice has 25% fewer calories than popular cranberry juice, or 110 calories per 8oz serving.
TrueBlue comes in variety of intriguing powerful antioxidant combinations, proving that it’s not your average juice beverage. It also comes in Blueberry Blackberry, Blueberry Cranberry, Blueberry Iced Green Tea, Blueberry Pomegranate, and Blueberry Raspberry. There is also light version of the beverage, LiteBlue, available in Blueberry and Blueberry Raspberry. It is sweetened with a combination of cane sugar and Splenda, and contains 50% less calories than the original cocktail, at 50 calories for a 250ml serving.
TrueBlue Blueberry juice is more than just a great tasting, healthy drink; it is, as I found, also a flavorful cooking beverage and mixer. While I can easily imagine this drink being served unadorned as a non-alcoholic alternative at a party, I have to say it makes an excellent cocktail mixer as I wrote about previously on my new blog, Nimble Nosh (shameless plug #1). I poured some blueberry juice into some raspberry flavored vodka over ice and a squeeze of lime juice. The light and sweet flavor of the blueberries made this drink a far improved version of the standard Cape Codder (cranberry juice and vodka). My boyfriend played bartender as well, mixing the juice with some mango flavored rum for a fruity blend where you could hardly taste the alcohol. Elated with his first success, he tried again with a blueberry margarita – a perfect 10. His foolproof recipe calls for a 1 1/2 shots of tequila, 1 1/2 shots of triple sec, 8 oz of TrueBlue Blueberry juice and a squeeze of fresh lime served over ice. Perfect for the summertime heat.
I was also intrigued by the recipes posted on the TrueBlue site and decided to make their Savory Blueberry Vinaigrette over a bed of mixed salad greens, poached chicken breast, sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts. The savory blueberry vinaigrette was just that – savory. Perhaps not as much tangy blueberry flavor as I would have li ked, but it was the perfect compliment to the light spring salad, and of course, a slightly sweet and spicy Cabernet to round off our powerful antioxidant meal. I’ve posted the recipe for the TrueBlue dressing below and my salad, also posted on Nimble Nosh (shameless plug #2). It is my recommendation that mixed blueberry cocktails should follow shortly thereafter.
Poached Chicken, Strawberry, and Goat Cheese Salad with Savory Blueberry Vinaigrette
Mixed Salad Greens
chicken breast, poached and shredded *
Goat Cheese crumbles,
Walnuts, chopped and toasted *
Combine all ingrediants in single serving bowls.
Savory Blueberry Vinaigrette
from TrueBlue Blueberry Juice
1/2 cup TrueBlue Blueberry Cocktail
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried basil (I didn’t have this so I added some dried oregano and parsley to taste)
ground pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes to let flavors blend. Shake well before serving. Makes 1 3/4 cups.
* It’s very easy to poach chicken breasts and it is a healthy way to cook chicken and retain its juices. Place the chicken breasts in a skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size strips with two forks.
* Toasting walnuts brings out their strong flavor and you can use less them of them as a result. You’ll find a little goes a long way. I highly recommend not skipping this step. To toast walnuts, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently and remove from heat once the nuts turn a slight brown hue, about 3-4 minutes, and you can begin to smell their aroma. To crush, place in a small plastic bag to avoid a mess and pound with a flat object.