Food For Thought… A word from the JFCS Food Pantry

blueberry heart

Wishing you a “berry” happy summer!

Summer is in full swing and it’s easy to eat the rainbow with all of the local NJ produce available this time of year.

Dr. Michael Greger, who organizes the health blog on and conducts health and nutrition research counts berries of all kinds as part of what he calls “the daily dozen” (a list of 12 things we should try to eat every day).

He recommends at least 1 serving per day, which is 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries or 1/4 cup of dried berries.

Both of the recipes for this month will help you meet your berry intake goals and are low in added sugars as well. Hope you find July’s recipes and nutrition information to be BERRY delicious and informative.

What are some of your favorite things to do with NJ berries?

July is National Blueberry Month!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture named July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month of honorable recognition, the little blue beauty certainly does. Read on to learn about the blueberry and its benefits:

*Blueberries are native to the US and are grown in 35 out of 50 states, supplying roughly 95% of the entire world’s crop.

*Flavors range from puckery tart to mildly sweet, and are in full seasonal swing somewhere from April through October, but July is prime blueberry season, especially in NJ.

*Blueberries can also be enjoyed frozen or dried at other times of the year.

*Experts often include blueberries in their Top 10 Lists of the healthiest foods, since, like many fruits, they are rich in fiber (4 grams per cup), low in calories (85 calories per cup) and boast Vitamin C and other important antioxidants.

*Blueberries get their deep purple-blue color from anthocyanin pigments that have long been thought to have health benefits including reducing inflammation.

*When shopping, look for firm blueberries with even coloring.

*Once you get them home, don’t wash them until ready to eat or use in a recipe. Try to eat them within three to five days.

*If you’ve got extra on hand, freeze them in an air-tight plastic bag for later use.

*Blueberries are perfect for topping hot or cold breakfast cereal and adding to pancakes. But there are other great ways to use them, besides making a pie. Try tossing a handful on your green salad or stirring them into a whole grain pilaf. Mix some into vanilla Greek yogurt for a great snack.

What’s Cooking in Gale’s Kitchen?                                             Fresh, Healthy, Simple and Delicious ways to enjoy fruit from Gale Cohen, RD, CDE

Blueberry Nectarine Granola Crisp (makes 8 servings)blueberry granola


Fruit Filling

5 cups blueberries
2 large nectarines, peeled, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (can substitute whole wheat flour)
zest of 1 lemon

 Granola Topping

1 1/2 cups regular oats
2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp chopped almonds
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Combine the blueberries, nectarines, brown sugar, flour, and lemon zest in a medium bowl;
    toss to coat.
    3. Spoon fruit mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.
    4. For the topping, combine all ingredients and toss to evenly coat oat mixture and nuts with syrup.
    5. Sprinkle granola over the blueberry nectarine mixture.
    6. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt, ice cream, or whipped topping.

Per serving: 241 calories, 41 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat),  5 g fiber,  Calories from fat: 28%.

blueberry pizza

Watermelon Pizza

Make an attractive and healthy dessert or snack with watermelon, yogurt, and whatever fruits and berries you have on hand!


Pizza “crust”
Seedless watermelon

Pizza “sauce”
Vanilla or plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy almond, soy, or coconut)


(Choose from below!)

Blueberries, sliced strawberries, blackberries, bananas, coconut flakes, chopped walnuts or pecans, fresh mint


  1. Slice the watermelon in half. Then slice it into 2 inch thick round slices.
  2. Slice watermelon round into 6 pizza slices.
  3. Spread yogurt on the pink parts of the slices for your pizza sauce.
  4. Top it with any or all of the above fruit and nut toppings.