My Dad is really smart–way smarter than your Dad. My Dad has always been smart, but one of the ways he keeps so sharp is by eating massive quantities of blueberries.
His blueberry intake may also help explain why he still plays tennis so well and can traipse around Manhattan all day carrying heavy photography equipment and take award-winning photos. (One of which, since the subject happened to come up, is currently on exhibit in a juried show at the Fairfield Museum.)
According to Dr. Jim Joseph, former director of the Neuroscience Laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and–more importantly– the physiologist responsible for groundbreaking research on blueberries, “Our studies, and research elsewhere, show that blueberries can reverse the deleterious effects of aging on cognitive function.” But Dr. Joseph wasn’t all science-speak. I interviewed him on several occasions, and he patiently explained to me how cognitive (aka thinking and memory) improvements affect motor function. “Movement requires good impulses from the brain to the legs that tell them how to move. Blueberries help improve that communication”.
Blueberries also help offset those annoying “deficits in verbal memory loss” most of us call senior moments, according to Dr. Joseph. I swear I struggle for words more often than my Dad. Then again, I don’t eat as many blueberries as he does. Dr. Joseph recommended that everyone “Eat at least one cup of blueberries and some nuts everyday to help reverse declines in cognitive function”.
Maybe my Dad’s blueberry intake helps explain some of his accomplishments, like taking up rose gardening as a, um, late blooming hobby, and producing year after year of prize-winning flowers. (Seriously, he has a slew of blue ribbons from region-wide rose competitions). Then he wanted to take pictures of those beautiful flowers so he took up photography.
But I don’t want to lead you down a thorny path. I don’t doubt blueberries are good for us, and maybe a cup a day helps keep memory loss at bay. But it is a little unfair to give credit to the blueberries for my Dad’s many accomplishments. Because long before he ate blueberries, my Dad was still way smarter than yours.
Serve topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or whipped crème fraiche (directions below).
For the filling:
10 cups (5 pints) fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Pinch ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into bits
1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350F. Coat an 11 x 7 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine the blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and nutmeg. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- Combine the flour, cardamom, salt, brown sugar, and oats. Work the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans and spread the topping over the blueberries, taking care not to compact it.
- Bake until the filling bubbles up on the edges, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Makes 8 servings
Whipped Crème Fraiche
16 ounces crème fraiche
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- Whisk crème fraiche and vanilla with an electric beater until it holds stiff peaks, about 4 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar if desired; rewhip just to incorporate and refrigerate until serving.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad
I love you