Archive for strawberry
The New Year rings in not only change, but brings with it some berry berry good news. That time of year starts the delivery of fresh berries from here in Florida, to us locally and to everyone around the country as well. Strawberry season is in full swing and as it winds down it yields the lead to America’s second favorite berry (after the strawberry); the blueberry. The blueberries have just started arriving from the fields and will continue through May; at which point the northern yield comes in to carry us until through the fall. The berries are not only sumptuous as a fresh from the farm treat, but new research shows what a powerful nutritional dynamo they truly are.
A study published recently in the prestigious journal, Circulation, examined the effect of strawberry and blueberry consumption on the rate of myocardial infarction (heart attacks) in young and middle aged women. The study followed a group of 93,600 women 25 to 42 years of age who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) II. The women were followed for 18 years. The study looked at two foods particularly rich in the anti-oxidant phytochemicals known as anthocyanins. These compounds are found in red, blue and purple colored vegetables and fruits. However, blueberries and strawberries are graced with particularly high concentrations of these potent anti-inflammatory agents. The study focused on the potential benefits associated with these berries. Among the anthocyanin compounds that have been investigated for their potential health benefit, the list includes malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, and peonidins.
The study found that consuming more than 3 servings per week reduced the risk of heart attack by an impressive 32%. Delicious and nutritious; now that’s some berry berry good news!
 (Cassidy, Mukamal, Liu, Franz, Eliassen, & Rimm, 2013)
Cassidy, A., Mukamal, K. J., Liu, L., Franz, M., Eliassen, A. H., & Rimm, E. B. (2013). High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women. Circulation, 127:188-196 doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.122408.
What better way to open the month of April, which welcomes us as fools (and I with a total malapropism of Beatles classics) than with the Foole of Strawberries. Strawberries are a treat; delicious sun sweetened harbingers of the bounty to come, they are among the first of fruits to give yield. They are also among the top five fruits in terms of delivering antioxidants (and a great source of vitamin C) per weight of fruit. In addition to antioxidants, they provide a host of phytonutrients like anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids. This results in strawberries helping the body reduce dangerous levels of inflammation. A diet rich in strawberries has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP).
Sage is powerful herb that has been revered throughout history. Its Latin designation, salvia officinalis comes from the Latin root salvere meaning “to be saved.” It is well known for its cleansing abilities and contains many of the same types of compounds (volatile oils, flavonoids (including apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin), and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid found in rosemary, which is closely related to sage—rosmarinic acid) found in strawberries. Rosmarinic acid acts via a different pathway to synergize with the anti-oxidant benefits found in strawberries. Sage also contains an enzyme known as superoxide dismutase (SOD) which gives it an unique capacity to mediate oxygen mediated cell damage such as that seen in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis. There is also evidence (Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior, June 2003) supporting what ancient herbalists knew to true: consuming sage can make you sage, or at least improve memory and brain function.
A fool (or foole) is a dessert of English origin, first mentioned in 1598, but with origins likely much older. It combines seasonal fruit (gooseberries were among the original) with a flavored whipped cream. This version reduces the lactose by adding the tangy flavors of chèvre, goat cheese, which also acts to boost the health benefits. Flavored with natural honey, this sweet treat embodies the balance of sweetened, slightly tangy whipped cream and chèvre, bright sun ripened strawberry goodness and a savory, herbaceous note of sage that heralds the arrival of spring. Like the fool, it appears on the surface simple and a mindless pleasure to enjoy and dismiss. Like The Fool, who is in truth a Mage, this dessert packs a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants, phytophenols and a host of other compounds to render under to it a title of healthy eats. And as in Nature, it seeks and achieves Balance being delicious AND nutritious; A Sage Foole, indeed!
