Strawberry Kiwi – the tart tango!

If you like ‘em tart, this is a great combo! It’s kind of like green apples in a way, it’s got a kick to it. It’s something that should be tried, but it’s not something that you’d want to consume every day. Yet, I bet things would be different if I had a kiwi vine of my own and harvested vine ripe fruit and then combined it with sun ripened strawberries from the garden. I’ll bet it would be a completely different experience.

The beauty of this one can’t be matched.

What to mix up:

  • Couple cups strawberries
  • Three pealed kiwi
  • 4-8 little dates (more the better)
  • ½ lb fresh young baby spinach
  • ¾ cup coconut milk (vanilla flavored)
  • 1 little probiotic for good measure.

I love the color contrast between the kiwi and the strawberries. I couldn’t bring myself to add the banana to this one.

Note that I really had to pack that spinach in! It’s also fun watching this one mix. It starts out green and quickly turns pink from the strawberries. Then, as you press the spinach down into the blades it starts to pick up the signature green that we’ve all come to love:

Spinach is wonderful. I wish it were a little cheaper.

See ya next time.

How to find ripe Strawberries

My wife thought that I was crazy taking a picture of ripe strawberries! She asked “What do you think you’re doing?” and I replied that I was going to make a short note for my blog regarding how to tell if you’ve found ripe strawberries. She laughed, “Everyone knows how to pick out fresh strawberries – you smell them.” I said, “See, that’s why I’m going to make this post.”

You might ask, what qualifies me to know how to pick out a ripe strawberry? Well, it was the open invitation that I had regarding eating all the strawberries that I wanted on a U-pick strawberry farm when I was 18 and 19. You see, when you spend the entire day eating strawberries – and if you don’t pick the ripest ones, well, let’s simply say that you’re reminded about it when they leave your body! Leave your body raw, that is. Ouch. It’s not a pretty site.

Needless to say I asked the farmer and learned how to pick ripe berries every time. And the exiting problem no longer existed yet my desire to consume berries continued.

Most people think that you know when a strawberry is ripe if you smell it. Well, that’s just not the case. The smell gets stronger as the berries get riper, but it’s hard to tell what the ripe smell really is. The stores can take advantage of this by placing out fragrant strawberries that trick you into thinking they are ripe. Everyone smells their produce, right? I mean, that’s the key when picking melons. But not Strawberries.

Unripe strawberry:

smells great, but as hard as an apple

There are visual clues that differentiate ripe strawberries from non-ripe ones. The key most important visual is the color under the crown of the berry. The picture above shows a collection of strawberries that I picked up a month or so ago and I’ve cut off the crown.

Now, notice how white it is. This is a sure sign that the berry was picked ‘green’. Also, when you cut it in ½ from top to tip – so as to expose the ‘core’ of the berry, that core will be white and hard.

Some ripe strawberries:

no white around the tops

Notice with this collection of berries the fruit just under the crown (flower peddles) are orange-red. This is a really good sign.

crown comes off easily

If you look closer, the removing of the top also gives off subtle clues as to the ripeness of the berry. In this case, the crown twisted off with very little resistance. This is how the plant tells you that the fruit is ready to eat – it’s willing to give up the fruit freely. The top should pull away clean as in the above picture.

The seeds also provide a clue. Ripe berries have red seeds, whereas orange berries indicate that the fruit is not quite ripe yet.

You may notice that there is a little white; it appears that this particular berry could have stayed in the sun one more day.


Now here is that same berry after taking a bite to expose the core. As it turns out, the core ended up on my mouth but it was soft – indicating that the berry was ripe. Also notice the area around the top of the berry that in the previous picture appeared white, well here, we do not see any unripe berry. What we see is the veins that lead to the seeds and what the plant used to nourish the berry.

So, to review:

  • The berries should smell good
  • There should be no white around the top
  • The crowns should come off effortlessly
  • The core should be red – or the berry color
  • Seeds should be red – not orange

One more thing to add; the sweetness of the berry really depends on the amount of sun the plant receives while the berries are ripening. If you’ve every grown berries, you’ve probably noticed that berries that ripen after 3 or 4 days of intense sunlight blow away berries that ripen in the rain! The plant is going to offer up whatever it can and it will do its best with the weather conditions it’s given.

If all else fails, just buy strawberries from your local farmer’s market when they are in season. Plan your shopping day to coincide with the picking that happens after a few really nice sunny days.

Happy pickin’!

