Strawberries are the most cultivated berry in the country, and lucky for us in the Northeast, they are the first fruit to ripen in spring and early summer. These delicious heart-shaped fruits are naturally sweet and simply jam-packed with healthy nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and phytochemicals. Here are a few of their benefits:
- Fiber helps us feel fuller, longer (increasing satiety)
- Folate lowers our homocysteine blood levels and therefore aids in heart health
- Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system
- Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure
- Phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids, give strawberries their bright color and contain cancer-fighting properties
One cup of strawberries has only 45 calories, absolutely no fat, zero sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of natural sugars and 1 gram of protein. Strawberries also give any dish a punch of color and are generally considered people pleasers, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters—you know who you are!
How To Buy Strawberries
I don’t usually push for shopping organic, but in this case, I definitely recommend choosing local or organic strawberries if possible. Strawberries are #2 on the Dirty Dozen List for 2014, which means they are on the top tier of produce that has the highest amount of pesticides. Their skin is so thin that pesticides can easily slip in and are hard to clean out; research has even shown that conventionally grown strawberries are lower in cancer-fighting phytochemicals! Nothing beats fresh, local berries, but frozen works just as well in a pinch.
Outside the Box Strawberry Recipes
- Sweet and savory meets the strawberry. Give strawberry, balsamic vinegar and basil ice pops a shot! Balsamic Vinegar, a naturally acidic food, provides a great tartness that pairs beautifully against the natural sweetness of strawberries. See recipe below!
- Can’t go wrong with chocolate-covered strawberries. Make sure they’re made with dark chocolate—70% cocoa, of course! An easy alternative, sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder on fresh strawberries.
- Grill them! Summer is the season for grilling, and this is a delicious and healthy addition to any menu. Place strawberries on wooden skewers, add a dash of powdered sugar and grill no more than 3 minutes on each side.
- Pump up your salad by adding strawberries to your favorite leafy greens, such as spinach, arugula or any bitter greens.
- Make a guilt-free sundae. Use strawberries as your base and add a small scoop (no more than ½ cup) of ice cream.
- Top it off with strawberries. Layer on top of whole-grain cereal, oatmeal or low-fat yogurt for breakfast or a sweet snack.
- Bring the fiesta with a fruit-based salsa made of strawberries, pineapple, lime and cilantro. Add the salsa to grilled chicken or fish!
- Make a strawberry smoothie. Yum!
Strawberry, Balsamic Vinegar & Basil Popsicles
Makes 10 popsicles (A little more than 3 cups = 25 ounces). Each popsicle is 45 calories.
- 2 cups of strawberries- tightly packed, thawed if frozen
- ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- ½ lime
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- Water as needed
Mix strawberries, sugar, vinegar and lime in a blender. Add enough water to total 3 ¼ cups. Blend really well. Add basil and pulse blender, enough so that you can still see little pieces of basil. Add to pop maker and freeze. Trust me, they are delicious!
What is your favorite recipe showcasing the strawberry? Share with me at Bushwick Nutrition!
Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN
Initially posted on NYHRC Tumblr