JOPLIN, Mo. —
Among all the spring produce that's ripe for the picking, strawberries stand out as a sweet treat. Whether in your garden or at the farmers market, make a beeline for those beautiful red berries. They're sweetest when picked ripe and ready to eat.
Doesn't everyone love strawberries in one way or another? Barring (gasp!) a tragic berry allergy, strawberries should hold a strong place in your diet. They are super good for you. They're high in Vitamin C and folate, making them a yummy heart-healthy food. Strawberries also have high fiber and are a rich source of antioxidants, so they'll fill you up fast while potentially fighting cancer.
Luckily, strawberries are delicious, so it's not hard to up your intake. Slice them and add them to a green salad, yogurt, cottage cheese and hot or cold cereal. Use fresh strawberry slices instead of sugar-packed jelly on your next peanut butter sandwich, or mash them up for pancakes instead of using syrup.
Strawberries are always at the top of the list of produce high in pesticides. Buying organic is expensive, so I suggest you try growing your own. Strawberries are easy to grow in your garden, or in pots. The plants are perennial, so with proper care you could be growing your own berries for years. Strawberries will even be fine on a balcony or porch as long as they get plenty of sun.
You have no good excuse to not be picking your very own strawberries right now, especially if you have children in the home. Use their shortness to your advantage -- they can squat down and pick your berries for you. They love finding the ripe, red berries -- much like an Easter egg hunt.
Don't miss out on strawberry season. They're sweetest when plucked from the plant and popped into your mouth, having been warmed by the sun. Bring home some strawberries and try these recipes, or just eat them by themselves. I'll understand.
Clean-eating strawberry oatmeal bars
1/4 cup mashed strawberries
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey, divided
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sucanat (can use brown or turbinado sugar)
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
11/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 pound strawberries, sliced
Combine mashed strawberries with 1 tablespoon honey. Set aside. Mix the olive oil with the sucanat, remaining 1/3 cup honey, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, rolled oats and pecans until it resembles a coarse meal (I throw it all in my food processor and pulse it a few times). Preheat oven to 350 F. Press 11/4 cups of the oat mixture into the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Spread the mashed strawberry mixture on top of the oat mixture, followed by the sliced strawberries. Crumble the remaining oat mixture on top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely or refrigerate then cut into squares.
Chilled strawberry soup
32 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Honey to taste
Place all strawberries in a blender and blend to make room for the other ingredients. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Chill for 2 to 3 hours if desired, but not necessary.
Adapted from the graciouspantry.com
Chicken salad with pecans and strawberries
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled and placed in a medium bowl
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 cups strawberries, cleaned and sliced into fourths
5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
In bowl with chicken, combine all ingredients except chopped spinach. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour letting ingredients blend together. Pour mixture over spinach to serve.
Adapted from rickbakas.com
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