Detroit -

Michigan is the number one state in blueberry production with growers producing over 100 million pounds of blueberries every year.  This year Meijer will sell about 3 million cartons of these homegrown blueberries from local farms.

Blueberries are considered the "little blue dynamos" that help to prevent heart disease and cancer and support brain health. Emerging research out of the University of Michigan suggests that blueberry consumption can improve insulin response and reduce belly fat, reducing risk for diabetes and obesity.  Stock up and enjoy these in-season sweet treats now and freeze a batch or two to use later in the year. Try these cool recipes that keep you out of the kitchen on hot summer days.

Lemon Blueberry and Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries divided ($1.50)-NuVal Score 100

3/4 cup Meijer low-fat lemon yogurt ($0.60)

3 tablespoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise (on hand)

1 teaspoon salt (on hand)

2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breasts ($2.00)

1/2 cup sliced green onions (scallions) ($0.10)

3/4 cup cucumber, diced ($0.15)

1/2 cup diagonally sliced celery ($0.10)

2 1/2 cups chopped leaf or romaine lettuce ($0.80)

(Recipe Total $5.25)

Instructions

1. Reserve a few blueberries for garnish

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise and salt

3. Add the remaining blueberries, chicken, green onions, cucumber, and celery.

4. Mix gently

5. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors blend, at least 30 minutes

6 Serve over greens garnished with reserved blueberries and lemon slices, if desired

Serve with whole wheat dinner rolls.

Nutrition information (per serving): 244 calories, 25 g protein, 6 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate

Frozen Blueberry-Lime Squares

Serves 9

Recipe: Frozen Blueberry-Lime Squares

Ingredients

7 graham cracker squares ($0.28)

2 cups fresh blueberries ($1.50) - Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened ($1.10)

1 can (14 ounces) fat-free sweetened condensed milk ($1.59)

1/2 cup lime juice ($0.25)

2 teaspoons lime zest

(Recipe Cost: $4.72)

Instructions

1. Lightly oil a 9-inch square pan

2. Cover the bottom of the pan with graham crackers in a single layer, breaking pieces to fit

3. In blender, puree blueberries, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth

4. Add lime juice and zest

5. Blend well

6. Spoon blueberry mixture onto the graham crackers and spread evenly

7. Cover and freeze until solid, about 2 hours

8. To serve, remove from freezer and leave at room temperature until edges soften, about 10 minutes

9. Cut into 9 squares

10. (Return any used squares to the pan, cover tightly and freeze)

Serve garnished with fresh blueberries

Nutrition information (per serving): 224 calories; 2.5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat; 132mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g protein

Recipe Source: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, www.blueberrycouncil.org

Meal Total $9.97

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Dietitian and Healthy Living Advisor.  For more information visit www.meijermealbox.com