"Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are true superfood. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients — they are among the best foods you can eat." — Joel Fuhrman

"Sometimes you've got to grab an apple — or grapes, or strawberries. Something that's healthy but maybe a little bit more adventurous, if you can see fruit as adventurous." — LL Cool J

"Here you go, Mrs. Hill. They are from Florida. My parents thought you'd enjoy them!"

I glanced up from my computer to see Quincey, a sixthgrader in my homeroom class. She smiled broadly and handed me a clamshell box of red, ripe strawberries. Sure, enough, there was a sticker on the top boasting the berries had been recently picked in Florida.

"Wow, Quincey! This is a first, I've never before had a student give me strawberries before. They are one of my favorite fruits. I cannot thank your parents and you enough. I will definitely put these to good use."

I said all of this as I gave her a sidearm hug. It was such a touching gift. "I know you like to eat healthy, and we thought you'd like them."

Boy, do I ever like strawberries! In fact, I love all berries, but there is something about spring-ripened strawberries. Depending upon where you live, strawberries are now in season, or they will be in season within the next month or two. This means they will be priced ready to sell and at their tastiest.

One of the freshest and tastiest ways to acquire strawberries is to actually go to a local farm where they allow you to pick your own. There is nothing like smelling the sweetness of the berries and the tang of the earth in the damp early morning as you stoop down to pick those luscious berries. However, if there is not a pick-your-own-strawberries-farm near you, one visit to the local farmers' market, roadside market, or even local grocery store will often offer a plethora these garnet-colored jewels.

Strawberries are high in fiber and many nutrients. One cup of strawberries has about 50 calories and over a gram of protein, but it only has half a gram of fat. Strawberries are full of vitamin C. In fact, one cup of these red succulent orbs possesses 150 percent of a daily recommended dose of this vial vitamin. Further, strawberries are full of antioxidants, which are important for neutralizing cancerous free radicals as well as reducing inflammation, including inflammation caused by gout and arthritis.

If that's not enough, strawberries also are a

source of both magnesium and potassium — important for lowering blood pressure. Additionally, strawberries are a good source of folate. Strawberries are also a great food for brain, eye, and immune system healthy. Clearly, strawberries, like all forms of berries, are bursting with natural sweetness and are nutritional powerhouses.

These vibrantly red berries, as in all berry varieties, are easily incorporated into a wide variety of recipes. Strawberries' sweet versatility makes it easily incorporated into baked goods, salads—fruit and veggie based, parfaits, ice cream—dairy and nondairy variations can also include jams/jellies/preserves, and so much more. In fact, I am sharing the strawberry smoothie recipe I created for those beautiful berries from Quincey. My smoothie recipe creates an easy way to add these spring seasonal favorites to your diet.

I, personally, loved making this smoothie for breakfast — often making it the night before. I've even made several in one setting, as I did when Quincey gave me the box of strawberries, and stored them in the freezer to make the most of the fresh berries' ripeness. Then, I moved one from my freezer to refrigerator each afternoon/evening before, and grabbed it on the way out the door to school.

Consider trying this recipe with your next purchase of fresh strawberries. It's chocked full of all sorts of goodness that is sure to be a tasty and nutritional sound start to your day.

You'll power through your morning running on high nutritional-octane.

From my home to yours, I wish you happy, healthy, and homemade smoothies!

P.S. Thank you, Miss Quincey, for the strawberries as well as the inspiration for this recipe.

SPRING STRAWBERRY PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

Serves 1

1/2 to 1 cup (70-140 mg) strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 to 1 cup (43-85 mg) riced cauliflower (best if frozen)

1 serving of favorite protein powder

1 teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon hemp hearts

1 cup favorite liquid (water, milk or plant-based alternative)

Optional add-ins:

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or other favorite extract)

1 teaspoon or packet of favorite sweetener (stevia, honey, maple syrup, etc.)

1 teaspoon favorite greens powder (Amazing Grass variations, i.e. Organic Supergreens Powder)

1 or 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Dash of sea salt

In a blender or large blender cup, add ingredients in the order listed. Add in any optional ingredients.

Blend until smooth.

Serve immediately or store in fridge up to 2 days, or freeze until needed and thaw overnight in fridge!

Sip, savor and enjoy the springtime goodness!

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