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
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
- Strain yogurt for 2 hours or more until very dense and most of the liquid is removed (or buy strained yogurt).
- Prepare the Nutri-Savvy Granola base: In a food processor, add all the ingredients and process until well incorporated.
- Line the bottom of a bread loaf pan with the nutty base (pie crust). Layer chopped cherries onto crust. Set aside.
- Mix strained yogurt with honey, stevia and lemon juice. Fold cheesecake mixture on top of cherries.
- Freeze for at least a couple of hours, then refrigerate or set on the counter to thaw.
- Cut into 2.5 inch squares. Garnish with a cherry. Enjoy!