Food Matters
All about fresh, flavorful food


My Ayurveda Kitchen: Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie Recipe

Turmeric is the healthy spice that has been advised to take on daily basis. It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. It has a group of compounds called curcuminoids, among which curcumin is the most important. 

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, so it helps to consume black pepper along with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin. 

Turmeric is used in Ayurveda to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, though in excess, it can aggravate pitta and vata. It also nourishes the rasa and raktha dhatu (circulatory system). It's bitter, astringent, and pungent in taste and is known for its antimicrobial properties. Ancient Ayurveda used turmeric for wound healing and in inflammatory conditions. Also, turmeric is used in respiratory tract diseases. 

Ginger is considered as an Ayurveda superfood as it improves digestion and assimilation.

ginger turmeric smoothie with fresh veggies
Photo by Adobe Stock/beataaldridge

Healthy Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1-1/2 Cups unsweetened coconut milk
• 1 tsp turmeric
• A pinch of Black pepper
• 1/2 tsp grated Ginger
• 1 tsp coconut oil
• 2 tsp honey

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients and blend on high speed until smooth. 

Variations: You can include your choice of vegetables like carrots, beets, spinach, or fruits along with this recipe.

10 Foods to Help You Study and Stimulate Memory

Food for your brain must not be only nourishing. To make it graceful and work without glitches, your brain has to be fed with tasty and useful food. Check out these 10 foods for the brain that will help you set up a proper diet.

seafood platter

Thank You, Sea!

As we know, a brain consists of billions of neurons. If the cholesterol level in an organism is high, they start breaking down brain activity. In order to avoid it, you have to consume omega-3 fatty acids, which are contained in fish. Doctors claim that the most useful fish are salmon and tuna. Other seafood can do much, as well.

Oysters, mussels, and shrimp are rich with B vitamins and iron, which lay positive influence upon memory and other mental processes. Regular consumption may prevent the appearance of cancer.

Berry Cocktail

Almost all berries are essential for the brain. Many of them contain flavonoids guaranteeing good memory and slowing the aging processes. They are rich with antioxidants that stimulate brain activity. Gooseberry hardens vessels and helps with the brain’s oxygen supplies. This berry also helps to fight aftereffects of stroke and lower risk of its occurrence or recurrence.

Yolk Is Full of Secrets

When we become older, brain cells die from time to time. Eggs are the best to fight this unwanted process. The yolk is full of choline, the so-called building material for brain cells. Another useful substance is lutein, which lowers the chance of strokes and infarcts. Also, eggs are rich in lecithin, which helps fight free radicals and slows aging processes. A couple of eggs per day supply the brain with all the necessary elements and will help you withstand complicated mind challenges.

Healthy Heart = Healthy Brain

Glucose is one of the most essential elements of nutrition for our bodies and minds. Its deficit leads to brain exhaustion, tiredness, stress, and various nervous disorders. First, it concerns diet lovers. Dried fruits are the best sources of glucose. Also, they are rich in iron and Vitamin C. Dried fruits may help with clots, lower cholesterol levels, and minimize infarction appearance.

Smart Grains

It is not a secret that whole grains are the best allies for those who want to be slim. But not everybody knows that they are big friends with brains. Because of folic acid, they are considered to be foods that make you smarter. They stimulate the blood supply flowing to the brain, giving it more oxygen and microelements. Besides that, vitamin B1 makes your memory better. That is why whole grains are so useful for elderly people; but eating them is pretty useful at any age.

almonds
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Nuts for Your Head

Include meals with nuts into your diet or eat them as snacks between meals. Peanuts and almonds are true treasures of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E, B6 and folic acid. This is the best present for the brain, as these substances keep it fit. Many nuts contain magnesium and thiamin which supply the brain with energy. Seeds are good in this arena, as well. They are ingredients for some really simple meals.

Cabbage Set

Don’t forget about it:

Brussels cabbage contains diindolylmethane which protects neurons from destruction and frees the organism from free radicals.

Seaweed is rich in iodine. Its lack is dangerous not only for the thyroid gland but for the nervous system as well: it leads to insomnia and depression

Red cabbage is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants. Anthocyanin makes vessels harder and more flexible, which affects the brain positively.

