Food Challenge: Strawberries
For some people the start of summer is marked by barbecuing, sunny days at the beach, and Memorial Day. For me, the start of the summer has always been marked by strawberry season. Where I grew up in Southeastern Virginia, strawberries are such a part of the local culture that their harvesting season is marked by a huge party, the Pungo Strawberry Festival. Every Memorial Day weekend, this bright red berry is celebrated in all its wonderful glory, with vendors selling strawberries prepared over 50 different ways and the surrounding farms open for DIY strawberry picking. And with strawberries possessing so many health benefits, there’s no wonder there’s a festival held in its honor.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, strawberries pack a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory punch, containing over six types of phytonutrients,. They also help improve cardiovascular health, and are the third-best food source of tooth-decay fighting polyphenols, according to a 2009 Journal of Dentistry review.
Selection of your berries is key. The Environmental Working Group's recent report Shopper's Guide to Pesticides, has consistently shown strawberries on the non-profit’s Dirty Dozen list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. If you have to choose only one type of produce to buy organic, strawberries should be it.
The best part of this berry is that it’s so versatile. You can be like me and enjoy them raw like candy (I’ve been known to down an entire pint in one sitting). You can also boil them down to make jam, include them in baked goods, or chop them up and add to a salsa or salad. Adding unsweetened frozen strawberries to a smoothie can not only add some color, but since the berries were most likely picked in peak season, they can retain just as many nutritional benefits as their fresh counterparts.
Strawberry Creme Truffles
These are sinfully delicious. I used frozen berries for this recipe, just rinsing them off before putting them in the food processor to remove any unnecessary moisture. Also, If you have a smaller, 4-cup or less food processor, divide the filling mix up before putting in the processor bowl.
What is your favorite way to prepare summer’s favorite berry? Have you gone berry picking? Show us using #IDfoodchallenge.