6 Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes + Best Berry Recipes

Someday I will have a strawberry patch in my garden  . . . I just need to work on getting that garden first!  In the meantime, I’ll continue to visit my favorite produce departments and farmers’ markets, greedily buying up all the plump and pretty berries in my quest for the sweetest and juiciest picks of spring.

Six Ways Strawberries Aid Athletes

Strawberries are not only sweet-tooth satisfying; they are a superfood that should be part of an athlete’s training diet.  I eat strawberries to keep my performance and recovery at a peak – here are the top six reasons why:

  1. An entire cup (about 12 medium berries) of strawberries has only 50 calories and serves as a source of quick energy thanks to healthy complex carbohydrates.
  2. A serving (one cup) of strawberries provides more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. This antioxidant offers a host of important benefits for athletes, including immune system protection and helping the body to recover and repair from intense workouts.
  3. The flesh and seeds of strawberries are a sensible source of dietary fiber, an important nutrient that keeps you from feeling hungry right away and also helps to keep digestion moving along.  Fiber also helps to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, according to many studies.
  4. Strawberries are a great source of potassium and magnesium, essential minerals that are lost through sweat. Runners and other endurance athletes (one hour of consistent exercise or more) require more of these minerals to keep electrolyte balances in check. These minerals are also good for bone health.
  5. Strawberries contain a compound called nitrate that has positive effects on blood flow and oxygen around the body. Some studies have shown nitrates can increase the flow of blood & oxygen to the muscles by as much as 7 percent. This can help prevent muscle fatigue, making exercise easier.
  6.  Strawberries contain an antioxidant called quercetin . This plant pigment has been shown to play a role in heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Some scientists studying exercise biochemistry suggest quercetin may enhance endurance and overall athletic performance by serving as an anti-inflammatory agent, improving mitochondrial (energy) function in cells, and boosting the central nervous system with a caffeine-like jolt.

So, enough about how strawberries can benefit runners and other athletes and on to the yummy stuff —  strawberry recipes!  I recently made a quick and easy recipe for Strawberry Blackberry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding and Shooters for Litehouse Foods. This healthy recipes work as a sustaining breakfast, sensible dessert or nutritious post-workout snack – in addition to the goodness of strawberries, this “pudding” is packed with chia seeds and Greek yogurt for an extra punch of protein.

Berry Greek Yogurt Chia Pudding

For the Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots, all you do is thin the recipe down with a little extra milk (2%, coconut, almond, soy, etc).  It’s a refreshing alternative to a smoothie!

Strawberry Blackberry Chia Shots

And, speaking of refreshing, how about a scoop of Roasted Strawberry Coconut Milk Sherbet on a warm spring day?

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - roasted strawberry coconut mile sherbet 1

My Strawberry Greek Yogurt Tart (with Paleo Chocolate Crust) has always been a big winner in the spring and is a gorgeous addition to an Easter dinner, graduation or other special celebration.

strawberry yogurt pie

What is your favorite way to eat strawberries?

Strawberry Margarita Baby Bundt Cakes (Lightened) & Mixer Giveaway!

Baking cakes with thefitfork.com

I have a lot of love for kitchen gear . . . it ranks right up there with my passion for fitness gear. On birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas and special occasions, I will be over-the-moon giddy with excitement if you gift me with the latest in running shoe technology or a shiny, new kitchen gadget that I “absolutely must have” and will probably only use once. But the great thing about being a food and fitness blogger is that I can rationalize all these frivolities in the name of workout research and recipe development – it’s a tough job, but someone has to suffer losing toenails because she wore the wrong compression socks during an endurance event or got “too cold” in the winter because she insisted on making smoothie after smoothie in search of perfection.

A couple pieces of kitchen gear I never grow tired of are my mixers. Hamilton Beach recently sent me two of their mixer models to try out – the 6 Speed Stand Mixer (Model 3326) and the SoftScrape™ 6 Speed Hand Mixer with Case (62637) (and another pair of these mixers are available in my giveaway at the bottom of this post).  Whoohoo, I was so excited because I have had some pretty traumatic mixer distress over the last year. First, my cheapie hand mixer received as a wedding gift bit the dust in the middle of party preparations. To be fair, I had used this mixer quite a lot in the 20+ years of its life. Although, it was very convenient to have a hand mixer available for quick baking projects, I never replaced it since I had the highly-coveted Kitchenaid stand mixer begging to be put into use. But, let me tell you what happened next –  the horror!  One day, I was mixing the ingredients for a (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) Paula Deen-esque Truffle Pie, I turned my back on the machine while the machine did its thing. Then all of a sudden, a “clank” followed by a hideous, grinding noise and then total silence fell over the room.   Apparently, the Kitchenaid logo metal piece-a-part (where the big attachments screw in) had become loose and the continued vibrations from the beating shook the entire thing loose. The big screw thing, fell into the bowl, got jammed between the beaters and broke a mechanism in the engine. I was so upset, I cried.

win a stand mixer

You could win this Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer to help you with your healthy baking!