Cabbages are useful both raw and cooked.

Vitamin Champion

Unpleasant spinach leaves contain a lot of useful substances. Vitamins B6 and B12 along with folic acid—this is one of the best healthy foods for your brain. It will help train a perfect memory. Regular consumption of this green vegetable will prevent cell aging and will become good prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Drink for the Smartest

Sour chocolate with a great number of cacao beans is the best delight for your brain. One-third of a chocolate bar will whip up your brain as well. Flavonoids will maintain the blood supply, and magnesium will take care of memory. Lovers of hot chocolate are less vulnerable to seasonal depression.

Tea Wisdom

A cup of green tea every morning is not only a healthy alternative to coffee but a good portion of catechin. These powerful antioxidants help fight a feeling of exhaustion and laziness. All in all, this is a perfect energy supply at any time of a day.

Take care of your brain every day. Enrich your diet with anything listed here, and you will see fast and positive results.


Alyssa is a talented writer and blogger who is fond of various tips that help with education. As she works for a truly British coursework writing service, she knows what’s the best for you and how to make it interesting.

7 Foods to Make Not Buy

I follow three simple rules in my kitchen: no packaging, nothing processed, no waste. I should add a fourth: no effort. I do love cooking but I also love easy. I understand that not everyone will want to bake their own bread (it tastes SO much better than store-bought though!) but the following foods take less time to make than to buy and schlep home from the store. And if you can find your ingredients in bulk, these money-saving homemade versions have little to no wasteful packaging.

1. Vanilla Extract

Pour 1 cup of vodka, bourbon, rum, brandy or single-malt whiskey over 3 split vanilla pods you’ve placed in a mason jar. Shake jar once a week or whenever you remember to. Wait two months or longer to use. You’ll find more details for vanilla extract here

vanilla extract copy
Homemade vanilla extract, day 1. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

2. Bread Crumbs

You can make bread crumbs in several different ways. I cube stale bread, whir the cubes in my blender with a bit of salt and herbs and then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet in the oven at 300°F for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned.

3. Nut Butters

I grew up on Kraft Peanut Butter. I couldn’t find its ingredients online. I did, however, found the ingredients online for Jif Creamy Peanut Butter:

ROASTED PEANUTS AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT.

Please do not eat this.

Instead, buy some bulk nuts in a reusable cloth bag, toss them in a food processor with a bit of salt give it a whir. You could make peanut butter, almond butter or a combo like pecan–peanut butter.

If your grocery store has nut grinding machines and allows you to bring your own containers to fill with nut butter, you can buy it that way and save time cleaning up. Otherwise, homemade couldn’t be easier.

4. Beans

Not only do beans you cook yourself taste better than canned, you also cut your exposure to the BPA in the plastic that lines most cans. Scientists have linked BPA, a synthetic estrogen, to a variety of health problems, including breast cancer, reproductive damage, developmental problems and heart disease. I cook my beans in a pressure cooker (here’s how to use one). A slow cooker also works well.

pressure cooker garbanzos
Garbanzo beans cooked to perfection in a pressure cooker. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

5. Chocolate Syrup

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup contains:

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP; CORN SYRUP; WATER; COCOA*; SUGAR; CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE); SALT; MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES*; XANTHAN GUM; POLYSORBATE 60; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR *adds a negligible amount of fat

Good to know that it adds only a negligible amount of fat because I wouldn’t want to consume anything controversial (I eat fat.)

If the food-like ingredients in this syrup aren’t themselves bad enough, the plastic packaging may leach estrogenic chemicals into them. And that plastic packaging never breaks down. Ever.

You can make chocolate syrup very easily. Combine 1/4 cup cocoa with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the cocoa dissolves. Add 3/4 cup sugar and pinch of salt and whisk until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Read more here.

6. Sour Cream

This wins the easiest-recipe-to-make-in-this-post prize. Combine 1 tablespoon cultured buttermilk with 1 cup half & half (~12% milk fat), let sit covered at room temperature for 24 hours and refrigerate. It will thicken up in the refrigerator. I’m lucky I can buy dairy in returnable glass bottles. You must use cultured buttermilk for this to work, not merely flavored buttermilk. Go here for four more homemade 2-ingredient dairy staples.

