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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine
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Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - July 2006

Oh, Cherry Baby!

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CherriesPick cherries this summer. They're compact, juicy and loaded with nutrients.

Cherries - once relegated to pie fillings and dessert toppings where sugar could temper their tart taste - are now being hailed as healthy and even, dare we say, healing.

Cherries contain phytochemicals (think "fight-o-chemicals"). These plant substances may also act as antioxidants that "fight" cell and tissue damage. Eating phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cherries, helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Cherries also rank among the 10 highest-scoring fruits in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Preliminary studies by chemists and University of California, Davis scientists suggest fresh bing cherries may reduce painful arthritic inflammation. A follow-up study is expected sometime this year.

Roberta Duyff, R.D., author of The American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, says sweet cherries, as part of an overall healthy diet, may contribute to reduced risk for heart disease and some cancers. Research also is being done on phytonutrients, including those present in cherries, to explore their roles in treating diabetes, ulcers, and helping prevent macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that causes blindness. Another researcher, Russell Reiter, Ph.D., professor of neuroendocrinology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, found that tart cherries contain a large amount of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that has been found to slow aging and enhance sleep. Tart cherries contain more melatonin than sweet cherries. A 3½-ounce serving of dried or tart cherries contains 27 milligrams of melatonin compared with 7 milligrams in sweet cherries, Duyff says.

Cherries contain vitamin C and fiber, are cholesterol-free, and are low in fat and sodium. For an even better deal, buy organic cherries. Virginia Worthington, a clinical nutritionist who earned her doctorate in nutrition at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, compared the nutritional value of organically grown versus conventionally grown fruits and found you can boost your vitamin C intake by an average 27 percent - while avoiding potentially harmful pesticide residue.

Cherry Capital of the World
Cherry season peaks in summer. Every July, a half million people arrive in Traverse City, Michigan, for the National Cherry Festival. The Great Lakes state grows about 75 percent of the U.S. crop of tart cherries, usually about 250 million pounds. Michigan mostly harvests the Montmorency variety ("sour cherries") and a new kid in the grove - the Balaton. Too thin-skinned to travel, the cherries that aren't eaten at the festival are frozen or canned.

The largest sweet cherry crop is harvested from May to mid-August in Washington, Oregon, and California. The Northwest's standard-bearer is the bing cherry, followed by the Lambert. Look for the juicy crunch of your favorite cherries at your neighborhood Publix for ready-to-eat bliss.

Under the Microscope
Cherries may be healthy, but some companies went too far making health claims about them. In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to 29 companies telling them to stop making health claims on their Web sites and cherry product labels. The controversy concerns processed cherry products, such as juice concentrate, capsules, and dried cherries. Little is known about the effects processing or cooking have on phytochemicals. As for nutrient values of dried fruit compared with fresh fruit, check product labels. Generally, there is more sugar per serving in dried fruit, and the drying process can take away some vitamins and minerals.

Buy Now
Organic or conventional, the season is short for cherries. Be sure to take advantage by using fresh cherries. For delicious ways to eat more cherries, try the recipes on the following pages.

LEARN MORE: Visit the Cherry Marketing Institute at

Spicy Chicken Breasts With FruitSpicy Chicken Breast with Fruit

2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
2 fresh serrano peppers*, seeded and finely chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup peach nectar
3 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sliced, peeled peaches
1 cup sliced plums
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pitted dark sweet cherries
2 cups hot cooked brown rice

ONE In a small bowl, combine jerk seasoning and one of the chopped serrano peppers. Rub mixture onto both sides of chicken breasts. Lightly coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (170ºF), turning once. Transfer to a serving platter; keep warm.

TWO Add 2 tablespoons peach nectar and the onions to skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.

THREE In a bowl, combine remaining nectar, half of the peaches, half of the plums, the remaining serrano pepper, brown sugar, and salt. Add to skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in cherries and remaining peaches and plums. Spoon over chicken. Serve with cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 372 cal., 3 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 82 mg chol., 330 mg sodium, 48 g carbo., 5 g dietary fiber, 37 g protein.

*Handling Hot Peppers: Because hot peppers, such as serranos, contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with the pepper as much as possible. When working with hot peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If your bare hands touch the hot peppers, wash your hands well with soap and water.

Cherry CobblerCherry Cobbler With Corn Bread Topping

4 cups pitted tart red cherries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/3cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

ONE For filling, in a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, / cup sugar, cornstarch, and orange juice. Allow cherry mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Cook and stir mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat and keep hot.

TWO Meanwhile, for biscuit topping, in a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, pecans, and baking powder. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the egg white and milk. Add all at once to the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.

THREE Spoon the hot fruit mixture into a 1-quart casserole. Immediately spoon the biscuit topping into 4 or 8 mounds over the hot fruit mixture. Stir together the 1 teaspoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar mixture over biscuit mounds.

FOUR Bake in a 400F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a biscuit mound comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 369 cal., 8 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 16 mg chol., 181 mg sodium, 74 g carbo., 4 g dietary fiber, 4 g protein.

Black Cherry Sorbet
Beef, Cherry and Apple Salad
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