I’m over it, especially now that I have these two new mixers! The big stand mixer is awesome and does pretty much everything the brand-that-shall-not-be-mentioned does, from what I can tell. It features that same single paddle of the “other guys” that spins while rotating around the entire perimeter of the 3.5 quart stainless steel bowl. There are three attachments for a variety of recipe needs (the paddle, the whisk and the dough hook). There are also six speeds as well as a special, slower folding setting. I could go on and on, but you can read more for yourself about this reasonably priced ($129) yet powerful Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer.

Win a mixer

You’ll love how this hand mixer stands upright when not in use.

I also got to test a really cool hand mixer, the SoftScrape™ 6 Speed Hand Mixer.  Love, love, love this easy-to-use mixer that retails for just $39. It has 6 speeds, so it can tackle a range of different tasks.  It comes with regular beaters, a whisk attachment and also (drumroll) these really genius “SoftScrape” beaters that are coated in silicone (like a flexible spatula) to promote thorough mixing while keeping bowls and nonstick pots from getting scratched up. Another super practical feature of this hand mixer is that it comes with a storage case that attaches to the bottom and accommodates all the attachments and power cord.  It also props up really nice on the counter when between tasks too, without toppling over and leaving a sticky mess.

Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer and SoftScrape Mixer details.

Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer and SoftScrape Mixer details.

If you’d like a chance to win one of these fantastic Hamilton Beach mixers, head down to the bottom of this post and complete the instructions in the Rafflecopter app. Meanwhile, let me tempt you with the recipe I made while I tested my new kitchen gear out – “Lightened-Up” Strawberry Margarita Baby Bundt Cakes. I used a sugar substitute baking blend and no-fat milk to take some of the guilt out of this fun dessert – oh and the strawberry sauce isn’t much more than pureed berries and lime juice with a little splash of tequila!

Mini Strawberry Margarita Cakes Lite

“Lightened-Up” Strawberry Margarita Baby Bundt Cakes Recipe

  • 1/2 -cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar substitute baking blend with 1:2 replacement ratio*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/3  cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped fresh strawberries

* if using regular sugar, double the amount to 1 1/3 cups

For the Sauce:

  •  1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 6-count mini-Bundt pan. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar substitute until fluffy.
  2. Beat in the lime juice, lime zest, and eggs until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl stir together the cake flour and baking powder. Add alternately with the milk to the egg mixture. Beating just until combined after each addition.
  4. Sprinkle scant amount of coarse sea salt into to bottom of each mini Bundt pan, distributing the 1 teaspoon equally across Bundts. Next divide approximately ½ cup chopped strawberries equally among the bottoms of each cake (about 2 teaspoons each). Add the batter to prepared pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and let the cakes sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife between the cakes and the pan, if needed, and remove to a baking rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make sauce by blending remaining 1 ½ cups chopped strawberries with 3 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon tequila in blender until pureed. Transfer mixture to small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve sauce over cakes and garnish with fresh strawberry, if desired.

skinny strawberry lime cake

Disclosure: Hamilton Beach has provided me with product to review and giveaway. However, all opinions, recipes and commentary are my own.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strawbetterberry | Greek Yogurt Tart & More Strawberry Favorites

Is there anything that a strawberry doesn’t make better? Not only do these beautiful berries make both sweet and savory dishes sing with the flavors of the season, just the smell of them lifts my mood for the better. Chocolate Yogurt Tart with Strawberries - TheFitFork.com

This recipe for Strawberry Chocolate Greek Yogurt Tart (with Gluten-Free Coconut-Almond Crust) is made in honor of my mom on a past Mother’s Day. Read on to get the recipe and find out why I picked strawberries over other berries — you’ll be surprised.   Continue reading

Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad Recipe & Beach Bod Workout

