Sweet juicy cherries are finally back in season and I couldn’t be happier. I keep a bowl of these ripe organic gems out where I can graze on a few here and there throughout my day.
Cherries pack a healthy punch, too.
Here are some of the health benefits of eating cherries:
- Cherries are one of nature’s few sources of melatonin, a hormone that lowers body temperature, making us relaxed which may lead to a sounder sleep.
- The anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage.
- High in potassium, sweet cherries are a blood-pressure reducer. Potassium balances fluids in our bodies, offsetting the blood-pressure-raising effects of sodium.
- Researchers believe that tart cherries’ antioxidants protect against exercise-induced pain and inflammation.
- Sweet cherries are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins and quercetin, which may work together synergistically to fight cancer. Preliminary studies suggest the anthocyanin cyanidin may prevent genetic mutations that can lead to cancer and keep cancer cells from growing out of control.
Most of all, they taste awesome! Here is a quick and easy salad that marries the sweetness of the cherries with the slightly peppery arugula leaf, which makes for a delicious combo.
|Sweet Cherry and Arugula Salad with Candied Walnuts, Parmesan and Cherry Vinaigrette|
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 20 sweet cherries, halved and pitted
- 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ -1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- In a small saucepan, heat the walnuts, sugar and a pinch of salt over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt and the walnuts start taking on a golden color.
- Remove from heat when the walnuts are caramelized and just beginning to get some dark brown edges.
- Place the walnuts on a dish or waxed paper to cool.
- Take 3 pitted cherries and chop them roughly.
- Place the cherries into a small bowl or jar and crush them with a muddle tool, the back of a spoon or the straight end of a wooden spoon, to release the juices and flavors.
- Add the olive oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt and pepper and whisk. Set aside.
- Place the arugula leaves in a large salad bowl; sprinkle the Parmesan over the leaves.
- Add the pitted cherries and top with the candied walnuts.
- Dress with the cherry vinaigrette just before serving and toss to coat the salad.