7. Booze

Okay, unless you’re a teetotaler, you probably will buy alcohol again but do you realize how easily you can make it? To make mead—honey wine—you combine raw honey and water, stir and wait. The good bacteria and yeast in the raw honey will ferment your concoction. Find a more detailed recipe here.

new brew and ready to drink mead copy
Ready-to-drink mead (left) and a new batch brewing (right). Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

The Best Snacks to Pack for Playtime

Children can be bottomless pits — until it comes time for dinner and they don't want to eat that steamed broccoli, no matter how tasty you say it is. Snacks can be a terrific way to make sure your little ones are getting all their nutrients and have enough food to keep them moving and growing. If your kids are getting bored of the same snacks, here are a few quick and easy recipes to help you change things up a little bit!

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Start Simple

Prepping a ton of snacks is probably the last thing you want to do before you head out to the park or a playdate, so keeping your pantry, fridge or freezer stocked with easy to grab snacks is a great idea. Keep things like:

  • Bananas: You've got to love a snack that comes in its own neat package. Throw a couple of bananas in your bag, and you’re good to go.
  • Frozen Grapes: Wash and freeze a bag of grapes for a quick, refreshing snack that is perfect on any hot afternoon.
  • Nuts: A handful of nuts is packed with good protein and healthy fats to keep your little ones going. If allergies are a concern, avoid peanuts — which are actually legumes, not nuts! — and opt for almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios.
  • String Cheese: You'll want to bring a cooler for these, but they’re the perfect quick snack that your children will love.

If you’d prefer to go with something a bit more elaborate, here are five recipes to get you started.

No-Bake Chocolate Banana Energy Balls

These super tasty treats are easy to make and packed with healthy fiber for long-lasting energy. The fact that they taste like chocolate chip banana bread is just a bonus.

These energy balls are packed full of oatmeal, flax seed, chia seed and coconut flakes for fiber, and held together with bananas, peanut butter and Truvia Nectar – though if you would prefer, you can replace the Truvia with honey. Again, if allergies are a concern, replace the peanut butter with your favorite nut butter for the same tasty treat.

They are also super simple to make — just mix, refrigerate, shape and eat! Enjoy these delicious energy balls without turning on the oven – which no one wants to do during these warmer months anyway!

Pear Donuts

Donuts don’t have to be unhealthy, and nutritious donuts don’t have to taste bad. These fun little concoctions only require two main ingredients: ripe pears and vanilla Greek yogurt.

All you have to do to prepare these is to slice your pears into rounds, core them and ‘frost’ them with your yogurt. Then, the fun begins — adding the toppings.

You can top these little treats with just about anything, from sprinkles to sliced fruit or crushed nuts — whatever your little ones will enjoy.

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Healthy snacks are great, but getting your kids to sit down long enough to enjoy them is sometimes akin to herding cats. That’s one reason why these blueberry banana muffins are so good — they're easy to hold, so your little ones can enjoy them on the go. The last thing we want to do is to interrupt whatever important play-related task that they’re working on, after all!

These are super simple muffins, too.  All you have to do is toss all your ingredients in your food processor — except for the blueberries — and blend until it forms a smooth batter. Then, fold in your blueberries, pour it into your muffin tins and bake! They’re amazing warm, but they also store well, so you can take them to all your playdates with you!

Cookies and Cream Frozen Yogurt Dots

Children love hearing the siren’s song that is the ice cream truck, but if you’re trying to eat a little healthier, it isn’t a good thing to hear. Instead of shelling out obscene amounts of money for deformed-looking cartoon character popsicles, why not make your own frozen treats and bring them to the park with you?

They’re super simple to make, too — all you need is some chocolate sandwich cookies and some Greek yogurt. Crush your cookies into a powder — this is easier in a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin — and mix them into the Greek yogurt. Pipe onto a baking sheet and freeze until solid!

Once they’re frozen, you can toss them all into one bag or cooler and take them with you to the park or any other playdate you have planned.