Berry Grain Salad

Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, oh my! With the season turning warmer, berries are finally starting to have a delicious ripe flavor. Nothing worse than a middle-of-winter, unripe, white-bellied strawberry, am I right?! I’ve been known to put a berrry or two atop my salads so I came up with this beautiful Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad to take advantage of a bounty of berries.I think you’ll love it as a light lunch or side dish; in fact, you could even make a heartier meal of this salad by adding some shrimp, fish or other lean protein. Actually, the recipe starts off with a pretty decent amount of protein thanks to the red quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is not only high in protein (14g per serving) but also a good source of dietary fiber (7g per serving), plus it is gluten-free and popular with vegetarians and vegans. Oh, and it’s easy to store, easy to cook and has a satisfying crunch.

Quinoa Berry Salad with Lime Viniagrette

Triple Berry Red Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • ½ pint blueberries
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh jalapeno
  • ½ cup Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette*
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  1. Add quinoa, water and salt in medium pot, bring to boil. Cover and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
  2. Spread out cooked quinoa on baking sheet and set in refrigerator for 15 minutes for quick cooling.
  3. Meanwhile, wash, drain and dry berries. Chop strawberries and cut blackberries in half if they are large.
  4. In large bowl, add cooled quinoa, berries, red onion, jalapeno and dressing (*see note about dressing below); stir to combine.
  5. Serve sprinkled with feta cheese.
  6. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days.

*I love the convenience and taste of Litehouse Food’s Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette – it’s also a certified organic product and I’ve noticed that it’s one of the dressings (out of their dozens) that most stores stock.  If this is not available in your area – order online!  Or, make fresh by blending ½ cup fresh or frozen berries with ¼ cup champagne vinegar, ¼ cup fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon honey. After this mixture is pureed, slowly blend in ¼ cup canola oil and continue blending until emulsified.

berry storage container

I love this “berry keeper” container / colander!

By the way, I got yet ANOTHER kitchen gadget when out shopping the other day, I just can’t help myself. This little “berry keeper” preserves the freshness of delicate raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and other small fruits (or veggies), meaning no more rotten waste. The inside stackable tray layers berries to keep them from bruising and also serves as a handy little colander.

rinse strawberries

Resealing lids attach to the top and bottom so that moisture can be drained from either end. The dial on front is an adjustable vent that regulates air coming in and out of the container and extends the edible life of produce – a guide tells whether it should be open or shut for each specific fruit.  Anyway, I highly recommend this kitchen gadget and I don’t ever expect it will be stashed in my junk drawer with the regrettable impulse buys.


Okay, my parting share for the day is a workout I created for Core Power Protein Shakes.  It’s an outdoor workout you can do at the beach or really anywhere. The beach is my all-time favorite place to be and I hope that when I grow up (or retire), I get to relocate to a tropical island!

beach workout

So, what is your favorite exercise to do on the beach (lifting a cold drink doesn’t count)?



Prevent Bonk & Bodonkadonk with Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins Recipe


Imagine nervously waiting at the start line of the most important race of your life, a run that would be the final test of more than a year of dedicated, intensive training and one where you have put the reputation of your family, faith and country on the line. Now imagine that instead of carefully monitoring your diet and eating “clean” for maximum performance leading up to and on the big day, you are fueled on cheesecake and will be running in the nude.

ancient runners cheesecake

As crazy as it sounds, historical records reveal that cheesecake was served to athletes participating in the first Olympic Games in Greece back in 776 BC. However, the ladies didn’t have to worry whether or not a slice of this decadent dessert would give them a glycogen-depleting bonk or big ole naked bodonkadonk come race day – female athletes weren’t allowed to compete, nor were married women even allowed to spectate.

A dollop of whipped cream might not make you run faster, but it's fun!

A dollop of whipped cream might not make you run faster, but it’s fun!

But, let me stop my digression on discrimination here and get back to the cheesecake nutrition plan. I can’t imagine that a slice of cheesecake, such as we enjoy here in the 21st century, could be the best way to finish off a pre-race meal.  A single slice of Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory tops out at over 1,300 calories and 40 grams of fat per serving; even a low-carb, Splenda-sweetened slice of Original Cheesecake from the same restaurant has 570 calories.  Sheez, instead of the aforementioned cheesecake offender, you could eat more than HALF of my Whey Cool Strawberry Protein Pie.

