All the Colors of the Rainbow 2– Red
That’s right dear readers, we are doing a sequel to the Colors of the Rainbow series! This year we are going to kick it all up a notch by featuring a fruit and a vegetable combination for each color in the spectrum. So, refill that cup of coffee, and stay seated as we introduce a fruit and vegetable of my favorite color, Red. Give it up for strawberry & rhubarb!
The red fruit that I chose for the series is beloved by many around springtime and is one of America’s favorite fruits, the strawberry. They are also the first fruit to come into bloom in the spring season and is consumed at an annual per capita of 4.85 pounds per person.
Just to put it in perspective, California produces 23,000 acres, or 21 tons of strawberries each year. And that just makes up 70% of the yearly crop! And the demand hasn’t slowed down. According to the University of Illinois, over 53%of 7 to 9-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
Fun Facts about Strawberries…
- Strawberries have been mentioned by Roman poets Virgil and Ovid back in the first century A.D. However, production and cultivation of the fruit didn’t happen until the 1300’s.
- Strawberries aren’t actual berries. Technically, they would be considered an ‘accessory fruit’. The fleshy part of the berry that we eat is the stem of the plant!
- Just like apples, strawberries are a member of the rose family. They also have 200 seeds per berry.
- Romans believed that strawberries could cure melancholy, fever, bad breath, and liver disorders.
Benefits of strawberries include:
- Antioxidants: Strawberries have a high antioxidant content, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improved Regulation of Blood Sugar: Scientists noticed a connection between strawberry intake and better insulin and blood sugar levels. Upon assessment, they noticed that strawberries had a lower GI value in comparison to most fresh fruits.
- It is also a major source of vitamin C, which is good news to those who can’t eat acidic fruits, like grapefruit or oranges.
What the heck is a rhubarb?
A rhubarb is a root vegetable that contains a long, red stalk, and green triangular leaves. However, you must be cautious during any handling of the plant. The leaves are too dangerous to eat due to a high oxalic acid content. If the plant grows in freezing weather the acid will spread from the leaf to the root. The root itself, however, has many medicinal and health properties. It is a vegetable to many places around the world, but America considers it a fruit since rhubarb has a sweetness.
Rhubarbs have existed for thousands of years and served a medicinal purpose in China. However, it wasn’t until the establishment of the Silk Road that it was introduced to other countries. After many unsuccessful attempts to breed the medicinal properties of the root in Europe, the plant made its way to Russia. Then, gardeners bred the plant based on its sweetness. Eventually, it became a solid substitution for sugar during rationing in the 1800’s.
Benefits of rhubarb include:
- First, it is a great digestive aid and is natural laxative to cure constipation.
- Rhubarb has a substantial amount of vitamin K, which helps prevents the oxidation of brain cells. It can help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Also, the vitamin K stimulates bone growth and repair, with a potential to help fight osteoporosis.
- The trace amounts of copper and iron found in rhubarb are enough to stimulate the production of red cells.
Recipe of the week
It is no coincidence that I chose both strawberry & rhubarb as the combination of red. The most common recipe with both ingredients is strawberry rhubarb pies. So, as an attempt at a healthy dessert substitute with little processing, here is the easy to make, gluten free, Strawberry Rhubarb Bars. Click on the photo for the recipe!