I really enjoy a good strawberry. Just thinking about it, I can almost smell it. I can almost taste the flavor on my tongue and feel the explosion of juice in my mouth. Mmmm, so delicious. They are a diverse fruit and can enhance the flavor of just about anything, but they are packed full of nutrients to help the body too.
A strawberry is a sweet, red heart-shaped fruit, much loved for its taste. Native to many parts of the world, it belongs to the rose family and has a distinct aroma. Despite its name, a strawberry is not a berry botanically. It is an aggregate accessory fruit, which means the fleshy part is not derived from the plant ovaries. Instead, each visible seed covering its outside is borne from one of the ovaries of the flower. Strawberries are the only fruit where the seeds are on the outside of the flesh. Also, each strawberry has about 200 seeds. Crazy!
Strawberries have high levels of heart-healthy antioxidants like ellagic acid and flavonoids like anthocyanin, catechin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These compounds lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by inhibiting the formation of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also relax blood vessels, causing improved blood flow and preventing cardiovascular problems. Additionally, the high fiber content, vitamin C, and folate in strawberries form an ideal cardiac health package.
Eating strawberries can prevent eye conditions like dry eyes, degeneration of the optic nerves, macular degeneration, vision defects, and increased susceptibility to infections. Antioxidants in strawberries can help avoid almost all eye problems because they protect against free radical scavenging activity. Strawberries are also known to reduce ocular pressure in the eye which can be harmful.
Strawberries are rich in potassium and magnesium, both of which are vasodilators, meaning they reduce hypertension and the rigidity of arteries and blood vessels. This eases the flow of blood to various parts of the body and keeps them functioning at their full potential.
Vitamin C, folate, anthocyanins, quercetin, and kaempferol are just a few of the many flavonoids in strawberries that act as excellent antioxidants. Together, they form an excellent line of defense to fight cancer and tumor growth. Daily intake of strawberries is connected to a drastic reduction in the presence and metastasis of cancer cells.
Strawberries are rich in iodine, vitamin C, and phytochemicals, which help maintain the proper functioning of the nervous system. Potassium in strawberries has also been linked to an improved cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, research on older women showed higher consumption of blueberries and strawberries, rich in anthocyanins and other flavonoids, is linked with a slower progression of cognitive decline.
Vitamin C present in strawberry boosts the immune system and helps in curing common cough and cold. A single serving has approximately 150% of your daily requirement of vitamin C, way more than an orange! Folic acid in strawberries is a necessary nutrient, especially during pregnancy, as it helps in preventing birth defects. It is also important for ensuring optimal health during pregnancy.
Strawberries are best picked when ripe. They will not continue to ripen off the vine. You should however, be prepared to use or eat them as soon as you pick them. They will go bad in just a couple of days. Refrigerate them to add a few extra days to their shelf life. However, when storing, lay them on a paper towel in a single layer. Strawberries go bad quickly as they will mold if there is no space between them. Do not wash or remove the hull until you are ready to use as this will cause them to lose flavor and nutrients more quickly as well. Freezing them, will cause them to last for about 6 months. Find some fresh strawberries this weekend and meet me in the kitchen for delicious recipes using this edible rose!
— Strawberry Muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour ¼ tsp. salt 2 cups sugar 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. cinnamon 2 cups sliced strawberries 1 cup vegetable oil 3 eggs, lightly beaten Preheat oven to 350°F. Place muffin liners in muffin tin. In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in strawberries, oil and eggs. Mix until just combined. Fill muffin cups ¾ full. Bake 24-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of tallest muffin comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from southernbite.com.
Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 1½ cup all-purpose flour ⅔ cup light brown sugar, packed ½ tsp. ground ginger ¼ tsp. salt 12 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted 4 cups strawberries, diced small 2 tsps. cornstarch 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 9×13” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving enough extra for handles. In medium bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, ginger and salt. Pour in melted butter and mix until it forms clumps and ingredients are evenly moistened. Set aside 1 cup of crumble mixture. Press rest of mixture evenly into prepared pan. Evenly layer strawberries on top of oat mixture. Sprinkle cornstarch evenly over strawberries. Sprinkle sugar evenly over strawberries. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over strawberries. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and crumb looks golden. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.
Recipe adapted from wellplated.com.
— Strawberry Mimosa Cupcakes
½ cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1 tsp. orange extract 1¾ cup all-purpose flour ½ tsp. baking soda ½ tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. salt ½ cup sour cream ½ cup champagne Filling:
2 cups strawberries ½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup champagne Frosting:
4oz cream cheese, softened ½ cup unsalted butter, softened 3½ cups powdered sugar 1-2 tsps. orange extract, to taste 2 Tbsps. strawberry filling In small non-reactive saucepan, combine strawberries and champagne over medium heat. Bring to boil. Smash strawberries. If they are still hard to smash, boil for 3 minutes and smash again. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, another 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place muffin liners in muffin tin. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In small bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream until smooth. Alternate slowly adding flour and champagne mixtures into butter mixture until all is incorporated. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from pan onto wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use knife to cut center from cupcake. Remove center and fill space with strawberry filling and replace top. Repeat with each cupcake. Combine cream cheese and butter for frosting in large bowl. Cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Add orange extract and strawberry filling and mix until combined. Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake. Serve immediately or store in fridge until ready to use.
Recipe from Drunken Desserts cookbook.
Strawberries and Cream Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour ¾ tsp. baking soda ¼ tsp. salt 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 1¼ cup granulated sugar ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract 2 large egg, room temperature 2 cups white chocolate chips 1-2 1oz bags freeze dried strawberries Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, affixed with paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides as needed. Add in egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix well. Switch to low speed and add flour mixture until just combined. Add chips and 1 bag of strawberries. Mix until just combined. Then, if you feel like it needs more, add second bag of strawberries and mix again. I use two for mine, but some people think it’s a little strong. Use cookie scoop to scoop dough. Place dough a few inches apart on prepared cookie sheets and lightly flatten. Cookies will not spread much during baking. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, or until edges start to turn light brown. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Recipe adapted from bakerbynature.com.