May is National Strawberry Month!
Today’s post is by MUSC dietetic intern, Ashley Bannister.
Strawberry season is reminiscent of summer. Think smoothies, fresh fruit salads, desserts layered with fruit, and fruity cocktails. All things best enjoyed when the weather is warm and the strawberries are fresh. Strawberries are one of the first fruits to ripen in the Spring and are grown in the US mainly in California and Florida. They are in season from April to June, making them a vital part of our diets during those hot summer months.
Americans, on average, consume 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries each year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Many are fans of this succulent fruit for their sweet flavor, but strawberries also have an impressive number of health benefits. One cup of strawberries weighs in at about 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of natural sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. They also provide several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Manganese, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamin K. Rich in antioxidants, strawberries are protective against inflammation and chronic disease development, including the development of cardiovascular disease. In addition, strawberries have been shown to improve the regulation of blood sugars and may even help to improve cognitive function.
When choosing your strawberries, opt for firm and plump strawberries, free of mold, and appearing deep red in color. Avoid berries with green or yellow patches, since this represents strawberries that are not fully ripe. Medium sized strawberries, rather than large ones, will have the most flavor.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate strawberries into your diet, try this homemade strawberry granola bar recipe for a quick snack or breakfast on the go!
Strawberry Granola Bar:
Serving Size: 1 bar
Nutrition per serving:
- Calories: 100
- Total Fat: 5g
- Saturated Fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sugar: 3g
- Protein: 2g
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups small-diced strawberries (about 10 ounces), divided
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (or sugar substitute)
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Press ½ of the mixture into the parchment lined pan.
- Place ½ of the strawberries evenly distributed on top of the mixture and sprinkle cornstarch evenly over the top, then sprinkle on lemon juice and ½ tablespoon of granulated sugar. Place the remaining strawberries on top then the remaining ½ tablespoon sugar.
- Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture evenly on top of the strawberries.
- Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crumb topping smells toasty and looks golden.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely (you can speed this process along in the refrigerator).
- Cut up into 16 squares and enjoy!