Cooks Corner: Sweet &Healthy

Published 1:05 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Staff
Who knew that something so sweet and decadent could be so good for you?
I always knew that strawberries were wonderful gifts from God, but I didn't realize they had such wonderful, healthful powers.
According to information I have found, one cup of strawberries provides a whopping 140 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
Strawberries are also packed with flavonoids, two in particular, called quercetin and kaempferol. These two flavonoids help keep “bad” (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing and damaging artery walls.
Strawberries also contain ellargic acid - also found in raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, grapes, cherries, walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts - which acts as a scavenger to “bind” cancer-causing chemicals, making them inactive. It inhibits the ability of other chemicals to cause mutations in bacteria. In addition, it prevents binding of carcinogens to DNA and reduces the incidence of cancer in cultured human cells exposed to carcinogens.
After taking into account how good they are for you, I've decided to provide a few recipes that will incorporate strawberries into your diet with a couple of new twists.
The first recipe I'll share today is for a spinach and strawberry salad. Since spinach and strawberries are both apparently good for you, this should be a plus. The tastes are great together and the health benefits make it a bonus.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad
2 eggs, boiled and
4 slices bacon
5 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 kiwi, sliced
1/2 mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
1 cup seasoned croutons
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crisp and evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. In a large bowl, toss together the eggs, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, strawberries, onion, kiwi, and orange. Use your favorite vinaigrette dressing and top with croutons.
If you're looking for a great salad dressing to use on your summer salads, this next recipe is marvelous. It's great on any kind of salad, but is especially good on the strawberry and spinach salad.
Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 cup olive oil
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, halved
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
In a blender or food processor, mix olive oil, strawberries, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, tarragon and sugar. Blend until smooth.
Next, here's a recipe that falls into the category I put strawberries in: decadent. For some reason, I always associate strawberries with extravagance. This recipe would be wonderful as a starter to a romantic dinner or a very special occasion.
Strawberry Champagne Soup
5 cups quartered strawberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup champagne
Place the strawberries into a blender, and sprinkle with sugar and salt. Process until smooth. Cover, and chill for 2 hours. Stir in champagne just before serving.
Strawberry Quesadillas
4 (8 inch) flour tortilla
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Spread one side of 2 tortillas with 1/2 the cream cheese. Spread equal amounts jam over cream cheese. Spread remaining 2 tortillas with remaining cream cheese, and place on top of first 2 tortillas to form quesadillas. Place quesadillas in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat and cook 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.
If you need a quick jam recipe to use for the quesadillas, this one will probably be the easiest one you'll find.
Easy Strawberry Jam
2 cups strawberries
1 cup cold water
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
In a large saucepan crush strawberries. Add water and gelatin, mixing well. Over medium heat bring mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour into jars, allow to cool and then cover. Can be stored in refrigerator for 1 week, or frozen for several weeks.
If you want to make a sugar-free jam, you could simply replace the regular gelatin with the sugar-free version.
I hope that you'll try some of these recipes for such a wonderful fruit.
I plan to share more strawberry recipes with you next week on a more traditional way to prepare them. If you have a favorite strawberry recipe you'd like to share with the readers of this column, I'd love to hear from you. You can give me a call at 867-4876 or drop me a line by email at
Until next week, happy cooking.