published Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Strawberries harvest is ripe for the picking

Strawberries rest on a table at Mount Vernon Restaurant on Broad Street.
Strawberries rest on a table at Mount Vernon Restaurant on Broad Street.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Fresh juice from sieved strawberry pulp has a cooling effect on feverish patients. For a cooling drink, either pour water on crushed berries or chop the berries roughly and whirl in a blender with a little water.

• Strawberry juice combined with honey will reduce inflammation or sunburn. Rub the mixture thoroughly into the skin before rinsing off with warm water and lemon juice.

Source: pickyourown.org

  • photo
    The Spinach Strawberry Salad at Mount Vernon Restaurant is topped with sugared walnuts and apple-cider vinaigrette.
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MAKE IT YOURSELF

Mount Vernon's Spinach-Strawberry Salad

1 bag baby spinach

1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Apple-cider vinaigrette (see recipe)

Sugared walnuts (see recipe)

1/4 cup feta cheese (may substitute blue cheese or goat cheese)

Combine spinach and strawberries in a large bowl, and toss with vinaigrette dressing. Arrange mixture on serving plate.

Sprinkle evenly with sugared walnuts. Top with cheese of choice.

Sugared Walnuts

11/2 cups walnut halves

3/4 cup sugar

Stir together walnuts and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until sugar melts and turns golden brown.

Spread mixture in a single layer on lightly greased wax paper to cool.

Apple-Cider Vinaigrette

1 cup apple-cider vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

— Cindy Messinger

Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, the strawberry is staking its claim as summer's superfood.

Strawberries are low in calories. They can ease the sting of sunburn. They've been proven to help fight cancer, and studies are under way to see how the seedy little characters may even be of benefit to Alzheimer's patients.

But for most folks, the luscious red berries just signal the start of summer's bounty of fruit.

Cindy Messinger, who owns Mount Vernon Restaurant with husband Jeff, recalls growing up with fresh-from-the-garden strawberries. Her grandfather, who started Mount Vernon, was also a farmer, who grew his own fruits and vegetables.

"My earliest memories are of strawberry shortcake with my grandmother making the flakiest, yummiest biscuits and using real whipped cream on the strawberries. Of course, now we try to eat a lot more healthy," Messinger said.

Pamela Kelle, a registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist and certified eating-disorder dietitian, said strawberries have always been her favorite fruit.

"One cup of sliced strawberries only has 50 calories, and they are very filling so they are a welcomed addition to anyone who is committed to weight maintenance," Kelle said.

"They are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties, which are important for prevention of certain cancers such as gastrointestinal cancers," she pointed out.

But best of all, Kelle said, "strawberries are such a fun fruit" for any meal of the day.

She suggested starting mornings with the addition of sliced berries to any high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, smoothie or plain yogurt. Spread strawberry jams or preserves on whole-wheat toast or waffles.

"For lunch, try them on a green salad or a great twist on a peanut butter/strawberry sandwich," she said. "Yum!"

After dinner, juicy strawberries make a perfect dessert: Slice them over angel-food cake or dip them in dark chocolate.

"Don't forget that strawberries are one of the Top 10 fruits that are best if organic and free of pesticides," Kelle added. "This time of year, we are still getting some from this part of the country, but many are from California. It may be worth the extra money to choose the organic variety."

At Mount Vernon, Messinger said, spinach-strawberry salad is a menu favorite.

"Spinach and nuts have such good health benefits," she said. "The dressing has apple-cider vinegar, which is good for our bodies. So we are getting to enjoy yummy strawberries while also feeding our bodies lots of nutrients they love."

Strawberry Bruschetta

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 nectarine, diced

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 12-ounce French bread baguette

1 10.5-ounce goat cheese log, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together first 10 ingredients in large bowl.

Split baguette in half, then cut each half cross-wise into four equal pieces. Spread cut sides of bread with goat cheese. Place bread pieces on baking sheet and bake 13-15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Remove from oven and top with strawberry mixture. Cut sections into 2-inch slices and serve.

— Southern Living

Strawberry Chicken Salad

1/2 cup bottled poppy-seed dressing

1/4 cup minced green onions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 cups diced fresh strawberries

Salt, to taste

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Stir together poppy-seed dressing, minced onions, basil and pepper in large bowl. Fold in chicken and strawberries; add salt to taste.

Cover and chill two hours. Stir in pecans just before serving. Makes 7 cups.

— Southern Living

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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