Self-Care Challenge (Day 150): Eating Cherries

Bright red Rainier cherries

Cherries are a popular treat here in Washington State. In addition to farmers’ markets, they can also be found at a number of roadside fruit stands and most local supermarkets. I guess you could say they’re a staple.

From a nutritional standpoint, cherries are rich in vitamin C and phytochemicals like anthocyanin, which is responsible for their bright red color. A single serving (roughly one cup of whole, unpitted cherries — about 12 cherries, if you’re counting by hand), contains approximately 60 calories.

Several studies have looked at the health benefits of cherries, and the results are promising. It has been suggested that cherry juice may reduce recovery time in athletes, and the anti-inflammatory effects of cherries may reduce symptoms associated with arthritis and gout.

But while cherry juice has been found to deliver the most concentrated form of antioxidants, it’s not the only way to enjoy this nutrient-rich fruit. Using the whole fruit not only retains other important nutrients like fiber, it’s a more sustainable use of the fruit (nothing is wasted).

Most real foods — fruits and vegetables, specifically — possess a wide variety of nutrients and other phytochemicals. Consuming a diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables is a smart self-care strategy.

Most people think about sugary desserts when they think about these sweet (and sometimes sour) fruits, but there are lots of other ways to use cherries.

Not in the mood for pie? Here are some fresh ideas for using cherries:

Smoothie. Try a cherry pie smoothie or a cherry berry acai bowl.

Sauce. Fruit pairs well with pork, and cherries are no exception. Top your next batch of pork chops with a black cherry sauce.

Salad. Add a handful of pitted cherries to a mixed green salad or add some to your favorite Chicken Salad recipe.

Raw. But the easiest way to enjoy cherries is this: rinse ’em and eat ’em. This is how I decided to enjoy mine. Simple and delicious.

Do you have any cherry recipes to share?

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