Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fragaria Deliria

Fragaria is the scientific name of that luscious, sweet, juicy fruit we call the strawberry... and in my household, we are crazy about them! Needless to say, May is one of our favorite months of the year, since it is officially "Strawberry Month" and the pickins are plentiful and low cost both at our local supermarkets and farmers markets.

This wonderful pseudo fruit was first cultivated as the woodland streberry in the 17th century, the garden variety being first bred in Europe in the 18th century. This European developed garden variety, which is what we commonly refer to when we talk about strawberries, was actually created from a hybrid of varieties found in North America and Chile. Strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges, are high in fiber, potassium, and anti-oxidants, low in calories, non-fat, and a good source of folic acid.

Today is officially Strawberries and Cream day, and while we do love the simplicity of a good strawberries and cream treat (our favorite healthy version of the recipe is listed later on), there are so many other ways to decadently enjoy these wonderful berries! Some of our favorites are definitely not exactly waistline friendly, but if you only indulge occasionally, any of these treats are definitely worth the little bit of extra workout time!

My personal favorite is traditional strawberry shortcakes - not the kind with those sweet spongecake shells, but the old-fashioned way, with fresh baked biscuits and freshly whipped sweet cream... nowhere near as sweet as the others, but so much more satisfying and just a back home comfort food! One of my husband's favorites is a simple bowl of sliced strawberries that has been allowed to soak in some Grand Marnier liqueur and topped off with a dollop of fat free sugar free vanilla pudding. The blend of the strawberry flavoring from the fruit and the orange from the liqueur is so sweetly complementary and the pudding adds just the right bit of creamy texture to each spoonful. If you're into dehydrating fruit, strawberries are a great choice and add just the right flavor to everything from cereal and oatmeal in the morning to a fruity touch in a leafy salad served with a vinaigrette dressing for an evening meal! We also enjoy them dipped in chocolate (we've even found a shop that uses sugar free chocolate!), skewered with other fresh fruits and spritzed with honey and sprinkled with coconut. If you're adventurous, the next time you want to just enjoy a bowl of fresh strawberries, instead of sprinking them with your favorite sweetener, try sprinkling them with a little pepper - the flavor is amazing! Whether you eat them plain, in pie, on or in cake, or even cooked as a strawberry soup, this lovely red fruit is berry delicious!

Here's the recipe for our healthy "Strawberries and Cream" (Serves 6)

1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar (I've used the Splenda brown sugar substitute and it works well too!)
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (reserve 6 whole for garnish)

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, brown sugar and liqueur.
In a large bowl, add the halved strawberries and sour cream mixture. Stir gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Scoop the strawberries into 6 colorful bowls or chilled sherbet glasses. Garnish with whole strawberries and serve immediately

You can, of course, simply serve the sliced strawberries drenched in sweet heavy whipping cream or just topped with some freshly whipped cream with a bit of confectioner's sugar added to sweeten it, but since my hubby is diabetic and we try to watch what we eat, I don't think you'll be disappointed in the healthier version!

Thanks to the following shops on Etsy for contributing their photos to illustrate my strawberry flavored post today! Be sure to stop by and see all of their wonderful wares :)

Strawberry Parfait Pendant Necklace - CherryRedStudio
Strawberry Button Necklace - AwkwardTurtleDesigns
Strawberry Champagne Soap with Shea Butter - soapdeli
Strawberry Dream Neckklace and Earring set - meego
Stawberry Fields on Sunday-SNAP CLIP BARRETTES - FlyingButtons
Chocolate Strawberry Cupcake Gift Tags Set of 4 - blackcatmima
Pink Strawberry Sprinkled Sugar Cookie Biscuits - sophiestansfield
Red Strawberry Shortcake Super Charm Necklace - LaurasJewellery

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