Thursday, 12 July 2012

All about Strawberries....

1. They’re antioxidant powerhouses. Actually, as fruits go, strawberries have the fourth highest level of antioxidants of foods recently tested. Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals linked to aging and disease.
2. They’re excellent sources of vitamin C which boosts the strength of arteries, prevents bruising, and strengthens your body’s stress glands—the adrenals—which require the highest levels of vitamin C of all organs or glands in your body.  Eight strawberries have more vitamin C than an orange.
3. Strawberries have been shown in studies to regulate blood sugar levels.  Eating one cup of fresh strawberries caused a significant reduction in blood sugar spikes.  Blood sugar spikes are linked with weight gain, mood swings, diabetes, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  That’s because the spikes are followed by plummeting blood sugar levels soon afterward.
Keep reading to learn about strawberries’ anti-pain and anti-cancer properties…
4. Strawberries have anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties.  Studies show that they lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).  One study showed that they need to been consumed at least 3 times per week to capitalize on their anti-inflammatory nature.  But, since they taste so good, that’s not likely to be a problem for most people.
5. They’ve been proven helpful in the management of heart disease and arthritis.
6. Strawberries contain anthocyanins which stimulate the burning of stored fat in the body to use as fuel.  Research published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed reduces weight gain in animals fed a high fat diet.  Research also shows anthocyanins boost short-term memory by 100 percent in eight weeks.
7. They have anti-cancer properties.  Their flavonoid content causes the body to interfere with the stages of development of cancer cells, preventing their ability to multiply.
8. Strawberries’ phenolic acids demonstrate anti-allergenic properties, meaning they help reduce the biochemical processes that are linked to allergic reactions.  Of course, as with any food, some people are allergic to strawberries, so if you suspect an allergy you should avoid them.
9. They’re delicious and versatile. Add fresh or frozen strawberries to smoothies, shakes, or blender “juices.”  Top whole grain waffles or pancakes with fresh strawberries, blend them with avocado to create a delicious pudding, or just enjoy them on their own.

Creative ways with Strawberries...
Strawberry-Basil Mojitos
Ingredients:  ( Makes 4 drinks)
Strawberry Syrup
2 cups sugar
12 strawberries, sliced
1 cup water

3 limes, cut into 4 wedges
6 cups ice
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
Rum (1 1/2 ounces per glass, or to taste)
6 cups club soda
Optional: More Strawberries and basil to garnish

Strawberry Syrup
1. In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves over medium high. Let cool before using.

1. Divide basil and strawberry syrup evenly among 4 tall glasses. Place a lime wedge in each and muddle. You can use the back of a spoon if you don’t have a muddler. Place 2 additional lime wedges and continue to muddle in order to release more lime juice.
2. Fill glasses almost to the top with ice. Add sliced strawberries and rum and stir well. Top off with club soda, garnish as desired and serve.
Strawberry & Leek Quesadillas
Ingredients:  (Makes 4)
4 leeks, light green and white parts only; cut lengthwise, thinly sliced and well rinsed
Olive or vegetable oil
8 tortillas
1 1/3 cup chèvre cheese
1 1/3 cup mozzarella, grated
Thinly sliced strawberries, about two-three whole strawberries per quesadilla, or to taste
Torn fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional Add-Ons:
Fresh cilantro leaves, torn
Green onion, finely chopped
Spinach or arugula, chopped

1. Heat heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, or enough to coat the pan. Add in leeks and a pinch of salt and stir frequently over medium-low heat until the leeks are lightly brown and tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl
2. Assemble quesadillas. Cover tortilla with your desired amounts of cheese, leeks, strawberries, and whatever else you are using. Add another tortilla over the toppings.
3. Place quesadilla in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat for about 2-4 minutes, until tortilla is golden brown. Flip quesadilla carefully, add more oil if necessary, and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Rhubarb French Toast
**** This is a plan-ahead recipe: the French toast needs to be refrigerated for several hours, or overnight, before baking.


French Toast:
1 loaf French bread
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup rhubarb, sliced

1/2 cup flour
1/2 brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces

Night Before:
French Toast:

1. Grease 9×13 inch baking pan. Evenly arrange cubed bread in pan.
2. Mix eggs and milk in a large bowl. Combine sugar and orange zest in a small bowl. Add sugar and orange zest to eggs and like. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Evenly coat bread with mixture.
3. Combine strawberry and rhubarb in a bowl. Evenly spread over French toast. With a spoon, press down on French toast mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

1. Mix flour, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add in butter pats and, with a fork or your hands, cut into dry mixture. Combine as well as you can. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day Of:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle topping over French toast, bake until golden brown and set, about 50 minutes.

Make the Crepes
This recipe is for thin (and quite nutritious) pancakes that I use in place of a more traditional crepe.
1 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup Sucanat (Natural Sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups organic buttermilk
1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoons melted butter
Oil or butter for the pan

1. Stir all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add wet ingredients.
2. Lightly stir until just combined, leaving some lumps. Overbeating will result in tough pancakes.
3. Brush skillet with oil or butter over medium heat until a droplet of water sizzles. Pour batter into pan and cook until small bubbles form in pancake. Flip, cook and remove to a warm plate.

Compose the Crepes
Spoon ricotta cheese on a crepe, roll it up, and douse with macerated strawberries. You can also use cottage cheese–when I can’t find organic ricotta, I blend organic cottage cheese in the blender until smooth for a reasonable approximation of ricotta.

Strawberry Avocado Salad

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 cups salad greens, torn
1 avocado, peeled, pitted & sliced
10 strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Whisk ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Put salad greens in a medium bowl. Add avocado and strawberries. Drizzle dressing over salad, and add pecans. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Lemon Granita

1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
3 strawberries, sliced & hulled

1. In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar over medium-high to make simple syrup. It’s ready when the sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool.
2. In a food processor, blend strawberries and lemons.
3. Pour simple syrup into food processor and blend again.
3. Pour blended mixture into 9×13 metal baking dish and freeze for around 30 minutes.
4. With a fork, stir the icy portions that have formed on the edges of the pan into the middle.
5. Freeze for 3-4 hours, or until fully frozen. During the freezing process, take it tour to stir every 20-30 minutes.
6. Scrape granita into flaxy crystals with a fork. Cover and freeze. If desired, serve in a hollowed-out lemon. You can garnish with fresh fruit, mint, whipped cream, or orange/lemon zest.