Three Cheers for Cherries: sweet stuff

By Brenna O’Dea

Happy June to one and all!! May is already miles away in our rear view mirrors, I mean seriously, where did the time go?? Summer is already flying by way too fast, but with a new month comes new opportunity…a new opportunity to EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS. National Donut Day is done, and The Taste of Chicago is still one month away, but who needs fried dough when we have FRESH FRUIT?? Okay…if you turn to the person next to you right now, in the office, on the bus, wherever, chances are they might go grab something gooey & chocolatey before they reach for that apple…but that doesn’t mean they won’t change their minds!

I think one of our bright & brilliant fifth graders said it best: “It’s hard to convince someone to eat lettuce instead of Cheetos, but with time it can be done.”

I mean, come on, you really can’t argue with that logic. Today we are talking about one of our favorite fresh fruits of the season, perfect for baking and naturally sweet. Today we are talking about CHERRY SEASON. We are right in the middle of it, and chances are the next farmer’s market you meander through will have buckets and baskets of cherries lining the aisles.  If they aren’t showing up at your local market quite yet, don’t worry, you will most definitely be able to pick some up at the good ol’ grocery store. They might even be on sale! So your cart is loaded up with this antioxidant-full fruit, but now what? Cherries are great on their own for a simple and satisfying after school snack (or a snack at any time of day, really), but what about when you buy just a few too many to handle? They sit in the fridge for a few extra days…growing a bit too soft and ripe for munching…but just right for BAKING.

Your go-to for summer sweets might be blueberries or peaches, and of course we LOVE everything about that. But cherries are an often overlooked farmer’s market find that can make a great addition to your next dinner party dessert. Check out this recipe for a cherry crumble that is easy to make, and even easier to EAT. This one only serves about four people, so you might wanna double up on this baby if you are expecting company…and keep in mind that people will probably want a second helping. This recipe is totally gluten AND dairy free, and it is sweetened only with maple syrup. Of course there are other versions out there packed with butter and sugar, but if you get yourself a good, fresh batch of fresh cherries, you really won’t want to smother them that much! Whip up this crazy crumble using some oats and almond meal for a light summer sweet treat that will polish off your palate perfectly.

These double chocolate cherry oatmeal cookies, that’s right, DOUBLE chocolate, are surprisingly pretty healthy, and to nobody’s surprise, damn DELICIOUS. First of all, this recipe calls for dry cherries, but you can chop up some fresh ones to toss in there and add an extra sweet kick. Sweetened with some honey, this recipe is also sugar free and super filling thanks to another special ingredient, almond butter. The oats and almond butter will fill you up fast so you won’t have to worry about reaching back into the cookie jar for seconds…or thirds…at least we hope not.

If bakin’ ain’t your thing, don’t leave the kitchen yet! Try this roasted cherry parfait that is perfect for the nights when you need a quick dessert fix for one, or a whole crowd of hungry kiddos. Start with your protein-packed Greek yogurt base and top it off with some healthy fats from the nuts of your choosing. And don’t forget that even on their own, cherries bring a whole bunch of health benefits to the table, including reducing inflammation and being low on that stubborn glycemic index.

So the next time you are ready to whip up something using your favorite summer berries, remember that cherries are a great option to go to in these hot summer months. A lil’ sweet, a lil’ sour, and a whole lotta deliciousness. Bon Appétit!

(Image by flickr member Andrea Felker licensed under Creative Commons)

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