Be an Eco-Diva With Your Own Indoor Herb Garden!

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plantgrowBasil, thyme, sage, mint, oregano and parsley.

Who doesn’t love the taste of these fresh herbs in their cooking? Well Campus Divas, it’s time to bring that taste to your dorm or apartment! Instead of paying supermarket prices for these herbs, why not try growing them at home?  College comes along with new expenses and saving money is on the mind of most college students. An indoor vegetable and herb garden can help save money in many ways; plus it can get you started on a journey to not only a new hobby but potentially also a healthier life style. We know that when it comes to student living, space is limited, so we are going to focus our tips on growing herbs in a small space.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to grow these herbs indoors, even in small spaces. All you need is a pot, some soil, a few herb plants of your choosing, and a nice place in the sun for them to grow. If you still don’t think you have the green thumb that you need to make this project work, then here are some great tips to make sure you have fresh herbs all year round!

 

My Herb Growing Recipe:

1.       The first thing you need to think about is location; plants need an ample amount of sunlight so pick the sunniest spot in your dorm, room, or apartment. Window sills are a great location but if you don’t have one you can easily place your herbs on a table or desk in a nice sunny spot. Remember, the sun’s energy provides food for your plants so it is essential for a healthy herb garden. A lot of herbs also only need partial sunlight which makes indoor herb gardens so successful.

2.       Choose the herbs you want to grow. We recommend growing the herbs you use the most first such as cilantro, mint, parsley, and basil. There are also some great herbs you can grow for natural remedy purposes. For example, mint is a great calming herb that can help with headaches and can also help with digestion.

3.       Find the right container for your plants. Depending on the amount and variation of herbs you want to grow, there are many different options you could go with when choosing how to contain and grow your herbs. You could use the classic terra cotta pots, or even recycled bottles can work great. You can find many great ideas on Pinterest and we have a few examples for you to check out below. Remember: any container you use must have proper drainage either in the form of holes in the bottom (don’t forget to put a plate underneath to catch any excess water) or put some rocks in the bottom of your pots to create space for excess water.

4.       Add soil to the mix. This you may need to purchase from your local garden store, but depending on the time of year a lot of other stores can also have soil available. We recommend regular potting soil which has the added nutrients needed for growing seedlings.

5.       It’s time to start planting! We recommend starting with your herbs in sprouted seedling form as they will grow faster and more easily.  When planting, make sure to research each herb before putting them in the soil as different herbs have different soil depth requirements.

6.       Add Water. Once your seedlings have been placed in their new home, it’s time to add water! You will want to try your best to keep the soil moist by watering them as needed. A great general guideline is to check the soil daily to see if more water is needed. It’s also important to note that some herbs may needmore frequent watering while others will need less.

7.       Let them simmer till fully mature. A good tip to remember when your herbs are ready is to never harvest more than one third of the plant at a time. This allows that one third to grow back and allows the plant to last much longer. Tip: Never harvest the largest bottom leaves as they are the main food gathering source of the plant and help keep your herbs growing.

8.       It’s time to eat! Cut up some of your delicious fresh herbs and throw them into your favorite recipe and enjoy! It is unbelievable what a difference fresh herbs can make to your culinary experiments!

So now that you have the basics down, here are some great extra tips that could help make things go a little smoother as you get started with your very own herb garden!

 

A Few Extra Tips and Tricks:

  • If you are a bit unsure of what herbs to start your gardening project with, we recommend basil or mint as a great first herb. Both basil and mint grow quickly with relatively little maintenance and they have many uses in cooking and other remedies. Be careful when growing mint to keep it contained because it can spread very easily and, if allowed will, take over your herb garden.
  • How to trim your herbs properly. We recommend that you cut your herbs just above a set of growing leaves and keep on taking from the top as this will allow the herbs to grow new shoots. Once your plants have flowered they will not last too much longer, but if you continue to cut them back they will continue to grow for several months.
  • Plants also like heat so make sure the space you keep your herbs is warm enough and if they are on a window sill make sure the window is not drafty.
  • Remember that before starting your herb garden, make sure to also do your own research for any specific requirements the herbs you chose might have. Every herb can be a little different when it comes to care, harvesting, and cooking.

 

Now that you have your instructions and tips in the front of your mind, you can start to think about how you will set up your personal herb garden. The best thing is that not only will your functional indoor garden add to your home cooking but it will also add to your overall environment! Plants in your living space help with air quality, and even mood, so let’s make it unique. There are tons of different ways to make this project your own! Check out these great Pinterest Ideas!

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Be Heart Healthy

Whether celebrating love (romantic or platonic), or simply focusing on some much needed love of self and self-care, there is no denying that February is all about the heart. Though you may spend much of this month giving and sharing of your heart, how much are you doing for your heart itself?

Did you know that according to the Heart and Stroke Association, heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the United States and is seen to be the cause of 1 out of every 3 deaths of American women? An estimated 43 million women in the US are currently affected by heart disease, which is about 27% of American women. That seems like quite a lot!

So why are we not talking about it more?

This should not surprise us, when an even higher percentage of women in the United States menstruate but menstruation still seems to sometimes be difficult to talk about, and guess what? It’s not only our silence on the two topics that are linked!

Menstruation and Heart Health

Do you know that there may also be a connection between menstruation and heart health? Researchers have been looking into links between menstruation and heart health for some time. There has been much talk about the link between menopause and overall cardiac health as the risk of heart disease is certainly higher for women after menopause. A recent decade long study at University of Oxford even suggested a link between when a woman first starts menstruating and heart disease in later life. In addition to this, Dr. Susan Rako MD in her book, No More Periods?, attributes menstruation to other heart health benefits, including: 1) the reduction in blood pressure during half the normal menstrual cycle and 2) the reduction of stored iron which can also help reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Be Still My Healthy Heart!

So how can you live heart healthy? Well most importantly, make sure that you are doing your regular health checkups and talking with your primary healthcare provider. Also it is never too late to make those small lifestyle changes that can improve not only your cardiac health but your overall health as well. Of course, we are talking about making healthier diet choices and finding more ways to incorporate exercise and activity in your life.

Heart Healthy Eating

We’ve all heard about the heart healthy benefits of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3 and Omega-6) which can be found in delicious foods like fish, flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia, etc. Incorporating some of these into your diet can be easy as well as yummy. Who doesn’t like a good fish fillet for dinner? And if you are vegetarian, adding some flaxseed oil or hemp seed to a smoothie or salad can be a simple fix too.

Try this Heart Healthy Recipe!

OMC (Oh My Cod!)

Ingredients:
1 lb  filet of cod
2 Medium Tomatoes – diced
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
1 yellow onion – diced
2 cloves of garlic – minced
2 sprigs of fresh parsley – chopped fine
2-3 cilantro leaves – chopped fine
1 Tbsp of capers – sliced to release juices
I tsp of Lime juice,
Virgin coconut oil
Coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 C

Sauté onion in coconut oil until the onion starts to yellow. Then add all vegetables and sauté for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat adding water as needed. Add herbs and continue cooking for on medium heat until tastes are blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Apply a 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish, and then place the cod filets on the sauce, spooning the remainder of the sauce over top and squeeze the lime juice over the filet.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the fish has a flaky texture and is opaque white throughout.

Activity and Exercise

The other piece to the puzzle is injecting a bit more activity and movement into your life. More often than not, it becomes all too easy to be more sedentary. If you work at an office job you may be sitting at your desk all day, and even in our off time the entertainment offered by television, the internet, and our smart phones, make it all too simply to sit on the couch instead of getting up and moving around.

Though you may not be able to get out to a gym, some simple things like opting to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator can make a world of difference. Another great idea, during the work day is to set an alarm on your phone to get up every couple of hours and do 5-10 squats. Roping your colleagues or cubical buddies into joining you can make this a fun way to break up the work day while getting you up and moving.

