Strawberries: The Taste of Summer


One of the food highlights of summer is fresh strawberries. With their glossy red color and juicy sweetness, ripe strawberries are a treat for the eyes and the palate! They are also full of nutrition benefits. One cup of sliced fresh strawberries has just 55 calories, but provides over 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C and more than 3 grams of fiber. 

In addition, strawberries contain anti-oxidant phytochemicals, including ellagic acid, anthocyanins, quercetin and catechin. These compounds may help protect the body from inflammation and the negative effects of cholesterol.  Food and medical scientists are continuing to research the potential beneficial effects of strawberries and other berries in preventing heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We don’t really need science and nutrition to convince us to eat strawberries, however! The best berries will be bright red through to the tip, with a fresh appearing green cap. Berries will not ripen any further after they are picked.  Fresh strawberries taste best when used soon after harvesting or purchasing. Don’t wash them until you are ready to use them. Strawberries should only be left at room temperature for a few hours, and after that can be stored in the refrigerator. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and store for 2-3 days.

If you have more strawberries than you can use in a few days, you can freeze the extras. I usually just wash them and remove the green caps. Then I spread them on a cookie sheet and blot with a paper towel to remove excess water before placing the tray in the freezer for a couple of hours. When the berries have hardened I transfer them to a freezer bag¸ removing as much air as possible from the bag. 

Here are some of my favorite ways to use strawberries:

·         Just cut up plain with a little sugar or sweetener if needed

·         With sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkle of brown sugar

·         Cut up alone or with other berries and served with a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped mint leaves

·         With cottage cheese (The mint/maple combo is especially tasty this way!)

·         With plain, vanilla, or lemon yogurt as a snack or dessert

·         In smoothies (frozen berries are great for this)

·         Sliced over a salad of fresh leaf lettuces, sugar snap peas, green onions, thinly sliced cucumber, and grilled chicken breast and topped with a strawberry vinaigrette

Head to a nearby farmer’s market (check ) or pick-your-own farm to start enjoying the freshest local berries.  Share YOUR best strawberry ideas on our  Facebook page!  

r© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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