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Strawberry Oatmeal Delight

The first fresh, locally grown strawberry of the season is always an exciting time. I have many fond memories as a kid of red covered hands and knees and blue buckets brimming with berries, picking for hours under the morning sun with my mom. I still continue to look forward to these family outings every late spring and still continue to fill my belly fuller than my bucket as the first hour goes underway.

However, I often get a little antsy during the weeks that lead up to the juicy, sweet bonanza in the local scene. As my eyes scan over the plastic containers of bright, California-born strawberries at the store, I often end up with one of them in my basket as I head for the checkout line. They’re never as tasty as the in-season ones hanging out in the teal, cardboard quarts, but when those jumbo berries go on sale, I can never help myself.

Always a little less sweet and juicy, pre-local berries are best for recipes like this. Sure, they’re still tasty straight out of the carton, but cooked into oatmeal with a little maple syrup, and you could almost forget they weren’t self-picked straight from the vine. This is one of my favorite breakfasts once on-sale strawberries hit the stores, and of course, the recipe is still fantastic once those local berries do finally start ripening to perfection.

Click here for recipe…

Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I’ve professed my love for simple fruit smoothies here: Blueberry Banana Smoothie. And it’s true, the key to a good smoothie is a ripe, frozen banana and a complimentary fruit of your choice. The other key is the exclusion of all those ingredients people always think you need to throw in the blender, like sugars, and powders, and ice. Rather, the banana will add all the frozen creaminess and sweetness needed.

However, sometimes I make exceptions, like with this chocolaty, no-ice-cream-needed shake.

Using frozen fruit, I made this spoon-worthy thick, which with the cocoa powder makes this smoothie feel extra rich. The kefir adds another boost of creamy richness and just a touch of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the pure cocoa. The results make a good case for occasionally adding a couple extra ingredients to the blender, although you’ll notice that the list is still limited to under a handful of items. However, I might suggest a 5th addition, which is really the only thing missing from this picture — a wide-holed straw. Straws always make shakes more fun.

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