Fantastic growing conditions in key regions this year have led to an abundance of fresh Australian blueberries landing in stores from today. Last year's severe frost wiped out many of the 2018 season's crops, however this year is set to be one of the best growing seasons on record for the nation's favourite blue fruit, causing there to be more blueberries than people in Australia this week!
According to Berries Australia Executive Director, Rachel Mackenzie, the abundance of quality fruit is due to excellent weather conditions in Australian growing regions. "Warm, dry sunny days and cool nights for our growers mean that the consumer will be spoilt for choice in relation to finding great value blueberries over the next few weeks. This year's crop conditions have been more than ideal in growing the freshest and highest quality blueberries just in time for the warmer weather to hit." This record crop totals to approximately 4.8 million punnets of Australian blueberries, weighing over 600 tonnes (or the equivalent of over 11 Harbour Bridges).
Rachel also said of the superfood berry "We are very lucky here in Australia to have an excellent climate to grow all types of berries. When the weather is kind to us like it has been this growing season, it is the perfect time of year for Australian blueberries to flourish to their full potential. This really makes for the freshest and most delicious blueberries for shoppers!"
Blueberries not only remain one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits in the world, but breaking research has revealed new benefits to add to the fruit's growing nutritional accolades. Recent studies suggest that one serving of fresh blueberries every day may help contribute to normal blood pressure levels and help improve memory recall in children.
If you're a blueberry lover, there is no better time than now to head into your local supermarket to stock up on great value fruit, with an influx of blueberries from local Aussie growers hitting shelves from today.
Question: Congratulations on your pregnancy, how are you feeling?
Rebecca Gawthorne: Thank you so much! I'm feeling very excited! Pregnancy has definitely had it's challenging times, like morning sickness and growing pains, but overall it has been such an incredible journey and my husband and I just can't wait to meet our little bubba!
Question: Have you been continuing your exercise throughout pregnancy?
Rebecca Gawthorne: Yes, but modified of course. Exercise has always been something that I have loved; it makes me feel good and keeps me healthy and happy, so I've continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy. There were certain periods of time during my pregnancy where I found exercise more difficult, like when I had quite severe nausea in my first trimester. However, I made sure I listened to my body and modified my exercise to what I could manage and what made me feel good. I also regularly saw my physio throughout my pregnancy to get advice on how to modify my training as well as giving me some pregnancy specific exercises. I truly believe that exercising has helped me through my pregnancy both physically and mentally.
Question: What do you love most about blueberries?
Rebecca Gawthorne: I love the delicious taste of fresh Australian blueberries and their amazing health benefits. But most of all I love the versatility of blueberries. They can be added to so many recipes! From smoothies to salads to breakfasts and desserts, they add a juicy, sweet fresh flavour to any meal and snack!
Question: Can you tell us about the nutritional benefits of blueberries?
Rebecca Gawthorne: Fresh blueberries are a nutrition power-house; low in calories and packed full of disease-fighting nutrients to keep us healthy and strong.
Some of the amazing nutrients found in blueberries include:
Vitamin C – just one cup of fresh blueberries contains 25% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed by our bodies for the for the formation of connective tissues including our bones, blood vessels and skin and it also helps the absorption of non-haem iron from our foods. The vitamin C also works synergistically with anthocyanidins, copper and other nutrients in blueberries to produce collagen which helps keep our skin looking young.
Vitamin K – one cup of blueberries contains 35% of the RDI of Vitamin K; a fat soluble vitamin needed for the healthy clotting of our blood. Together with other nutrients found in blueberries including iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, vitamin K also works to keep our bones healthy.
Natural Source of Prebiotics – blueberries contain fibre which acts as natural prebiotics to help feed the good bacteria that live in our gut! This helps keep our gut healthy, making fresh blueberries beneficial for good gut health and digestion.
Fresh blueberries are also packed full of antioxidants, which help protect the cells in our body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have been associated with cancers, heart disease and the effects of ageing. Antioxidants come to the rescue by neutralising the free radicals which prevents damage to our cells and protect us from a range of diseases and illnesses.
Question: What's your favourite way to eat blueberries?
Rebecca Gawthorne: I love snacking on fresh Aussie blueberries straight from the punnet. They make for such a yummy, convenient snack, even on the go! I also love adding them to my breakfast smoothies as well as having them after dinner with some yoghurt and a sprinkle of granola.
Question: Can you share your favourite blueberry recipe with us?
Rebecca Gawthorne: Here is a recipe for my Healthy Blueberry Muffins.
Makes 6 medium sized muffins.
2 cups plain rolled oats*
2 large ripe bananas, peeled
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 punnets of fresh Australian blueberries
2 tbs honey or maple syrup
*You can replace oats with 2 cups of any flour of choice.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Place oats into a blender and blend until oat flour forms. Pour into a large mixing bowl and mix through baking powder.
Place bananas, oil and honey into blender and blend until smooth. Pour into mixing bowl and evenly combine with flour.
Stir blueberries into mixture.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake for ~20minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Can be stored in fridge for up to a week or frozen. Enjoy.
Question: What is your best health advice?
Rebecca Gawthorne: Eat the rainbow. Include some colourful veggies and fruit at every meal and snack.
Interview by Brooke Hunter