We are so excited that we just entered cherry season! Eating fresh cherries brings back so many wonderful childhood memories of summertime – swimming, playing with friends, and of course, spitting those pits. But did you know that cherries are one of the top fruits for your health?
These little relatives of peaches, plums, and nectarines have one of the highest scores for antioxidants. The anthocyanins, which give the cherry its red/purple color, help to reduce inflammation in the body, which is great if you suffer from joint pain, muscle aches, arthritis, or gout. They are also low on the glycemic index (GI), which means they don’t spike your blood sugar level – which is so important if you have insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes.
Cherries are also a great source of B-carotene (another antioxidant), potassium (helps to lower blood pressure, decreasing risk of hypertension and stroke), soluble fiber (decreases cholesterol which reduces risk of heart disease), and melatonin (promotes sleep and helps you recover from jet-lag).
How to Buy
Cherries are sold fresh, frozen, dried, canned, and as juice or juice concentrate. You can buy either sweet cherries (Bing, Rainier, Queen Anne), or tart cherries, which happen to be more nutritious than their sweet cousins. When buying fresh cherries, make sure to choose those that are firm (no wrinkling or bruising), with green stems (indicates freshness), and organic, as cherries are high on the “Dirty Dozen” list. Keep them unwashed in the refrigerator and wash only before using.
How to Use
Cherries are a great addition to so many of your favorite recipes.
- Smoothie – use cherry juice as your base or add pitted cherries to the mix for texture and fiber.
- Trail mix – mix dried tart cherries, pumpkin seeds, and granola
- Add to your oatmeal, pancake batter, Greek yogurt, or muffin recipe
- Use in place of raisins in your oatmeal cookie recipe (also add dark chocolate chunks to really boost the antioxidants)
- Add to your brown rice pilaf, quinoa, or risotto, along with some chopped fresh herbs
- Coat them in melted dark chocolate and place in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens
Not only does cherry juice make a great addition to your healthy lifestyle, it can also help you recover from your workouts, especially if you workout more than an hour a day, and/or workout at a high intensity. Although it’s not widely available in most markets, it’s easy to purchase on-line. Check out these websites for the best products out there: www.KingOrchards.com, www.Cherrypharm.com, www.Traversebayfarms.com, and www.Brownwoodacres.com for tart cherry juice.
- 2 cups chopped dark chocolate (72% cocoa) or Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels
- 1 Tbs. melted virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted pistachios
- Place chocolate in a glass bowl. Melt by either placing it over a pot of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) or heat in the microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate as it melts and add the coconut oil. When the chocolate looks to be about 90% melted, remove it from the heat and continue to stir until it is completely melted.
- Line a baking sheet pan with either parchment paper or a Silat (silicon baking mat). Pour the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet and spread it out. Sprinkle with the dried cherries and pistachios. Place in the refrigerator for an hour to harden.
- When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and break into pieces.