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Greeting’s from the kitchen!
By Chef Phillip L. Dell
Spring has arrived! Okay maybe for some of us anyway. When I think of spring I think of first of all getting everything ready for my first transformation prep of the year, or like most people, get that “beach body” I dream about every winter. Secondly I think of all the great foods that come into season. One in particular that comes to mind is strawberries! I remember while growing up, going into the fields and picking as many strawberries we could find, in hopes that we might be able to make a pie or fresh strawberry jam. The only problem was half the time by the time we got home; we had eaten most of them.
I’d like to share a few tasty tidbits for you to consider about strawberries:
-Strawberries are packed with essential vitamins, fiber, potassium and phytonutrients. One serving, about eight strawberries, is an excellent source of vitamin C. In fact, a serving of strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange!
-Contain only 8 grams of natural sugar making a perfect addition to any low-carb dieter.
-High in antioxidants! The most well known components of food with antioxidant activity are
Vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and lycopene. Many antioxidant rich foods are often identified by their distinctive colors such as the deep hue of blackberries and the bright reds of strawberries and cranberries. We’ve always been told to eat from the colors of the rainbow and now we know why.
-High in fiber! Fiber is considered by the American Heart Association to be important for heart health. It is also an excellent way to feel more satiated while dieting. Who doesn’t know what that is like? I’m pretty sure we are all “starving” at one point or another during contest prep.
-High in potassium! Potassium is an important nutrient to balance electrolytes, aid muscle contractions and maintain a healthy blood pressure. This is in my opinion one of the most important thing’s we should consider at fitness athletes.
Not only are strawberries good for you but they taste great as well. I have used them in so many applications such as a topping for a yogurt and granola parfait, cooked down slightly and made into a jam, chopped up and put onto salads or frozen and made into an amazing smoothie. Strawberries have far more benefits to consider than worrying about whether or not they are deteriorating all of our hard earned muscle.
The next time you think about your diet think about this! Almost everyone I know is trying to find the best way to lose fat. Have you ever considered that the better your body is functioning inside, the more you are apt to lose those extra fat cells? Antioxidants are our most powerful weapons in fending off viruses that may deter our progress. The more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body is given, the better it can absorb the oxygen you are breathing thus enabling it to burn more fat for fuel, proving once again that fruit is a powerful weapon in anyone’s arsenal.
I have to be honest when I tell you that I rarely use recipes but am asked for them all the time. So, when I come up with a really good one, I write it down. Here is one I think you will all enjoy.
9 cups fresh baby spinach
1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced in half
½ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup canola or Olive oil
1 to 2 Tb. agave nectar or honey
2 Tb. white balsamic vinegar
1 Tb. finely chopped onion
1 tsp poppy seeds
¼ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
In large bowl combine spinach, strawberries, and almonds. Place dressing ingredients in blender. Cover and process until combined. Drizzle dressing over salad greens and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.