Showing posts with label blueberries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blueberries. Show all posts

Friday Fruit Exploration: Blueberries

Have you entered my current giveaway yet?

Our fruit explorations continue. This time we checked out blueberries!! If you missed our first fruit exploration we explored strawberries.  We added a new element to our fruit explorations-- a fruit exploration journal! I write the name of the fruit and Hazel draws pictures of the outside and inside and sometimes I draw pictures too. Then we come up with words to describe the fruit.

First here are some facts about blueberries. A serving size is one cup (hmm, I could eat several servings in one sitting).  A serving contains 84 calories and of that 4 calories from fat. They have 14 grams of carbohydrates of which 10 grams are sugars and 2 grams are dietary fiber. They provide 16% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, 2% of iron and Vitamin A. With the powerful antioxidants in them blueberries can improve nighttime vision, may improve motor skills and may reverse the short-term memory loss that comes with aging or age-related memory diseases and may reduce the risk of infection. (Source: Driscolls)

For our exploration we examined the outside of the blueberry with Hazel's magnifying glass. We noted the smooth texture and the pointy bumps at the top. Next we examined the interior of the blueberry. Sorry my pictures are not very clear of the inside.

We noted the small seeds inside as well the yellow inside with a red rim.

The next part of our exploration was reading some books on blueberries or at least with blueberries in them.

I have discovered that picture books or books at Hazel's level do not exist that share the nutritional value of the fruits. There are many about fruits in general without going into much detail about the nutrients. However there were many fun blueberry stories. One of the books has only poems and includes one with blueberries in it. The last book is not a picture book either. We did not actually read it. The other ones we really enjoyed though.

Our craft was inspired by Little Page Turners Potato Blueberry Stamps. We used fingerprints instead of potato prints though I like the texture of the potato prints a bit better. This was a fast and easy craft though. Our plan is to make some blueberry jam tomorrow. We ran out of time today. Hazel also wants to make some strawberry jam. For both we are going to use frozen fruit this time. Hopefully they will come out all right.

Blueberry Picking a Couple of Years Ago
 Here are some more blueberry ideas:

Low Sugar/Sweetner Blueberry Jam Experiments--2 New Recipes

Last year Hazel and I were on a jam making kick. We made strawberry jam with my mother and then went blueberry and peach picking and made jams from our fresh picked fruit. This year we experimented with a pectin free raspberry jam (made with frozen raspberries). We went blueberry picking this weekend and we tried two different kinds of blueberry jam recipes. We picked about three quarts of blueberries before Hazel got bored at Smolak Farms. (Then we went and found our friends who had given up earlier and looked at the animals some more, had lunch and went for a hayride.)
The first recipe we tried came on the back of a Bob's Red Mill chia seed package. This recipe is for Blueberry Chia Jam. Since the chia seeds work as a thickener, you do not need pectin. The benefits of this recipe being less sugar/sweetener and of course the health benefits of chia seeds themselves. Chia seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, high in fiber, pretty high in calcium and very low in cholesterol and sodium. I actually add a tablespoon of chia seeds to my smoothie each morning.

I made this recipe on my own since Hazel did not want to help at the time I wanted to get it made. It called for three cups of fresh blueberries, 1/4 cup of agave nectar, 1/4 cup of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. The recipe made two jars. The recipe on the package said to keep the jam in the refrigerator and did not mention boiling it and sealing the jars. I however found a similar recipe on line which stated you could boil and seal them, so I did. Otherwise the jam would last only a week and I knew we would not eat it that quickly.  The recipe was very easy. You mixed the blueberries and the agave nectar in a pan until the blueberries softened and began to pop (about five minutes). Then you add the chia seeds and cook and stir until it thickens (about fifteen minutes). The directions said to let it cool and then add the vanilla. I added the vanilla before the chia seeds so I could do the boiling process right after it thickened. I made two jars. One which I will be giving to my mother to try.
The next jam we made using a new pectin that I got at a health food store. It is Pomona's Universal Pectin.

