Wham! Bam! Strawberry Pop!

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

Nutrition Facts

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 possibleStrawberries 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 greenssuch 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 

Recipe Adapted from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop 

Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team 

Initially posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Synergistic Foods


If you haven’t already heard, supplements are helpful when you are trying to fix a deficiency, but getting nutrients from whole foods is almost always the better way to go. Research suggests that certain combinations of foods interact in a way that improves bioavailability (the extent to which a nutrient can be used by the body). Knowing how to pair synergistic foods will help you reap greater nutritional benefits. Here are 9 of my favorite pairings that deliver a powerhouse of nutrients:

  1. Brown Rice & Beans.I’m from Mexico, so loving rice and beans is in my blood. Both are great sources of fiber (therefore stable energy), vitamin Bs, iron and calcium. Eaten together, they are an awesome source of veggie protein. Since rice is missing the amino acid lysine and beans are missing methionine, they complement each other perfectly. How to cook: I usually cook brown rice with black beans, red onion, chile serrano and tomato. If you feel adventurous, make stuffed bell peppers (as pictured) by adding the mix to hollowed out bell peppers and baking for approximately one hour at 350F. As a finishing touch, serve with avocado and lime.
  2. Dark Greens with a Citrus Twist.Greens, like spinach, kale and arugula (my favorite) are loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C and iron. In order to better absorb iron from vegetarian sources, eat greens with vitamin C. This improves iron absorption in the intestines. I usually add a dash of citrus, either from lemon, lime or tangerine. Some other great sources of vitamin C are strawberries and beets.
  3. Mixed Berries with Greek Yogurt.Berries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit. When multiple varieties are mixed together (i.e. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries), they’ve also shown increased cardiovascular protection. Mixed berries contain powerful phytochemicals: nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients are high in fiber and low in sugar. When combined with low-fat Greek yogurt, they provide a great balance of protein, fat and carbs.
  4. Meat Cooked with Herbs.I love to grill. That said, you have to take certain precautions, especially when it comes to meat. When cooking meats (my go-to is free-range chicken), I always add herbs and spices. This is important, because when meat is cooked over high heat it creates a toxic compound called malondialdehyde, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions. By rubbing antioxidant-rich herbs on the meat, such as Herbes de Provence (usually a mix of rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, sage and fennel), you can reduce up to 70% of this nasty compound!
  5. Papaya and Pineapple Smoothie (especially after a high-protein meal).Papaya and pineapple are rich in the enzymes papain and bromelain, respectively, which aid in protein digestion. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits and support the immune system. For better taste, mix a little coconut water in with one part papaya and two parts pineapple.
  6. Tomato Salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).The healthy fat found in olive oil helps absorb the fat-soluble antioxidants and vitamins found in tomatoes (such as lycopene, carotenoids, and vitamin E). These help to improve the skin, eyes and heart. At least 4 grams (~1 tsp) of absorption-boosting monounsaturated fats will do the trick! If you want to change it up, add a little avocado or crushed pistachios for increased absorption. 
  7. Green Tea & Lemon.It’s no secret that green tea is jam-packed with antioxidants, namely epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies suggest that green tea can treat everything from cancers to weight loss (though still inconclusive). When you combine it with a little citrus, you can absorb up to 13 times more of the antioxidants than with green tea alone. I would say it’s a worthwhile twist.
  8. Almond Butter on Whole-Wheat Bread.The amino acid missing in whole-wheat bread (lysine) is abundant in almond butter. Spreading a light coat of almond butter on whole-wheat bread is the perfect match (and a perfect snack)! Add a little honey to satisfy your sweet tooth. 
  9. Turmeric & Black Pepper. Turmeric, the gold/orange spice typically used in Indian cuisine, purportedly protects against the development of diabetes, reduces the risk of certain cancers (including breast and leukemia), possesses anti-inflammatory properties and even aids with weight loss! To improve absorption of the dominant compound in turmeric, combine it with black pepper. So next time you eat curry, be sure to add a sprinkle of black pepper.

What’s your favorite food combo?

Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD 

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr

Picture by Diana House. Available on Flickr.

Edited by TCabrarr.

Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Food Synergy: 13 Anti-Aging Power Pairs. More.

Food Synergy: 8 Healthy Food Pairings That Are Even Better Together. Huffpost Healthy Living.