Asparagus Fries

Many of our suggestions on this list so far have been sweet, so let’s leave you with something savory to snack on, too. Asparagus fries turn fresh asparagus spears into a tasty and healthy snack.

All you need to do is heat your oil on your stovetop, bread your asparagus spears and fry them until golden brown — usually two to three minutes. Once they’re cool enough to pick up, dip them in your favorite sauce and enjoy!

If you’re trying to avoid fried foods, you can make them in the oven, too. Just bake them at 425 degree F for seven to 13 minutes until golden brown.

Healthy snacks don’t have to give you a headache. Try a few of these recipes for your little ones, and you might be surprised at the results.

Know What You're Eating: The Differences Among Organic, Free Range and Everything in Between

Some may remember their mother or grandmother preparing chicken from scratch — meaning butchering a live chicken on the property. Today, “from scratch” is more along the lines of going to the supermarket, picking up a fresh cut, and shaking it in cornmeal and spices for baking. It could also mean opening a box, microwaving the food, and doctoring the meal up with dried herbs. What’s on a label varies in interpretation as much as what’s made from scratch in modern terms.

Do you read the labels as you pick out your meat? Do you know what they mean? You choose beef hot dogs over the mixed meat kind — definitely don’t want the mystery meat goo. More people want labels to be straightforward so they can make informed choices.

What’s the difference between organic and free-range or grass-fed versus pasture-raised? Ah, the days where you long for mystery meat goo where you at least know the difference between cow, chicken, and pig — or those animals that go moo, cluck, and oink.

Deciphering Meat Labels Is Less Mind-Boggling Than Heiroglyphs — Maybe

Do you know or care about where what you eat comes from? It’s all on the label, and that label indicates what conditions an animal might be raised in to produce your cut of meat.

Going to the supermarket creates a disconnect and keeps you distanced from what goes on behind the scenes. For human and animal health reasons, more people want improved conditions and care for the livestock they consume.

pexels-photo-735968
Photo by Pexels

One study surveyed 2,038 people about their choices, motivations, and feelings regarding humanely raised food. Respondents knew organic meant a government standard for foods grown naturally, generally antibiotic- and pesticide-free and with environmentally friendly practices. Organic food must also be 95 percent organically produced, with the other 5 percent deriving from a USDA-approved national list.

Respondents also knew free range meant livestock is kept in natural conditions with freedom to move about, but it can also mean those hens lay their eggs in clucker prison and get recreation when the farmer-guards say so. In the end, 69 percent knew what organic was while 72 percent understood what grass-fed meant.

However, the people have spoken — they care about humanely raised food. It’s just deciphering the labeling that presents a challenge. This stuff is more mind-boggling than cuneiform.

What about grass-fed and pasture-raised? Does that mean the livestock eat grass, but some don’t live in a pasture? Where do they live — on a terraformed moon? Does that mean the label would read terraformed grass-fed? You’d have to check the fine print for where.

Grass-fed technically means grass makes up the main part of a livestock animal’s diet. Pasture-raised animals graze at some point in the day, and they also get grain from the farmer. Among the total respondents, only about 30 percent got that right. Hey, those animals are technically in a barn on a pasture, right? Everyone wins.

Ready for some more? The list ain’t over until it’s over. Don’t get tired yet. Do it for the animals.

Here you go, a twist on “Would you rather …?” How about farm-to-table versus locally sourced food? The terms are similar, so you can have that validation — but they don’t mean the same thing. Not all locally produced food comes from a farm. The keyword is sourced, and locally sourced food means what’s grown and processed must be sold in the same geographical area. Farm-to-table is the most direct of all — what’s produced on the farm ends up on your table, or on that of a restaurant that likes the farm-fresh guarantee.

Natural is another good one. According to the USDA, that means the food doesn’t contain preservatives or artificial ingredients, but the product may contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other similar types of chemicals. If you see all-natural on a label, it’s not any different than natural.

The Call for Improved Labeling and Minding Your Reading

Mind your reading, folks. Instead of getting distracted by social media — oops — turn your attention to Google to conduct your latest “What the heck does this mean?” search.

