Friday, June 22, 2012

Veggie of the Week: Strawberries

Strawberries have grown for millennia around the world but were not largely cultivated until the early 18th century. A French engineer was in Chile and Peru and discovered their native strawberry, being much bigger then the ones seen in Europe. He brought them back to France and were eventually naturally crossbred with a North American variety growing in a nearby field. This produced large, sweet, and juicy berries. Strawberries became more popular in the mid 19th century when railways were built providing for faster transportation of the perishable fruit.

Strawberries have a unique mix of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits providing health advantages in cardiovascular support, improved regulation of blood sugar, and cancer prevention. The vitamin C and manganese content (strawberries being one of the fruits with the best sources of both) protect our heart and blood vessels. Regular intake of strawberries, 2 to 3 servings per week, helps decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes working to reduce blood sugar spikes from table sugar. Lack of antioxidant nutrients is often a cause of cancer, so it is no wonder that strawberries can help lower cancer risk. Other areas of research for strawberry benefits includes anti-aging, decreased inflammation in the digestive tract, and help with inflammation-related arthritis and inflammation-related diseases of the eye.

Strawberry Bread


Prep time: 25 min.   Cook time: 45 min.   Serves: 24


    • 2 cups fresh strawberries
    • 3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

    • Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
      2. Slice strawberries, and place in medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, and set aside while preparing bread mixture.
      3. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl: mix well. Blend oil and eggs into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, blending until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in pecans. Divide batter into pans.
      4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out, and cool completely.

      Strawberry Bruschetta


      Prep time: 10 min.   Cook time: 5 min.   Serves: 12


      • 24 slices French baguette
      • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
      • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
      • 1/4 cup white sugar, or as needed


      1. Preheat your oven's broiler. Spread a thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
      2. Place bread under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Spoon some chopped strawberries onto each piece of toast, then sprinkle sugar over the strawberries.
      3. Place under the broiler again until sugar is caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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