Following the recipe inside we needed four cups of mashed blueberries. Hazel helped with the mashing, but got tired of it quickly. With this pectin you have two packages inside. One is Pectin and the other is Calcium which you need to make into calcium water. For this recipe we used the four cups of mashed blueberries, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup honey and then two teaspoons of the pectin and 2 teaspoons of the calcium water. You mix the calcium water with the fruit and lemon juice. You mix the pectin with the honey. You boil the fruit mixture and then add the pectin mixture to it and boil it for another couple of minutes. Then you put it into the jars and seal them with a boil bath for ten minutes. This recipe made six and a half jars. Hazel and I tried both and liked both recipes. Now we may go back to the farm to go peach picking and possibly raspberry picking and make some more jam.

Happy Independence Day!!

Today we are celebrating our country's Independence Day! Before I go into my post, I would like to send a huge thank you to all the soldiers (past and present) who have fought to protect our country and their families. We send our thanks and prayers to you!

For the Fourth of July, we have not done much this year. Hazel and I looked at the wonderful packet about fireworks from My Shae Noel. We decided to make some firework paintings, which I saw over at Tippytoe Crafts the other day. Hazel loved making these and continued to paint with the Q-tips some more. Instead of adding glitter we used some glitter paint.

We also made some pipe cleaner fireworks/sparklers that I have been seeing all over the web lately. Hazel also wanted some pancakes so we made red, white and blue pancakes (strawberry, blueberry, almond pancakes). I cut the recipe in half since I couldn't eat any and when we made them Steve wasn't home, so this recipe made five pancakes.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax seed meal
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (could use regular milk)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup blueberries (we used fresh because we had them, but usually I use frozen)
1/4 cup strawberries (fresh from the farmer's market, but could be sliced frozen)
1-2 tablespoons almonds

Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat the egg in a medium bowl and then add the liquid ingredients. Mix dry ingredients into liquid ones and add berries and nuts. Cook.
Hazel said she loved them! 

In the past we have done much more and usually host a barbeque for some friends, but decided to have a quiet one this year. Here are some of our crafts and food from the past.
Patriotic Wreath; Flower Arrangement; Red, White and Blue Sugar Cookies, Shell Sailboats
Salad Spinner Spin Art Banner; Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad (banana, blueberry, watermelon, strawberries), Duct tape Firework Crown (with other Fourth of July Crafts for Toddler/Preschooler)

Finally some of the great patriotic crafts and activities from the last few Sharing Saturdays!
1) From We Made That: Fourth of July Layered Drink
2) From Making Memories with Your Kids: Layered Drink
3) From School Time Snippets: 4th of July Noise Maker
4) From Montessori Now: Patriotic Practical Life and Math Activity
5) From Gift of Curiosity: Fireworks in a Jar
6) From Buggy and Buddy: Statue of Liberty Crown and Torch
7) From Little Bins for Little Hands: 4th of July Sensory Bin
8) From Gift of Curiosity: 4th of July Montessori Activities
9) From Buggy and Buddy: Patriotic Spirit Wands
10) From Gift of Curiosity: Sticky Paper American Flag
11) From Boy Mama Teacher Mama: Homemade Flags
12) From There's Just One Mommy: American Flag Craft
13) From Toddlers Through Preschoolers: Fourth of July Tray
14) From Little Bins for Little Hands: 4th of July Baking Soda Science Sensory Play
15) From Learning and Growing the Piwi Way: Fourth of July Pack
16) From Mums Make Lists: 4th of July Fun Round Up

I wish you and your family a happy, fun-filled and safe Fourth of July!

Virtual Book Club for Kids-- The Berry Book by Gail Gibbons

With summer just around the corner, this book seemed to be the best for our pick this month. Gail Gibbons has so many amazing books. It was hard to choose one, but between summer coming, berry season starting and the fact that Hazel and I both love most berries, it seemed like a perfect fit!

