Holiday Menus Balance Naughty and Nice

New Chef-inspired Recipes Use Winter's Surprise Ingredient
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Though it's tempting to include every indulgent dish on holiday tables, the most successful menus are a balance of both healthful and decadent favorites.

Finding the right combination of delicious and healthy recipes doesn't require an endless search for exotic ingredients -- they're already on your store shelf. California strawberries can add an unexpected boost to a holiday fruit salad, platter or creative cocktail.

Pleasing to every palate, fresh California strawberries are always available, even in the holiday season. Staggered planting throughout the state's 12-month growing cycle keeps fresh-picked, ripe California strawberries in the produce aisle all year long.

Blended with cucumber, a dash of hot sauce and the surprise of a tomato, fresh strawberries accent this Spicy & Sweet California Strawberry Tonic for a great pre-dinner cocktail, or without the vodka, a healthy smoothie.

Just in time for the holidays, the California Strawberry Commission is encouraging fans to find their culinary inspiration with a $250-prize Pin-2-Win Contest! Click here for details.

Spicy Sweet California Strawberry Tonic
Makes four 10-ounce servings

Ingredients:
1 pound California strawberries, hulled
1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, quartered 
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4-6 drops red pepper sauce, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Dash of salt
4 lime slices for garnish
4 California strawberries for garnish
4 cups ice
4 ounces of vodka, optional

Directions:

>>Place strawberries, cucumber, tomatoes, lime juice, red pepper sauce, honey and salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth.

>>Fill glasses with ice. Pour mixture over ice and garnish with a lime and a strawberry.

>>Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 137 calories; 0.6 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 304 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 2 g protein