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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Cherries

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski


The cherry belongs to the Rosaceae family, along with almonds, peaches, plums, and apricots. The word "cherry" comes from the French word "cerise", which comes in turn from the Latin words cerasum and Cerasus. The Wild Cherry has given rise to the Sweet Cherry to which most cherry cultivars belong. In the United States, most sweet cherries for fresh use are grown in California and Washington. The Sour (also called "Tart") Cherry, is used mainly for cooking, and is primarily grown in four states bordering the Great Lakes, in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Traverse City, Michigan claims to be the "Cherry Capital of the World", hosts a National Cherry Festival, and boasts the world’s largest cherry pie at nearly 18 feet and weighing in at 28,350 pounds!

Cherries are among the first tree fruits to ripen and are at their peak in June. Besides the fruit, cherries are noted for their beautiful blossoms, and are commonly planted for their flower display in spring. One of the hottest "super fruits" today, cherries are full of disease-fighting antioxidants, including anthocyanins, the red pigment that gives them their vibrant hue, and heart-healthy quercetin. They also contain loads of important nutrients and minerals including vitamins B, C, and potassium. A cherry-enriched diet has been linked to many important health benefits including helping to decrease inflammation, easing the pain of arthritis and gout, and reducing the risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Additionally, cherries may help prevent memory loss and slow down the aging process.

When purchasing cherries choose ones that are firm, and plump with a uniform red or purple color. The degree of darkness depends on the variety. Sour cherries are smaller than sweet ones. Avoid over-mature cherries that have a soft, dull, or shriveled appearance. Cherries are highly perishable and should be refrigerated as soon as possible in a shallow container so that air can circulate. For optimal taste, fresh cherries should be storied for only 1-2 days and washed just before eating. Cherries are delicious served fresh and eaten by the handful. They are also terrific topped over whole grain pancakes, waffles, and cereals, blended into fruit smoothies, or baked into your favorite dessert recipe.

Cherry Wake-Me Up!

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen tart cherries, thawed and drained

1 (12 ounce) package light silken tofu, cut up

3/4 cup 100% natural cherry juice

2 tablespoons organic honey

In a blender, combine 2 cups cherries, tofu, cherry juice and honey. Blend until smooth. Pour into 3 glasses. Serve immediately. Makes 3 (1-cup) servings

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.


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