(This photo was taken on June 1st, on the occasion of my youngest daughter’s college graduation. We passed by this store & I could not resist taking a photo, since I had already chosen strawberries for this week’s blog. Coincidence? Luck? Who knows?)
One of my dream vacations is to travel across the country to see as many food festivals as possible. If I were to begin this time of year, the strawberry festivals would be the first ones on my list, starting in Ashland, VA. Their strawberry festival is usually held on the first Saturday in June at the peak of the season in that area. Then I would drive across the US, eating strawberries along the way as well as gathering recipes, with my final stop at the festival in Watsonville, CA. If my timing was correct, I could be in Gilroy, CA by the end of July for the Garlic Festival (more on garlic in a future blog) and work my way back to the east coast stopping at whatever festivals I could find on the Internet. What a vacation!
Since my food festival dream vacation is on hold, I will be satisfied with ripe, organic strawberries from the Farmers’ Market or Whole Foods, or wherever I can buy organic berries, unless I can pick wild strawberries in some forgotten field. According to “The Complete Book of Fruits & Vegetables” by Bianchini, et al., the Wood or Wild Strawberry (Fragaria fresca) has no equal in flavor.
Because most of us will buy commercial, not wild, strawberries, keep in mind they are one of the “dirty dozen.” (See Blog posting from March 26th in the archives to the right of this article.) This means that this food crop has been heavily sprayed. Since strawberries cannot be peeled, my personal health recommendation is to buy organic. This often means locally grown, freshly-picked ripe strawberries by area farmers, but not necessarily, because strawberries are grown in many places and shipped to markets across the US.
However you obtain these beauties, know that they are high in Vitamin C. In fact, according to the University of Illinois Extension Service, strawberries have more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits. Also, one cup of sliced strawberries has only 50 calories and about 12 grams of (good) carbohydrates. The amounts of Folic Acid, Vitamin A, and Phosphorous aren’t too shabby, either. Check the Illinois Extension website for a complete nutritional profile.(Type in Strawberries in Google.)
Dr. Bernard Jensen’s book, “Foods That Heal,” notes that these red berries are good for the intestinal tract, unless you have colitis or inflammation in the bowels. Then the little seeds can be irritating. Jensen also writes that for those who break out in hives when eating strawberries, try this: Run hot water over the berries and immediately follow the hot water rinse with a cold water rinse to remove the outside fuzz. This is believed to be the cause of the hives. A few words of caution: If you are highly allergic, I would not attempt this unless you consult your doctor first. On the plus side of his recommendations, ripe strawberries can be used as a ‘spring tonic’ and are excellent when juiced, according to Dr. Jensen. (Strawberry juice will be a new one for me!)
The extension service also suggests storing unwashed, ripe strawberries with plastic wrap in the coldest part of the ‘frig. Do not soak in water when washing, and try to remove the green cap without removing any of the fruit, since doing so tears the cells in the berry, activating an enzyme that destroys the Vitamin C. And since considerable vitamin content is lost in cooking (jams, jellies, pies, etc.), all the recipes this week call for fresh, uncooked berries. Not to say you shouldn’t enjoy jam or pie, just that if you want all the nutrition strawberries have to offer, eat more of them fresh! So enjoy the early warm weather with one of these recipes using luscious, red, ripe, organic strawberries.
Note: The recipes in today’s blog are variations from my own cookbook, THE WHOLE FOODS EXPERIENCE, also featured in the photos. I have ordered some from my publisher to sell through the blog. Will let you know when the books arrive and are available. Cost will be about $15.
4 oz. juice (pomegranate, apple, or orange)
4 oz. filtered (cold) water
one cup washed, trimmed organic strawberries, sliced
one small banana (fresh or frozen), sliced
one T. protein powder (I used Vanilla Spirutein)
Place all ingredients in blender and buzz until smooth. ENJOY!
1-2 Kiwi, peeled
1/2 Pineapple, peeled & cored
(Can also use any other seasonal fruits)
Unsweetened, dried coconut, toasted or untoasted (optional)
1. Wash all fruit well. Cut and trim where necessary. Slice into bite-sized pieces. Squeeze a little lemon juice onto fruit once it is cut.
2. Alternating strawberries with other fruits, assemble short skewers in a colorful way.
3. Roll in unsweetened, dried coconut. (This is optional, but adds color and crunch to ka-bobs.)
4. Serve as soon as possible, as is, or with yogurt as a topping.
PINK PUDDING TOPPING
3-5 frozen, organic strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain or strawberry yogurt
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
Maple syrup to taste, if using plain yogurt
Place all ingredients in blender and buzz til smooth and pourable.
If very thick, it can be used as a pudding. If too thick to pour for fruit salad, add more yogurt.
Pour over fresh fruit salad made from leftover fruit for ka-bobs, shown in the bowl.
Remember: Fruit is best when it fresh, organic, in season, and eaten soon after it is sliced, as in the picture below.
Reminder: Please freeze some organic strawberries for future recipes using mixed berries.
Blog Feedback: My naturapathic friend Hope Woodring wrote back that potatoes, featured in last week’s blog as Picnic Potato Salad, are high on the glycemic index. If you are counting carbs and eating low glycemic index foods, then the potato recipe is not for you, unless you eat a small amount as a side dish. Thanx for the reminder, Hope.