Monday, June 29, 2009

Strawberries! Not Just for Dessert Anymore

Okay, there is nothing better than picking fresh berries off the vine. Strawberries are mainly thought of as an ingredient in desserts. In many dessert recipes strawberries seem to be associated with high fat, high calories ingredients. But no more, strawberries have evolved into many other uses in our daily menu. The reason why strawberries should be a common choice ingredient in our diets is that it is low in calories and has its own a distinct natural sweet taste. For lunch strawberries may either be served along with other fruits, as an appetizer, or with garden greens to complete a vegetable salad. But did you know that strawberries also make good ingredients for main dishes? There are recipes where strawberries are added to braised or grilled chicken. They can also be pureed into a sauce for meat dishes or served as dip with seafood.

Nutritional Powerhouse:

These little heart shape fruit pack some nutritional punch to protect your heart, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, and guard against cancer. Packed with vitamins, fiber, and are a good source of manganese and potassium. They are also in the top 20 list for fruits with antioxidant known as polyphenols. One serving (about eight strawberries) provides more vitamin C than an orange and is approximately only 55 calories. Naturally sweet strawberries are a fat-free, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free food. Strawberries are a favorite food choice for individuals watching their weight, due to their health benefits.

Choose medium-sized berries that are firm, plump, and deep red; remember once picked, they won't ripen further. Avoid berries that are wrinkled, soft, spotted with mold or leaking juice. Use any over ripe berries within 24 hours of purchasing and wash before eating to remove any loose soil, but do not wash before storing in the refrigerator this promotes the growth of mold.

Fun Strawberry Facts

Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.

  • Strawberries are a member of the rose family.
  • The flavor of a strawberry is influenced by weather, and stage of ripeness when harvested.
  • On average, there are 200 seeds in one strawberry.
  • The strawberry is the only fruit with the seeds on the outside of the fruit.
  • Americans eat 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries each year plus another 1.8 pounds frozen per capita. Although strawberries are available in many forms—frozen, jam and jelly, and ice cream— nothing compares to the taste of a fresh vine ripened strawberry.

Here is a great recipe to add strawberries to your lunch or side salad for dinner.


1 lb. fresh spinach, washed & dried 1 pt. strawberries, washed & halved 1/2 c. pecan halves, toasted


1/3 c. raspberry vinegar 1 tsp. dry mustard 1 tsp. salt 1/2 c. sugar 1 c. vegetable or olive oil 1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds

Combine dressing ingredients except the poppy seeds in a blender. Add the poppy seeds by hand. Toss dressing with spinach, strawberries and hot pecans. The hot nuts will slightly wilt the greens

So consider adding this seasonally available fruit to other parts of your diet, not just dessert. To purchase strawberries, check out local farmers market or pick-your-own farms in your local community and get that fresh picked taste. Enjoy the natural sweetness!

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