Go Red! Take Advantage of the Health Benefits of Tart Cherries!

— Written By and last updated by Adrian Gaskins

Although cherry picking season is during the summer, the bright red super food is available year round as dried, frozen or juice, making them an easy addition to your diet. It is estimated that 1-2 servings of cherries daily can help provide some of the health benefits of this tart treat. One serving of cherries is equivalent to ½ cup of dried cherries, 1 cup of frozen cherries, or 1 cup of juice.

Research indicates that cherries are the new super fruit! Some of the top reasons to add cherries to your diet are;

* They are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins, which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer.

* They are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the body’s sleep cycles.

* They are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A). In fact they contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries.

* They are rich in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.

* They are referred to as “brain food”, aiding in brain health and in the prevention of memory loss.

* They contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.

* Eating cherries can reduce the risk of diabetes.

* They are a good source of fiber, which is important for digestive health.

*They are low in calories, only 87 per serving making them a great snack or dessert choice important for weight-maintenance.

Nothing will make your plate more colorful that a bright spot of red, give cherries a chance to put some spring in your step!

Cherry Winter Salad
4 cups baby spinach
4 cups mixed greens or other winter green/lettuce of choice
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 large apple, thinly sliced
½ cup scallions, sliced
4 oz. sharp white cheddar, thinly sliced

Maple Cherry Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. 100% tart cherry juice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

In a large bowl, toss with spinach, lettuce/greens, pecans, dried cherries, apple, scallions, and cheese together.
Drizzle with dressing, toss together, and serve.

Maple Cherry Vinaigrette
Combine all ingredients in a jar or bowl and whisk or shake together until the dressing comes together.
Drizzle over salad before serving. Keep remaining dressing refrigerated until ready to use.

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce
2 boneless pork loin chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (used 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 to 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste (used 1/8 teaspoon pepper)

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet on high heat. Add pork shops; brown well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to plate. Add onions to skillet; cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth, dried cherries, orange marmalade, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; boil rapidly on medium heat until broth is reduced by half. Reduce heat. Add pork chops to pan to heat through, 5 to 6 minutes. (Cook pork chops longer on lower heat, if pork chops are very thick or if they have a bone in them.) Internal temperature of the pork should be about 160 degrees. Add chicken broth or water, if needed. Serve pork chops with cherry sauce spooned over them. Makes 2

Crunchy Cherry Party Mix

4 cups bite-size corn or rice square cereal (such as Corn or Rice Chex)
2 cups bite-size wheat square cereal (such as Wheat Chex)
2 cups broken whole grain Melba toast
2 cups small fat-free pretzel twists
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
14 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries

Put corn or rice cereal, wheat cereal, Melba toast and pretzels in a large bowl; stir to mix. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together melted margarine or butter, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and ground red pepper. Drizzle over cereal mixture. Toss to coat. Spread cereal mixture in a 15x10x1-inch (or 13x9x2-inch) baking pan. Bake in a preheated 300-degree oven about 25 minutes, stirring every 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in dried cherries. Pour onto aluminum foil to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container for up to 1 week. Makes 20 (1/2 cup) servings.

Cherry Ketchup

(don’t knock it til you try it, this is a real different taste to add to your gourmet burgers)

1 10-ounce package (2 cups) frozen pitted cherries (not in syrup)

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine pitted cherries, dried cherries, vinegar, water, garlic, sugar, ginger, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel. Holding lid securely in place, blend until smooth. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.) Transfer the ketchup to a small bowl. To Make Ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Scallops with Cauliflower, Dried Cherries and Capers

5 cups small cauliflower florets (from 1 large head)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 9-ounce package fresh spinach leaves

1 large shallot, finely chopped, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

6 large sage leaves, sliced thinly

3 tablespoons dried tart cherries

2 tablespoons drained capers

Cook cauliflower florets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and transfer cauliflower to bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add spinach and toss until just wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach to sieve set over large bowl and drain well. Reserve pot. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in reserved pot. Add half of shallot; sauté 1 minute. Sprinkle cauliflower with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Add to pot and toss to coat. Add spinach and toss until heated through, about 3 minutes. Divide vegetables among 6 plates.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in medium skillet over high heat. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Add to skillet; sear until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Place 1 scallop on each plate. Melt butter in same skillet. Add half of shallot and last 3 ingredients. Cook until butter starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Spoon over scallops and serve.