But, don’t get me wrong, I love cheesecake. I just don’t eat it everyday and when I do indulge, I share a slice with a partner in crime. Since National Cheesecake Day is July 30th I wanted to honor this icon of the dessert cart in a more nutritious way.  I found a description by the rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus on how cheesecake was prepared back in ancient Greek times. While it looked like the recipe was actually filled with healthy carbs and protein, the lack of measurements left me puzzled.

 “Take cheese and pound it till smooth and pasty; put cheese in a brazen sieve; add honey and spring wheat flour. Heat in one mass, cool, and serve.”

Instead, I came up with a cheesecake-inspired recipe with a healthy spin; a nutritious little nosh that could be enjoyed before running a race without any negative consequences on my gut or butt. Since I’m usually running and racing in the morning, a muffin was the perfect solution. Sized just right to take on the go, my recipe for Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins offers more than 8 grams of protein and less than two grams of fat – all for about 100 calories per muffin. jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - berry cheesecake power muffins

Berry Cheesecake Power Muffins Recipe

  •  2 cups rolled oats, ground in a blender
  • 1 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free maple syrup
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ cup fat free cream cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp Stevia

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Grind up oats in blender using pulse button. In pitcher of blender, add ingredients for muffin batter –cottage cheese, applesauce, syrup, egg whites, vanilla extract, Stevia, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Blend in blender until smooth and divide mixture up equally in a 12-muffin tray fitted with muffin liners (or coated with baking spray).

In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 tablespoon of Stevia. Sprinkle blueberries and chopped strawberries on top of muffins; then dollop cream cheese on the center top of each muffin. The fruit and cream cheese will sink down to the middle during baking.

In 350 F degree oven, bake muffins for 20 – 22 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool before removing from muffin tins.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutritional info: per muffin: Calories: 103, Total fat: 1.9g, Total carbs: 12.1g, Sugar: 2.7g, Protein: 8.3g

The berries and cream cheese is put on top of batter and it sinks to the middle during baking.

The berries and cream cheese is put on top of batter and it sinks to the middle during baking.


Superfoodie: 16-cal Strawberry Lemonade Coconut Water Pops

strawberries thefitfork.com

Are you ready to cool off with Strawberry Lemonade Coconut Water Pops? Just as yummy as a tall glass of the summer-time sipper (maybe even tastier) and loaded with potassium from the coconut water – a great way to replace the nutrient lost through sweat while running or working out.

Strawberries are a bona fide superfood, high in vitamin C and other antioxidants. Studies show that eating this red fruit has a myriad of benefits including reduced inflammation and cell damage, increased folate levels for heart health, and a lessened chance of age-related ocular issues. These are just a few perks!

And, there’s no need to feel guilty about enjoying this frozen confection, each pop only has 16 calories!  I’m also sharing with you some fun facts about strawberries and some strawberry-inspired recipes from some fellow Fitfluential foodies.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - strawberry lemonade coconut water pops

Strawberry Lemonade Coconut Water Pops Recipe

  • 1 6-ounce bottle coconut water (I used Zico)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Stevia
  • 1 ¼ cups fresh sliced strawberries

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on and off for about 30 seconds until everything is blended. The strawberries should be a little chunky.  Pour liquid into 3-ounce freezer pop molds. Freeze for at least 3 hour or until frozen solid. Makes 6.

strawberry lemonade coconut water pops

strawberry facts

  • There are 200 seeds on the average strawberry.
  • Organic strawberries have more vitamin C and antioxidants than regular berries.
  • Regular strawberries have one of the highest concentrations of pesticide residues of all produce tracked by the USDA. If organic berries aren’t available, soak your strawberries in water for 2 minutes before eating.
  • Strawberries stop ripening as soon as they’re picked. For best taste, select bright red berries with their caps intact.
  • Don’t wash strawberries until ready to eat them, otherwise they’ll spoil too fast.
  • Along with cherries and grapes, strawberries are one of the few sources of ellagic acid, a compound shown to prevent carcinogens from turning healthy cells into cancerous ones.
  • Every man, woman and child in the US each eats 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries per year plus another 1.8 pounds of frozen strawberries.We should all eat more!
  • One cup of strawberries has just 46 calories.

strawberry recipes


Naturally Sweetened Balsamic Berries from Brenda at SugarFreeMom.com

chicken with strawberry basil sauce

Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Bail Sauce from Gina at RunningtotheKitchen.com

strawberry peach guacamole

Sweet & Spicy Strawberry Peach Guacamole from Lindsay at TheLeanGreenBean.com