It’s only mid-May, but I’m already tasting summer. Surely it’s evident in Central Florida’s recent days of sweltering heat. However, I’m talking about the seasonal treats making their debuts in the marketplaces around here. Like crisp, cool watermelon; juicy heirloom tomatoes in all their glorious shapes and vibrant color spectrum (whomever coined them “ugly” was a fool); and last but certainly not least – sweet, succulent CHERRIES.
They have a pretty short growing season, so they need to be celebrated while they’re with us. And cherries have MUCH to be celebrated! Gobble ’em down while you can, from now until about late August (in North America).
Cherries are chocked full of a very important pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin gives them their rich, red color, indicating that they’re oozing with antioxidants. Interestingly enough, it’s this antioxidant benefit produced by the anthocyanin that not only counters those icky free-radicals, it’s like eating your sunscreen and protects against ultraviolet radiation. Just like it gaurds the flesh of these little gems, eating them will help protect yours, too.
If the whole antioxidant thing weren’t neat enough, anthocyanins also contain melatonin, a horomone typically produced from our brain’s pineal gland that helps regulate our sleep cycle. They are also natural pain relievers, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and load a big gun for aiding with weight loss. Because of anthocyanins’ anti-inflammatory properties, loading up on some cherries can help shrink fat cells and lower cholesterol levels (provided you aren’t washing them down with a quarter-pounder with cheese).
As an added bonus, cherries are high in vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene (nearly 20 times more than blueberries or strawberries, in fact), potassium, magnesium, iron, and folate. Bottom line…cherries ROCK.
And by the way, in no remote stretch does anything I just said pertain to those syrupy, overly-processed maraschino cherries in the jar that you use to make your Shirley Temple. Those should be totally avoided like the plague, unless you want to replace all the aforementioned nutritional fabulosities with sulphur dioxide brine (a bleaching agent), calcium or lime by-products, artificial dyes, flavorings, and high-fructose corn syrup. Eeu.
Oh and as you may know Japanese culture is very much revolving arround cherries and cherry blossoms. No matter if you are into Japanese cuisines or not you probably love cherries too, so take a look at the easy cherry shake recipe I share below.
Simple Cherry Chocolate Shake
- 1 1/2 cups fresh-frozen pitted cherries
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tbs agave
- pinch of sea salt
Blend all ingredients into Vita-Mix or blender until smooth. Add less almond milk for a thicker shake. Spoon over desired amount of chocolate sauce.
- 1/2 cup cacao nibs
- 1/2 cup agave
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp coconut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.