The Strawberry: Nature’s Heart-Shaped Superfood

It’s almost here…Of course I’m talking about Michigan’s strawberry season! The early season starts in late-May, but the picking is ripe through the month of June and into the beginning of July. There are many u-pick farms throughout Michigan. Click here to find a farm near you.

These little heart-shaped gems pack a giant nutritional punch! Strawberries contain essential nutrients that help protect our hearts, increase our HDL (good) cholesterol, lower our blood pressure and help protect us against gastrointestinal cancers. Plus they can be used to add color and a hint of sweetness to a variety of dishes.

Strawberries are sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free and low-calorie. They contain high levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect our cells from free radical damage. Strawberries are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, manganese and potassium.  In fact, about eight strawberries have more vitamin C than an orange!

Check out these healthy recipes that use strawberries to add some fun and flavor.

Strawberry Salad with Grilled Shrimp

Makes 4 servings

Salad:

  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 2 cups strawberries (about 1 pt), hulled and sliced
  • 2 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 tbsp pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 2 small green onions, sliced
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil

Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Combine all salad ingredients (except shrimp) in a large bowl. Toss gently.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl; slowly whisk in olive oil. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill the shrimp: Heat and oil an outdoor or stove-top grill. When hot, add shrimp and grill 3 to 4 minutes on each side until slightly charred and cooked through. Remove from heat.
  4. Divide salad among four plates. Arrange grilled shrimp on top.
  5. Drizzle dressing over each and serve.

See the original recipe here.

Strawberry-Balsamic Dressing

  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ shallot, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients and ¼ cup water in a blender and blend until very smooth.

See the original recipe here.

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa

Makes 4 servings (serving size: ¼ cup)

  • 1 cup finely chopped strawberries
  • ¼ cup finely chopped peeled avocado
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp grated lime rind
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ tsp sugar (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately.

See the original recipe here.

Here’s another recipe for Strawberry-Vanilla Pancakes from a previous A Healthier Michigan post!

Strawberries are the perfect, healthy summer snack! Do you go picking for strawberries? If so, share your favorite u-pick farm with us!

 

Photo Credit: ewan traveler

Editor’s note: A version of this post was originally published on A Healthier Michigan in May 2013.

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