Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Meet Whole Foods: Strawberries!

For this week's whole food, I'm introducing an amazing fruit that is not only beautiful, but delicious. I love that these are in season right now because they are one of my favorites!

Meet: Strawberries!

What are strawberries?
I think most of us already know the answer to this question. Strawberries are familiar foods to us that we've probably enjoyed most of our lives. Juicy, sweet, beautiful little morsels of fruity deliciousness. Yep, that's them.

How do I use them?
Strawberries are excellent to eat just plain and fresh when they are in season. Or you can dip them in chocolate...mmmmh! Here's a few more of my favorite ways to use strawberries: jams, pies, ice-cream, smoothies, parfaits, pancake or waffle toppings, oatmeal or salads. 

Where can I buy them?
Most grocery stores sell strawberries just about year-round. The best time to buy them is springtime or early summer when they are in season. If you buy them out of season, you are guaranteed a disappointing experience! Don't put yourself through that! Buy them in season and freeze or dry them to use year round.

A good price for fresh strawberries is under $1/lb. I recently bought some buy the case for $6.99 for 8 lbs. which is a great buy! I bought three cases to freeze and make jam.

How can I grow them?
Strawberries are fun plants to grow because they are perennial, meaning they come back year to year. Find a variety of strawberry that works well in the climate of your area and is resistant to damage from diseases and pests. Strawberries grow best in cold winter areas because the winter chilling gives the plants vigor to produce good quality and an abundant fruit harvest. Strawberries need to be watered regularly to keep a consistent moisture content in the soil (a good soaking twice a week once the plants are established). They have a shallow root system and letting them get to dry stops the blooming of flowers and stimulates the growth of runners.  They also work well to grow in pots or hanging baskets. They make an excellent, edible ground cover. There's so much information about growing strawberries that is beyond the scope of this post, but we've had a lot of luck growing them and they are one of the more enjoyable plants to grow!

How healthy are they?
Strawberries have an exceptional level of antioxidants and are exceptionally high in vitamin C and contain many other healthy vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Research has shown that strawberries lose vitamin C and antioxidants after being stored for more than two days so the best way to eat strawberries is fresh. Other studies have shown that picking strawberries underripe or overripe changes their antioxidant and nutrient levels significantly. When they are picked and eaten at the peak of their ripeness, they contain the maximum amount of nutrients, making them a perfect candidate for growing in a home garden. Studies have shown that eating strawberries can help regulate blood sugar levels and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Consuming strawberries can aid in cardiovascular support, prevention of cardiovascular disease and prevention of some types of cancer including breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer. As you can see, strawberries not only taste delicious, they are amazingly healthy for you!

Got a recipe?
This week I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes using strawberries. If you have a favorite recipe, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail! I hope you enjoy this wonderful whole food!

Recipes With Strawberries:
Crepes with Strawberry Filling
Fruit Salsa with Baked Cinnamon Chips
Freezing Strawberries
Green Smoothie Formula
Poppy Seed Trifle
Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Lush with Whole Grain Crust
Strawberry Yogurt
Whole Grain Waffles with Nutella, Fresh Sliced Strawberries, and Whipped Cream

Some information from this post came from:

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