I enjoy the last half of June for two reasons:
- It marks the start of summer and…
- It marks the start of strawberry season (for us Divas in the North)!!!
These red, heart-shaped berries are not only sweet and juicy; they are also low in calories and offer many great health benefits.
As a young girl I used to love strawberry picking. I loved seeing how the berries grew, loved finding the double strawberries (legend has it that if you split a double strawberry with someone, you will fall in love with them) and of course sneaking one or two strawberries in between picking.
This summer I thought it would be fun to relive this childhood memory and so I headed off to a local farm and picked some strawberries of my own. Within minutes it was confirmed, strawberry picking is awesome no matter what your age. The anticipation of what’s to follow, days and days of strawberry-themed breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes was almost too much to handle… almost.
We came home with buckets full of strawberries and for dinner had gluten free crepes and topped them gelato, whipped cream and of course strawberries!!!
Like everything wonderful, strawberries have a very interesting history.
Prior to its mass distribution, this lovely berry was used as an herbal medicinal remedy, alleviating symptoms of inflammation, fevers and throat infections. For a short while they were also regarded as a poisonous food because of their growth close to the ground. In the 1500s they became a hot commodity, quickly becoming one of summer’s most beloved fruits.
One thing I always wondered was how the strawberry got its name. They certainly don’t look like straw. A few historical tales suggest that the word straw came from the fact that straw would be placed around the plants for protection. Others believe that the name strawberry was given because of the runners that span from the plant, making it look like the berry patch was “strewn” on the ground.
In my fascination with strawberry season, I discovered a few other interesting facts about the strawberry:
- Heart-shaped and red in color… it’s no wonder the strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love.
- There is a museum in Belgium just for strawberries!
- On average, 200 seeds can be found on a strawberry, making it the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.
- Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
- Lebanon, Oregon’s annual strawberry festival is home to the world’s largest strawberry shortcake.
- The strawberry is actually a member of the rose family.
What makes the strawberry even more wonderful is all of the health benefits it offers:
- They contain ellagic acid and flavonoids, which help promote good heart health and aid in lowering cholesterol.
- Strawberries contain fiber which aid in digestion.
- They are also a great source of Vitamin C (even more than oranges), which is important for boosting immunity while also helping to protect our eyes from the sun’s rays.
- They also contain antioxidants which aid in reducing inflammation. This is not only beneficial for your joints, but also your heart!
- They contain vitamin K, potassium and magnesium which help maintain strong bones and healthy teeth. Potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure.
- Strawberries also contain folate, a B-vitamin recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. Folate helps with fetal development in the early stages of pregnancy, particularly with the development of a baby’s brain, spinal cord and skull.
- Good from the inside out! Strawberries help build strong hair and nails because they contain biotin. They also aid in the reduction of wrinkles as the ellagic acid found in strawberries helps reduce the destruction of collagen.
As strawberry season comes to a close, be sure to visit a local farm and “pick” up some of your own! You can also try your hand at homemade jam, a fruit filled dessert, strawberry popsicles or this great stuffed strawberry cheesecake recipes!
Share your strawberry recipe or story with the Diva Community today!