The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


June 5, 2013

Amanda Stone: Strawberries are surprisingly versatile

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.


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