Publix GreenWise Market Magazine - July 2006
Oh, Cherry Baby!
|Pick 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.
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 www.cherrymkt.org.
The Picky Picker's Guide to Fresh Cherries
For the freshest, fully ripe cherries, look for these qualities:
||Bright or deep mahogany red
White cherries are yellowish with a blush of red
|Even, bright red color
Some newer varieties are darker red
||Round and smaller than sweet cherries
Firm and plump
|Medium-firm and plump
||Dull, puckered, or seeping fruit; brown spots; brittle brown stems; blemished or bruised skins.
How to Freeze Cherries
To savor summer cherries all year long, freeze them! The Cherry Marketing Institute offers the following tips:
Always select red, tree-ripened fruit; remove the stems and rinse the fruit in cool water. Remove pits, if desired.
If you like to eat individual frozen cherries, freeze them on a cookie sheet with the pit still inside. After they are frozen, you can package them any way you prefer for use - or snacking - at a later date.
If using the cherries for pies or other recipes, pit them over the container they are to be stored in to catch the juices (4 to 5 cups of pitted tart cherries is enough for a 9-inch pie). Tart cherries are best stored in freezer containers with a bit of granulated sugar sprinkled over them; the sugar helps to preserve their red color.
Always freeze tart cherries soon after buying them because their red color starts to fade after they are picked. Once frozen, the cherries will keep for 8 to 10 months.
|Spicy Chicken Breast with Fruit|
START TO FINISH: 35 MINUTES
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.
A Recipe for Health:
Peppers are rich in capsaicin, which may act as an antioxidant.
Peaches contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and many phytonutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
|Cherry Cobbler With Corn Bread Topping|
START TO FINISH: 45 MINUTES
4 cups pitted tart red cherries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons orange juice
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, ²/³ 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 1½-quart casserole. Immediately spoon the biscuit topping into 4 or 8 mounds over the hot fruit mixture. Stir together the 1½ teaspoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar mixture over biscuit mounds.
FOUR Bake in a 400ºF 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
30 MINUTES FREEZE:
5 cups pitted dark sweet cherries
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sparkling apple juice
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
ONE In a blender or food processor,* combine cherries and 1 cup of the water. Cover and blend or process until pureed. Press cherry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve; discard pulp.
TWO In a large bowl, combine strained cherry mixture, remaining water, sugar, sparkling juice, and lemon peel, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour into a 2-quart square baking pan. Cover and freeze 5 to 6 hours or untilalmost firm. Break the frozen mixture into chunks.
THREE Transfer chunks to a large chilled mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth but not melted. Return quickly to the cold dish. Cover and freeze for 6 to 8 hours more or until sorbet is firm. Makes 10 servings.
Make-ahead tip: Freeze for up to 2 weeks.
*If using a food processor, puree the cherries half at a time.
NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 137 cal., 0 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 1 mg sodium, 31 g carbo., 2 g dietary fiber, 1 g protein.
A Recipe for Health
Cherries contain anthocyanidins and quercetin, which are reported to have strong antioxidant capabilities.
Cherries even make dessert more nutritious. A serving of cobbler contains 4 grams of fiber and 134 milligrams of potassium.
Beef, Cherry and Apple Salad
START TO FINISH:
1/4 cup organic apple juice
1/4 cup organic olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar teaspoon salt
Lettuce leaves or baby greens
2 medium organic apples, cut into thin wedges
8 ounces lean cooked beef, cut into thin bite-size strips (1½ cups)
1 cup peeled jicama, cut into thin bite-size strips
2 medium carrots, cut into thin bite-size strips (1 cup)
1 cup fresh pitted sweet cherries, halved
Coarsely ground pepper (optional)
ONE For dressing, combine apple juice, olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a tightly covered, leak-proof container. Cover and shake well.
TWO Line four plates with lettuce leaves. Arrange the apples, beef, jicama, and carrots atop the lettuce. Top with cherries. Drizzle dressing over salads. If desired, sprinkle with pepper. Makes 4 servings.
NUTRITION FACTS PER SERVING: 344 cal., 20 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 45 mg chol., 137 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 3 g dietary fiber, 17 g protein.
A Recipe for Health
Beef contains zinc, a key nutrient for proper immune function.
Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that may protect against cancer.