Friday, April 16, 2010

A Valentine to Your Heart

Someone once said that a strawberry is a heart-shaped valentine to the human heart, and there’s plenty of evidence that the gorgeous red berry is one of nature’s superfoods.

Strawberries are low in calories, fat free, and are rich in fiber, Vitamin C, folate, potassium and cancer-fighting antioxidants. One study found that regular consumption of strawberries decreases systolic blood pressure and increased blood folate levels, both of which can contribute to heart health.

Even though you can find fresh strawberries in supermarkets almost any time, the season for locally grown berries is coming very soon (May and June). And it’s always better to buy produce grown near your home whenever possible. Local berries have traveled a fraction of the distance between farm and table compared to the fruit you find in fall and winter, and it’s easier to find out whether they have been organically farmed—because you can ask the farmer! Two places to buy locally grown berries are Kremer’s Market in Crescent Springs and Madison’s at good old Findlay Market in Cincinnati.

When you get these treasures home, wash, hull, cut and sweeten them—unrefined cane sugar (such as Sucanat) helps protect strawberries from mold—and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Then they’re ready to add to your morning oatmeal or cold cereal, or sprinkle over plain or frozen yogurt. I also love the combination of strawberries and high-quality balsamic vinegar, which actually is surprisingly delicious over ice cream, maybe with the addition of a little cracked black pepper. Sounds weird, but if you are the adventurous type, give it a try.

Or use some berries in this salad that combines sweet, sour, bitter, creamy and crunchy flavors in one marvelous springtime treat.

Recipe: Arugula salad with strawberries and walnuts

(Serves 4)


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil

3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups arugula, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups strawberries, sliced

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

½ cup shaved good quality Parmesan cheese, or more to taste


Combine oils and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk vigorously to blend.

Add salt and pepper to dressing and set aside.

Combine arugula, strawberries and walnuts in a large bowl and add dressing, tossing to coat arugula. Divide into salad bowls or plates, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

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