I’m so excited that we’re just about to enter 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 choclate 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.Chocolate Drops with pistachios and dried cherries(30 calories/cookie)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
- ¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup confectioners sugar
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
- ¼ cup chopped toasted pistachios
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat (silicon baking sheet).
- In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa and flour.
- in a mixer fitted with a whisk, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar while the mixer is running. When all of the sugar has been added, raise the speed of the mixer to high and beat until the whites are glossy and thick. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Reduce the speed to medium and beat in half of the melted chocolate, then half of the cocoa mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat with remaining chocolate and cocoa.
- Fold in the cherries and pistachios; let the mixture sit until thick enough to scoop, about 5 minutes.
- Scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets by level teaspoonfuls, leaving about an inch between cookies. Bake 6-8 minutes, until the cookies are brown and crackled on the outside.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack.