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Plated with Rebecca Turner: Shakes, salad and sweets: Spectacular spring strawberries

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner: Shakes, salad and sweets: Spectacular spring strawberries

Nothing shouts spring has arrived like biting into a sweet, juicy locally harvested strawberry. Mississippi strawberries get harvested from mid-March to the end of April, and folks flock to markets and roadside stands for a plump basket or flat. But most strawberry enthusiasts don’t realize the mysteries and legends surrounding the plant. Even the USDA isn’t sure how the strawberry got named. Some believe it originated from how strawberry vines spread about the ground and perhaps morphed into straw. Others believe it has to do with the berries being ready for harvesting around the same time as the straw. Thus, strawberries.

Regardless, people’s love for the delicate, heart-shaped berry has appeared in stories, literature, and paintings throughout the ages. The Greeks and Romans believed the strawberry to be a wild plant. The berries’ bright red color and sweet taste have symbolized purity, passion, and healing. Venus, the Goddess of Love, was often associated with strawberries because of its heart shape and red color. 

It’s easy to fall in love with the health-promoting benefits of strawberries. Modern-day science confirms that strawberries are brimming with antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins, which provide its gorgeous color.

Strawberries, by nature, are a low-calorie food. A cup of fresh strawberries provides around 50 calories serving up immune-boosting vitamin C and bone-building vitamin K. They also provide a generous dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese, and potassium. 

Strawberries typically last about a week, but you can extend that with a few extra steps at home. Wait until you are ready to eat your berries before washing them. Store fresh berries in the refrigerator in an air-tight lid lined with paper towels to help wick away the moisture, keeping your produce fresher. 

Strawberry Milkshake

Ingredients:
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups strawberries hulled
2 cups vanilla ice cream

To hull strawberries, wash, pat dry, and cut off the end, and use a straw to remove the center (hull). 

Combine all ingredients in a blender, except milk, and blend well. Add milk to create the desired consistency. You may not need any milk, you may only use a 1/4 cup or the whole cup. If you add too much milk, just add more ice cream to thicken it back up.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients:
16 ounce fresh spinach + mixed greens
16 ounces fresh strawberries - stems removed, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled cheese (goat cheese, gorgonzola, blue cheese, or feta)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Favorite balsamic vinegar
Salt/pepper - to taste

Combine spinach, salad greens, sliced strawberries, cheese, and pecans. Toss with your favorite dressing and serve or, if you prefer, plate salads, and serve dressing on the side.

Strawberry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:
For the topping:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh ripe sliced strawberries

For the batter:
1 box strawberry cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

You are going to need a bundt pan or a 9-inch round baking pan. Give the desired cake pan a good coat of nonstick spray.  

In a small pot (or in the microwave) melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the brown sugar to the butter and mix the two together. Spread the topping you made evenly over the bottom of your cake pan and place your sliced strawberries on top of the topping.

In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat with a hand mixer until well blended. 

Pour the cake batter carefully into the pan without moving the fruit on the bottom. Fill the cake pan 3/4 way full. (If you use a 9-inch round pan, there’s a chance you’ll have leftover batter. Make cupcakes, or make an additional smaller cake, just double the topping steps.) 

Place the cake into a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick inserted in the center to see if it comes out clean to make sure the cake is baked through. 

Remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack to cool for five or ten minutes. When it's cooled for 5 or 10 minutes place a serving plate over the top of the pan. Flip the cake over onto the plate and remove the pan. Let the cake cool down completely before cutting and serving it.

 

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

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