Thursday, May 13, 2010

Berry, berry good...

There are very few fruits that I don't like. Each one of my brown bag lunches is typically accompanied by a rotation of oranges, bananas, grapes, berries and peaches, depending on the day of the week. But if there was one fruit that I could take every day - one that I'd never get sick of - I'd say it's strawberries. J'adore strawberries! Whether it's on top of a mixed green salad or dipped into yogurt, strawberries always taste so dang good. Plus, think about all the health benefits!
Strawberries serve as potent antioxidants. Their unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. For example, in one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of over 1,000 elderly people. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer. Also, remember how your mom told you carrots would keep your eyes bright as a child? Well, it appears fruit is better for the sight in adulthood. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating three or more servings of fruit per day may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Still not sold? How about this: the vitamin C-rich fruit also helps protect against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis.
And finally, when it comes to nutrients, strawberries are a good source of manganese, potassium, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B5, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin K, magnesium, and copper.

So here are a few quick strawberry-related serving ideas, courtesy of the George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods.

* Dress up any green salad with sliced strawberries, slivered almonds and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
* Top your morning cereal, lunch time yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh strawberries.
* Layer sliced strawberries, whole blueberries and plain yogurt in a wine glass to make a parfait dessert.
* Mix chopped strawberries with cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve as a topping for waffles and pancakes.
* Blend strawberries with a little bit of orange juice and use as a refreshing coulis sauce that goes well with poached pears.
* Add strawberries to breakfast shakes to give them a more vibrant taste and texture.
* For an easy, elegant dessert, blend fresh or frozen strawberries with a spoonful of honey and some soy or cow's milk or yogurt. Freeze for 20 minutes, then spoon into serving cups and decorate with a sprig of mint.

Along those lines, here are three sucralose-sweetened recipes featuring the splendid strawberry.

Banana Strawberry Shake
Fresh Strawberry Pie
Very Strawberry Shortcake

On a goofier note, long-time readers might remember my love for the old Strawberry Shortcake line of dolls. I dicussed it at length in this 2008 post. And now that I've gone and mentioned Strawberry Shortcake again, I think it's time for a special song. Take it away, boys!

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