It’s almost strawberry season and I’m excited to tell you why strawberries could be the perfect snack for parents who experience extra stress (and anyone else for that matter).
Some of my fondest memories from the early years of parenting have to do with family outings picking our own fruit: apples, strawberries and blueberries. What could be better than going outside in nature for an all-you-can-eat treasure hunt? Fruit foraging worked well for our kids when other types of outings weren’t always successful.
Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C, packing 85 mg per cup. It turns out that Vitamin C isn’t just for fighting colds or anti-aging. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help regulate cortisol levels, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during stress. Cortisol affects many different functions in the body. It can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation, according to the Hormone Health Network. It also has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, studies have shown that parents of children who struggle (with behavioral issues in this case) show blunted cortisol patterns — similar to those of combat soldiers and other individuals suffering from PTSD. If you experience chronic stress, you may not even realize it, but your body is constantly activating the fight or flight response. After a while, it’s like the boy who cried wolf: your body stops responding in the same way. Over time, this can have a detrimental impact on your health and well-being.
Enter strawberries. Not only do they pack a punch of Vitamin C, they also contain manganese, which helps keep blood sugar stable and is important for brain and nerve function.
Even if you can’t go berry picking, think about picking up some strawberries next time you’re at the market. (Be sure to buy organic — according to the Environmental Working Group, conventional strawberries are the #1 most pesticide loaded produce item. By the way, ewg.org is a great resource for learning about the safety of food, water, consumer products and more. Here’s a link to their 2018 “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticides in produce.
You can always enjoy a handful of strawberries straight. But if you feel like revving your blender, try one of my strawberry smoothie recipes:
Simple Strawberry Smoothie
This smoothie is a healthy yummy way to get your shot of strawberries. Kids like it too! Gluten Free and Dairy Free.
2 c strawberries
1 banana *
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
2 c almond milk, or milk of your choice
2 tsp honey (or sweetener of choice, optional)
BLEND all ingredients.
Strawberry Green Smoothie
This delicious blend includes a dose of green goodness (avocado and spinach) that will keep you satisfied all morning. Gluten Free and Dairy Free.
2 C strawberries
2 C baby spinach
1 avocado, pitted and scooped from skin
1 banana *
2 C almond milk, or milk of your choice
2 tsp honey (or sweetener of choice, to taste)
BLEND all ingredients.
* I keep bananas (peel first) in the freezer to give smoothies that creamy milk-shake consistency. If you’re not using frozen fruit, add 1/2 c or more ice to the recipe.
Cheers to your strawberry boost — a little extra nourishment and a little less stress goes a long way!