A fun idea for getting yourself moving while not letting it get monotonous is to make yourself an activity challenge jar. Write yourself some activity challenges on slips of paper and keep them in a jar. You know yourself so make sure your challenges are not too easy but also within your ability while still being slightly challenging. Then 2-4 times a day pull out an activity idea from the jar to do on the spot.

Here are some ideas to get you started, no equipment necessary!

  • Do __# of squats holding each squat for a count of 15.
  • Do __# sit-ups.
  • Hold a plank for __# seconds.
  • Do __# burpees.* Remember the number of repetitions or for holding a position will be unique to everybody and make sure to keep it reasonable, discussing all increased activity with your doctor.

Finding fun ways to get more active and eat better will benefit your health in many ways including the ways of the heart.

You’re in our hearts!

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Refreshing Relief for Your Menstrual Cycle

Smoothies are a staple during the summer. They are fruity and refreshing with so many different flavors to mix and match to suit your tastes! But did you know that smoothies have more benefits than just being a healthy, delicious snack?

The Diva Team blended and taste-tested four different smoothie recipes; each one helps your body replenish much needed nutrients for each phase of your menstrual cycle! So whether you’re craving something fruity and tart or sweet and decadent, we’ve got the smoothie for you.

Try the recipes out for yourself and indulge in the delicious benefits!

Phase 1 – Menstruation (Days 1-7)
During the first phase of your cycle, known as menstruation or your period, it is important to get lots of iron to replenish your body after losing important minerals in your blood. Spinach is high in iron and other minerals and is a great addition to smoothies! Banana, which is high in potassium and B6 can help boost your mood and regulate the bowel. We also recommend adding in foods rich in vitamin C, like orange and peaches, to help with the absorption of the iron into the body. Additionally, red raspberry leaf tea is known for its benefits to the Orange Peach Green Smoothie - Smoothies for Your Menstrual Cycle | The DivaCupfemale reproductive system by regulating hormones, menstrual cycle and flow, and offering relief from cramps. It is also high in vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E to help your body replenish vitamins lost during menstruation. Try this delicious Orange Peach Green Smoothie to help your body replenish essential vitamins and minerals for an easier period!

Orange Peach Green Smoothie

1 large orange, peeled and segmented
1 large banana
1 cup fresh or frozen sliced peaches
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup vanilla or peach Greek yogurt
½ cup brewed and chilled Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
1 cup ice
1 Tablespoon flax seed

Phase 2 – Follicular Phase (8-21)

The second phase of your cycle, the follicular phase, is when the eggs begin to develop in the ovaries. The lining of the uterus begins to thicken to prepare for ovulation and implantation (pregnancy). It is important to eat protein rich foods, like Greek yogurt, during this phase of your cycle to help your body rebuild and grow. You are strongest and most energetic during this phase of your cycle, so protein may help you build muscle and amp up Apple Pie Protein Smoothie - Smoothies for your Menstrual Cycle | The DivaCupyour metabolism too! Additionally, cinnamon and honey are excellent period regulators and offer the body important minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium to help replenish the body after your period. Try this delicious smoothie to satisfy that sugar craving while getting your body the protein and minerals it needs.

Apple Pie Protein Smoothie

1 apple, peeled and core
1 cup ice
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt OR 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
½ cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoon raw honey
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp of coconut oil

Phase 3 – Ovulation (Day 14-16)

During the third phase of your cycle, ovulation occurs. Ovulation is when the eggs are released from the ovaries and move along the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the eggs will disintegrate within the next 6-24 hours. During this phase of your cycle, antioxidants are important to keep the cells in your body, including your eggs, healthy. Berries like raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, and fruits like pomegranate, are chock full of antioxidants and other essential vitamins. Additionally, flax seeds are a fantastic source of omegaBerry Pomegranate Smoothie - Smoothie for your Menstrual Cycle | The DivaCup-3 oils and are great for regulating ovulation and reducing cramps and breast pain sometimes associated with ovulation and the upcoming luteal phase. Blend up this delicious and sweet Berry Pomegranate
Smoothie and enjoy a nutritious snack to keep your body healthy!

