Strawberries – It finally feels, and tastes, like spring!
No one needs any convincing about the matter. Strawberries are one of those rare foods that everyone adores, whether eaten from a fresh heaping handful picked straight from the garden, or atop a sweet shortcake that absorbs every ounce of their natural juices.
In my house the tender ruby fleshed morsels rarely make it past the kitchen sink where they are eaten as quickly as they are rinsed. But, on the rare occasion they do, I am torn between my grandmother’s recipe for old fashioned buttermilk shortcake served beneath a generous heap of strawberries lightly mashed with fresh vanilla bean, or a more recent favorite, strawberry tart with slightly sweetened mascarpone and a drizzle of strawberry balsamic syrup.
The mention of springtime and sighting of the first ripened berries excites children, adults, picky eaters and foodies alike. Ice cream and cookies aside, a good ripe strawberry is unique in its healthy appeal to palates far and wide—universally adored and nourishing. In fact, the nutrient content and nourishing qualities of organic and well-cared for strawberries may rival the force of their appeal. With one of the top five spots on the list of foods with high levels of natural antioxidants and high vitamin C content, as well as recent indications of improved blood sugar regulation and anti-inflammatory response, strawberries rank high on the list of best and healthiest foods to enjoy, indulge in and reap the benefits from.
Berry benefits breakdown:
- Strawberries are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C and K, manganese, folic acid and some B vitamins
- High levels of natural antioxidants found in strawberries help eliminate harmful free radicals from the body and prevent health degeneration
- Ellagic acid, common to strawberries and other red fruits, is believed to increase anti-cancer activity in the body
- Strawberries are being studied for their positive impact on age related degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease
- Extracts found in strawberries help inhibit inflammation causing reactions within the body
- With a low glycemic index and high nutrient content, strawberries help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and may be helpful in triggering prolonged satiation and weight control
- High water content in the fresh berries helps keep your body hydrated and your skin healthy
- With only a few calories per bite, strawberries are a satisfying but healthy treat to indulge in
Unfortunately, the gigantic conventionally grown (non-organic) strawberries are less nutrient dense and collect a high amount of pesticides. Making sure the strawberries you consume are not genetically engineered to be big and beautiful, but less nourishing for your body is important. Strawberries are also among the top twelve foods most susceptible to pesticide and chemical residue, which can outweigh the benefits you thought you were getting. Their thin and highly permeable skin quickly absorbs chemicals and pesticides used during growth, and makes buying organic varieties even more important. It may require a few more berries, and a bit more work to pull each from their stem, but the smaller, native and heirloom strawberry varieties with a deeper red-burgundy tone are better tasting and better for you.
Warm weather and fresh strawberry season is almost upon us and now is the time to take advantage of the fresh berries grown in your area. Watch for fresh berries in your Full Circle farm-to-table and Green Grocery orders and take advantage of the fresh berries at your local farmers market this season. This is one indulgence you should never feel guilty about and can enjoy with everyone. Check back Thursday for the shortcake and strawberry tart recipes!