For those of you who may not know about the Virtual Book Club for Kids, it is hosted by a group of amazing bloggers. Each month an author is chosen and each blogger chooses a book (or books) by that author and do an activity or craft to go with the book. Then we host a blog hop for you to share any crafts or activities to go with any books by this month's author. This month the author is Gail Gibbons.Here are the wonderful bloggers who host this great club!
Toddler Approved - Rainy Day Mum - Adventures in Reading with Kids - 3 Dinosaurs - Royal Baloo - The Educators' Spin On It - Inspiration Laboratories - Pleasantest Thing - Edventures with Kids - Two Big Two Little - Playing With Words 365 - Kitchen Counter Chronicles - Outlaw Mom - Mommy and Me Book Club - Crafty Moms Share - No Twiddle Twaddle - The Good Long Road - Ready. Set. Read 2 Me - Reading Confetti - Mama Smiles - Juggling with Kids- Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas - Creekside Learning - Creative Family Fun - The Usual Mayhem - Teach Preschool - PlayDrMom - CraftoArt - Here Come the Girls - Being a Conscious Parent - Smiling like Sunshine - Crayon Freckles - Train Up a Child - Smile Play Learn - Enchanted Homeschooling Mom - Coffee Cups and Crayons - Having Fun at Chelle's House- Love, Play, Learn - Juggling With Kids - Motherhood on a Dime - Growing Book By Book

  This month we picked The Berry Book. This book goes through various kinds of berries. It also tells us which ones are edible and which ones are not. At the end of the book there are recipes for blueberry pie, strawberry jam, and raspberry ice cream. 

The book also mentions strawberry festivals and the blueberry festival held in Maine. Our town happened to have its Annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday. It is held by the town's historical society. The only strawberry related thing at it is the strawberry shortcake. We however had never gone, so we did. They had a few crafters as well as some yard sale type tables and then the historical society building was open with a 1920 Ford on display as well as a lantern collection. Hazel enjoyed the strawberry shortcake.

We also decided to try the blueberry pie recipe. Since Sunday was Father's Day we thought it would be a nice treat for Daddy and Pop. We used a frozen pie crust and stuck to the recipe. Everyone enjoyed it.
We are planning on making some raspberry jam as well, but did not get to it. I promised Hazel we would make some this year. She really enjoyed making strawberry jam with my mother last year and blueberry jam with me. Since raspberries are so expensive, I decided to try a recipe that uses frozen ones. I'll let you know how it comes out. I am also hoping to make some strawberry soup. When we were in Florida, we had some delicious strawberry soup at the 1900 Park Fare in Disney's Grand Floridian. Hazel and I both loved it!

My parents also brought us a lovely surprise when they came to visit for Father's Day--some of the strawberries from their garden! They are so much better than the store bought ones!!

Now it is your turn. Have you explored any of Gail Gibbons' books? Please join us in this blog hop if you have!!

Blueberry Applesauce Pancakes

Today we experimented with pancakes again. We did not have overripe bananas or pumpkin so we used applesauce. We started mixing the dry ingredients. Then mixed the liquids and added the liquids to the dry. Then using a cooking spray on the pan, we cooked them. Hazel helped with the cooking until she got too hot. 
Hazel enjoyed making them and eating them. She had three this morning! Plus some cantaloupe.

Blueberries Part 2: Cooking and Baking

So last week I shared that we went blueberry picking and that we made mini blueberry pies. The post got long so I didn't share our adventures in blueberry jam making and blueberry muffin baking. So today I'm going to share those adventures. Our main reason to go blueberry picking was to make blueberry jam. We wanted some for Christmas gifts and just to enjoy ourselves. I had read the recipe in the pectin I bought that we needed five pints of blueberries (which is 2.5 quarts), so I planned on picking three quarts and we picked 3.5 since we were having so much fun.
Well after making the mini pies we started on the jam. We did the pies first so I could run the jars through the dishwasher. We followed the recipe and instructions that came with the Sure Jell. They can be found here. We started by mashing the blueberries by hand.
Hazel did not like doing this and we needed six and a half cups of mashed blueberries, so we took out the food processor. She liked this method much better and was pretty good at making sure they didn't get too pureed.
This of course went much faster as well. Then we measured the sugar. Mixed 1/4 cup with the pectin and followed the directions on the recipe that comes with the pectin. Before we started cooking I made sure my jars were all set to go and put the lids in boiling water.
By this point Hazel had lost interest and since it was all on the stove and involving rather hot temperatures I didn't care. She went off to play while I did the cooking. Needless to say there are no pictures since you need to work fast. I do not have a canner but used a large pan that has a steamer dropped into it and it worked well. The recipe said it would make 9 cups and I got 12 jars (or about 12 cups).