Berry Pomegranate Smoothie

2 cups mixed frozen berries (Use a mix of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries)
250 ml unsweetened pomegranate juice
250 ml raspberry leaf tea, brewed and chilled
1 tablespoon of flax seed
1 cup of ice
1 small banana, peeled

Phase 4 – Luteal Phase (22-28)

During this phase of your cycle, if there has been no implantation, the thickened uterine lining begins to deteriorate.  This phase is also known as the Pre-Menstrual Stage, and can play host to many of your PMS symptoms such as mood swings, bloating, cramps and nausea. To offset these symptoms it is important to stay hydrated with juicy fruits that help to banish bloat and ease cramps like watermelon, strawberries and mango. Mango Berry Water-Mango Smoothie - Smoothies for your Menstrual Cycle |The DivaCupcan help balance your hormones and is high in vitamin B6 and iron to help with PMS and preparing the body for iron lost in menstrual flow. Additionally, ginger is fantastic at combating period induced nausea and is an anti-inflammatory to help reduce cramps and breast pain. Blend them together in this delicious Berry Water-Mango Smoothie to reap the benefits and keep yourself feeling comfortable!

Berry Water-Mango Smoothie

1 large mango, peeled and pitted (or 2 cups frozen mango)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
4 ounces almond milk
1 cup whole strawberries
1 cup watermelon
1 small banana, peeled

For more information on how to chart and better understand your menstrual cycle, visit our Menstrual Education page!

{Guest Post} Paleo Girl: How I Saved My Own Life!

paleo.editBy now you’ve probably heard of the Primal or Paleo lifestyle, but is there more to it than eating like a caveman?

Well, of course there is! A lifestyle is more than a small change in your eating habits. Think total life makeover.

In a nutshell, Paleo means going back to the basics. For me, this means eating meat, veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats. Some people that are Primal consume dairy. I’ll occasionally have some baked Brie or full-fat Greek yogurt about once a month, but beyond that, I’m dairy free. I chose to eliminate dairy because when I eat too much of it, I tend to break out.

As for exercise, I keep things simple here too. I focus on “Essential Movements” like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks. I also like to lift heavy things, but because I don’t have a gym membership, I have to improvise. One of my favorite ways to do this is to lift, squat, and carry heavy rocks in my front yard. (Yeah I know, insert caveman joke here!) Beyond that I also sprint every once in a while.

In addition to diet and exercise, the Primal lifestyle includes important factors like sun, sleep, and play. Living in Los Angeles, California makes it easy to get adequate sunlight. I like to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day soaking up some Vitamin D. (I have a fairly dark complexion, so 20 minutes of sun is safe for me—for those of you on the more fair side, 10 minutes is probably enough.)

Sleep is an aspect of life that a lot of people tend to overlook. Do you really know what it means to be fully rested? Odds are you don’t! Lifestyle, stress, diet, environment, and a lot of other factors can really wear on your relationship with catching some quality zzz’s. For me, I’ve set a regular bedtime (anywhere between 10-10:30pm), I’ve eliminated extra light and noise that can enter my bedroom, and I’ve excluded alcohol and caffeine from my diet. I wake up every morning on top of the world—and when I stay up too late, sleep somewhere too bright or noisy, or have a glass of wine at night or a cup of coffee in the morning—I always feel groggy the next day.

Play is another puzzle piece that makes my life feel full. More often than not, as we mature we tend to think playing is something for kids. I went through that phase myself. I stopped running around, spinning in circles, climbing trees, and playing hide-and-seek with my friends barefoot in the woods. Now that I’m more in touch with my ancestral roots, I’ve brought this spirit of play back into my life and am happier and healthier than ever.

