Tart taste of cherries beneficial to health

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GOODNESS: The tart and tangy taste of cherries and berries in Cherry Good Oatmeal is a tasty way to enjoy a nutritious breakfast.
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CHEWY COOKIES: Power Cherry Trail Mix Cookies are a great-tasting snack with nutritional benefits.

You may have heard the buzz about exotic fruits from distant locales, but health and nutrition experts say to look no further than fruits grown on American soil for vitality and wellness benefits. Tart cherries, available in dried, frozen and juice form, are “America’s Superfruit,” a homegrown, colorful and tasty way to reap the health-promoting properties of antioxidants.

Science links cherries’ red color, provided by the fruit’s powerful antioxidants, called anthocyanins, to heart-health benefits related to reduced belly fat, inflammation and total cholesterol. With more than 80 million Americans living with some form of heart disease, the heart-healthy qualities of eating red fruit have more relevance than ever. Research also suggests the red compounds in cherries may help ease the pain of arthritis and gout.

Because cherries are such a versatile fruit that can be found in the U.S. year-round, it’s easy to enjoy them in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes.

To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, and for additional recipes, visit the Web site www.ChooseCherries.com.

Cherry Good Oatmeal

2½ cups low-fat milk, divided

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2/3 cup mixed dried berries and cherries (red tart

   cherries, blueberries and strawberries)

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons packed brown sugar, divided

4 teaspoons chopped toasted pecans

   or walnuts, divided

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups milk and salt to a boil. Stir in oats. Add dried fruit and cinnamon. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

To serve, spoon oatmeal into 4 individual bowls. Pour 2 tablespoons milk over each serving. Sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon nuts. Yields 4 servings.

Editor’s note: To toast nuts, heat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a pan and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Cool before chopping.

Power Cherry Trail Mix Cookies

1 cup yogurt butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup wheat flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1½ cups oats

¼ cup flax seed

½ cup dark chocolate chips

¾ cup toasted almonds

1½ cups dried tart cherries

In a small mixing bowl, cream yogurt butter with sugars. Drizzle in honey and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flours with baking powder and baking soda. Add egg mixture. Stir in oats, flax seed, chocolate chips, almonds and cherries.

Spray 2 12-cup muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place one heaping tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Yields 2 dozen.

Super Fruit Cobbler

2 cups frozen pitted tart cherries, thawed

1 bag (12 oz.) frozen mixed berries, thawed

¾ cup brown sugar, divided

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk baking mix

¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream

3 tablespoons low-fat milk

Heat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, combine cherries, berries, ½ cup brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well. Spoon into an 8- or 9-inch baking dish; set aside.

In another bowl, combine baking mix, remaining brown sugar, sour cream and milk; mix well to form a stiff batter. Drop batter over cherry mixture, forming 6 mounds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and cobbler topping is golden brown. Let stand for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yields 6 servings.

Cherries’ Unique Nutrient Package

·          Melatonin?- a potent antioxidant that is
known for helping improve the body’s
natural sleep patterns.

·          Anthocyanins – plant pigments respon-
sible for the deep red color of cherries that
have been linked to a variety of health
benefits, including protection against heart
disease and some cancers.

·          Other antioxidants – cherries contain at
least 17 antioxidants, including powerful
egallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol
and quercetin.

·          Essential nutrients – cherries are a good
source of vitamin A (beta carotene), and
they also contain fiber.