Organic, free range, and other labels haven’t been revised in terms of labeling, but food labels have received other FDA-approved changes because of increasing demand for transparency. Now, added sugars are required on the nutrition list. These are explained by the FDA as added during food processing or packaged as such — potentially containing syrups, honey, or concentrated sugars from vegetables or fruit. Ingredients are typically listed by their common names, and the heaviest ingredient goes first — so that’s a little more helpful.

The FDA also made the calories section bigger, which is easier on the eyes but not necessarily on the waist, huh? It’s nice to know the FDA responds to public concerns — when they get big enough — and to changing scientific research.

Mind your reading and keep up the call. Meanwhile, keep practicing the art of memorization and Googling.

Simple Summer Salads for the Whole Family

It's hot outside, and that means no one wants to turn on the oven or cook a hot meal, especially if you've been spending some time outside. Salads make a great dinner option — they're cool, and you can dress them up with just about anything. Plus, during the summer, there are tons of in-season fruits and vegetables, so you can get your hands on the freshest ingredients.

Invest in a Co-Op

If you're going to be enjoying a lot of salads this summer, try investing in a local farmer's co-op. You pay a flat price at the beginning of the season, and periodically through the end of harvest, you'll receive a box of fresh fruits and vegetables that are all grown locally. If you're eating a lot of produce, it will end up being more cost-effective overall than buying from the grocery store every week.

Get the Kids Involved

Making salads doesn't have to be something that excludes your kids from the kitchen — get them involved. Older children can start practicing their knife skills on fruits or vegetables — under supervision, of course.

Younger children can still get involved, too. For example, put them to work washing vegetables or shredding greens. Lettuce and other greens tend to brown if you cut them with a knife, and little hands are the perfect size to tear all those greens into bite-sized pieces.

Simple Salad Recipes

If you're not sure where to start, here are five simple salad ideas to help you plan your menu for the warm summer months.

asparagus, snap pea, and radish salad

Asparagus, Snap Pea and Radish Salad

You don't have to have greens to make a good salad. Sometimes, all you need is some asparagus, radishes and snap peas!

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds of asparagus
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
• 3 teaspoons honey
• 8 ounces of feta cheese
• 8 ounces of snap peas
• 1 bunch of radishes
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Boil the asparagus until crisp but tender — usually three to four minutes. Whisk together your lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme and two teaspoons of honey. Season it with salt and pepper. Wrap your gets in foil, drizzle it with olive oil, thyme and the remaining honey and bake until it’s warm — about 15 minutes. Crumble the feta, then toss it with your asparagus, radishes, snap peas and vinaigrette.

Summer Corn, Tomato and Salmon Salad

It never hurts to add a little bit of protein to your salads, plus it's the perfect way to put fresh corn and tomatoes to use.

Ingredients:

• 2 lemons
• 3 cloves of crushed garlic
• 3 sprigs of thyme
• 3 bay leaves
• 1//2 cup olive oil
• 4 teaspoons za'atar
• 5 ears of fresh corn
• 4 skinless salmon filets
• 2 medium tomatoes
• 1/2 a red onion, sliced thin
• Your favorite baby greens — arugula, spinach, etc.

Directions

1. Salt a large pot of water and add half a lemon to the water along with your garlic, bay leaves and thyme.  Let it boil at least three minutes before adding the corn. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, the za'atar and salt. Set aside.

2. Remove the corn from the boiling water and set aside. Reduce the heat on your pot of water and use the same flavored water to poach your salmon. Slice the corn from the cob and toss it in a large bowl with the salmon, tomatoes, onion and dressing. Serve over your favorite baby greens.

Sizzling Summer Sausage and Raspberry Salad

Everyone loves sausage, and it works beautifully as a component of nearly any salad.

Ingredients:

• 4 Sweet Italian Sausage links
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 clove of crushed garlic
• 1 tablespoon of capers
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 4 cups baby spinach leaves
• 1 cup fresh raspberries
• 1/4 cup basil leaves
• 2 tablespoons dried currants
• 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
• Parmesan cheese

Directions

Grill your sausage for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and keep warm. Mix and warm your vinaigrette ingredients — vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, lemon zest and pepper – in a saucepan until well-mixed and heated through. Divide spinach between plates and sprinkle with raspberries, currants, basil and pine nuts. Place one sausage on each pile, then top with dressing and parmesan cheese as garnish if desired.

