Local Market Score : The Wild Strawberry (+ Summer Crisp Recipe! ~ GF, Vegan Option)
When I first started reading about Ayurvedic Nutrition, I came across a wide variety of foods I could barely pronounce or did not have the slightest idea of what it looked or tasted like - I felt slight anxiety at the thought of having to treck weekly to obscure and exotic grocery stores (don't get me wrong, I adore these kinds of explorations occasionally) to be able to follow the appropriate guidelines and of my family's reaction to the array of foreign tastes and textures I suddenly would be imposing on them.
As I furthered my studies, I came to understand that though Ayurveda was born and initially practiced in India, this science was meant to eventually be embraced by all parts of the world according to our unique seasonal dances and cultural setting. The more I delve into Ayurvedic principles, the more I realize how beautifully universal it all is. The original rishis (sages) who first connected to this wisdom through devoted meditation, also knew that part of the mission that came with this acquired knowledge was to share it freely and as far as it could reach in order for all humanity to benefit from the healing offerings of nature we were given.
It became clear to me that I must celebrate and utilize the native plants, herbs and food that grow in proximity to where I live and be inspired by how those that inhabited this land before me prepared and consumed them. This also helps me to become mindful of the health of our precious ecosystem and play, in a very humble way, a role in its protection.
And so, as previously mentioned, my weekly grocery shopping have turned into little adventures of hunting down the latest seasonal produce to use in my cooking or baking while tending to my family's varied doshic needs. I encourage you to do the same, exploring the fascinating world of whole foods and mostly listening to how your body embraces (or not) these edible treasures. This week I am highlighting the wild strawberry - this summer beauty now finally abounds at our local markets, much sweeter in taste than the ones shipped from our American neighbour and made available to us all year round.
Now let's take a look at its benefits, from both the western and Ayurvedic perspective:
WESTERN NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:
One of our most popular berry choices, the strawberry is packed of vital nutrients and include the following benefits:
- One serving (8 strawberries) provides about 120% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, contributing to their antioxidant effects
- They contain several phytochemicals, containing even greater amounts of antioxidants, notably ellagic acid, anthocyanins and pterostilbene, protecting the body from free radical damage
- A good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber (2 grams per serving). This fiber content may also be a contributor in reducing the risk of heart disease
- A study from the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that consuming strawberries daily may help reduce some inflammatory health conditions
- They contain high levels of specific enzymes that may slow the body's aging process
AYURVEDIC NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:
- The sour quality of strawberry stimulate the appetite, bring moisture to the GI tract and strengthen the entire digestive system.
- They play a role in ridding the body of ama (lingering toxins from undigested food) and therefore have a cleansing action.
- they can help soothe an irritation and inflammation at the level of the stomach lining
- They are easily digestible and do not produce fermentation in the stomach, provided they are being consumed a few hours away from meals (with the exception of incorporating them in baking goods, the cooking together of ingredients creating a certain harmony).
- Their both sweet and sour qualities pacify Vata when consumed fresh and in small quantities (The seed-like specks called achenes may be too irritating for some of this doshic type with extra sensitive digestion if consumed in larger quantities). Their cooling quality can help alleviate Pitta-related inflammatory conditions and Kapha benefits from its lung strengthening and astringent properties.
If you need any recipe ideas following your purchase of strawberry baskets, or after your
farm picking outing, I'm gladly sharing my skillet summer crisp recipe (indulging in it as we speak, mouth lathered in berry-licious goodness) with a healthier twist that would be great to serve at your next brunch, or like me, as a random snack! Not picking at it all day will be a somewhat of a challenge....
Skillet Strawberry & Rosemary Summer Crisp
5 cups fresh local strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup coconut sugar, divided
3 sprigs of fresh local rosemary
Scraped seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
6 Tbs ghee (*melted coconut oil for vegan option)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
1/4 cup of blanched & sliced almonds
1~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2~ Heat 2 tablespoons of Ghee in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add strawberries with 1/4 cup of coconut sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk lemon juice and vanilla seeds and drizzle over the fruit mixture. Stir to combine.
4~ Combine oats, brown rice flour, hemp seeds, chia seeds, other 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of ghee and stir into the oats mixture. Crumble topping over the fruit, add sprigs of rosemary and sprinkle evenly with the almond slices.
5~ Bake for about 30 minutes, until you see the fruit bubbling and the top turning golden brown. Remove form oven and let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy on its own or top with lightly sweetened whipped coconut cream.
Lastly, if you you are about to toss away those strawberry tops in the compost, don't! Join me in making use of the whole fruit and avoiding waste by using them to make refreshing strawberry infused water to keep you hydrated in the heat.
Happy (Belated) Solstice!