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Try this recipe for blueberries, one of the Michigan fruit crops not hurt by weather extremes this year
What’s with this weather? Heat waves in March, strong frosts in late April, now weeks near 100 degrees and summer’s just getting started. Many say weather extremes are just a taste of the consequences of climate change we’ll face in the years ahead.
And farmers are seeing the worst of it. One grower in southwest Michigan lost 70 percent of his tree-fruit crop, including 100 percent of his peach trees, when the early blossoms were wiped out by the late frost. Some farmers have responded by planting more vegetables, crops that can be harvested in a few months.
“With this strange weather, we anticipate and are already feeling a drastic shift in the supply of fruits and vegetables this year,” according to Hillary Bisnett, director of the Ecology Center’s Healthy Food in Health Care program, which works with health-care systems across the state to promote the use of more Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.
Nearly all of the hospitals in the state, 114 at last count, have pledged to buy 20 percent of their food from Michigan producers by 2020, part of their commitment to the Michigan Good Food Charter.
“We expect a flood of vegetables to the market this year, making local, seasonal produce even more available to the hospitals, while fruit may be much more expensive and hard to get in some cases.”
One crop that has generally escaped the early freezes, due to their later development and bloom, are blueberries. Michigan blueberries are typically available from mid-July through September—but this year, blueberry season is already here.
“Check out this tasty morning treat below made with blueberries,” Bisnett recommends. “Remember to shop at your local farmers market or look for Michigan-grown produce at your grocery store. And don’t forget, blueberries are healthy for you too! They have been found to reduce the effects of aging, stemming largely from the antioxidant capacity. They are also high in dietary fiber, potassium and inhibit cancer-cell development. They are simply a great healthy snack.”
Mini Blueberry Lemon French Toast Cups
For the French toast:
- 2 pieces of whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup of light cream
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces of laughing cow brie
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Dash of cinnamon
For the syrup:
- 1 cup of fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Grease two mini pie pans (or ramekins) with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 piece of bread into the bottom of each pan. Pour 1/4 cup blueberries and 1 ounce cheese over the bread in each pan. Cover with remaining bread.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs, light cream, lemon juice, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour mixture over each pan.
- Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Once mixture has chilled, remove from fridge and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Then bake, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes, or until bread is toasted.
- While mixture bakes, prepare syrup by mixing the cornstarch and water on medium high heat until smooth.
- Add blueberries, lemon and maple syrup and cook until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Once cups are finished baking, top with the blueberry syrup and enjoy!
Nutritional information per cup:
- Calories: 385
- Fat: 13 grams
- Carbohydrates: 40 grams
- Fiber: 15 grams
- Protein: 16 grams