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Kitchen Hack: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Kitchen Hack: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    Nothing says ‘good riddance’ to the winter blues like the first crop of springtime strawberries. One of the first harvests of the year, strawberries are rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C.

    Their sweet tart flavor, heart shape and brilliant red color lend themselves to being a favorite ingredient in some very complex desserts.

    Just because something tastes complex, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to make.

    The French have a phrase, mise en place, which means “putting everything in its place”. The secret to quick, when making any recipe,  is to simply prepare and organize the ingredients and hardware before you begin.

    With everything ready at your fingertips, this variation on the classic chocolate-covered strawberry “Bananaberries” can be made in a mere seven minutes.

    (Note: By reading labels and choosing appropriate brands, this dessert can be made gluten-free.)

    Bananaberries

      This dessert was invented when my friend’s birthday snuck up on me and I didn’t want to visit her empty-handed. I had some organic strawberries in my fridge. In my pantry, I had a bag of banana chips purchased for yogurt sundae topping. When my eyes met some nearby white chocolate chips, the idea for Bananaberries was born.

      Everyone makes chocolate-dipped strawberries, but combination of crunchy banana fused to the juicy raw fruit with white chocolate takes this classic dessert to a new level of flavor goodness. My friend loved them and begged me for the recipe. I gave it to her. It was her birthday, after all!

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      Now, before you even think about making this recipe, be sure that can procure two pints of fresh strawberries. Because you’ll be serving them fresh, you really want use perfect berries.  Look for ones that have a crown of vibrant green leaves, are firm to the touch, plump to the eye, and do not have any blemishes or unripe spots.

      Got your berries? You may proceed.

      Editor’s Note: I’m not a huge fan of bananas so I swapped out the banana chips for pecans. Chocolate can be melted quickly if you give it your full attention and hardens faster on cold strawberries. Sarah’s closing remark about giving the strawberries away…ha! I didn’t share any of mine. =)

      Ingredients:

      • Two pints fresh strawberries, cleaned with a damp cloth and chilled
      • One 12 oz bag white chocolate chips
      • One 12 oz bag of dried, sweetened banana chips

      Hardware:

      • soft towel
      • saucepan
      • stirring utensil
      • 3 bowls
      • parchment paper
      • cookie sheet
      • chopper, food processor or blender
      • stovetop

      1. Put Everything in Place

        Dump chocolate chips into the sauce pan. Put the banana chips in the blender. Place your three bowls in assembly line order : strawberries, white chocolate (empty), and chopped banana chips (empty).  Set your cookie sheet after the banana chip bowl and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper.

        2. Make Some Crumbs


          Chop dried banana chips into a coarse yet crumb-like consistency. You want texture, not powder. Transfer the crumbs to the third bowl on the assembly line.

          3. Melt the Chocolate

            Over the lowest possible heat, melt the white chocolate chips in the saucepan. Low heat and constant stirring is key. If the chocolate boils, it will become a pasty burnt sugar mess. It may seem easier to just microwave the chips, but it is also very easy to overcook them with this method.

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              As you stir, the chocolate will become glossy, and then melt. It will only take about 2 minutes. You will know when it’s done when the mixture is just about completely melted, but there are a few chunks of soft chips remaining. Remove from the heat. Pour the melted chocolate into the second bowl on the assembly line for dipping. Stir the chocolate in the bowl until the remaining chips melt completely.

              4. Dip and Roll

                Hold the berry by the leaves and dip into the melted white chocolate.

                  Then, gently roll the berry in the banana chip crumbs. Do not press too hard, or the chocolate will not adhere as well to the strawberry, and it will break off at the first bite. Merely coat the chocolate with the banana chip crumbs. Leave a hint of white chocolate collar showing for appearance.

                  5. Air Dry


                    Place the berries on parchment-covered cookie sheet. Because the berries are pre-chilled, the chocolate should firm up quickly without having to be further refrigerated.  The parchment will keep the cookie sheet from getting dirty, which means less clean-up, and will keep the Bananaberries from sticking while they dry.

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                    6. Pair for Enjoyment

                    Assuming you’ve used perfect strawberries, they will keep in a covered box in the refrigerator for a day. Bananaberries pair well with espresso or strongly brewed coffee as the bitter, warm drink contrasts and showcases this cool, heavenly dessert.

                    7. Share with Friends

                    An easy-to-serve finger food, Bananaberries make an ideal dessert to bring to picnics, and potlucks, and parties. As long as they are kept out of the sun, the crunchy banana chip shell stays intact while being transported.

                    To give as a memorable gift, simply re-use the parchment paper as a wrapper, and nestle the wrapped Bananaberries into a brown paper sandwich bag with a penned thank-you note for a homemade, heartfelt presentation.

                    What do you think? Will you give it a try? Please let me know if you do!


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                    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                    Video Summary

                    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                    One Exercise, multiple benefits

                    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                            5. You’ll improve overall balance

                              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                  How to hold a plank position

                                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                    • Prolapse
                                    • After prolapse surgery
                                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                    • Previous childbirth
                                    • Overweight

                                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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