Kurella’s Kitchen: Michigan strawberries

strawberry chicken

My memory of strawberries goes all the way back to childhood and my mother’s little patch that could. My opinion of them has evolved over time, maturing along with me.

When I was young, my elder sisters used to tease me out of my portion of strawberries by convincing me all the seeds would sprout into plants in my belly if I swallowed any of them. After attempting to remove them, to no avail, I pushed the dish of berries their way.

When Mom tried to get me to eat the preserves she had made, I'm sure I shivered in fright! Little did she know my fear was rooted in those scary sprouting-seed stories my sisters had “planted” in me. I figure she must have guessed something was up when I suddenly requested that she peel my strawberries, so all the seeds were removed!

strawberry chickenI grew to learn it is impossible for seeds to sprout in one's stomach, freeing me to enjoy all those foods so loaded with seeds, like strawberries. I'm glad I got past that silly childhood nonsense, because strawberries are a true gem, in both flavor and health benefits.

Rich in vitamins, low in calories, rich in fiber and abundant in antioxidants, strawberries offer many healing properties. Consuming strawberries can help to prevent premature aging of the brain and nervous system, in people of all ages.

Strawberries help to invigorate our nervous system and improve cognitive function by encouraging blood flow to the brain. That may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The berry's anti-inflammatory properties can protect our heart health and those suffering with osteoarthritis or knee pain may benefit from them, too.

Strawberries help to minimize diabetic complications, including kidney disease, help us lose weight and promote more youthful skin, simply by making a mask of them.

Strawberries are best when purchased straight from the farm, so get to your nearest one before the oh-so-short season is gone, and do not be afraid to eat the seeds. Enjoy!

Laura Kurella is an award-winning food columnist and recipe developer who loves life in Michigan. She welcomes your comments at [email protected] Look for more of her recipes in Shoreline magazine. 

Spectacular strawberry chicken Caesar salad

  • 1 1/2 cups Caesar Dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries (for dressing)
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup shaved or shredded fresh Parmesan
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (for salad)
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Combine the Caesar dressing and strawberries in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Spoon 3/4 cup out of the blender/processor and place into a large zip bag with the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight). Add jam to the remaining mixture in the blender/processor, and process again to blend in. Pour dressing into a container, cover and refrigerate until use. Preheat the grill/pan over medium-high heat. Grill/cook chicken on both sides until cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool, then place chicken in a plastic bag with enough dressing to coat the pieces. Close the bag and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, sprinkle the bottom and sides of a large bowl with the lettuce. Stir in the Parmesan and strawberries. Divide salad onto 4 dinner plates, then top with a chicken breast and drizzle with dressing. Serve additional dressing on the side, if desired.

Alternate serving idea: Chop the chicken into chunks. Place chicken chunks into a bag with enough of the strawberry Caesar dressing to coat the pieces. Close the bag and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve by adding chicken pieces to salad, tossing then plating. Prep Time: 35 minutes; Cook Time: 12 minutes; Total time: 47 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

Sweet-sipping strawberry daiquiri

  • 3 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces white rum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda

In the cup of a blender, combine ice with powdered sugar, strawberries, lime juice, lemon juice and rum. Blend until smooth. Stop the blender and add lemon-lime soda. Pulse blender, only once, to mix, then divide mixture among four glasses. Top with additional strawberries or citrus slices for garnish, if desired. Prep time: 5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes; Yield: 4 servings.

Spectacular dipped strawberries

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 12 long-stemmed fresh strawberries.

In a bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate and cream together, until just melted. Stir then remove from heat. Dip each strawberry in the chocolate with a swirling motion then, using a skewer or similar, wipe excess from the tip of the strawberry then place on the prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining strawberries then place the tray in the refrigerator to cool and set up. Best when served on the same day you make them. Prep Time: 5 min; Cook Time: 5 min; Total Time: 10 min; Yield: 12 berries.

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