Ontario - "Beautiful Water"
My bias will present itself in this post as I am a born and raised Ontario farm girl! Although Ontario may not have the rugged beauty of the west, the serene beauty of the east, or the untouched beauty of the north, I believe that the rich variety of its cities, rolling hill farmland great lakes and beautiful forests, makes it a beauty in and of itself!
Did you know that the word Ontario comes from the an Iroquois word for beautiful water/lake? With over 250,000 lakes in Ontario and one-fifths of the world's fresh water, it seems like a fitting name.
You may have been surprised to see that I chose to highlight Ontario strawberries as the feature food grown in Ontario. Truth be told, there were many other nutritious foods that I could have selected that would have been much more representative of this province's main income generating crops and livestock.
My husband pleaded with me to highlight Ontario bacon but sadly lost out this time...
However, since it is the end of June and on the eve of Canada's 150th birthday celebration, I wanted to highlight something RED and JUICY! All year long I dream about the arrival of local strawberries, after having survived a long winter of tasteless imports.
We Canadians LOVE our strawberries, which is evident by the fact that consumption of strawberries has increased 73% over the past 10 years.
Here are some fascinating stats on Ontario strawberries:
- Ontario is the second largest producer of Canadian strawberries, just behind Quebec
- Ontario has the highest number of Canadian strawberry producers at 663 growers
- Ontario produced 23% of the national strawberry crop in 2011, behind Quebec only
- Ontario strawberry revenue was estimated to be $18.6 million in 2011
Berry-licious and Nutritious!
I am not sure that I have ever met anyone who doesn't like strawberries. Their juicy sweet taste make them a favourite among children and adults alike.
We have known for a long time now about the benefits of berries for our health but in case you need a refresher, here are the main points:
- Strawberries are a low glycemic index fruit, making it a healthy choice for everyone
- Rich in vitamin C, folate and many other minerals
- Contain about 50 calories for 1 cup of halved or sliced berries and 3 grams of fibre
- High in phenolic compounds (i.e. flavonoids, tannins, antioxidants)
- Anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic and anti-carcinogenic properties! Or in other words, help to decrease inflammation, reduce the development of cardiovascular disease and provide protection against various cancers.
Think outside of strawberries and ice cream!
Due to their sweet decadent nature, we typically pair strawberries with ice cream, whipped cream, or strawberry shortcake. Although these are downright delicious, they certainly aren't ways that we should be eating our berries all the time.
Instead, I like to think of savoury ways to enjoy my berries ... in a spinach salad, caprese salad or ... in salsa!!!
Strawberry Mango Salsa
This delightful sweet and savoury salsa is a mouthwatering, versatile dish. It carries itself as a standalone salsa served with tortilla chips, but I believe is even better when paired with a fresh white fish like tilapia, sole, or cod or a grilled chicken or turkey breast. Have some leftovers? Serve it as a side with your egg and toast in the morning!
- 1 large mango, peeled and diced
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 an avocado, chopped
- 1/3 cup red onions, minced
- 1/2 a small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tsp sugar or honey
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a small to medium sized mixing bowl. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.
Note: if you are not eating the salsa right away, it is best to wait to cut the avocado until just prior to serving to avoid browning. You may also choose to only combine the strawberries with the rest of the salsa just before eating so the juice from the strawberries doesn't discolour the mango.
Take it one bite at a time,
- Government of Ontario. About Ontario. Retrieved June 28, 2017 at https://www.ontario.ca/page/about-ontario.
- Canadian Strawberry Promotion and Research Council (CSPRC). Retrieved June 28, 2017 at http://fpcc-cpac.gc.ca.
- Ontario Berry Grower's Association. Retrieved June 28, 2017 at http://ontarioberries.com.
- University of Sydney Glycemic Index. Retrieved June 28, 2017 at http://www.glycemicindex.com.
- Giampieri, F. et al. The healthy effects of strawberry bioactive compounds on molecular pathways related to chronic diseases. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. ISSN 0077-8923; 2017.