On the Table

Eat your fill of strawberries

April 18, 2012 

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STRAWBERRIES5.NE.042107.EDH -- Apex, NC -- April 21, 2007 -- Patsy Olive of New Hill got a bowlful while picking strawberries at Buckwheat Farm in Apex Saturday morning April 21, 2007. It is the first weekend Buckwheat Farm has been open for strawberry picking. "We wouldn't have been picking today if we didn't frost protect" says owner Karma Lee, of the recent cold weather. Staff photo by Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer

2007 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO - ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com

Strawberries are ready!

Yes, farm stands are selling them and fields are open to pick your own. Buy them early and often.

You can fill up on them without guilt. They’re high in water content and dietary fiber, so they’re bulky. You’ll get full before you need to worry about counting the calories.

They’re good for you, too.

Strawberries are exceptionally high in vitamin C. They’re rich in manganese, beneficial phytochemicals, and a range of other vitamins and minerals.

Unless you’re canning or freezing fresh strawberries, resist buying large quantities at one time. That’s because strawberries are quite perishable.

Even if you store them in your refrigerator’s produce storage bin, they won’t keep longer than a couple of days. In fact, much of the nutritional value – the vitamin C and antioxidants – break down after just a day or two in storage.

So buy amounts that you can reasonably eat in a short time, then go back and buy more.

Buy organic, too, if you possibly can. Strawberries are No. 3 on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list.

That means they are high on the list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticide residues. When it comes to strawberries, it’s worth paying more for organically grown.

That’s especially true if you serve strawberries to children. Kids love strawberries, but their small, immature bodies are particularly vulnerable to environmental contaminants.

If you buy from local farmers, ask how their berries were grown. Some farmers don’t go to the expense and hassle of getting their berries certified as organic, though their farming methods may comply with or come close to organic standards.

So, once you’ve got strawberries at home, how can you eat them other than plain?

• Add them to salads. Strawberry halves with spinach leaves and poppyseed dressing are colorful and taste great.

• Use them liberally as garnishes on lunch and dinner plates.

• Serve them as snacks dipped in powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

• Layer them with granola and Greek yogurt for breakfast or slice them into a bowl of hot oatmeal or cold cereal.

• Offer them for dessert topped with a small scoop of ice cream – heavy on the berries, light on the cream.

Take advantage of strawberry season.

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a licensed, registered dietitianSend questions and comments to suzanne@onthetable.net and follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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