Okay, so I know it’s only halfway through the work week…
but who says date-night is ONLY for the weekends?
Tonight…BREAK THE RULES.
Light a couple of candles, cue the romantic music, and grab a fork–because this decadent little recipe is BEST when shared. You now have permission to make Wednesday the sassiest night of the week.
Little black dress optional .
I don’t know about you, but I think strawberries make a pretty sexy addition to any dessert. They’re just sweet enough without being too saccharine, plus, they look GREAT in red–and every girl already knows if you want to get noticed… you put on some red! Kind of sounds like a dating profile, huh?
But seriously, what’s NOT to love about a food that pairs so well with champagne? After all, nothing’s better than a date night that includes strawberries and a little bubbly. I mean, there’s GOT to be a reason Victoria’s Secret created a body spray named after this very combination…am I right?
Now, technically strawberry season doesn’t officially start until June, but when I walked into the grocery store yesterday and was greeted by a sign advertising a “buy one get one free” special for containers of strawberries, I just couldn’t resist. They looked like shiny little boxes of rubies and to top it off they smelled incredible. Plus, who doesn’t love a good deal?? Now what’s a girl to do with ALL THESE STRAWBERRIES?
Immediately my mind began racing with ideas for strawberry-inspired recipes (don’t worry, I came up with a whole bunch of them to share with you in some of my future posts!). But finally, after much back and forth, I settled on one that would be pleasing to the eye, yet simple enough to make on a weeknight (It serves just 2!).
And I was so due for a much-needed date night
But before we get to the recipe…I wanted to share some of the amazing health benefits of strawberries. Don’t be fooled by their dainty appearance–these pretty little berries pack a whole lot of punch!
Health Benefits of Strawberries:
- Boost immunity: Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which is a fast-acting antioxidant known to boost immunity. Just 1-cup of strawberries will give you 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement! It is important to obtain your daily vitamin C requirement from food, since humans are one of the only mammals who cannot produce it naturally.
- Fight cancer: Given its high immunity properties, vitamin C can also help to fight cancer (first and foremost, a healthy body is always the best line of defense against any disease). In addition, strawberries also contain a phytochemical known as ellagic acid, which has the ability to suppress cancer cell growth. Strawberries also contain two powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which work to neutralize free radicals that have a negative effect on cells.
**I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “free radicals” thrown around by the news and various health sources a lot lately, but you may not know exactly what they are. Free radicals are actually damaged, degenerated cells that, in an effort to repair and regenerate themselves, end up damaging and weakening the healthy cells around them. This can lead to cancer. This is why it’s important to fight those free radicals with proper nutrition!**
- Fight aging: Along with its many health benefits already listed above, vitamin C is also crucial in the production of collagen, a known wrinkle preventer. Ellagic acid (also mentioned above) has also been known to prevent inflammation and collagen destruction after skin has been damaged by UV-B rays.
- Protect your eyes: The antioxidants in strawberries may help prevent harmful cataracts, which can lead to blindness later in life. Our eyes need vitamin C to protect against free radicals from the sun’s harmful UV rays, otherwise the sun can damage our lens. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in strengthening the retina and cornea.
- Fight cholesterol: You already know ellagic acid and flavonoids/phytochemicals work as anti-inflammatories, but they can also help counteract the effect of LDL (bad cholesterol). Studies have concluded that by incorporating strawberries into your diet, you can reduce harmful blood lipids and oxidative damage—two markers for heart disease and diabetes.
- Regulate blood pressure: Strawberries are a great source of potassium, a heart-healthy nutrient that can help to regulate, and potentially lower, blood pressure by negating the effects of harmful sodium.
- Reduce inflammation: Antioxidants and phytochemicals/flavonoids in strawberries may aid in reducing joint inflammation and arthritis. In a study, those who ate at least 16 strawberries a week have lower levels of C-reactive protein(CRP), which is a key indicator that inflammation is present in the body. Inflammation is a precursor to cancer.
- Aid digestion- Strawberries are a good source of fiber, which is important for healthy digestion. Fiber can also help to fight type-2 diabetes due to its ability to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This is why strawberries are healthy snack choice for diabetics.
- Promote pre-natal health: Strawberries are a good source of folate, the beneficial B-Vitaminrecommended for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Folate is important in the early stages of pregnancy as it aids in proper development of the baby’s spinal cord, brain, and skull. Folic acid, also found in strawberries, may help to prevent serious birth defects like spina bifida.
- They keep your middle little!: Strawberries are low-calorie, low-sugar, low-sodium, and fat-free! One and a half cups charts in at less than 100 calories. They are a perfect addition to any breakfast and serve as a great alternative to an unhealthy, sugar-filled 3:00 pm snack. What better excuse do you need to eat these tasty little guys?
Oh yea…they also make a HECK of a dessert.
- 1/2 cup of flour (spelt, whole-wheat, all-purpose, choose whatever “whole grain” kind you’d like)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 packets of stevia (or 2 heaping tablespoons of another dry sweetener– feel free to adjust the sugar to your sweet tooth’s preference)
- 6 tablespoons almond milk
- 3 tablespoons apple sauce
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla (The next time I make this I want to try adding a smidge under one teaspoon of almond extract instead of vanilla…the boyfriend isn’t crazy about desserts with a strong, almond-y taste, but I bet it will pair fabulously with the strawberries! Feel free to try it and let me know how it goes )
- 1 teaspoon maple extract (you can replace this with vanilla extract or omit if using the almond extract)
- 1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery spread (you can add a couple extract teaspoons if you or your date prefer a buttery, more decadent taste– it will still be lower in fat. Just be sure to decrease the almond milk by a couple teaspoons).
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl (make sure you melt the butter first).
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix JUST until blended (try not to over-mix or your cake may not rise as well).
- Lightly spray an individual casserole dish with all-natural cooking spray (I use this one, but you could always divide the batter into two tiny ramekins if you don’t have a mini casserole dish. You could probably even make them in a muffin tin! Just be sure to adjust the cooking time)
- Pour the batter into the casserole dish (be sure to spread the batter evenly–give the casserole dish a good tap on the counter to fill any empty spots)
- Cook for 25 minutes (or until the top is light brown and begins to crack. The sides should also turn light brown and will begin to separate from the edges of the dish– every oven is a little different, and I find vegan cakes to be very sensitive to baking time/temperature, so you may need to keep checking on this one).
- Let the cake cool. One cool enough to handle, slice it in half (across) so your cake resembles two slices of bread.
NOW for the fun part!
- Add a thick layer of strawberries, strawberry icing (see below), and Soyatoo vegan whipped cream in between the two shortcake slices, then do the same thing on top!
- To make the strawberry icing: mix together 4 heaping tablespoons of organic, all-natural powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of almond milk, and a couple teaspoons of all-natural strawberry jam. Then, drizzle it all over your cake! (Add more powder sugar if you want the icing thicker)
And voila! Instant date night.
Now, go pour some champagne.
I’ll cheers to that!