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How to make the packed-with-goodness fruit even more healthy!
As a food blogger, writer and cook, one of the reasons I love strawberries is they are so versatile as an ingredient in the kitchen. You can put them in fruit pies, jams, sorbets, gelatos, ice creams and milkshakes. I’ve even made traditional Indian-style preparations with them like strawberry halwa and murabbas (Ode to strawberries, Indian Link, May 2015). Plus of course, they are popular with all age groups.
But over and above their versatility, strawberries are packed chockablock with nutrients. They are filled with anti-oxidants and flavonoids and are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C. Additionally, with a low calorie count, these are a great source of instant energy. Hardly surprising then, that back in the day, the Romans used it extensively for medicinal purposes.
In my own health-aware style of cooking, I like to cook sugar-free. (Yes, the halwa and the murabba that appeared in this column were also sugar-free.) I am all in favour of banishing white sugar from the diet, preferring to use healthier alternatives such as natural sweeteners include coconut sugar/palm sugar, stevia, erythritol and xylitol. Honey and maple syrup also have a lower glycemic index than sugar and can be useful in making sorbets and beverages.
I’ve got some sugar-free strawberry preparations again for you this time. Here in Victoria, strawberries will be around for another couple of months, so make the most of them now!
Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from fruit pulp/juice with sweeteners. The addition of any syrup-based sweetener to a sorbet lowers the freezing point and hence gives it a smoother texture. One can use light maple syrup or honey to get this texture. Once prepared, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 10 days. Allow it to thaw for 5-7 minutes before serving.
2 cups strawberries (around 400 gm)
1/3 cup maple syrup/honey
1/3 cup coconut water
½ tsp stevia
Pinch of salt
Puree the strawberries in a blender for 15-20 seconds, keep them aside.
Mix the coconut water with maple syrup, stevia and salt.
Add the pureed strawberries to the mix.
Pass the mix through the sieve to separate the seeds.
Pour the preparation into an ice-cream maker and churn until firm.
Transfer sorbet to a pre-chilled mould, cover with plastic wrap and a lid and store in the refrigerator
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, place the fruit puree in a stainless steel bowl and place in the freezer.
Allow it to set a little (this may take about 1 hour), then whisk it for about 10 seconds. Return it to the freezer to set a little more, then whisk again to give it extra lightness and to stop large ice crystals forming.
Instant Strawberry Crush
This wonderfully fresh and rejuvenating preparation can be made in five minutes and served instantly. The addition of cranberries gives it a dash of added colour and a tangy flavour. You may replace cranberries with any juice (without added sugar).
1 cup strawberries
½ cup cranberries
3 cups water
2 tbsp maple syrup/honey
1 tsp stevia (optional)
Mix all dry ingredients with 1 cup of water in a blender.
Puree them for 10 seconds.
Pass the mix through a sieve, separating the fruit pieces/seeds.
Add remaining water, serve chilled with ice and small pieces of strawberries.