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Enjoy Fresh Strawberries


Jean Ince | County Extension Agent Staff Chair

It’s hard to pass up the beauty of fresh strawberries. Pick up a box and smell their delicious sweet aroma. If you haven’t bought some lately, now is the time to purchase them! Strawberries are in season during May and June. That means the best flavor in strawberries is right now and the price is right!
Strawberries are one of the first fruits of the year to show up on grocery store shelves. Not only do they taste great, but they are also very versatile. You can enjoy them fresh out of the carton, sliced over desserts, in a smoothie, as a great addition to salads, in a pie or a cake; the possibilities are endless.
Besides being great to eat, strawberries are very nutritious. They provide vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Vitamin C helps protect skin from bruising, helps heal cuts and keeps gums healthy. Eating foods with vitamin C helps the body absorb some important minerals including iron. They also provide the body with potassium and fiber.
When choosing strawberries, find a carton that has mostly ripe berries. Strawberries do not ripen any more after they are picked. Look at the carton to make sure there are no bad berries. Strawberries, like most fruits, need to be handled with care. If you see a berry that has mold or fuzz on it, throw it away. Smell of the fruit to get the ripest berries. They should have a strong strawberry smell.
Once you have purchased your berries, plan on using them within one to two days. Wash them before eating or using them in a recipe. Only wash them when you are ready to use them. Like most berries, washing them ahead of time causes the fruit to break down.
Some ways to enjoy strawberries include:
• Balsamic & Berries. This is a favorite way people who live along the Mediterranean Coast enjoy strawberries. Take balsamic vinegar and simmer it in a small saucepan until it is reduced to a syrup consistency. The flavor will change and you should end up with a slightly sweet syrup. Top low-fat frozen yogurt with fresh strawberries and finish with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
• Sweet Greens. Add sliced strawberries to your favorite salad greens. Spinach is especially nice, but almost any green salad mix will work. Drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
• Strawberry Ade. Puree strawberries in a blender and pour into a pitcher with lemon juice, water and a little sugar. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.
• A Light Dessert. Top angel food cake with sliced berries and low-fat vanilla ice cream.
• Sweet & Sophisticated. Make a parfait with low-fat frozen yogurt and sliced strawberries. Alternate in a tall glass and finish off with a whole strawberry.
• Healthier Pancakes. Top waffles or pancakes with sliced strawberries and bananas for a fresh alternative to traditional syrup.
• Refreshing Smoothie. Freeze whole strawberries, grapes and bananas. Blend with 100% orange juice, adding just enough to make a frozen puree. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve.
• Sweet & Tangy. Incorporate strawberries into a salad along with other fresh fruit, turkey and a mustard dressing.
• Berries and Chocolate. Who doesn’t love this? Dip fresh berries in melted dark chocolate for a special treat!
As you can see, strawberries really are versatile. Pick up a carton today and enjoy tonight!
For more information on nutrition, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.
Recipe of the Week
This recipe is from the website, “What’s Cooking” from USDA. It sounds delicious and received five stars! USDA Mixing Bowl is a website that has hundreds of tried and true recipes from all over the United States.
Angel Food Pastry with Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream
1 ounce (3 Tablespoons) angel food cake mix
1/8 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
3 raspberries
2 strawberries, sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons non-fat whipped topping
Scoop 3 Tablespoons of angel food cake mix into a microwave-safe cup or mug. Add 2 Tablespoons of vanilla yogurt and stir. Place in the center of the microwave oven and microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and allow to cool for 1 minute.
Using a knife, cut around the sides of the cup to loosen the cake and “dump” it out onto a plate. Spoon 1 Tablespoon of whipped topping on top of the cake. Sprinkle raspberries around the angel cake and add sliced strawberries to top. Yield: 1 serving
Nutrition information per serving: Calories – 205, Fat – 0 g, Protein – 5 g, Carbohydrates – 46 g,
Fiber 1 g, Sodium – 365 mg.