I can’t think of a better fruit to showcase this month than cherries! Talk about a nutritional powerhouse! Cherries are often overlooked for more commonplace fruits this time of year like watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries. But, cherries are jam-packed with antioxidants (sour cherries actually have more than blueberries!), some of which may help to prevent cancer and heart disease. These same antioxidants may also help to slow the signs of aging, which is an added bonus.
Cherries are composed largely of water, 75% to be exact, so they are great for weight loss. They are also high in fiber and can help to lower cholesterol. Because they are so sweet and delicious, they can also be a great option to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you have trouble sleeping, cherries may help there too. Cherries naturally contain melatonin, a substance your brain produces to help you sleep. Eating cherries may help naturally boost melatonin levels and possibly help you sleep better.
Since I broke my wrist, I’ve been eating cherries to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain. The pigments that give cherries their beautiful deep red color are called anthocyanins and may help reduce pain and inflammation overall. If you have a chronic inflammatory condition like arthritis, gout, joint pain, inflammatory bowel disease, or diabetes to name a few, eating more cherries may help to decrease inflammation and have you feeling better overall.
If that’s not enough, cherries are also on sale right now! A couple of years ago, I decided to infuse brandy with fresh cherries for my mom for Christmas. The drawback was that, in December, cherries were $8.99 a pound and up! I say that because their $2.99 price tag looks really good right now!
Here are two easy and delicious ways to incorporate cherries into your diet that aren’t cherry pie! As my wrist is healing, I’m looking for healthy recipes that don’t require a lot of chopping. These both fit the bill!
Quinoa Salad with Cherries, Basil, and Goat Cheese
3 cups of cooked quinoa
1 cup of cherries, coarsely chopped, pits removed
½ cup chopped walnuts (I purchased them chopped)
¼ cup sliced fresh basil
½ cup goat cheese crumbles
Handful of spinach
1 cup chopped roasted sweet potatoes (optional: these were leftover from dinner that week)
½ cup tart cherry preserves
3 Tb olive oil
3 Tb red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa according to package directions. I always cook my quinoa in low sodium broth for added flavor. Once finished cooking, place in the refrigerator to cool. While quinoa cools, remove stems and pits from cherries. Chop coarsely. I like some bigger pieces, and it saves time on chopping. Slice basil.
To make the vinaigrette, I like to take a small glass jar or a Tupperware container with a tight lid. Combine all ingredients. Place lid on tightly and shake!
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, walnuts, goat cheese, cherries, spinach, sweet potatoes, and basil. Add vinaigrette and toss gently to combine.
Tip: Buy walnuts in the bulk section of the grocery store to save money. A large bag costs around $5.99 while a half cup portion costs less than $2.00!
Cherry Almond Smoothie
When I was going to school to become a dietitian, I was a waitress at a tea shop on the Main Line here in Pennsylvania called A Taste of Britain. My absolute favorite thing from the tea shop was their cherry almond scone served with clotted cream and raspberry preserves. Yummm!!! This smoothie is a take on that scone with the benefits being that this smoothie can help lower inflammation in the body and shrink your waist line. It’s also a good source of calcium, is vegan, gluten free, and totally delicious. My kids like it, too, as a quick breakfast or an anytime-snack. You could add your favorite protein powder to make it a complete meal on the go.
1 cup almond milk
1 cup cherries, fresh or frozen
1 Tablespoon almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
Blend all ingredients on high and enjoy!!