The next morning Hazel wanted to make blueberry muffins. I wanted to change up our normal recipe, so I did some searching. I tweaked the one I found at The Pioneer Woman.
I used three cups minus two tablespoons of whole wheat flour, one teaspoon baking soda, two teaspoons baking powder, one cup oatmeal, pinch of salt, dash of nutmeg, teaspoon of cinnamon and a half cup of sugar. Hazel mixed these for me (and helped with the measurements). Then we beat an egg, added 1/4 cup of olive oil, mashed one ripe banana, and what ended up being 1.5 to 2 cups of nonfat Greek yogurt (the recipe was dry with my additions so we kept adding more yogurt until we got a consistency we liked).  Hazel beat these with a whisk.
Then we added the dry ingredients (and adjusted with the yogurt).
Hazel started mixing it all up but it was had to do, so I took over. Then we added two cups of blueberries.
Then we stuck liners in the muffin pan and scooped it out. Hazel did the scooping and I assisted with another spoon to help get it out of her ladle.
If you plan to eat them warm, use foil liners!! Otherwise it doesn't matter. The paper ones worked fine once they were cool. We baked them according to the recipe at 385 for 20 minutes. Oh, and we got 24 cupcakes with my additions! We brought some to the children's librarian since we had Move and Groove that morning and some to my mother-in-law since Hazel went to spend time with her after Move and Groove and then I think I ended up eating most of them. They were delicious! We finished them this morning.

So that is our new recipe for blueberry cupcakes. What have you been up to with all the great summertime fruit?

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Blueberries!! We Picked, We Baked & Cooked and Ate

Sharing Saturday is still open!! Please stop by to share your child-oriented posts and to be inspired by what others share!

So our plans for this past week were cancelled. Hazel had been so excited to go to the Cape since my sister who lives in North Carolina was there this week, but we didn't have a bed to sleep in and the two-hour trip each way (and more with Boston traffic) would be too much for one day with a 3-year-old. So to keep her from being upset I planned some fun days for us. On Thursday we planned to go blueberry picking. The weather forecast was not cooperating, but we tried to chance it. I called an organic farm a friend had told me about but they had all of their pick your own blueberries on hold until next week, so I googled and found this family owned home that opens up their blueberry grove to be picked if you have an appointment. So I made an appointment for early in the morning hoping we would beat the rain.

We drove up to these nice couple's house. She had warned me not to get out of the car until they came out since they have guard dogs. They also have free-range chickens which Hazel loved seeing and hearing. They had a beautiful grove of many blueberry bushes. Hazel had so much fun we picked an extra pint! Our plan was to make blueberry jam so we would have it for Christmas gifts. Then we talked about blueberry pie and blueberry muffins and of course eating the blueberries on the way home and bringing some to Nonni since Hazel played at her house the next day. So we picked three quarts and one pint of blueberries. It did rain a bit on us, but it was only sprinkles so we stayed picking.
On our way home we stopped at the store for a pre-made pie crust. I figured with all the cooking we had planned we didn't need to make the pie crust as well. (This was the night we made the pancit as well.) We got home and had a quick lunch and then got to work. The first thing we did was the pies.
Hazel started mixing the filling. I decided not to make a big pie, but mini pies so we would not use all of our extra blueberries. (The jam recipe called for 5 pints, which is 2.5 quarts.) A full pie calls for a pint of blueberries and we still wanted some to eat and some for muffins. I went searching for mini pie recipes and then realized I would need mini pie pans. However, I found this recipe that used a muffin pan! I combined the filling recipe with my traditional one from Better Homes & Garden Cookbook. We used 2 cups of blueberries, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a bit of lemon zest and mixed them all together and let them sit.
Then our next challenge was to find something to cut a four-inch circle. I found a lid to something that was four inches in diameter and it worked. Then we used some cookie cutters for the pie tops. I would change the recipe and use foil muffin liners next time. These were horrible to get out of the pan even with plenty of cooking spray.
While the blueberry pies were in the oven, Hazel had the best time playing with the scraps of pie crust. She made a house. She decided not to put a roof on it.
Then she put a mirror and a person in her house.
Can you see the person? It is the bump in the middle. The mirror is the flattish piece against the far edge.

Then the pies were done. Like I said they were not easy to get out, so they were not all pretty. This one however came out perfectly!
All right this is getting a bit long so you will have to wait until later in the week for our blueberry jam and blueberry muffins. Have you done anything special with blueberries this summer?

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