Paleo-Girl-Cover-Final-5What has all of this taught me? I’ve never been so in touch with my body, mind, and spirit. I know exactly how I’m going to feel when I eat certain foods (good or bad), I can feel what exercising does for my body, and I know the importance of other life factors like sun, sleep and play. Being this in tune with my body empowers me. It helps me make positive decisions and I’m never caught off guard by a random cold or painful period. Yes—you read that right. My periods are 100 percent pain free!

I didn’t always have the best history with health. I was a yo-yo dieter for over a decade and really damaged my body. This includes my reproductive health. In 2005, I was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (abnormal cell growth on the surface of my cervix) and had to have a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) to removed damaged layers of my cervix. In 2012 a doctor discovered about a dozen cysts in my left ovary (one of them the size of a grapefruit, or over 10cm large) and I again had to have surgery.

During the procedure, the doctor discovered massive amounts of Endometriosis (when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body). She did her best to remove what she could, but because she had only prepped the surgery for cyst removal, she didn’t have a laser on hand to remove all of the Endometriosis. She explained to me that to get the pain under control from the Endometriosis, that I would likely need another surgery in the future.

But why have another surgery when I was so sure I could control this issue with my diet?

Ever since high school, I have had very painful periods—to the point where I would miss school about once a month because I couldn’t physically walk. I thought this was normal! All those years I spent suffering, unaware that if I were more in touch with my body that I could control everything that I didn’t like about it. That’s when I really started to take the Primal lifestyle seriously and focus on making my body as healthy as I could. I was sick of the pain, being overweight, feeling sluggish, and really cared about my reproductive health because I plan on having kids one day!

So how does a Paleo diet help period pain and issues related to Endometriosis? I’ve got one word for you: inflammation. A Primal or Paleo diet is an anti-inflammatory diet, and the pain you experience from your menstrual cycle and Endometriosis come from inflammation. See where I’m going here? If you can reduce the inflammation in your body, you can ease or remove cramps from your life entirely. I did!

One point I want to stress is that everyone’s chemistry is different. While one thing may work for me, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll also work for you and vice versa. That’s why I encourage everyone to treat their bodies like a science experiment until they figure out what works best for them. You can read fact after fact and go over all kinds of scientific studies, but until you test the waters yourself, you’re never going to know how something makes YOU feel.

That’s why I decided to write my first book Paleo Girl. I hope to encourage and empower girls to take control of their lives and see what makes them feel their best. In this book, I cover all the topics I touch on here more in-depth, as well as puberty (and importantly using The DivaCup as opposed to using tampons and pads), peer pressure, eating disorders, motivation, friends, boys, and life. It’s truly a lifestyle guide for teen girls written just for you!

For more information about Paleo Girl or myself, visit my website leslieklenke.com, or you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Leslie-K.editLeslie Klenke
Leslie Klenke is an author, designer, health enthusiast, and voiceover artist living in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Visual Communication Technology and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Leslie merges her love for art and health with her first book Paleo Girl, which she proudly wrote, photographed, and designed. She shares her passion for “good food and a healthy life” on her popular Instagram: @LeslieKlenke. Leslie is happily married to her best friend, AJ Wilson, and the proud owner of two goofy Boston Terriers, Olie and Harlow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A with Ellen Barrett and Kate Hanley, authors of the 28 Days Lighter Diet

Ellen Barrett and Kate Hanley are the co-authors of the brand new book The 28 Days Lighter Diet: Your Monthly Plan to Lose Weight, End PMS, and Achieve Physical and Emotional Wellness. The book covers how to sync your diet, exercise, and life to your cycle, so you’re working with your body instead of beating it into submission. The Diva Team had a chance to talk to Ellen and Kate about the writing process and their upcoming Super Summit!

28DaysLighterDiet1. Can you share a bit about why you decided to write a book like this?

We noticed an unsettling trend with just about every woman we worked with – they pretty much all had issues with their cycle and also had weight struggles. We also knew from our individual experiences that common woes, such as PMS and extra pounds, are changeable with a few minor adjustments to your diet, fitness routine, and lifestyle. And we wanted women to see that they don’t have to just accept feeling less-than-great–they can use their cycle as a guide for what to do and when.

