Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Cherries

Cherries (one of my favorite summer fruits) are in season now and bursting with flavor – and nutrition.  Besides having a high water content (which will help you feel full and stay hydrated on hot summer days), cherries are an antioxidant powerhouse thanks to the presence of Vitamin C, beta carotene, anthocyanins, and quercetin (the riper – and darker- the cherry, the better when it comes to antioxidant content); when tart, are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone; are high in potassium; and are a good source of fiber.  Frozen cherries can be substituted for fresh when it’s not peak season, and dried cherries still provide many of the same nutritional benefits, although they should be consumed in moderation due to their higher concentration of sugar. 

Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup almond milk
½ cup cherries (fresh or frozen, unsweetened)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions
1.  Blend all ingredients together.  Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Fitness magazine.  May 2012.

Southwestern-Style Cherry Slaw

Ingredients
Slaw:
4 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
2 cups torn fresh spinach leaves
1 cup shredded jicama (optional)
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 avocado, peeled and diced

Dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons frozen lime juice concentrate, thawed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon each chili powder, ground cumin, and salt

 Instructions
1,  In large serving bowl, combine ingredients for Slaw.
2.  In small saucepan, combine Dressing ingredients; heat to boil.
3.  Pour over salad and toss gently to coat.

Recipe adapted from Northwest Cherries

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