Sage Strawberry Fool
- 1/4 cup honey + 1 Tbs
- 1 cup mead
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 6-10 fresh sage leaves
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 ounces heavy whipping cream
- 2 ounces chèvre
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Gently heat the mead and 1/4 cup honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. While the wine is heating, thinly slice the strawberries and remove the stems. Place in a bowl. When the wine has reached a simmer, remove from the heat and add the star anise, cinnamon and sage. Pour over the strawberries and allow to rest for at least an hour, covered. To serve, whip the chèvre, vanilla and honey together in a stand mixer until it is well beaten. Add the cream and whip until peaks form. Remove the strawberries from the mixture, discarding the herbs and liquid. To serve layer the cream base and fruit alternately. Serve with a sprig of mint (mint is a taxonomic relation of sage).
This spring was welcomed by a special full moon, the perigee, or super moon. Since the orbit of the moon is elliptical, there are times when it is closer; the time it is closest is known as the perigee and this year was the closest the moon has been since 1992. Ancient lore recounts how plants grown and harvested under the full moon were imbued with an extra potency and vibrancy. So we gathered some traditional harbingers of spring, who with that extra shot of moonshine deliver spring in a spoon.
Asparagus is one of the first springtime vegetables. The tender shoots are a great source of saponins. These compounds have both an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Consumption of saponins is also correlated with improvements in the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar. Asparagus is also a source of a unique carbohydrate compound, a type of polyfructan, known as inulin. Unlike other carbohydrates, inulin passes almost completely intact all the way to the large intestine, where it is broken down by our native, beneficial bacteria. This is associated with potentially better nutrient absorption and a potential lower risk of colon cancer. In addition, asparagus is a great source of vitamin k (a vitamin necessary for proper blood clotting), folate, vitamin A and C. And most importantly, in this soufflé it is indescribably delicious and perfect with a glass of bubbly.
Finish this off with a few strawberries dipped in Chambord Ganache and rolled in her favorite topping. Keep the bubbly coming for this one, too. It’s just what the doctor ordered for Mom!
Asparagus Parmesan Soufflé with Hollandaise
Makes two 8oz. servings
180 Calories; 9g Total Fat; 10g Total Carbohydrate
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened to grease ramekins
1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs to dust ramekins
4 large egg whites
8 ounces prepared asparagus; peeled, blanched*
1 leek, white part only, roughly chopped
3 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese + 1 Tbs for dusting
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using the softened butter and breadcrumbs, grease and coat each 7oz ramekin. Using a stand mixer beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Place the blanched asparagus and leek in a food processor and puree. Combine the egg yolks with the asparagus and leek mixture, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Fold in 1/3 of the egg white mixture to lighten the egg yolk mixture. Then gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the remaining egg whites. Fill the ramekins with the batter, wiping along the top edge. Bake for ~ 15-18 minutes until puffy and firm.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top of each soufflé. Break the top of each soufflé, and spoon in the warm Hollandaise Sauce. Serve immediately.
*To prepare the asparagus, peel the stems to remove the outer, stringier fibrous part. Place the asparagus in salted, boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Roughly chop.
Serving Size 3/4 oz
110 Calories; 12g Total Fat; 0g Carbohydrate
1 stick unsalted butter (8Tbs)
Juice of 2 lemons
3 egg yolks
Combine the lemon juice and egg yolks. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Temper the egg yolks by adding the melted butter, a little at a time to the yolks, whisking constantly. When half the butter has been added combine the egg yolk-butter mixture with the rest of the melted butter in the saucepan. Stir over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 3- minutes.
Chambord Ganache Covered Strawberries
Serving Size 4 berries
80 Calories; 6g Total Fat; 8g Total Carbohydrate
1 oz (2 Tbs) of butter
7oz of heavy cream
8 oz fine chocolate, chopped
2 Tbs Chambord (or any other liqueur flavor you like)
1 pint fresh strawberries
Melt the butter and heat the cream together. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Whip together and add the liqueur. Dip the strawberries in the Ganache. If you have any additional toppings like toasted coconut or crushed macadamia nuts roll the dipped berries in these and let set for several minutes or refrigerate until needed.