One of my favorite books as a child was “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear.” The beautiful strawberry on the cover always left me wanting a bowl full of berries while we listened to the story. I have yet to introduce that book to Remy but its on the top of my list for when we return to the states (we’ve reached our limit for how many books will fit in our suitcase). It’ll come at a good time because we’ve been enjoying strawberries almost everyday. He loves helping me wash them and peel off the green stems. They are a sweet yet healthy treat for littles ones and adults alike. And that makes them a perfect choice for one of our red foods in “The Colors of the Market” series. So let’s dig in and talk about the red, ripe strawberry…
Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants (disease-fighting compounds). They are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber and folate. Folate is a B vitamin naturally occurring in certain foods that’s essential for women of childbearing years (it is possible to get folate from a well balanced diet, not just a vitamin…but I’ll share more on that later). Detailed nutritional information can be found here.
HOW TO BUY:
The only bad news about this berry is that it is on the “Dirty Dozen” list. Strawberries are a lot like a sponge, which means they can soak in pesticides and chemicals used to make them grow, particularly from large scale commercial companies. The good news is that they should have a growing season where you live! Find out from your local market when they are in season (typically spring/early summer) and buy directly from a farmer or consider buying organic. If you are feeling adventurous, you can always grow them on your own! Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
HOW TO STORE:
Did you know that strawberries do not ripen after picking? Be sure to pick a bunch that are deep red and have little green/white areas on them. The best way to store them is in a single layer on a paper towel (to soak in any moisture) in the refrigerator. And don’t wash until ready to use!
HOW TO FREEZE:
If you have strawberries that are on the brink of going bad, don’t fret! They freeze well and once frozen, they are a great addition to recipes. To freeze, simply wash, hull, and place the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for at least 2 hours and then transfer to an air-tight bag. They will keep for a few months but they’ll begin to lost their good flavor the longer they sit. If you’re wondering exactly how to hull a strawberry, this is a great photo tutorial.
INTRODUCING TO BABIES:
Strawberries can be introduced to babies after 6 months of age. When you first introduce them, do so without any other foods in case the baby has an allergy to the fruit. You can puree/mash with a fork and give a small amount. Once baby is eating finger foods you can wash, cut into small pieces, mash slightly and let them enjoy. Strawberries are a great food option but just like with our own diets, be sure to keep it well-rounded. And as always, solid foods should never serve as a substitute to breast milk or formula, which should be the main source of nutrition for babies until at least a year old.
GETTING LITTLE ONES INVOLVED:
Enjoy a snack date! Let them help wash and de-stem the berries. Talk to them about the colors, texture, and sizes. Then grab a copy of “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear” and read it aloud while sharing a bowl full of sweet red strawberries.
Create strawberry hand prints for daddy or grandma to let them know you love them berry much;)
Find out if there is a strawberry patch near you and take them berry picking. I did this with Remy when he was around 20 months, and we had a great time. I picked, he (mostly) ate, and we both came home with red-stained clothes…a successful adventure!
RECIPES + IDEAS:
The best thing about strawberries is that they can be enjoyed with minimal effort. We eat them as a side to our breakfast or lunch, on top of pancakes, as a post-nap snack, or even as desert after dinner. You don’t have to do much to enjoy their benefits, which makes them a great food option to keep in the fridge or freezer! But if you find yourself with an inkling to whip up something, here are few kid-friendly recipes that look delightful…
Strawberry Lavender Jam (or rather, heaven in a jar)
Homemade Strawberry Fruit Roll-ups
Strawberry Cream Scones
Strawberry Cake (birthday soon anyone?!)
I’ve also been pinning other recipes and ideas if you want to join me over there! Do you have anything interesting to share about the strawberry? What is your favorite way to enjoy this beautiful, juicy fruit?
February 9, 2015
*A note on introducing solids to babies: Did you know The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines in regards to infant feeding and switching to solids? In the past, it was advised not to introduce certain foods out of fear they may cause allergic reactions; however, they didn’t find enough evidence to prove that when you offer a new food makes any difference as to whether or not the baby will have an allergy to that specific food. The AAP recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complimentary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
**Any information or opinions provided in this post are based on my own research and is not meant to be used as medical advise or in lieu of treatment from a doctor. Please consult your primary physician and/or pediatrician for what is best for you and your baby.