Perfect Summer Fruit Salad

Salads don't have to be all about the vegetables — fruit salads are delicious, too!

Ingredients:

• 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups pineapple, cubed
• 2 cups strawberries
• 3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
• 3 bananas, sliced
• 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
• 1 cup grapes
• 2 cups blueberries

Directions

Combine the juices, the brown sugar, both zests and the vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until it’s slightly thickened, then remove from heat and set it aside to cool. Layer your fruit in a large glass bowl, starting with the pineapples and working your way up to the blueberries. Pour the cooled sauce over the fruit and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

You can never go wrong with cucumber and tomatoes, especially when it's hot outside and you pair it with some fantastic, flavorful feta!

Ingredients:

• 6 cups chopped Persian cucumbers
• 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
• 1 cup assorted pitted olives, halved
• 1 package feta cheese, crumbled
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Combine your cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and half the feta cheese, then pour the dressing over it and toss to coat. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and serve.

Salads are a fantastic way to stay cool during the summer — not to mention that they're good for you. Hopefully, these recipes give you an excellent place to start. And don't forget to get the kids involved!

Everything’s Coming Up Strawberries

Some people say that spotting a robin is the first sign of summer.  For me, summer begins with the start of strawberry harvest!  And last week, my CSA farmer brought me three (3!) cases of ripe red berries.  It’s a perfect rite of passage!

fresh strawberry pie
Photo by Inger Wilkerson

Strawberry Treats

Sweet treats are the mainstay of strawberry recipes.  Fancier favorites include chocolate dipped strawberries, strawberry rhubarb crisps, and spectacular pies, either baked or made of fresh berries, gelled together. But strawberries are delicious even simple and straight up, topped with cream and sugar, dolloped with sour cream and brown sugar, or even all by themselves. 

While desserts may be the most popular way of serving strawberries, they also shine in savory dishes.  Strawberries can go into a fruit salsa or add pizazz to a salad like this Butter Lettuce Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed dressing.

Strawberries can even contribute in the beverage arena with drinks like strawberry limeade, strawberry margaritas, or fruit shrubs, a mixture of fruit and vinegar and a historic way of preserving fruit. 

strawberry margaritas
Photo by Inger Wilkerson

How to Buy Strawberries

One of the big benefits of loading up on strawberries right now is that they are available locally.  I love it when I can buy from a neighborhood farm selling perfectly ripe, just-picked berries.

To select your berries, I recommend checking the color, and also the bottom layer.  The best berries are a uniform medium red—no green shoulders!  The color indicates the overall ripeness; dark red may be overripe and pale red may have been picked a bit early.  Finally check the bottom layer for softness or mold.      

If you won’t be finishing your berries within a day or two, consider placing a paper towel under each layer before you refrigerate them.  This will absorb any extra moisture and give you a little extra time to enjoy.

And finally, buy organic if you can. 

strawberry salad 
Photo by Inger Wilkerson

Why Buy Organic 

Of course, by now, most people are familiar with the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen,” an annual list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables.  Every year they test produce so, if you can’t buy all organic, you can pick and choose where buying organic is most important.

The list changes annually as agricultural practices evolve, so it’s good to review it regularly.  But the beautiful bright strawberry seems to be high on the list every year and this year tops out at #1.

Citing USDA testing from 2015-2016, the EWG commented that “Strawberry samples contained residues of 81 different pesticides in various combinations,” including some “linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption and neurological problems.” They add that conventional “strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.”

That’s a lot of reason to go organic!

If you can’t get organic, most people believe you are better off eating conventional produce rather than skipping it (wash it well). 

Enjoy

In either case, strawberry season is a delight not to be missed.  How often do you find so many ways to enjoy the bounty of summer! 

Join Inger at Art of Natural Living for great local food, gardening fun and green lifestyle tips. From (mostly) healthy recipes to natural body care, living naturally is an art!







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