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Enjoying "Real Strawberries" Fresh From The Vine

Written for the River Current Publication

Last week while chatting with the girls at work, I mentioned with excitement that I was going to make a strawberry pie with the “real’ strawberries I had purchased at a local farm stand.  With a chuckle someone commented, “Real strawberries compared to not-real strawberries”?

Now let’s be honest with each other, you can’t tell me that you don’t notice the difference between the huge, pale red, half-ripened strawberries that you see in clear plastic containers all winter long at local groceries and the vibrant red, fragrant gems that have grown under God’s sunshine in a local field or garden?  Now those my friends are what I call “real strawberries”!  I don’t even like to think of how those other imposters are grown!

Not only are they delicious, strawberries pack a nutritional punch.  As if you are looking for a reason to eat strawberries, here are 9 other reasons to enjoy these vine-ripened wonders:  

1. They’re antioxidant powerhouses. Actually, as fruits go, strawberries have the fourth highest level of antioxidants of many foods 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.

4. Strawberries have anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties

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 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. 

9.  Strawberries also boast potassium, folate, vitamin B2, B5, B6, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and copper. 

Not only nutritious, the culinary possibilities of this fruit are pretty endless…from traditional desserts like shortcake and ice cream, to a more savory delight in a salad.   Whatever your pleasure, enjoy these little red wonders while they are in season…for a taste of the “real” thing.
Chocolate Strawberry Tart
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. sugar 
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup coconut oil or melted unsalted butter
1 ½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt, strained
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 quart “real” strawberries
Chocolate for garnish
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare crust…whisk flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt in medium bowl.  Using pastry blender, cut in oil until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in 1 Tbsp. ice water until mixture forms a dough.  If necessary, stir in more water.  Press dough into a 9” greased tart pan.  Bake until set, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely.
3. Make filling…whisk yogurt and vanilla in large bowl and set aside.  Combine egg whites and ¼ cup sugar in mixing bowl.  Beat on high speed until mixture doubles in size and holds stiff peaks.  Fold into yogurt mixture.  Spread into tart shell and chill until mixture sets, about 2 hours. 
4. Meanwhile, toss berries with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. water and chill while tart sets.  Top tart with berries just before serving. 
5. Finely grate chocolate over the top for garnish.



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