Hey, it’s strawberry time! Aren’t you excited for those beautiful red fruits to make their late spring debut? We certainly are. It’s a reminder that summer is coming, and with it an abundance of fresh delicious fruits and vegetables. This week’s post will be the first in a series highlighting summer fruits and vegetables, what’s so special about them, and how to make them (easily). We’ll intersperse this series with some more of our thoughts on the current state of food and cooking, but we promise to keep it light for the summer!
Here’s the scoop: strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C (one cup of strawberries has almost as much Vitamin C as a cup of orange juice, and far less sugar), manganese, fiber, and powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins. That’s certainly a mouthful, but it’s worth putting that mouthful into your mouth regularly as studies have found that the antioxidants in these little berries may be effective in reducing the risks of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammation-related diseases.
Compared to other fruits, strawberries are low in sugar. Take a look at this list (from caloriecount.com) below to get a sense of just how low they are!
Lemons: 1.4 g
Cranberries: 4.4 g
Red Grapefruits: 6.6 g
Blackberries: 7 g
Strawberries: 7.4 g
Apples: 11.1 g
Oranges: 12.2 g
Cherries: 15 g
Pineapples: 15.3 g
Pears: 16.3 g
Bananas: 21 g
Because strawberries are so low in sugar, they are a great for snacks (serve them whole, with a side of plain yogurt for dipping), frozen (just wash and freeze, and bring them out on a hot summer day for a cool pick-me-up), or for thickening up breakfast smoothies. We like to make a simple morning smoothie with 6 to 10 strawberries, sliced, ½ a banana, sliced, two or three kale leaves, torn so they blend easily, or a handful of spinach. Add a dash of cinnamon, vanilla if you like it, some ice cubes and enough milk to get the blender going (cow, rice, almond or soy milk will all do, or water if you want to keep it light). Blend it until smooth, and enjoy! It’s a great way to get greens into the breakfast meal.
And if you are looking for something a little more luscious, try this recipe for cold-whipped strawberry jam. It is easy to make, and tastes irresistibly good: take an equal amount of fresh strawberries and sugar (go lighter on this last ingredient if you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake) and mix very well with a hand-held mixer – about 5 minutes. The creamy texture, intense flavor and beautiful color of this jam makes it a great additional to any dessert, though we love it best with plain vanilla ice cream. Unlike store bought james, this fresh option won’t stay fresh for long, so when you make a batch simply freeze the leftovers in little glass jars and use it when you have a hankering for something delicious.
It’s true that strawberries are great for snacks and sweets. And we’ve included a few of our favorite sweet recipes below. But don’t stop at dessert. One terrific recipe that comes from Kathrin’s part of the world is for strawberry risotto. We’ve included this little gem as a way to inspire you to take these lovely fruits into every part of your meal!