Nothing says good morning like a tall stack of blueberry pancakes, or a freshly baked blueberry muffin with your favorite cup of coffee.

If this is your idea of the perfect way to start your day, then don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy lo­cally grown blueberries.

The blueberry growing season in New England starts in mid-July and goes straight through until the end of August, allowing you plenty of time to get fresh locally grown blueberries.

The flowering blueberry bush (scientific classification, Cyano­coc­cus) is part of the Vaccinium plant family. The blueberry is a close relative to the cranberry and huckleberry, and all are native plants to North Am­erica.

Blueberries are delicious when eaten fresh, but they also easily lend themselves to pre­serving, canning, and freezing, making it convenient to always have available in your kitchen year round.

Blueberries are considered a nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber, manganese, and vitamin C and K.

Because blueberries contain about 85 percent water, an entire cup of blueberries has only 84 calories.

If you are counting carbs, one cup of blueberries has only 15 carbohydrates, making this superfood a perfect addition to a diabetic diet, or if you are watching your weight.

The super blueberry also has one of the highest levels of antioxidant of all the common fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants protect your body from cell damage that can contribute to aging and diseases, such as cancer. They also help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, mak­ing blueberries a good addition to a heart healthy diet.

Studies done by the National In­stitute of Health note that blueberries have a significant health benefit for people with high blood pressure.

In an eight week study of people with a high risk to heart disease, it was shown that participants had a four to six percent reduction in blood pressure after consuming two ounces of blueberries per day during the eight week study period.

Other studies done by the National In­stitute of Health show that the high levels of an­ti­oxidants in blueberries can help maintain cognitive brain function and improve memory.

As if the blueberry’s nutritional profile wasn’t reason enough to add them to your daily diet, this superfood also packs a punch to your taste buds, making it an easy addition to the diet of even the most picky eater.

Fresh picked blueberries are delicious on their own, or added to cereal, yogurt, or cottage cheese for a quick, nutritious snack. They also are easily added to your favorite family recipes.

Blueberries are a well known ingredient in many favorite baked items like blueberry buckle, pie and muffins. However, blueberries can also be an addition to many main dish recipes such as savory Blueberry Pizza, Blueberry Chic­ken Salad, Blueberry Glazed BBQ Ribs, or Blueberry Grilled Cheese.

Local blueberries are readily available at super markets and farm stands, but if you want your blueberries as fresh as possible, you may want to consider going to a “pick your own farm.”

Farmer Dave’s Farm, located at 437 Parker Road in Dracut offers pick your own blueberries Wed­nesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Due to state COVID-19 requirements, face masks must be worn by anyone over the age of two. The cost is determined by the pint, not the person, making it a fun and affordable activity for the entire family.

Parlee Farms, located at 95 Farwell Road in Tyngsboro, has acres of blueberries to “pick.” They are also implementing CO­VID-19 protocols including limiting the number of customers per acre and re­quiring face masks to be worn by anyone over the age of five. For a full list of COVID-19 rules for picking your own, visit them at www.parleefarms.com.

Boston Hill Farm, located at 1370 Turnpike St. in North Andover is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information about pricing and COVID-19 restrictions call them at 978-681-8556.

Smolak Farm, located at 315 South Bradford St. in North Ando­ver, offers pick your own blueberries from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Following COVID-19 guidelines, they have limits on the amount of people allowed in the fields at any one time, traffic flow directions, and face mask requirements.

For daily field conditions up­dates, visit www.smolakfarms.com.

2020 has been a tough year to take thus far, with many of us missing our favorite summer ac­tivities. Treat yourself and your family to the nutritionally packed flavor of fresh, local blueberries while enjoying a fun day at the farm “picking” with your family. Just like summer, the availability of local blueberries won’t last long, so enjoy it while you can!

To find a wide variety of blueberry recipes, both savory and sweet, visit www.blueberrycouncil.org.

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