Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Fruit: The Sweet Scoop on Strawberries

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When I was a little girl, I wanted to live in Strawberry Land, where life was always delicious. I wished for friends with names like Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin and Raspberry Tart. Strawberry Land was a place where you automatically got a pink polka-dotted cat named Custard (no begging and pleading with the parental units required). It was basically my idea of H-E-A-V-E-N!

This was the 80's and sadly, the closest I ever got to Strawberry Land was watching 'Strawberry Shortcake' on TV while chowing down on my mom's homemade strawberry pie. Though disappointed that I was still stuck in the living room, I deemed the strawberry pie an acceptable consolation price.

I just loved strawberries! On TV! On pies! Even all by themselves! My little six year old self was right though... strawberries are actually quite fascinating (and for much more than their TV glitz and glam). Care to read along while I ramble like a silly schoolgirl about my first love, strawberries?

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COLORFUL CANCER FIGHTER - Strawberries get their rich red color from a group of phytochemicals called anthocyanins. In lab studies, anthocyanins were shown to inhibit the growth of colon, lung and leukemia cancer cells, while still allowing healthy cells to grow and reproduce. The high level of antioxidants in strawberries also plays a major role in fighting cancer-causing free radicals in the body.

TASTY ANTI-INFLAMMATORY - You could say that strawberries are like the natural version of Ibuprofen in the body.  The phenols in strawberries help to inhibit enzymes that cause inflammatory disorders, such as asthma, osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis.

DELICIOUS EYE OPENER - Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, which helps protect your eyes from the sun's rays. Vitamin C also strengthens the cornea and retina, leaving you with much stronger eyes than your average Joe.

JUICY BONE BUILDER - The trace mineral manganese is a key player in building and maintaining bone structure. Additionally, the potassium, magnesium and vitamin K found in strawberries ensure proper bone health.

POWERFUL HEART HELPER - Strawberries look like mini hearts so it's no wonder that the phytochemicals in strawberries have been shown to lower bad cholesterol, which causes plaque build up in the arteries and hinders blood flow. Just a few strawberries a day can keep your heart happy and healthy.

It's been a Sprouted Kitchen kind of week... humor me while I share another attempted recipe for her Strawberry + Leek Quesadillas. I made these on Sunday morning for brunch, and I felt pretty fancy pants when it was all said and done. Like maybe I should call a friend to come over so I could show off a little.

Thinly slice 1 leek and a handful of strawberries.

Saute the leeks in a tiny bit of olive oil until slightly brown, then remove and set aside.

Add a tiny drizzle of olive oil to the same pan and place 1 brown rice tortilla inside to start warming up.
Top with the leeks and strawberries.

Now, sprinkle mozzarella and goat cheese crumbles on top of the strawberry layer.

Place the second tortilla on top and press firmly to seal.
Flip it over and cook an additional few minutes to brown the other side.

Top with the remaining strawberries, a sprinkle of goat cheese and a few pieces of cilantro.
Your brunch-mate will thank you!

If you just can't get enough strawberries, give these recipes a try...

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