It’s the Berries: Strawberries for July 4!

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As many of you know, each week I chat with Matt Swaimon the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio. Today we chatted about strawberries. Not mentioned specifically in the Bible, strawberries have a history that goes back over 2000 years. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, it was a wild plant, best known for its medicinal value. In fact, the ancient Romans believed that strawberries were cure alls for just about everything: depression, inflammation and more.

The ancients knew a good thing when they saw one: ounce for ounce, strawberries have more Vitamin C than citrus fruit. According to the American Cancer Society, foods rich in Vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. . Strawberries are good bone builders and good for immune systems, plus they contain lots of fiber.

How do you pick the best strawberry – do they ripen any after they’re picked? 

Strawberries stop ripening when they’re picked so if they’re green when you buy them, they won’t magically turn red. They should be free of mold, a deep red color, and have fresh-looking caps and leaves.

If there are stains on the packaging, chances are something is leaking. Pass these by.

Big or little – which one is best? 

Smaller berries are best for cooking, delivering a stronger flavor through the cooking process. Larger berries are nice for decorative dishes like chocolate-dipped strawberries.

With July 4 coming up, I wanted to share a few strawberry recipes which are making the rounds these days.

STRAWBERRY FETA SPINACH SALAD
Ingredients
4 cups baby spinach or regular spinach, torn into pieces 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
1 container strawberries, sliced
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Feta cheese – as much as you like
Instructions
Whisk together oil, vinegar and pepper. Pour over spinach. Toss to combine, then add strawberries and nuts and toss again. Add feta and combine.

 

CLASSIC STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD

An acquaintance shared this recipe. It’s among the most popular versions of this classic salad.

Ingredients

10-12 oz. fresh spinach, torn if large, or enough to serve 4 persons

(If you have any other salad greens, toss some of those in if you like, as well)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Up to 1/2 cup sugar – start with 1/4 cup

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic, regular balsamic, white wine vinegar or regular white vinegar or bit more to taste

Couple dashes Worcestershire sauce

Minced onion to taste – start with 1 tablespoon

Strawberries, a quart or so, sliced

Paprika – optional but a few pinches are nice

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted just a bit

Instructions

Whisk together seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, onion and paprika. Chill about an hour or longer.

Combine spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss.

Jack’s chocolate covered strawberries 

Ingredients

1 pound strawberries with stems

12 oz. favorite chocolate morsels

Instructions

Rinse, but do not hull berries. Drain and pat completely dry. Melt chocolate and remove from heat while you still see some lumps. Stir until smooth. Holding berries by stem, dip 3/4 way up. Set on sprayed pan or parchment paper. Put in frig, uncovered, to set. Store, covered, in frig for a day.

Make these with dark chocolate for anti-oxidant qualities

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