2. What exactly is the problem with being out of touch with our cycles?

Well, for one, it’s ridiculously unnatural – like being out of touch with the seasons…like driving a convertible in a snowstorm – it’s that ridiculous! Secondly, women miss out when you are out of touch, because the cycle is a perfect GPS system leading us towards optimal wellness. When you aren’t really sure where you are in your cycle, it’s so easy to nudge yourself out of balance. You may go to a spinning class on a day when your energy level is at its lowest, for example, and feel like a failure because you couldn’t keep up. Or go for a run the day before your period, when the uterus is twice its normal weight, and contribute to a misalignment that, over time, can add up to painful periods or even infertility. Or keep yourself booked solid during your pre-menstruation week when what your psyche is really craving some alone time. Meaning, you’ll be way more likely to pick fights or overreact to things that would otherwise not even catch your attention. Life flows (pardon the pun) a lot more easily when you give yourself just what you need just when you need it.

3. Can you share a bit about the Energy Wheel?

The 28 DAYS LIGHTER DIET Energy Wheel is an easy way to track your cycle, monitor your wellbeing, and plan your life. The cycle is a circle–when you get to the end, you immediately start again at the beginning, so our chart isn’t a traditional square calendar – it’s a circle too. As simple as the Energy Wheel is, it’s an extremely powerful tool for helping you really see how you experience your individual cycle and how any changes you make to your routines impact your wellbeing.

4. Who are the Wise Woman, Mother and Vixen and why are they so important?

They are prototypes for who we are energetically during each phase of the cycle. Phase I, Wise Woman, is still and knowing. Phase II , Mother, is all powerful. Phase III, Vixen, is intuitive and daring. They represent all the aspects of being a woman. They mean we don’t have to shut off any part of ourselves, they all have a place at the table. And it also means we don’t have to be all things at once, which is a huge relief!

5. Of the recipes in your book, which is your favorite and why?

Ellen: I’m a breakfast girl (and often have breakfast foods for dinner), so I’d say the “Almost Eggs Florentine”” on page 140.

Kate: I am loving the Escarole and Bean soup! The Energy Balls are a close second, however. Love having something on hand that satisfies a sweet tooth but still delivers a ton of nutrition.

6. What advice would you give to young girls first starting their periods?

1. It’s a blessing, not a curse. 2. Don’t use tampons. 3. Rest on Day 1.

7. What advice would you give to women well into their menstruating years?

1. It’s a blessing, not a curse. 2. Don’t use tampons. 3. Rest on Day 1.

8. What was the most interesting thing you learned about women’s health while researching for the book?

The biggest revelation was about how the birth control pill is way more dangerous than we previously thought yet it continues to be prescribed by doctors like it’s no big deal.

9. Final question… what’s on your playlist?

Ellen: I just downloaded a few songs from Lorde – love her.

Kate: I can’t stop listening to “Happy” by Pharrell, “Walk Us Uptown,” by Elvis Costello and the Roots, and “Holiday” by Madonna. It’s late winter — I need morale boosters!

AuthorPhotoEllen Barrett & Kate Hanley

Ellen Barrett is the creator of dozens of best-selling DVD workouts, including Prevention magazine’s bestselling Flat Belly Diet series. The New Haven, Connecticut resident can be seen weekly on FIT TV’s All Star Workouts.

Kate Hanley is a coach, yoga teacher, and health journalist whose work has appeared in Real Simple, Parents, and Yoga Journal. The author of The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Ellen and Kate teamed up to write The 28 Days Lighter Diet after one fateful conversation where they realized they had each healed their own PMS and helped countless clients of lose weight and end troublesome symptoms. When they couldn’t find a book in the bookstore to suggest as a guide for other women who wanted to do the same, they decided to write it themselves.

Strawberry fields for Diva!

I enjoy the last half of June for two reasons:

  1. It marks the start of summer and…
  2. 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.

Strawberry-fieldsThis 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.Strawberries
  • 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!