Which fruit is pretty, has an aroma like perfume, provides 136% of your daily vitamin C, yet has only 43 calories in a cup? It's Strawberries, of course! Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are beneficial to heart health, vision, and overall well-being.
Strawberry season, from April to July, is in full swing right now. It's time to enjoy the goodness of locally picked fruit. We can get the big strawberries, shipped in from afar, any time of year, but nothing beats the variety, taste and fragrance of locally grown berries.
There are many varieties of strawberries, and bigger isn't always better. Usually the variety isn't named on packages in the store. If you buy from a local grower or a farm where you pick your own, you can ask what varieties they are growing. Some popular varieties are described here: Local Foods Strawberry Varieties. I'm partial to the smaller, darker red berries because they have a more intense flavor. The visual beauty and the aroma of these little darlings engages all the senses. There is also no guilt in enjoying these pleasures because of their low calories and high nutritional value.
Buy berries with green, fresh hulls and good color. Strawberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so avoid yellow, incompletely ripened fruit. Inspect for moisture because that encourages mold, the number one enemy of strawberries. When you get them home, store them dry, without washing, in a loose plastic bag or container that allows for some air circulation. Use them within a few days. Wash and hull them just before eating or preparation. You may also choose to cut them up, sprinkle with sugar and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the juices to develop.
Whether you serve them just as they are, or spoon the sliced berries and their juices over cake or ice cream, or turn them into jam, they are everyone's favorite summer delight. Today's recipes, created by Calorie Count members, reflect that versatility.
- Strawberry Sauce - Sweetened with half sugar and half artificial sweetner, a large serving of nearly a cup has 92 calories. Depepending on how you use this sauce, you can easily halve the calories by serving half a cup.
- Strawberry Mousse - This airy delight is sure to please everyone. It's perfect for summer because there's no cooking. The recipe uses egg whites from a carton so there is no worry about the dangers of uncooked egg whites.
- Strawberry Vinaigrette - Enhance any salad with this sweet and tangy dressing. It's easy to make and has only 52 calories in a serving. I found it especially appealing tossed with baby spinach, or drizzled over a fruit salad.