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Blueberries, Plus

Gizelka | thinkstock photo

Round and ripe, blueberries are a ubiquitous treat in July. I always smile when I see someone make  a flag cake for a Fourth of July celebration and use blueberries in the design.

The sight of blueberries takes me to my childhood, to the garden of a neighbor. I would skip around the garden nibbling blueberries off the bushes in her garden. I cannot eat a plump blueberry without going back to that time and place. I hope all kids have a garden they can skip through in the summertime, with the sun warming their skin and a fresh fruit to remind them that summer is filled with flavor.

Last summer, after I remarried, I introduced my new family to the blueberry patch less than two miles from my home. For about a dollar a pound, my family and I can pick fresh blueberries from the acres and acres of bushes. We went to the patch weekly. Sometimes, twice in one week.

I used to lay my berries flat on a baking dish and freeze them hard so I could pour them into zipper bags to freeze and use all year. That was before four teens moved in.

Now, we can pick 10 pounds and the kids gobble them up by the handful until I have to run back for more.

My twisted blueberry parfait mixes a creamy layer, a fresh fruit layer, and a crunchy and salty pretzel layer. This dish can be adapted to skirt any health concerns: gluten-free (yup, there are GF pretzels that taste like the real thing!), dairy-free (soy, coconut cream, or banana to name a few substitutes for the cream), sugar-free, and on and on. No matter how you layer it, the health benefits of the blueberries rise to top as the star of this customizable dessert.

Blueberries are bursting with health benefits. At just 84 calories a cup, they have 3.6 grams of dietary fiber (14 percent of daily requirements), 21 grams of carbs, and no fat. Plus, that cup of fruit packs nearly a quarter of our daily vitamin C needs, and more than a third of our vitamin K.

I’m coupling blueberries with cream for a summertime parfait you can make your way. Do you love cream cheese filling like I do? Then use my recipe to make your parfait taste like your favorite cheesecake, without all the work.

In a hurry? Then substitute vanilla Greek yogurt instead. You can even use pudding if you choose. Ricotta cheese is great, while whipped cream might please others. It’s the idea that works: Layer up with cream, fruit and pretzels for unexpected crunch and salt.

So without further ado let me share my version of twisted blueberry parfait.

Twisted Blueberry Parfait

1 quart fresh blueberries, picked over to remove stems

1 recipe cream cheese filling (or, alternatively, pudding, ice cream, Greek yogurt, coconut cream, etc.)

1 cup mini pretzel twists

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pinch of cinnamon

This couldn’t be simpler as we’re not going to bake anything or turn on the oven. 
Place the pretzel twists in a zipper bag and crush with a rolling pin, bottle, or what ever 
you have handy until they are broken into pieces. Make the pieces smallish, but don’t  turn this into sand.

Meanwhile, melt the butter. Open the bag, pour in the butter and add the cinnamon. 
Squish to mix. Starting with cream, layer the blueberries with the pretzel crumble in a
dessert cup or Mason jar. Garnish  with cream on top sprinkled with crushed pretzels. Enjoy!


Cream Cheese Filling

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup stevia (sugar, or another substitute)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk (nut, soy, cow, etc.)

1½ cups whipped cream or thawed whipped topping

Beat the cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar, juice and milk. Stir in the whipped cream.
Pipe or spoon into dessert cups to layer as part of a parfait.


Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a local TV and radio personality with a blended family consisting of five children ranging in age from 13 to 28.

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