It’s strawberry season here in Southern Ontario! That means berries aplenty here in HHH world for the next couple of weeks. Did you know that ounce for ounce, strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges? (I heard that somewhere awhile back, don’t ask me where). There are SO MANY wonderful ways to enjoy these beauties, here are some of my favs. Don’t waste time – get the berries before they’re gone and whip up a tasty treat!
1. Dip in brown sugar (twin) and sour cream (or Greek yogurt) Quite some time ago, a family friend let us in on this delicious flavour combination. While it may sound a little strange, it’s actually quite delicious. Nowadays, to boost protein and cut calories, I substitute fat-free Greek yogurt for the sour cream and brown sugar twin for the sugar – equally delicious! Try either variation for a tasty snack or light dessert.
2. Make your own tasty dips. Like I did for Father’s Day, whip up some lime or chocolate dip. Or change up the flavours and create your own unique concoction. Both of the recipes above are pretty basic, so they can easily be personalized to suit your flavour preference.
3. Top off your favourite cereal. This is an oldie, but a goodie (I know you can’t tell from the photo, but there is cereal under there, I promise!). This combo (and my personal favourite) is one cup of Wildroots Organic Triple Berry Morning Bliss (from Costco) topped with one and a half cups of sliced fresh strawberries, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and just a touch of brown sugar twin.
4. Make a breakfast (or dessert) berry quesadilla. This is a dish that I make with apples or or pears in the winter, but is easily summer-ized. Spray one side of a light tortilla with no-stick spray, sprinkle with Splenda and cinnamon. Mix a few tablespoons fat-free cream cheese with vanilla extract and sweetener of your choice to taste (I used splenda). Spread on one half of the non-sprayed side of the tortilla. Top with an even layer of sliced berries. Fold other half over the berry side. Cook in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat – brown on one side, flip, then brown on the other. Optional but delicious: serve with a side of stewed rhubarb for dipping.
5. Use ‘em in a yogurt parfait. While we’re on the subject of stewed rhubarb, why not stir some of it, along with chopped berries into some yogurt (plain, flavoured, Greek, sweetened or not, your choice) and top off with cereal for a cool and crunchy breakfast treat. Don’t have the rhubarb? No worries! Go all berry, or mix with another fruit of your choice.
6. Top off French toast. Make my usual French toast, and top with sliced fresh berries (and if you’ve got the stewed rhubarb, add some of that too). For an extra treat, top with 1/4 cup light ricotta, lightly sweetened and mixed with vanilla.
7. Make a tasty toast. This is another ricotta special, and with similar flavours to the French toast, but quicker and easier for a weekday breakfast. Just lightly spray a thin bun or English muffin with PAM, sprinkle with cinnamon and Splenda, then toast. Mix 1/4 cup light ricotta with a splash of vanilla and some Splenda. Spread this over the toast, then top with sliced berries (I know I sound like a broken record, but also good if you add stewed rhubarb to the party). This is another breakfast that works with almost any fruit all year long.
8. Top off your favourite fro yo. Any kind of ice cream or frozen yogurt gets a boost from delicious fresh berries (and who can argue with something that means dessert contains a serving of fruit?). Add a bit of light chocolate syrup and/or a chocolate vitatop and make it a sundae! Also try berries in a soft serve sundae…mmmm!
9. Go Savoury. I know so far that all of my ideas have been sweet, but strawberries also work well in savoury applications. Try stirring a few into salsa for a different dip or topper for grilled meats. Or throw some strawberries into your typical salad for something deliciously different (I LOVE salads with fruit in them).
10. Make a trifle or top a cake. Here’s my basic trifle recipe. Just use fresh berries in place of the fruits I’ve used, and add any other to suit your tastes. You can also go basic and top off any number of cake flavours with fresh berries. For optimum flavours, slice the berries and let sit for 30 minutes or so (with or without added sweeteners) to let the juice develop. Easiest dessert ever? Buy an angel food cake, top with slice berries and some frozen yogurt or Cool Whip.
11. Chill out! Strawberries will never be as delicious, fresh and cheap as they are now (California strawberries DO NOT count…they don’t taste nearly as delicious), so why not freeze them to enjoy all year long? You can use them in everything from smoothies to soft serve even in the midst of a winter storm. To freeze my berries, I wash them, hull them, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once they’re frozen, I transfer to a re-sealable plastic bag. *Tip: If you want a large amount of berries for freezing – pick ‘em yourself….WAAAAAY cheaper!
12. Once you’ve got your frozen berries, make these. What are “these,” you may ask? They are Hungry Girl’s Freezylicious Strawberry Squares and you should really give them a try. One warning: this recipe uses half a can of sweetened condensed milk. While I love, appreciate and respect Hungry Girl, I think this is stupid and dangerous. I think sweetened condensed milk is basically the nectar of the Gods, and kind of like crack. Some of you out there may say it’s too sweet, but I disagree. I can (and do) eat it straight from the can and be completely satisfied. In fact, I think it would make the perfect dessert on its own. Sadly, even the low fat stuff is way higher in calories than I’d like to know about. But, I was smart, planned ahead, and made a half batch of cookie dough truffles so I’d have somewhere (other than my mouth) to put the other half of the can.
Freezylicious Strawberry Squares
PER SERVING (1 square, about 2.5" X 2.5"): 173 calories, 2.75g fat, 5 g fibre
1/4 cup light whipped butter or light buttery spread (I use low fat becel)
1 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original)
1 cup Fiber One Caramel Delight cereal (I didn’t have, so I used my trusty Triple Berry Organic Bliss)
3 tbsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
1 tsp. cinnamon
Half a 14-oz. can (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp.) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 cups frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
16 oz. (2 cups) fat-free strawberry yogurt (I used cherry, because I bought more than I needed for this recipe, which I tried and didn’t like anyway)
1 cup Cool Whip Free, slightly thawed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine butter with 2 tbsp. water. Microwave until just melted; set aside.
In a blender or food processor, grind both types of cereal to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and add butter mixture, Splenda, and cinnamon. Stir until mixed well.
Spray an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish (I used 11 x 7) with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute crust mixture along the bottom of the dish, using your hands or a flat utensil to firmly press and form the crust. Press it into the edges, but not up the sides.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes; remove and let cool.
Clean and dry blender (if you used it earlier), and add all ingredients for filling. Blend at high speed until completely mixed and smooth. Pour evenly over the crust in the baking dish, covering it completely. Cover and freeze for 6 hours, or until firm.
Before serving, remove from freezer and let thaw for 5 – 10 minutes. Cut into 9 squares and enjoy!
MAKES 9 SERVINGS
Feelin’ crusty: crust is baked and ready to go and filling all blended and ready to go on top.
Optional: serve the squares topped with mint leaves, cool whip and a whole strawberry and drink tea out of a fancy cup for a nice, blog-worthy photo.
While we’re on the subject of strawberries, I thought I’d share some web-spiration with you. I subscribe to and LOVE Food Network Magazine and each month they do a feature with 30 days of a certain food. June was strawberries. While I can’t find the exact article online, here’s a link to 30 days of berries (they use other kinds of berries, so you can come back to this all summer).
Canadian Living’s Health and Wellness Blog has 5 reasons strawberries are good for you plus 5 strawberry recipes to check out online.
Those are just some of my favourite ways to use the beautiful berry – what are yours?