Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Put a Cherry on Top

Have you always considered cherries as just a topper for sweet treats? Well, the real cherry on top is that these delicious little fruits are also jam-packed with nutrients! Cherries contain potassium to contribute to healthy bones and blood pressure. They are high in pectin, which is a soluble fiber that may help to lower bad cholesterol and promote heart health. Their dark, rich color comes from anthocyanins, which are a type of antioxidant that reduces inflammation and risk of chronic disease. If that’s not enough, cherries are also one of the few fruits that provide melatonin, which can help you sleep better.

10 Ways to Add Cherries to Meals & Snacks

  1. Top Parfaits or Cereal. Don’t just top your sundae, add cherries to low-fat plain yogurt, oatmeal, or breakfast cereal for a flavor boost.
  2. Add to Green Salads. Get out of your salad rut! Red cherries add a bright color and complementing texture to the typical green salad.
  3. Roast Cherries. For a savory twist, roast cherries in the oven with thyme, paprika and a little salt, if desired. Serve as a condiment for meat or poultry or inside a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.
  4. Make a Healthier Cherry Jam. Boil crushed or puréed cherries with no-sugar-added pectin, stevia, and water for a low-sugar jam to spread on whole grain English muffins or toast.
  5. Bake into Muffins or Sweets. Fresh, frozen, canned, or dried cherries are the perfect addition to breakfast muffins, sweet breads, and desserts.
  6. Blend in a Smoothie. These delicious little fruits are also jam-packed with nutrients! Fresh or frozen cherries add a nutritious punch to a grab-and-go breakfast smoothie or smoothie bowl.
  7. Mix w/ Whole Grains. With a little sweetness and a little tartness, cherries complement the earthy taste and nutty texture of whole grains such as brown rice, farro, and quinoa. See below for a recipe.
  8. Make Your Own Trail Mix. Add dried cherries to a homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, and whole grains for a sweet and salty snack to keep you energized.
  9. Top Appetizers & Flatbreads. Everyone loves a savory dish with a sweet twist! For a spin on the traditional bruschetta, add cherries to toasted baguette slices with goat cheese and mint or sprinkle cherries on top of a flatbread with Gouda cheese and prosciutto.
  10. Enjoy As Is. Cherries are delicious on their own as well! One cup, or about 21 cherries, is a serving and provides around 50 calories. Fresh cherries are typically available locally in the summer months and Chilean Cherries are available November through January. Dried, frozen, and canned cherries can be enjoyed all year long!

Recipe

Chilean Cherry, Wild Rice, and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups fresh Chilean cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3/4 cup smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fruity vinegar (raspberry, strawberry or other)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large saucepan, bring six cups of water to a boil. Add wild rice and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Add quinoa and cook until both rice and quinoa are tender, approximately 15 minutes more. Drain excess water and rinse with cold water. Drain well; set aside.

Spread whole pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for approximately 8 minutes (or until fragrant), stirring once. Let pecans cool and chop. If using sliced pecans, toast in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until lightly browned (approximately 3 minutes). Let pecans cool.

Combine oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. Add the rice and quinoa to a serving bowl and mix. Add cherries, celery, Gouda, and chopped pecans, and toss gently. Salad is best served at room temperature, but cold is fine.

Recipe courtesy of Fruits from Chile (The Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association)

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