It is harvest time. Open your heart to receive all the abundance you have been able to conceive. Roxana Jones
Earth day is here. A day to appreciate all we have from nature, all species. How about having a meatless Monday Earth Day?
A great way to celebrate is berry picking! Outdoors breathing fresh air…
In the southern states of the United States, April is usually peak time for strawberries. Its bright red color, sweet and unique aroma awakens the senses. Strawberries are packed with antioxidants and fiber which makes it on my daily “must eat list.” There are so many ways to eat them, and I will share some with you here, but first…Picking them.
Part of the experience of consuming your red delicious berry is to pick them. Now, I have talked about adding them to your garden which is a fabulous asset. However, some of those plants will give you the satisfaction of eating just enough for a spring afternoon treat as you watch the sunset. That is usually the case for the first years of growing. This is when finding local u-pick farms come in. Even some of my friends that are not into gardening or getting their hands dirty have enjoyed this adventure. Last year I met this young lady that was visiting Alabama from Los Angeles. It was her first time in the south she said, and she had never gone to any farms. Mind boggling to me because California has some wonderful farms that I have visited before, besides the point. She was all dressed up and unprepared, hesitant and asking everyone around every step she made. I looked at her friend (who was from Alabama) and asked her quietly why in the world she would do that to her “friend”?! Her response stayed with me- “She wants to be vegetarian yet she only shops at her grocery store. She is concerned about the environment, yet she doesn’t leave the concrete city she lives in. She NEEDS this, she must see first hand what nature and fresh produce are all about.” Just minutes after this California girl decided to prove to her southern friend, she could do it, she did. Two hours later we were talking as we counted our baskets. She was excited, thrilled for the first-hand experience with nature. She was changed. Yes, this is a highlight of the season event. Are you ready? Great!
After you find a local farm, check dates and times available for you to go and pick your own. Ask for pricing. They could charge per basket, per pound, or you can bring your own bag, some provide theirs for you to keep. Be aware that most need you to pay CASH. Bring a hat and wear a good sunscreen and comfortable shoes. Carry little with you but do carry your reusable bottle of water. Even if you are planning to stay “just a few minutes”, trust me – you won’t!
Once you start enjoying picking your own delicious fruit, you will lose track of time. Rinse one of those delicacies of nature and enjoy!
To pick the best berries, simply look for bright red firm fruit before pulling from the stem. Strawberries won’t ripen after being picked. The size does not matter; if they look healthy and are growing around green leaves. If you plan to can or make strawberry jam, then the darker red strawberries might work for you. I personally prefer to pick them bright red and then decide. Feel free to ask the local farmer while you are there.
Kids love this outing as well. It is a great educational experience for them and increases their opportunities at eating fresh and nutritious food.
When you get home with all these berries now it is not so fun. At least for me, I am ready to just sit, relax and eat them. Reality is that you still have some work to do. So just play some music and wash your berries and remove the leaves and stems they might have. When I do this, I separate them in batches. Usually one large freezer bag for the ones I want to freeze for my healthy shakes later. Another set for eating fresh out of the bowl, another for keeping in the fridge for possible baking and maybe some for preparing jam. As I mentioned, I added a recipe to help you with ideas of things to do with the berries. You could make Classic Strawberry shortcakes, Strawberry pancakes, Strawberry cupcakes, add them to your salad, the choices are many…. Just know what you’d prefer to try ahead of time to save you some time. If not sure, freeze as many as possible, you can always use them later.
Now, enjoy your fresh fruits and share your experience.
Flax Strawberry Shake
Enjoy a delicious and healthy shake at home.
- 1/2 Banana
- 1/2 cup Fresh Strawberries
- 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon
- 3-4 Ice Cubes
Mix all ingredients in a blender. Serve. Enjoy!