Local strawberries are so sweet, juicy and luscious right now that I have to remind myself that summer's strawberry fields don't last forever. I savor the plump, red berries and love showing them off in new ways with my family. While they taste great au naturel for a grab-and-go snack, there are endless ways to incorporate them with other healthy ingredients day in and day out.
Here are sweet ideas we are enjoying this year:
Spinach and strawberry salad: Kids won't eat their spinach? Make a tasty salad with a light vinaigrette your kids will love. Get started by letting them grate the rind of a clean lemon into a small bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze out all the juice. Add 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar. As one child drizzles 1/4 cup olive oil into the mixture, another child can whisk briskly. Drizzle this dressing over a bowl of spinach, cubed fresh mango and strawberry slices. Add toasted almond slices, if you wish.
Strawberry faux fondue: Summertime is party time. For a simple do-it-yourself dessert at a large gathering, set a big bowl of strawberries in the center of a table, along with bamboo skewers and fondue-style sweets in small bowls for dipping. Before the party, let your kids fill the bowls with caramel, straw-berry and fudge sauces, powdered sugar and brown sugar. To serve, tell guests to poke a berry onto a skewer and dip it into a topping.
A bowl of berries: Chop fresh mint and add to a bowl
Grilled strawberries: Cut strawberries in half lengthwise. Let your kids poke several berry halves lengthwise onto bamboo skewers. An adult should set the cut side of the berries on a grill. Cook for 1 minute or until grill marks appear. Serve for dessert with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Donna Erickson's award-winning series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit donnasday.com and link to the NEW Donna's Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families."