It’s strawberry season! Well…it’s supposed to be strawberry season. However, spring’s late arrival has delayed Wisconsin’s harvest of these precious fruits.
These small, dimpled, delicious red berries are a favorite for many. They happen to be low in calories and high in Vitamin C, potassium, manganese and fiber. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cellular damage, and potassium may help regulate blood pressure. Manganese is a mineral that helps with bone building and maintaining proper bone structure. Strawberries also contain chemical compounds called phenols; phenols have shown some promise in the fight against many inflammatory disorders. Most of all, strawberries are a tasty treat!
Choosing the perfect strawberry is not tricky. The first thing you should know is that strawberries come in different sizes depending on their variety, growing conditions and time of picking. Smaller strawberries tend to be tastier and best for popping in your mouth for a refreshing fruit treat. Bigger strawberries can be used for baking or to make smoothies. These berries should be dry, firm and fully ripe for the best taste. The caps (leaves on the top of the fruit) should look green and fresh. If the cap has been removed, the berry will wilt faster. Wash berries just prior to eating, as wet berries will soften and wilt very fast.
The month of June is when many farmers typically promote “pick your own strawberries”, however it may be a couple more weeks until those are available in Wisconsin. When “pick your own” farms are ready, take advantage of them, as picking strawberries right at their peak is best in terms of nutrition and flavor. Pick the fruit by pinching just above the cap and pulling gently while twisting the stem. They should ‘pop’ right off the plant. Leave the cap on until just prior to using/eating.
There are many uses for strawberries: you can eat them fresh, freeze them for later use, bake them in sweet treats, put in smoothies, in salads, in sauces, as toppings…the list goes on.
Increase your intake of fruits each day by incorporating strawberries into all your meals. Start off with eating fresh strawberries at breakfast. You can serve them with cereal, slice them onto pancakes, blend them in a breakfast smoothie or throw them into a yogurt and make a granola parfait. Or just pop some in your mouth for a burst of sweetness.
For lunch, create a salad filled with fruit — start with a bed of salad greens and pile on the blueberries, raspberries, sliced peaches or kiwis. Top with sliced strawberries and make a light strawberry dressing. (Dressing: chop ripe strawberries and blend with light sour cream, or Greek Yogurt.)
For a snack consider a strawberry smoothie. Blend 2 cups of strawberries, 2 cups of low fat yogurt, 1 cup of ice cubes and 1 cup of low fat milk. Blend until smooth.
For dessert, consider eating fresh strawberries or using strawberries as a dipper. Dip these delicious berries into light sour cream, then brown sugar for just the right amount of sweetness.
Take advantage of strawberry season to add color to your meals!