Strawberry, Grape, Spinach Smoothie

I’ll bet you never thought about that combination. Just so happened that I got to shop at Costco this last weekend and wouldn’t you know it, but they had Strawberries, Grapes and Spinach all at great prices. I think the 1 lb. spinach containers are the best price in town, but I don’t think they move as many as Whole Foods for I always have to carefully pick through the Costco spinach to pick out the bad pieces and I don’t have to do this with the Whole Food packages. Is it older? Or, does Whole Foods just care for it better? I don’t know. I guess you get what you pay for.

The best part about this smoothie is that tartness of the grapes add to the essence of strawberries which give a richness to the creamy spinach based blend that ultimately stands out from many of the other green smoothies that I’ve made. This one, I do have to say, is worth trying.

Happened to have the camera with me this morning when I threw this one together.

As you can see, this smoothie includes

  • About 12 medium sized strawberries
  • Good handful of red seedless grapes
  • 3 dates
  • ½ lb baby spinach
  • 1 cup coconut milk (not raw, with vanilla flavor)
  • 1 probiotic

When stacked in the blender they really fill it up!

The end result is something that’s easy to swallow and will make you want to come back for more! Got to love this stuff.

Now for the final product – my signature quart of green smoothie.


Strawberry Chard Smoothie

Yum. The finished results!


Can I get away with saying that on such a formal blog? I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to start blending Chard. I’ve looked at it for months right next to the Kale and Collard Greens. And I think I’ve been associating Chard and Collard Greens. The last batch of Collard Greens that I munched on had a clear peppery spicy flavor that didn’t seem to mix with anything. I  couldn’t see it working in a sweeter smoothie.

Well, I felt bold the other day when I saw the Chard on sale for half price. The best part about it was that they weren’t regular bunches split in two being sold half price! That’s a dirty trick that I’ve seen played out on the stores that I know people fall for. Rather, it was the normal size, larger than life beautiful green leaves and firm and fresh.

In any case, I Googled up a site that has some simple descriptions of the taste. Their words really do some up these two greens:

Collard Greens have a mild flavor and are rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, fiber, and calcium. The best way to prepare them is to boil them briefly and then add to a soup or stir-fry. You can also eat collard greens as a side dish. Just add your favorite seasoning and enjoy!


Swiss Chard tastes similar to spinach and is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium and iron. It is best stir-fried or eaten raw in salads.

I love spinach and was plenty surprised how similar the taste of chard is to spinach.

I also love strawberries but it’s so hard to find strawberries that are actually ripe!

When I was a teenager, I worked on a U-pick strawberry farm. Everyday throughout the season, I had access to the best sun ripened berries in the Puget Sound area. If I saw a beautiful berry beckoning to be eaten, I’d always check the crown to see if it was completely red. Ripe berries don’t have any white across the top.

Turns out that the berries that end up on the stores sold as ‘fresh’ berries are usually picked green.

Yet to fully ripen strawberry

Notice, in the picture, the white core to the strawberry, you won’t see this on a really ripe berry. As it turns out, frozen strawberries are usually closer to being ripe then what you usually find fresh. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture on hand to show a frozen berry (even though I’ve got a page in the freezer).

What this picture doesn’t show is the mouth watering smell. I have to admit that the growers have perfected capturing the smell of a strawberry early in the berries development so that when you pick them up in the store, you automatically start to salivate. It’s too bad they don’t taste like fresh picked.

So, on to the recipe; here is the collection of ingredients in picture form:

[picture of ingredients]

Clockwise left to right: Strawberries, Green Chard, Coconut Milk with added vanilla, lucuma powder, a probiotic complex, and pitted dates.

Weights and Measures:

  • 1 bundle Chard
  • 1 cup Coconut milk
  • 12 oz Fresh Strawberries
  • 3 Pitted Dates
  • 1 tablespoon Lucuma powder
  • 1 little probiotic complex (optional and of your choice)

Add the coconut milk to the blender first followed by the fruit and greens.

Everything stacked in the blender

After it’s been ground good and smooth, add the lucuma if it’s not sweet enough. It might be just fine without adding anything more. The funniest part is when you first turn on the blender and you get the wonderful strawberry pink smoothie that, as soon as the greens start to cut, turns a creamy lighter green that you can see with the resulting smoothie picture shown at the top.

If I’d known that Chard was as good (or better) than spinach when I first started making green smoothies, I’d probably just be discovering spinach now!

Let me know if you give this a try. I’d recommend it to anyone, that’s why I’m posting it here.