Wild Blueberry Brain Boosting Smoothie
Thank you to the Wild Blueberry Association for hosting my trip to Maine
As a senior in high school, my daughter Rosie is facing the ups and downs of preparing for and applying to college. She’s a good student, an athlete, has heaps of extracurriculars, and as my sole extrovert, will likely slay the college interviews. But when it comes to filling out the tiny bubbles of a standardized test with a number 2 pencil? Not her strong suit.
As a parent, it’s only natural to want to give my child every advantage. But barring taking the test for her — which would yield no advantage given my test-taking track record, never mind the ethics — there’s not much I can do.
But last Saturday, before she headed off to sit for the ACT, I did perform one small act that may…just may…make a difference.
I made her a smoothie.
Not just any smoothie. A 16-ounce wild blueberry smoothie that I insisted she down before heading for the test.
Wild blueberries are good for the brain. They’re loaded with antioxidants, thanks in part to their high skin to fruit ratio. The flavonoids in wild blueberries have an anti-inflammatory effect and promote healthy brain function. Of particular interest to me as a parent, though, is recent research on the potential benefits of these berries on cognitive function in children. One study found kids who consumed wild blueberries had improved memory and concentration relative to those taking a placebo. A later trial found drinking a wild blueberry beverage had a significant positive impact on children’s moods.
I learned all this on a trip to the wild blueberry barrens of Maine, one of only a few places in the world where this rare fruit thrives. I was in the company of scientists and academics who study this stuff for a living. And while we have much more to learn about how these hearty little berries impact children’s brains, I saw no harm in loading up my daughter with them before her exam.
Below you’ll find the recipe. It’s got a full cup of wild blueberries along with cashews that soak overnight in whatever kind of milk you prefer. The cashews lend a creaminess to the smoothie, along with the protein and healthy fats that come along for the ride. Because I don’t live in wild blueberry country, I buy mine frozen, which hold up brilliantly from a nutrition standpoint and are pretty widely available in the frozen food section of markets. I also threw a wild card into my mix: frozen cauliflower. I find it goes under the radar while delivering a small serving of vegetables in every glass.
Rosie won’t get her test results back for a while yet, but if things go well, wild blueberries and I are planning to take just a weansy bit of the credit.
Wild Blueberry Brain Boosting Smoothie
A purple powerhouse of a smoothie packed with antioxidants thanks to all those wild blueberries. The cashews, which soak in milk overnight, lend a creamy richness along with healthy fats and protein that give this smoothie staying power. Food for your body AND your brain.
- 1 cup milk, low fat cow's milk or favorite plant milk
- ¼ cup raw cashews (see notes)
- 1 small ripe banana (see notes)
- 1 cup wild blueberries (sold in the frozen fruit section of many markets)
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup fresh or frozen cauliflower florets optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ice cubes
Pour milk over the cashews in a small bowl and store in the fridge overnight. Peel the banana, wrap in plastic, and store in the freezer overnight.
Put the cashews and milk in a blender. Cut the banana into several slices and add to the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until the cashews are pulverized and the smoothie is creamy.
Get a jump start on this smoothie by soaking the cashews in milk and freezing the banana over night. This makes for an extra creamy drink. If you don't have time for the advanced prep, not to worry. This will still be tasty without it.