Strawberry Season is Here!

It’s that time again…warm weather, school is getting out..AND…strawberry season! Other than the usual favorite times of year (Christmas, birthday, etc), strawberry season is something I look forward to as soon as the weather starts to cool and they are no longer available as we go into fall. Strawberries means that the hot summer air, renewal of crops, and fun of summer are just around the corner. I grew up with Aunts who made strawberry jelly every year, and I would wait patiently (or not) until we were allowed to open them to put on our biscuits! To this day, even though I live 12 hours away, my Aunts still make me strawberry jelly, and send it up with my parents when they visit. As you can tell I have a profound attachment to strawberries and they definitely are one of my favorite foods. Since it is, and since we are right in the height of strawberry season here in Virginia, I thought it best fitting to start my blog off with a kid friendly strawberry snack cookie.

Everyone knows strawberries are a fruit and technically that makes them good for us. But why?? Why are we encouraged to eat these little morsels of goodness? Well, for starters, they are one fruit that has the highest concentration of Vitamin C. Folic Acid is readily available in strawberries, something our American diet is usually lacking in, and they have more iron and potassium than any other berry. Strawberries are also a good source of silicone as well. Silicone is present in our hones, cartilage, blood vessels, and tendons to make us strong. So give those kiddos some strawberries to help their bones grow! Lastly, strawberries have 7 phytonutrients, which are plant nutrients that are all the nontraditional substances in plants (excludes vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc) that give specific health benefits. So eat on up! Only thing is, they are acidic in nature, so don’t go on overload or you may end up with a little tummy ache!

Before sharing the recipe I did want to go over some hard truths about the strawberries we buy in the store. I am all for saving money, however, when it comes to strawberries it is one of the things I always buy organic. If the store is out of organic, I head to the frozen section. If the frozen section is out of organic strawberries then, well, we just don’t get them that week. During strawberry season this isn’t an issue, but I still encourage everyone to talk to their local farmers about their growing practices! So why will I never buy these in the store unless they are organic? Just a couple of reasons…1. In California alone, more than 300 pounds of scientifically proven endocrine disruptors are sprayed on these berries. Then, usually, they are sprayed AGAIN after harvesting so they stay in tact during shipping. During the off season, if the berries come from other countries, they have been found to have even more dangerous chemicals on them, because they need to make the long journey here. Have you ever gone to a strawberry field and picked your own? They don’t last too awful long do they?? Now think if you picked that strawberry in Mexico and had to get it to your grocery store…and on top of that it is still nice and juicy a week later in your fridge. For me and my family…no thank you! So I hope this will encourage you to look a little more into the berries you are buying your family, and also to encourage you to buy from your local farmers during the season!

Now on to the good stuff! This cookie/snack recipe can be made SO many ways! It can be dairy free, gluten free, and sugar free (except for naturally occurring sugar). I will add alternatives in parenthesis to help out a little, but really you can take this base and run with it any way you like. Add dried fruits, fresh fruits, or yogurt on top!

Strawberry Delight Snack Cookies

Ingredients:

2 TBS Flax

6 TBS water

1 1/2 cups Oat Flour-certified gluten free

1 1/2 cups Rolled Oats-certified gluten free (or use same amount of cooked quinoa)

1/2 to 1 cup unsweetened Shredded or flaked coconut

1/2 cup Brown Sugar (can substitute honey or 6 small scoops of Stevia, or Monk Fruit)- When all ingredients are mixed, take a taste and see if you need it sweeter..when cooked, it will taste slightly less sweet than before you bake them.

1 stick melted unsalted butter (dairy free use 1/2 cup melted coconut oil)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBSP cinnamon

3/4-1 cup semi

sweet chocolate chips/morsels (use the diary free version, or leave this out!)

1 Cup diced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

Splash of milk (use any liquid…water, coconut milk, almond milk, etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 (if making immediately)

Mix together 2 TBSP Flax meal and 6 TBSP water and let sit and thicken…add in at the end when its good and thick.

Mix everything together, and add milk, water or coconut milk (or any liquid basically) to make them kind of almost sticky wet, basically just so they will hold together. Roll into balls however big or small you’d like and bake at 400 for about 11 min for a golf ball size. Lessen or lengthen time depending on

how big you make them. You want them to look kind of shiny wet on top, as the moisture will still evaporate a little once you take them out.

This recipe makes about 12-15 golf ball sized cookies. You can make this when you want the cookies, or what I do, is make them ahead of time, roll them out and put them in a container in the fridge and bake as I eat them. They are way more delicious served warm, plus there is no waste if you don’t eat them before they get stale. Personally I think the longer they sit in the fridge, the better since the flax and oats just keep absorbing the liquid and get softer.

Note: References for nutritional information from “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” by Elson Haas and Buck Levin (2006).

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