Swimming in Strawberries
Pick-your-own Strawberry season is in full swing right now here in New Jersey, and we took a road trip down to Alstede Farms last weekend to get some fresh air and stock up on organic, local strawberries at the farm’s annual Strawberry Festival.
It was a lovely way to spend a morning. The kids had a blast, though Max spent more time eating than picking, and Stella didn’t *quite* get the gist of what, exactly, she was supposed to be picking. No matter, though. We still managed to collect 4lbs of beautiful, ripe, pesticide-free berries in no time.
Once you’ve filled a flat of 4 lbs of ripe-and-ready-to-go strawberries, of course, the panic sets in. What on earth do you do with 4 lbs of strawberries that aren’t going to wait?
Well, my husband siphoned off 1 lb of them to make strawberry sorbet, because that is what husbands like Alex do. It was divine, but not exactly the type of thing a dietitian should be blogging about.
I decided to find my own ways to use the berries that required substantially less added sugar.
For starters, I made these Whole Grain, Low-Sugar, Gluten-free Strawberry Muffins. (As you know, I am perpetually on a quest to find low-sugar muffin recipes.) I had to make them on principle, since I actually had on hand every single esoteric ingredient that the recipe called for. Sorghum flour? Check. Gluten free oat flour (in lieu of Millet flour)? Check. Coconut flour? Check. They turned out to be a perfect breakfast muffin for my rushed Monday mornings, when I have to get two kids up, changed and dressed and get myself out of the house by 6:30am. They were just sweet enough and a real treat when paired with my morning coffee. (It’s not everyday that a gluten free lady like me gets to nibble on a muffin with her coffee, after all. Luxury!) If you’re not going to use them up within a few days of baking, I’d suggest freezing the leftovers to maintain the quality of their texture.
Next up: a low sugar Strawberry Rhubarb compote to stir into plain yogurt. (Insofar as I am always looking for low-sugar muffin recipes, I’m also always looking for low-sugar ways to doctor up plain yogurt to convince my clients to ditch their high-sugar fruit flavored yogurts.) This would also make a fabulous topping for my pretty freaking spectacular gluten-free, lactose-free blintzes.
The idea behind this recipe was to play around with the typical proportions of strawberries and rhubarb in a compote, such that the sweeter strawberries outweigh tart rhubarb, thereby necessitating less sugar. The other idea was to use just enough added sweetener to tame the extreme tartness of the rhubarb without covering it up altogether. Tart is tasty! The best thing about it is that when you pull back on the sugar (standard compote recipes call for 1/2-3/4 cup of granulated sugar), the flavor of the fruit comes bursting through. And when you’re using local, ripe strawberries and rhubarb straight from the farmer’s market, these are flavors you most definitely don’t want to bury under a pile of cloying sugar.
As you will see, this recipe uses strawberries: rhubarb in a 2:1 ratio, and a scant 1 TBSP of low-glycemic agave nectar to sweeten the entire 2-cup batch. Assuming 1/4 cup serving size (just enough to swirl into a plain container of yogurt), each serving has a mere 32 calories and 8g of carbohydrate, of which 5g is sugar. It also has about half of your Vitamin C needs for the day!
Combined with the calories in a standard 6oz container of plain, lowfat yogurt (100) and its natural carb content from milk sugar (12g), you’ve got a naturally fruit-flavored yogurt for 132 calories and 20g of carb (17g sugar). Let’s compare that to some leading brands of strawberry flavored yogurt, shall we?
- Dannon Lowfat Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom: 150 calories, 28g carb (26g sugar)
- Yoplait Original Strawberry Yogurt: 170 calories, 33g carb (26g sugar)
- Stonyfield Farm Lowfat Strawberry Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt: 130 calories, 25g carb (22g sugar)
We win by a margin of 1-2.5 tsps sugar per serving!
1 lb ripe, local strawberries, washed, stemmed and cut into quarters
1/2 lb fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 TBSP agave nectar
1 TBSP water
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat
- Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until fruit is very soft and mushy and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.