Strawberry season is without a doubt one of my favorite times of the year. A bucket overflowing with plump, juicy red strawberries held triumphantly by a toddler with red-stained hands and face is a joyful image indeed! And now that the season is upon us, I thought it would be fitting to share a few of our family’s favorite strawberry-related activities…
PICK YOUR OWN: Growing up I can remember every year driving to the local farm with my mom, often several nights per week, all throughout the month of May. We’d pick 4, eat 2, then drop the rest in the bucket. Then when we got home we’d wash them off and eat some more. Picking your own berries is not only fun (and tasty!), but it’s a great opportunity to teach your children about where food comes from, along with the environmental (and often financial!) benefits of buying locally. To find a local strawberry patch in your area, click here. (For all you Charlotte locals, check out Hall Family Farm!)
GRAB ‘EM AND GO: “Give that strawberry a haircut, Mommy,” says C every morning without fail, as he reaches for the biggest berry he can possibly find. I slice through the cap, throw it into the compost bowl, and hand C his juicy prize, at which point he gleefully runs off to hop in either the bike trailer or the car, depending on our destination du jour. This quirky little morning ritual actually started a little over a month ago (b/c our household loves strawberries so much that we buy them year round…) C abruptly decided that he preferred his morning fruit as a post-breakfast “dessert” rather than in the bowl with his granola and milk. Now, regardless of whether he’s had fruit for breakfast or not, he insists on having exactly one (and occasionally one for each hand, but never more), before we head out for the day. A little odd maybe, but I’m certainly not going to discourage the boy from eating as much fruit as he wants! That being said, the next time you need a snack for the car – grab a bowl of berries and give them a “haircut!” (Just don’t forget the wipes for those red-stained hands and faces!)
GET SMOOOOOTH(IES): Smoothies are a favorite snack at our house, and I can’t think of the last time I made one without tossing in at least a couple of strawberries. Besides adding some sweetness and a friendly color to the mix, the list of health benefits from strawberries is long! Our old standby recipe (meaning that we generally always have these ingredients laying around, even if I’m a day or two late with groceries) is follows: 1 banana (overripe and one day from rotting is best for adding sweetness!), 6-8 strawberries, handful of baby carrots (chopped fairly small), a splash of juice, spoonful of greek yogurt, and a handful of ice cubes. Yum. This combo makes enough for a small smoothie for both me and C, or one big one for either of us (“big” meaning 12 oz or so, so not huge.)
TOSS ‘EM IN: A handful of strawberries is a great way to boost the nutrition of whatever you’re eating. Oatmeal, cereal, granola, yogurt, a bowl of assorted fruits – don’t be afraid to get creative! (My son went through a phase where he loved dipping strawberries as well as blackberries in…hummus! (And not just normal hummus, but the slightly spicy tomato basil kind from Trader Joe’s…)
FREEZE ‘EM: Any strawberry that enters our house is pretty much guaranteed to get eaten within a few days, but on the rare occasion that we do end up with too many, we freeze them (like during those “Buy 4 for 5$” weeks at Harris Teeter!) FYI, frozen strawberries make for ESPECIALLY tasty smoothies.
Surely I can’t be the only one around here that eats my body weight in fruit during the month of May (okay confession, I have similar tendencies with raspberries…and oranges…and bananas…). How does YOUR family make the most of strawberry season? (And if you’re looking for some more creative uses for them in the kitchen, check out some of the delectables described here.