T’is the Season — for Strawberries

When a fruit is shaped like a heart, could there be anything sweeter? Sweet to taste, sweet to smell, sweet to look at, sweet🍓

May is National Strawberry Month! Why should you be excited? For starters, not one, not two, but three of the latest studies on strawberries suggest they may be associated with slowing down aging of the brain, cardiovascular system and gut microbiome. #fountainofyouth. Let’s jump the fuck in :)!

  • One study showed that the addition of strawberries to the diets of healthy, older adults can improve some aspects of cognition. Yes, more studies are needed to confirm this finding, but it is grand start. Another study in 2012 concluded how higher intake of flavonoids, particularly from berries, appears to reduce rates of cognitive decline in older adults
  • What is that layer of cells called that is responsible for the relaxation and constriction of veins and arteries? Hint, it plays a major role in blood flow, blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, and wound healing. It is pretty darn important and goes by the name endothelium. We need our friend endothelium to stay healthy, as it does quite a bit for us. What happens when we do not protect our endothelium friend? I am sure you have heard of high total cholesterol and LDL (known as the “bad” cholesterol), which definitely are not our friends. They are known to bully or impair the function of the endothelium, as well as clog arteries, and lead to heart disease as we age. This study suggests that strawberries may improve endothelial function and should be considered a specific food to include in a heart-healthy diet for aging adults with moderately-high cholesterol. Embrace your endothelium friend and embrace your heart health. Eat some strawberries.
  • In our third supportive study here, out of UCLA 💙, strawberries act as prebiotics and may increase gut bacteria associated with lean body weight, health, and longevity. There is our #fountainofyouth, again🤸🏽‍♂️!

Let’s keep this real, of course. These are initial, small studies, with some follow up studies to be completed no doubt. But if something as simple as eating strawberries on a daily basis can help delay aging of our mind and body, it is worth the hulling (removing the green stem or calyx from the strawberry).

Strawberries offer 100% of the daily value of vitamin C, as well as a source of fiber, potassium, and folic acid. 8 strawberries have less than 8g of sugar and just under 50 calories. They provide a nutrient-packed snack that may help support your health goals. They are also fun to eat and can add a tasty zing to your smoothie, salad, snack or dessert, especially while it is their season to shine!

photo by author

STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH CREAMY YOGURT MISO DRESSING 🍓 🍓 We previously had a neighborhood restaurant with the tastiest of strawberry chicken salads. It was frequented by families, but also a favorite place to gather with the girls. Then they not only moved (about 6 minutes away ;) they removed this delectable salad from their menu. So I tried to recreate it myself. The addition of chicken on top is optional.

INGREDIENTS — dressing
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1/4 cup low fat buttermilk (tip: No buttermilk on hand? Pour 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice into measuring cup and pour in milk to 1/4 cup. Gently stir and let sit for 5 minutes. =buttermilk 🥛!)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons white miso
1 garlic clove, crushed
freshly ground pepper

INGREDIENTS — salad
3 cups spring mix, arugula, escarole (your favorite leafy mix)
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, washed and sliced thin
1–2 Tablespoons roasted almonds
1-2 Tablespoons feta cheese
freshly ground pepper
Optional protein toppings: grilled chicken, tofu, shrimp

PREPARATION
Place all of the dressing ingredients in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds. Taste and add more ground pepper as desired. Set aside.

Place salad greens in medium salad bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of prepared dressing. Top with strawberries, almonds, feta cheese, optional protein boost. Drizzle with and additional 1–2 teaspoons dressing and freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes one tasty lunch or dinner serving.

  • *Feel free to double, triple, for more. You will have 1 1/2–2 cups of dressing leftover. Use as a marinade for chicken, fish, or keep on hand for your next salad. Lasts about 1 week in the refrigerator.
photo by author

🍓 🍓 STRAWBERRY MUFFINS
These were created for my cookbook back in 2008 😊. I have since given them an upgrade with some greek yogurt, to be sure we are getting enough calcium when consuming, not too mention all of our strawberry love. Second muffin recipe in the past two posts…I like nutritious muffins 😋

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 overripe banana, mashed
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
4 ounces applesauce, unsweetened
1 egg, slightly beaten with a fork
2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place all but two strawberries in the blender. Purée strawberries for about 30–40 seconds. They could be somewhat chunky. Slice the two extra strawberries into thin pieces each, making 12 slices in total.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, mashed banana, baking powder and cinnamon. In a separate medium bowl, combine yogurt, applesauce and egg. Add to large mixing bowl, along with puréed strawberries. Mix until well blended.

Fill prepared muffin cups three-quarters full. Top each one with one slice of strawberry, pushing down a touch. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden browned and toothpick test is clean. Makes 12 muffins.

photo by author

🍓 🍓 STRAWBERRY SANGRIA
Enjoy this refreshing beverage, while getting vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folic acid, and powering up that endothelium function :). Looking for alcohol-free? Substitute white grape juice and sparkling water for the two bottles of wine.

INGREDIENTS
3 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 orange, not peeled, rinsed and sliced thin
2 limes, rinsed, sliced into wedges
2 bottles muscat wine (otherwise known as Moscato…the word Moscato is the Italian name for Muscat Blanc. Moscato is made with Muscat Blanc grapes)
crushed ice, when serving

PREPARATION
Place all of prepared fruit in large pitcher. Pour in the two bottle of wine and stir. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, place crushed ice in wine glasses. Pour the sangria over the ice and be sure to include fruit in each glass. Makes 10 servings.

🍓🍓🍓🍓Slicing across the top to remove the strawberry’s green leaves might seem like the quickest way to get to eatin’ your strawberry, but this method causes you to waste quite a bit of this sweet fruit. Instead, insert the straw in strawberry! What? Is that really a thing? Thank you Hungry Harvest for this incredible, edible, no-waste tip, to be sure you get every single edible morsel from each strawberry:

🍓 Push a metal straw through the bottom of the strawberry.

🍓 Lightly force the straw through to remove the core and top. Pluck out any remaining leaves.

🍓 Enjoy! Your newly hulled strawberry will be a little easier to eat without the tough inner core and is perfect in baked goods, cocktails, or just as is!

We believe that access to fresh produce should be a right, not a privilege. ~Produce in a SNAP, supported by Hungry Harvest

A nutrition expert and middle child, I am writing to promote health and wellbeing, recipes and tips in a relatable, slightly rebellious fashion.

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