Cherries: One of Nature’s Perfect Treats

When I think of cherries, I picture a bountiful harvest on a cool, pleasant day — puffy white clouds in powder blue skies. Cherry-picking children overflow their wooden baskets without missing a single mini-stone fruit (or drupe). They sample the perfect little gems and dream about the homemade cherry jam and fresh-from-the-oven cherry pie.

Naturally Good For You
Rich in vitamin C, cherries are antioxidant powerhouses. They contain anthocyanins — enzymes that block inflammation — and beta carotene, too. With 3g of fiber and 260mg potassium per cup, these heart-protective drupes also contain cholesterol-lowering sterols. They're perfectly bite-sized for a mouth-popping sensation, with a seed to help slow you down so you can truly enjoy a sensory experience — the rich red visual appeal, shiny outer texture and distinctive burst of fleshy tart-sweetness in every little bite.

A Cherry Inspiration
Below is my cherry-inspired recipe. With a pint of cherries, mixed nuts, and plain nonfat Greek Yogurt, I set out to makeover a favorite creamy dessert. My sweet and tart cherry cheesecake was a perfect treat! I had my girls sample it first. The verdict? YUM!


Lightened Cherry Cheesecake Squares

Recipe developed by Lauren O'Connor, MS, RDN

Serves 6

Ingredients
Cheesecake Filling
1 ½ cups strained nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ cup fresh cherries, chopped
1 Tablespoon honey
1 packet stevia
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Nutri-Savvy Granola Base (for pie crust)
½ cup trail mix — raw nuts (almonds, cashews), seeds and raisins
¼ cup roasted chickpeas (Good Bean-brand Chocolate Roasted Chickpeas work well)
¼ cup freeze-dried fruit (cranberries work well to make this nutty base sweet-tart to pair well with the filling)
2 Tablespoons flax meal
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 packet of stevia

Directions

  1. Strain yogurt for 2 hours or more until very dense and most of the liquid is removed (or buy strained yogurt).
  2. Prepare the Nutri-Savvy Granola base: In a food processor, add all the ingredients and process until well incorporated.
  3. Line the bottom of a bread loaf pan with the nutty base (pie crust). Layer chopped cherries onto crust. Set aside.
  4. Mix strained yogurt with honey, stevia and lemon juice. Fold cheesecake mixture on top of cherries.
  5. Freeze for at least a couple of hours, then refrigerate or set on the counter to thaw.
  6. Cut into 2.5 inch squares. Garnish with a cherry. Enjoy!
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Lauren O'Connor, MS, RD
Lauren O'Connor, MS, RD, is owner and nutritional consultant for Nutri Savvy, a lifestyle program with an intuitive sensory approach to food. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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