Photo by Joanna Kosinksa on Unsplash

By Alison Corey

There’s nothing like a Michigan summer! The days are warm, the nights are cool, and Ann Arbor takes on a whole new vibe with the students (for the most part) away for the summer. Festivals abound, crowded dining tables line Main Street, and the street performers entertain the out-of-towners. Downtown is the place to be on a warm summer night, sipping on a sweet and tangy cocktail and grazing on seasonal bites while you people-watch from an intimate streetside table.

However, a true Michigan summer is more than what’s happening in the city. It’s also what’s going on down the backroads only a few miles away, where our local farms are churning out the flavors of the season that show up on our plates while we’re out to eat.

Every summer I take my two boys blueberry picking. I slather the three of us with sunscreen, throw on baseball caps, grab some water and snacks, and set out for an adventure amongst the rows of blueberry bushes at the Dexter Blueberry Farm at 11024 Beach Rd in Dexter.

Their crop is abundant, making it easy for even my three-year-old to find and pull blueberries from the vine. We each get our own bucket and get to work. The enthusiasm of the kids is infectious. They delight in the experience, amazed to see where their food comes from, and the process that goes into bringing their food to their plate. With all of the effort they put into harvesting the crop, they are ready to reap the fruits of their labor in the form of healthy blueberry recipes.

Blueberries are at the height of deliciousness in July, making it the perfect time to enjoy a warm and sunny summer day on the blueberry farm creating memories, cementing traditions, and breaking a sweat. It’s also an excellent opportunity to put those blueberries to work for your health.

Blueberries are sweet in flavor as well as juicy and delicious. They protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as maintain healthy bone strength, mental health, and blood pressure. With the consumption of more plant foods in your diet, you can decrease your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

What do you make when you’re knee-deep in blueberries?

If your go-to recipes include traditional muffins, pancakes, and pies, you’re going to lose the health benefits of this superpowered berry by consuming them with heaps of added sugar and refined carbohydrates.

As a plant-based nutrition coach, I look for innovative ways to tweak traditional recipes to include seasonal produce that benefit our bodies without compromising on taste.

With two small children and a discerning husband, I’ve got to get creative! Nothing gets past this crowd! My whole wheat vegan blueberry pancakes are delicious, simple, and packed with nutrients, making them perfect to get your children involved in the kitchen. Swapping whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in this recipe increases the fiber content. Two of these pancakes contain 25% of your daily fiber.

I like to serve these pancakes with my low sugar blueberry chia jam in place of maple syrup to reduce our sugar intake. My take on traditional blueberry jam has one to two tablespoons of added sugar from maple syrup, compared to the half of a cup of white sugar that is added to the same yield.

After making batches of pancakes and jam, I’ve still got loads of blueberries left. I freeze the rest, using them throughout the summer and into the fall for smoothies, muffins, and more!

Whole Wheat Plant-Based Blueberry Pancakes

Servings: 4 (8 pancakes)

(You can double this recipe to make more pancakes to freeze)

  • 1 tbsp ground chia or chia seeds
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or dairy free milk of choice)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  1. Measure 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Place in a spice or coffee grinder to grind the seeds to a fine consistency. Transfer to a small bowl and pour in the water. Whisk together until combined. Let sit for 3-4 minutes. The chia and water will thicken and take a texture much like an egg.
  2. Combine whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients: dairy-free milk, chia mixter, melted coconut oil, and lemon zest.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until they’re combined; the batter will still be a bit lumpy. Fold in the blueberries.
  5. Preheat your griddle to medium/high. Grease preheated griddle with coconut oil until just covered (about 1 teaspoon).
  6. Place small scoops of batter on the griddle; the batter will be thick. You can use a measuring cup to get even pancakes. Using the measuring cup, gently spread the batter evenly, creating round circles.
  7. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until you see bubbles forming in the batter, then flip.
  8. Serve with low sugar blueberry jam and a side of fresh fruit.

Low Sugar Blueberry Jam

  • 2 cups of blueberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ground chia
  1. Combine blueberries, water, and lemon juice in a pan. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove lid. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring constantly and smashing the blueberries with a spoon. The blueberry mixture will thicken.
  3. Remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Taste and add an additional tablespoon of maple syrup to make it sweeter.
  4. Stir in ground chia and let sit to cool. If you’d like a thicker jam, you can add additional ground chia seeds 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.
  5. When cooled completely, transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (You can also freeze the jam for up to 3 months).

How to Freeze Blueberries

  1. Gently rinse them in a colander for 20-30 seconds.
  1. Allow them to dry completely on an absorbent towel for a few minutes. You can place another towel on top to absorb the excess water. If there’s excess water, they will stick together and cause freezer burn.
  1. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Spread them evenly so that you can pick out any “bad” blueberries and remove any stems.
  1. Freeze them for 3-4 hours.
  1. Remove them from the freezer and place in a freezer bag. Label with the date. Frozen blueberries last up to one year.

BIO: 

Alison Corey, is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, writer, yoga teacher, wife, and mother to two energetic boys. Alison is passionate about plant-based nutrition, meditation, and nurturing sustainable self-care practices for mothers. In her Healthy Happy Mama Program she helps women embrace the imperfectly perfect mama life, overcome overwhelm, and transform their physical and emotional health so they can feel like themselves again. First session is FREE. You can learn more about her work at:

https://www.trimmama.com

https://www.facebook.com/trimmama/