Sensational strawberry recipes incl. Eton mess

You know summer has finally arrived when the shops are full to bursting with beautiful, ripe, red strawberries. The summer just wouldn't be summer without them. How could we go through Wimbledon without our strawberries and cream? And can you imagine having a barbeque without rounding it all off with a big bowl of strawberries?

Strawberries have been a favourite for centuries and many myths and legends now surround these beautiful berries:

· Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with each other

· To symbolize perfection and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in cathedrals

· The strawberry is a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and red colour

· Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck, which some claimed proved she was a witch

· The first documented botanical illustration of a strawberry plant appeared in Herbaries in 1454

· The English word 'strawberry' comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'streoberie' and wasn’t spelled in the modern fashion until 1538

· The ancient Romans believed that the berries alleviated symptoms of melancholy, fainting, all inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, attacks of gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen

· In Othello, Shakespeare decorated Desdemonda's handkerchief with symbolic strawberries

· Madame Tallien, a prominent figure at the court of the Emperor Napoleon, was famous for bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries. She used 22 pounds of strawberries per bath.

· In parts of Bavaria, country folk still practice the annual rite of tying baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves. They believe that the elves, who are passionately fond of strawberries, will help produce healthy calves and an abundance of milk in return

· Strawberry shortcake was developed from a bread of crushed strawberries and cornmeal originally made by American Indians

· There is a museum in Belgium devoted entirely to strawberries.

Strawberry season really makes summer complete. And the good news is that we couldn't wish for a better food. Strawberries have virtually no fat, very few calories and are packed with vitamins. In fact, one bowl of strawberries (around 100g or 6 medium-sized strawberries) will provide only 27 calories, 0.1g of fat and 6g of natural carbohydrates.

This amount will also provide us with 110% of our daily requirement of vitamin C, 14% of our daily folate needs and over 10% of our daily recommended amount of dietary fibre. And all with that beautifully sweet flavour.

The only problem with strawberries is what we have with them – cream. Having even just 2 tablespoons (30ml) of whipping cream with your bowl of berries increases those calories to over 100 along with 9g of fat. Indulge yourself with double cream and the damage is up to 124 calories and over 11g of fat. Not such a dieters dream any more. To enjoy that creamy flavour without the calories, go for one for these delightful desserts instead:

Strawberry and ginger crunch

Mix together a 250g tub of ricotta cheese, 125ml of low-fat natural yoghurt, 1 tbs of icing sugar and 2 drops of vanilla extract. Crush 150g of ginger snap biscuits and slice 250g of strawberries. Place spoonfuls of the yoghurt mixture into 6 serving glasses. Sprinkle over a layer of crushed biscuits and then a layer of strawberries and continue layering until all the ingredients are used.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information: 215 calories, 9g of fat and 29g carbs (3 Units).

Eton mess

Mix together 150ml each of Greek and low fat natural yoghurt and 1 tbs of icing sugar. Break up 4 meringue nests and slice 250g of strawberries. Gently mix the meringue pieces and strawberries into the yoghurt. Serve in glasses and top with a whole strawberry.

Makes 4 servings

Nutritional information: 125 calories, 3.5g of fat and 19g carbs (1.5 Units).

Did you know?
The seats at Wimbledon are having to be replaced to fit our expanding backsides. Seats which used to be a svelte 40cm are being increased to 48cm.

Start a diet plan at tescodiets.com

Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.